There are many reasons why a writer writes. For some, it is a passion; for others, it is a hobby. It can be a way to make money off an innate talent or a form of relaxation. And some want the fame, power, and privilege that comes with being an internationally known writer.
I started writing as a child when my Mom encouraged me to systematically put on paper all the stories I would come up with. I had already been reading quite voraciously and was thrilled at the trust this hero of mine was putting in my capacity to become one of these writers that populated my free time. A talent for storytelling turning into a hobby which soon became a passion that offered a deep sense of relaxation.
Parallel to this, my parents encouraged me to lead a life of service to humanity in which we would contribute to the advancement of any community we were a part of. I initially perceived that my writing and service were a dichotomy; any time spent writing was time away from service. Thankfully I quickly came to learn that writing could be a form of service when it contributes to the conversation on community building.
Then I fell into the trap of thinking that were I to become famous, I would have the power to influence many people, and could encourage them into leading a life of service. I would also use the privileges that came with being a famous author to further contribute to bettering the world: I would open orphanages, provide financial assistance to various community building endeavours, I would give talks that would inspire people to arise and serve.
Spoiler alert: I am not a world famous author. And although at first I remained focused on becoming one, I soon realised that my writing could bring about change, be it on a smaller, humbler scale. The first intimations of this learning were found in the response to my reviews of the now defunct television series Fringe, through which amazing discussions about perception, good and evil, and the balance between science and religion were had. Further signs were found in my blogging, as strangers from around the world started emailing me about their thoughts on personal and community development. The strongest sign to date has been the result of the study of my first book, Spirit Within Club, by approximately 150 preteens in Brazil. The stories of this book are inspiring them to think about their contribution to the betterment of society.
Which brings me to one of my most important learnings: writing cannot replace all other forms of service. For example, I did not write Spirit Within Club in a vacuum. Every page, every character, every conversation, was inspired by my involvement in serving the younger people in my community in various forms – service activities, study sessions, social activities, and engaging in a relationship of mutual support, love, and assistance. And writing Spirit Within Club in turn helped me refine my service to these young people.
This is the spirit in which I am writing Six Years Later: Midnight Musings of an Overactive Mind. I have been blogging since 2008; Sahar’s Blog has completely changed in format and content since then, as I have attempted to create a space in which I could invite others to contribute to an online conversation about community building, which is meant to supplement an IRL conversation about the same topic. I was aiming to publish Six Years Later by this month, but it turns out that once I started writing this ‘memoir’ of my blog, more came out than I ever anticipated. I really look forward to learning more about bringing together writing and service, and I hope that more readers will engage in conversations on the topic.