It was in September 2009, that I came across Blog a Ton (BAT). I am a member of IndiBlogger and I came across the information of BAT through IndiVine. The first BAT was conducted in August and the second one was announced. I decided to participate in BAT.
For me participating in BAT was indeed a challenge in many ways.
First, I was very new to blog-world. I was blogging about a year. None of my friends or people around me read any other blog; leave writing one. But my friends and colleagues at workplace read whatever I wrote and encouraged me to write more about my experiences. So, my blog was a sort of ‘family affair’. I was not sure whether my blog would appeal to ‘outsiders’ – meaning those who do not know me personally.
Secondly, those of who read my blog beyond BAT entries (I hope some at least read it) know that my blog is mostly narrations of my experiences. I don’t write scholarly articles; neither do I write movie or book reviews; nor poetry. My writing range is indeed limited. So, whether I would be able to write on different topics and satisfy the unknown readers was a question to me.
Third, I have always believed in freedom of writers. My blog should be a place where I have complete freedom about what to write, when to write, how to write, and whether to write it or not. Accepting BAT terms was little contradictory to these values. I mean I was still free to ‘not to write’ and I could still choose the form of expression. But the topic of BAT though decided in democratic manner – was not always of my choice. It was like writing according to someone else’s command.
Fourth – my travel schedule did not allow me the luxury of 24X7 connectivity. It was not necessary that on every first Saturday (that was the initial regular schedule of BAT) I could post for BAT. But here the Marshal came with support. On many occasions I have scheduled my post and requested Vipul, the Marshal to publish the link on the BAT date – and he always did it.
Fifth: I am actually not a competitive person. If you are reading my blog regularly, you know that I do not participate in any kind of competitions – that does not mean I doubt intention of those who participate in various blogging competitions. I am not cut for it – that is all.
In spite of all these obstacles, I have till date participated in as many as 18 BATs. My blog has ‘Blog a Ton’ as one of the labels and it shows 19 posts – but the post RETURN, though written for BAT, could not be published due to technical reasons.
Honestly speaking, I have never felt competition in BAT – though it has clear voting (now cheers) guidelines and deadlines and clear winners. I have almost always read all the BAT entries and I am sure most of the ‘BAT’ers do it. For me the most creative aspect of human thinking is brought to the forefront through BAT. It amazes me every time I BAT to see how a single word creates so many different ideas, so many different perspectives, so many different forms, so many different expressions, and so many different feelings. The whole canvas of writing opens to you, you get to know a range of experiences. That is the reason I love BAT.
BAT balances discipline and freedom – you need to post during a timeline on a particular topic but you are free to choose the form, the tone, the presentation etc. As my blog is mostly about sharing experiences, after couple of BATs I started to feel the bondage. Then I came up with an idea. I had always wanted to write short story but had never explored it. BAT gave me an opportunity to work in this direction. Though my short stories are always long enough, I have enjoyed writing those stories. The whole gamut of experiences could be woven together through story. And then for me BAT became a Story Writing Challenge. Except for four posts - Teachers Aaja Kal, The Indian Dream, If I were a Baby Again and Pencil Pull, - I have always written stories. It is because of BAT, that I started writing a story. Good or Bad – does not matter!
Through BAT I came across many new blogs and of course good ones and many virtual friends. I follow some of these blogs regularly. I interact with some of the bloggers whom I have never met. It is another matter that the old batch of ‘BAT’ers is disappearing – they must have valid reasons to make such a conscious choice. But nevertheless, the whole new batch of fellow bloggers comes in. I enjoy the flow, I like the movement, I love reading new styles and new expressions. This flow of ‘BAT’ers does not allow me to take anyone for granted. That is great. It mirrors real life.
Like most of the writers I do enjoy appreciation and feel happy when readers take notice of my post. But somehow, I have never bothered about votes and cheers. Initially I thought of writing “Please do not vote” as a footnote to my BAT posts – but that would have sounded like a very egoist declaration. And anyways, I realized that very few people were actually voting for my post- so dropped that ridiculous idea.
I do not bother about votes for three reasons. One: I am grown up enough to have crossed these boundaries of success and failure. Two: somewhere within I know that I am not a great writer as yet. I have a long way to go. Three: I trust ‘BAT’ers for their fairness. I am sure if they like my post the best, they will cheer for me, if they don’t they won’t. If I don’t get cheers means I still need to excel my performance. The credit goes to all ‘BAT’ers who have maintained this ‘fair play’ rule intact – voluntarily.
For me, BAT is more of ‘support group’ rather than a competition. We all strive together to excel. We all work hard to express. We all long to reach out, but more than that we all long to search within. The beauty of BAT is: it is more like a long distance running and not sprint. Here we run together, draw energy and inspiration from each other, encourage each other. In the end, only one or two are going to be winners, but there is always a joy that “I tried my best once again.”
So, even after 18 innings, I am not tired. I would love to keep ‘BAT’ing – for the joy it gives, for the horizons it widens, for the challenge it brings, for the variety it presents and for the fun it assures.