Blogger, writer, editor- she wears many hats. Shailaja Vishwanath in a tete-a-tete with Rubina Ramesh deep dives into the world of blogging in India.
Rubina: I have got a glimpse of the mother in you and also the writer in you. Tell me who is Shailaja as a woman? What made you become the promoter of happiness amongst so many women?
Shailaja: Oh my! That's quite a title, 'Promoter of happiness'. How lovely that you think so. As a person, I'd like to believe that I am open-minded and accepting of people as they are. By and large, I give people the benefit of the doubt in a situation of conflict and aim to listen to their side as best I can. As for spreading joy, I owe a lot of that capacity to my mother, who is my role model when it comes to loving unconditionally. I'm not quite there yet honestly.
Rubina: "Godma". I heard you are called that by many of your friends and well wishers J I am assuming that name is given for a reason. A reason which tells me that you have given something very dear to someone. Something which must have brought a lot of happiness in another being. So how did you become a ‘happiness spreader?”
Shailaja: Ha ha, the Godma is completely an accident. The blogging group I run, Blog-A-Rhythm (BAR for short) , gave me that nickname. I remember announcing something on the group and asking people to wait for a while to find out what it was. When people became restless, I told them they'd have to wait till midnight when I'd turn them all into pumpkins, referencing Cinderella. That's how the name happened and also stuck. It's quite a joyful thing that it's something people now use as an endearment and it's a group that is very close to my heart thanks to the wonderful people there.
Rubina: What do thing about the blogging world of India. Where do you see content writing going to in the coming 10 years?
Shailaja: That's a big question. The blogging world in India is a very interesting mix of bloggers at the moment and it's growing, practically by the day. Bloggers in India are coming into their own, as I see it. There are better bloggers, more quality posts now and a better understanding of what the audience needs. Digital content is the future and blogging is one of the best ways to tap that concept. Content writing isn't necessarily blogging, to be fair. So I think the two are not connected in that sense.
Rubina: Housewives. A designation which is always misunderstood. I think it’s a mine of knowledge, culture and the very spine of any country. Especially India. Do you think blogging has given a new boost to those women who are forced [a few by choice] to stay at home?
Shailaja: Blogging yes. Perhaps. But I think it's bigger than that. Women at home now are consciously looking to do more than what the demands of the home ask of them. For some it's blogging, for others it's a way to work, earn and make a living. I think that's the real positive that comes from being part of the digital era today.
Rubina: Your blog Diary of a Doting Mom is full of love, understanding and wisdom? I am fascinated by two words. Diary and the word Doting. Like a legacy you wanted to leave for your child. Was that how the birth of this blog take place.
Shailaja: Thank you so much. The blog began as a way to catalogue snippets of my daughter's life and her milestones. So the word 'diary' was a natural fit. But it was only in 2014 that I chose the word 'doting' more as a way to stand apart from the many other 'Diary of a mom' blogs I saw. Doting, well, that's probably because I have just one child and I do dote on her. The blog primarily is, as you put it, a legacy for her to read when she is older and wants to look back at the lessons she has taught me on this journey.
Rubina: I have read your posts on depression. A very touchy topic which you have flaunted with an elan. I have a great respect for that. What would you advice young girls stepping on the threshold of life? How can they stop them from falling into the clutches of depression?
Shailaja: This is a very detailed question and I doubt I can cover most of it here but to put it simply, I'd like to say to everyone: Lower your emotional expectations, both of yourself and of others. It's hard enough trying to do everything as a new bride or a new career woman without falling into the guilt of not being able to do it all. So breathe, find a good support system and do the best you can. That's what matters.
Rubina: Do you think blogging is a lucrative business? What advice would you give to the new bloggers.
Shailaja: Another tricky question. You're good at this! Is blogging lucrative? Yes. It can be, depending on the way you build your brand, your presence on social media and your association with brands, in addition to writing because you like it. Is blogging something you can do full time and rely on as a sole source of income? That depends on you, your blog, your niche and the way you market yourself. Personally, I doubt I could. For me, it's more pleasure than business.
Rubina: What according to you is happiness? Is it a mirage or something which resides only with you?
Shailaja: Happiness is definitely possible and not a mirage. Doing something you love, being with the person who you love and waking up to smell the coffee (figuratively, I mean. I'm a tea person myself), are the key to being happy. Once we stop comparing our lives to others and live for ourselves, that, to me , is the cornerstone of happiness.
Blogger I Writer I Editor
The Moving Quill
Diary of a Doting Mom
9. Rapid fire. [whatever comes to your mind]
a) New bride: Anticipation, love and beauty
b) A toddler: Absolute abandon in a tiny package
c) New school: Hope and learning
d) New friends: Scope to grow and make connections
e) A bitch: Female dog. (Yep, that's right)
About the Interviewer: Rubina Ramesh is an erratic writer and a passionate reviewer. Her reviews have found space in international magazines like Global Asia. She has authored two Book- Knitted Tales and Finding The Angel and co-authored three anthologies, Writing from the Heart, Long and Short of It and Marijuana Diaries. Founder of The Book Club, an online publicity group she finds her passion in promotion of books and authors.