the mutt

Quote from the blue

Posted in General, Writing by grx20 on September 29, 2008

“If you aren’t pursuing your dreams, you are pursuing someone else’s dreams.”

I’d read this quote somewhere, a while back. Despite googling a lot, I was unable to find out who said it.
It suddenly came to mind this morning.
A reminder, a nudge to get my act together and write more?

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You, mutt!

Posted in General by grx20 on September 29, 2008

Thanks to Kalyani … who let the mutt out!
Her website, surfkye.com, will be up shortly but you can see more of her work here at her blog.

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Let’s make a note to remember

Posted in Oddities, Writing by grx20 on September 26, 2008

(Yes, yes, I am punning on the Bryan Adams song).

This is an invitation to everyone to do just one thing. To simply write well.
Whether it is a reminder note or a thank you note, write it well. Choose words with thought and care.

English has some beautiful words that can convey, and very well, too, exactly what you feel and think. When a particular word doesn’t come to mind at once, spend a couple of seconds trying to find it. If you still can’t find that word, think of a simile, create a new metaphor, coin a new expression. And later, go back to the thesaurus and find that elusive word.

We all have our comfort zone of phrases and constructions we can serve up pronto. But let’s resolve not to be lazy.

If a particular construction is tricky, don’t avoid it, learn it.
If spelling spells trouble, learn.
It’s nice to use big words once in a while.
Use puns. (One can always get away with it by adding ‘phew!’ in brackets.)

It’s nice to read something written well, with wit, and with care. It is a discipline you take on, more for improving yourself and your writing than to create immortal pieces of literature while dashing out the front door.

Here’s to a reputation of being ‘note’orious. (Phew!)

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On Closure

Posted in General, Writing by grx20 on September 24, 2008

There are many half-started stories in my computer. Some are more than six years old. It’s not that I never found time or desire to complete them. It’s not even that I’ve lost the thread. The fact is, I’ve changed, and I can’t write the same story twice. I don’t feel the same emotion as I did when I started the story.

Sometimes I persevere. When I read the new pages, however, I wish I hadn’t. It doesn’t sound right. And I know I’m being dishonest, desperately trying to get back to a state of mind I know I can not.

The problem is, the half-finished stuff, is good stuff. It’s got some really powerful bits, some well-written parts, the potential for a lot of interesting things to happen. And it’s just sitting there.

I tried taking the good parts and weaving it into a new story. But one can’t really stitch a new garment with old cloth patches.

So where does the folder of forsaken stories leave me?

With a resolution.
No more half starts. If I’m starting it, I’m ending it.
If I don’t complete it. Then I delete it.

And if it hurts, that’s the price I pay for not completing it.

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Postal Holiday

Posted in General by grx20 on September 20, 2008

I’m feeling rather under the weather …
And so I won’t be posting for a few days.

What does Stephen King do when he is sick? Does he somehow manage to put in a few hours, a few thousand words, or does he cop out like me?

(The answer to this is in his book, On Writing. Will dig it out and write it later.)

Is it an indicator of how seriously one takes writing?

I’m told this bout of fever is stress-related.

So while I go and chill out, (no pun intended) you do the same.

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‘Are we there yet?’

Posted in General by grx20 on September 17, 2008

Indian Writing In English and the Booker and all that. We’ve ranted about this for years now, and the end is nowhere in sight. So … no, we aren’t there yet!

Speaking of Booker Prizes and Indian Writing In English, Meena Kandasamy has an interesting article on her blog. Read it here.

In it, she talks about the current trends in Indian Writing In English, the kind of qualifications that ensure a book’s success, the marketing and media hype that surround it, and predictable (and much bemoaned) cliches that seem to affect Indian Writing In English.

Why don’t Indian writers try something new, she wonders – though not in those same words. And I agree with her. Apart from the odd Samit Basu and Ashok Banker, the majority are content to tread familiar ground.

Like I said, much of what she has written has been discussed threadbare for many years now. But the fact that people are still talking/posting about it is a clear indicator that things haven’t changed and we’ll be doing this for some time to come.

‘We can’t give it to him again, right?’

Posted in General by grx20 on September 17, 2008

The press is united in calling it a snub.
Salman Rushdie’s The Enchantress of Florence hasn’t made it to the Booker shortlist.

This can’t be right.

Is the Booker Prize Foundation afraid of Rushdie? They even had to make a statement defending leaving him out – ‘We’re braced for it,’ one of the judges said.

Is the Booker Prize Foundation worried about coming across as being overtly pro-Rushdie? After all, they have awarded him the Booker of Bookers and recently the Best of the Booker.

Reminds me of the time when Schumacher was on his spree of winning World Championships, the FIA introduced a series of regulations and rules that smacked of conspiracy – to stop the Ferrari juggernaut.

Except with Rushdie, the Booker Prize Foundation didn’t have to change any rules. They simply sent him off to the pit garage.

If it isn’t the fear of becoming a ‘Booked For Rushdie’ award, then there must be something.

Perhaps, Jonathan Jones of Guardian UK has uncovered it. Read it here. And you decide.

Handmade problems

Posted in Writing by grx20 on September 13, 2008

I think writing a story with pen and paper is tougher than typing it out on a computer.

I have always found writing on exquisitely designed books a very daunting task.

Exhibit A, here shows 2 books – a gift. It’s been almost six months and I haven’t written a single word on it. I have story ideas and in fact, I recently completed two stories. But I still haven’t summoned the nerve to stain its pages.

The reason is simple. I don’t want to write something wrong. The pages are pristine; they have a wonderful, handmade feel to them. And I don’t want to litter it with scratches.

As if summoning the will to write wasn’t daunting enough. As if writing wasn’t hard enough. As if the blank page wasn’t intimidating enough.

The typewriter has the same problem. For the clatter one produces with the keys, however sweet and fortifying it is, the output better be something worth keeping.

The good thing is it forces you to write better, with more clarity and precision. It forces you to raise your standard of writing so that you scratch out lesser. You feel what you’ve written is good enough to put in that book.

Right now, I’m still writing on newsprint paper.

It is cheap, crinkly and old. It doesn’t scare me.

That is quite unnecessary

Posted in Writing by grx20 on September 12, 2008

In most sentences, the word ‘that’ can be dropped without having Wren & Martin groan in protest.

Try it.

It is especially useful in awkward constructions like, ‘He told me that that was the umbrella Sinatra stole from him.’

A better way of putting it would be: ‘He told me that was the umbrella Sinatra stole from him.’

Of course, one could argue (that) the best thing would be to have Sinatra not steal any umbrellas.

Phew! Now, that was uncalled for.

The ‘36-24-36’ method to make your blog popular.

Posted in Writing by grx20 on September 11, 2008

I was told that if I wanted to have my stats counter going through the roof, I should:

a. network ‘like crazy’

b. spread the word

c. do some guerrilla advertising

In short, try all the stunts in the book and more.

Perhaps.

Of course, there’s an easier way. I would have done the following:

5. Visited my own blog from every computer in my office every day.

4. Put in more Top 10 lists.

3. Linked extensively to other popular blogs.

2. Written about Meenakshi Reddy Madhavan’s new book.

1. Given you her blog link. And a link to the racier posts, just to make life easy.

I am also told, content is not king. What matters is who you know and who they know.

Sounds a lot like the publishing industry, doesn’t it?

Case in point: Amitav Ghosh’s, Booker short listed, Sea Of Poppies.

Now I haven’t read it. I haven’t read any reviews. But what I do know is, when the book was launched, he was everywhere. The media loved him. Book-readings were packed. And everybody wanted to know if he was the next Rushdie. (Why Rushdie was snubbed by this year’s Booker is another matter!)

As an Indian who has witnessed the rise of Indian writing in English and the birth of stars overnight, (not all of them deserving), I wonder, with instinctive cynicism, if his booker nomination was also masterfully choreographed?

Sea Of Poppies might really be a great book, and might actually deservingly win the Booker. But the media circus that accompanied the launch makes me hesitant to pick it up. Not even to ‘see what the fuss is all about.’

Every writer writes to be read. Whether it’s a blog or a novel. Every writer wants a cult following. Every writer wants to be popular.

I could go on a publicity blitz for my own blog. Be all over del.icio.us, technorati, etc., but just this time, I’m happy to wait for the mountain to come to Mohammed.

To all my current readers who have subscribed, who drop in, who comment and visit … thank you.

In this blog, content will be king. And that, I will shout from roof tops.