Saturday, September 13, 2014

Tips for Writers, i.e., If You Are Serious about Writing

The progress on the book is slow, creepingly slow. I feel exhausted after a few pages of editing. I don't know why. The net is full of suggestions for writers and editors. Most of them by writers themselves. Shows that all writers find writing difficult, and there's not much help coming. And, if you post on your blog or facebook, feedback, useful ones, is also scanty.

Elmore Leonard's Ten Rules of Writing

I have a few friends who religiously reads my blogs and they do comment, most often. Surprisingly, the majority of people for whom I have been very generous with my comments and likes do not reciprocate. This is rather mind-numbing, innit?

It's hurting also. Yeah. But what can be done? So you cut your nails, polish the tips of them, those hardy accretions on finger tips, (this is quite essential for the fingers to tap in words on the keyboard and also to hold down strings on guitar frets), and with nose slightly in the air, with a demeanour of a Shakespeare in Love, go ahead and add some tips for writers to your blog.

So, um, here goes:

Decide the best time to write and write religiously in that time. Keep away diversions, manage chores around these times but keep your mind focussed on putting some words on screen. This may be early morning or late in the night.

Have your own space, uncluttered, where you are comfortable. If you have a back problem put a cushion behind your back. This is your holy sanctum sanctorum, your pavitrabhoomi, whatevah!

Sit straight and don't bend over the keyboard. Posture is essentially everything.

If you are a snacker have plenty around so that you don't have to get up and go to the refrigerator.

For providence sake, stretch those cramped muscles once in a while.

If phone is a disturbance, switch it off when you try to write. That's what I do. Calls can always be answered later using missed calls facility.

If you are a social media addict, well, tear off the internet cable or turn it off. Social (what social) networking is the bane of writing.

Remember you are a writer, so look like one. Keep that beard, grow your hair, look like a writer. Your idiosyncracies will be forgiven. Sorry, I forgot women, keep your hair extra short, that androgynous look, right baby?

Don't blame others for your own lack of success. You will get some critics early on in your writing career who are hard to assuage. So ignore them. 

Don't be too happy when something clicks. When I had my first success with a short story, a lot of my network friends turned against me.

Take long walks, there's nothing better to calm the mind and get new ideas.

Always keep a notebook, the more expensive the better. You will carry it with you if you pay a bomb. My Moleskine (unruled) notebook costs me one grand. That makes it Rs five a page. So I am careful about what I write in it.

Above all, follow Elmo Leonard's ten rules of writing pasted above.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Ganeshotsav Has Come and Gone, Some Thoughts

So a Ganeshotsav has come and gone. I almost miss the din and the sound of drums, which used to have me in a tizzy sometimes. Now, why I got into a tizzy is because I couldn't concentrate, and hence, couldn't write. Couldn't write means couldn't edit also. Editing requires more concentration, more contextual thinking, more care for language, et cetera. Writing is done just like that. 

But I feel as the late writer Khushwant Singh did that religious fervour is growing in India and according to many it is quite meaningless. There is no devotion, no dedication, and shows an absolute lack of discipline. Two families in our cluster of houses had Ganeshas in their homes and the noise through the day and night was tremendous. Is this a sign of saffronisation of India? A hard-core Hindutva friend once told me that he thought such fervour was misplaced, misguided. 

The two families I mentioned must have spent one lakh each on the idol, the food, the priest, and other miscellaneous expenses. Can they afford it? Did they take a loan to celebrate the festival? Lokmanya Tilak "popularized Ganesh Chaturthi as a national festival in order to bridge the gap between Brahmins and non-Brahmins and find a context in which to build a new grassroots unity between them, and generate nationalistic fervour among people in Maharashtra against the British colonial rule." Are these principles being observed?

Well, questions will remain.