Friday, August 27, 2010

Change is good

With time, there have been some changes in me. Hope these changes are good.
  1. I've stopped reading novels based on 'love' by very young Indian authors. Being one amongst them, I know that the writings about love at my age are shallow and insipid.
  2. I've developed a good reading habit. I finish two books in one week's time.
  3. I've stopped reading new blogs. Just because most of the posts of unknown blogs are too verbose and irritating. I like short posts more, or else, it should be a rivetting story or an overwhelmingly brilliant satire.
  4. I write in classes. Thanks to the back-benches for that.
  5. I have developed an aversion to idle people.
  6. I am clear about what I want. But the execution seems slow.
  7. I have become more patient, at the same time, indifferent and detached to most of the things around me.
  8. I have developed an inherent hatred to those who can't express themselves in writing or speaking, since I believe nothing conveys ideas and thoughts better than good communication. Hatred is wrong, but I can't help but hate.
Well, that's all. I tried to be honest, but as a human, I might have sub-consciously tried to hide my flaws. To be frank, they aren't many that you'll find. ;)

Change is good, after all.

P.S. I am feverish. And I want to get drunk.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Two Sides of Feminism

India has been a witness to the grand scale women-empowerment drive that has been going on in the last few decades. Indeed, it's a great thing. This empowerment drive has given rise to many feminists, who champion the causes related to the women, be it openly defying gender-biased discrimination, to standing against the biases of the patriarchal society by questioning their validity and rationality. I respect them for that, not only for their firm stand, but also because even I can't tolerate anything that's derogatory to any gender.

But when it comes to benefit of their gender, I can often see a dual value associated in many so-called feminists, which is my primary concern, since I am having difficulty in understanding what's right and what's more right.

I would highlight this issue based on the attitude of two of my female friends, let us call them - A and B, in this article. Both of them are self-proclaimed hard-core feminists; they can't stand anything that's demeaning or disgracing to women, in any way whatsoever. Neither would I.

Friend A
She boards the Delhi Metro, where the seats are just full, with only about a dozen people standing hither and thither. To those of you, who have never been to Delhi Metro, let me tell you that there are specific seats reserved for ladies only, senior citizens and 'specially-abled' people.

Now, my friend A goes near the ladies seat and finds out that it is occupied by an unconcerned man-with-earphones. Without being vexed, she goes to the person and reminds him that he is sitting on a ladies seat(which he perhaps already knew, but didn't bother himself to rise until asked. Yes, men are shrewd!). He acts like he didn't even know and straightaway jumps up on his toes, finds a place to stand and offers my pretty friend 'A' his place courteously, flashing a prideful smile on his face on his random act of kindness(a perfect loser!); which nobody notices except me(writer instinct, you know). A tells me, 'See. Such rights of women, if not asked for, would most of the time be exploited by men. They hardly bother to give up any comfort ever until you ask them, even if their conscience is screaming out aloud that they're sitting on ladies seat while a lady is standing front of them.'

I see her argument. She's right. The sad part is many a times I'd been that man-with-earphones sitting on a ladies seat, until being kicked off by the fairer sex.

Friend B
She boards the Delhi Metro. The situation is same as before, where the seats are just full, with only about a dozen people standing hither and thither along the coaches.

We move around in search of seats. No vacant seats. We go to a corner, from where I take a peek at the whole situation. I see a cheesy lad wearing a yellow-embroidered shirt with earphones tucked in his ears sitting quite comfortably on a seat designated for only ladies. He gives B a top-to-down stare, seeing which I feel a bit nettled. I point out to B, 'See that ladies seat, that lousy fellow is sitting there. Come on, kick him off the place. He would hardly bother to offer you his seat, even if he already knows that it's a ladies only seat.'

B remains unconcerned, and explains with force in her voice, 'Well, I find these "seats reserved for ladies" the most heinous form of gender-discrimination I could ever encounter. I mean you could reserve seats for senior citizens, specially-abled or kids. But why on Earth do women need reserved seats? Aren't we strong enough to stand through the jerks and swings that the metro-ride offers? Well, this is highly condescending of women, but this is India. No matter how much you talk about gender inequality, you'll find that women, even some of the self-proclaimed feminists, encouraging these gender-disparaging symbols present in the society by either accepting it or in many dire cases, even fighting for these. How will you answer these issues when the patient is herself a catalyst for the disease? Women don't need support, because support never comes without pity in this society.'

I remain stunned. B is too different from A. But she's absolutely right.

Wait a minute. Even A was right. Who amongst them is more right? Can there be an absolute take on this issue of feminism? Your insightful opinions needed.

P.S. All those who read this, take a pledge with me to always mention the physically-challenged people as 'specially-abled'. Let us create a culture.
P.S. Women. Enigmatic, aren't they? ;)

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

My experiments with writing

My belief, right from the very beginning has been that being versatile is one of the key ingredients in the making of a good writer. I treat a writer as a musician, who dares to explore different styles, trying to fuse the good things he has learnt with his own innovations.

A person can be versatile only if s/he is willing to let the mind pervade the areas where they haven't been before. Though with time, one may discover that his/her real forte is in a particular genre, but surely, trying different things groom the narrative capabilities of a story-teller.

I started writing as a blogger, with diary-like entries that mostly concerned with already known philosophies, which obviously found no readers, so I moved to describing events - in which I found myself quite naturally gifted, since I could make them interesting, owing to my tendency to magnanimously exaggerate the story. Once started into events, I started penning down almost all the small incidents with a good amount of exaggerated spice in each of those episodes, which turned to incite my blog-pals, since they happened to like it.

This was the time of my peak confidence as a writer, though my experience lacked more experimentation. With ample confidence in my abilities, I decided that it's time to take the big step. It was the time I started writing my novel, with no intention to publish it at all, since I intended to have a short-novel, with oddly 12-13 chapters of 2 pages each. I intertwined all the funny incidents that I had ever heard/seen with an extraordinary contribution from my imagination to make the novel complete, but alas, the novel was no-more short, but rather a voluminous one with 33 complete chapters in it. Miraculously, it had its own destiny, because thereafter, one by one, many things happened, like my chance meeting with the publisher, the agreement and expansion of my work. I was more than happy.

I made sure that in my novel, which could actually be categorized as just-another-IITian novel, I would not exploit IIT's name on the cover. So I chose an IIT-free title and subtitle, despite all the previous IITians books by my publisher(that were just 2 at that time, compared to over a dozen currently) had those. I even didn't publicise my novel by putting up posters or something in the campus. I made a promotional video, but it didn't spread a lot, owing to my laziness at its promotion. But it found its own readers with time and sold more than 10,000 copies in just 6 months, becoming a national bestseller; 10000 copies being the current Indian standard to classify a 'bestseller'.

Once published, there came a time when I thought I needed to move on. I started noticing plots of stories in everyday life. Everywhere I could observe situations in which twists were possible. I started writing stories. On various themes like humour, sarcasm, emotions, love, twists, human nature, thriller, horror etc. If I now say that I consider myself as a writer, then it's not due to the fact that I am a published author, but because I have seen, breathed and breathed life into stories from in and around my life.

To all the aspiring authors and creative writers, the best suggestion I could give as a fellow writer is that write stories - you could see them almost floating all around you, and you can breathe life into them. You would learn so many intricacies of writing, once you start, such as - How you should start a story? How should you engross the reader to read the next line without getting bored? How should you end with a perfect punch? How you should unravel the mysteries? How to deliver the twist in the tale, with subtlety?

As time passed by, I started writing another book, so that brought me away from story-writing, but that could not stop me from seeing the plots of stories floating around. I've around 35 plots of short-stories in my head currently. The best thing that my life with stories has given me is that now I can see plots for novel, with as many as 7 of them being in my head currently. There is a subtle difference between the plots of stories and plots of novels i.e. the novels have a very long middle, where as it's quite short in the case of stories. So, it gets a little more difficult to enrapture the reader, keeping his/her interest alive throughout the middle in case of a novel.

Half-way down with my second novel, which was not the sequel, but it was with a really unique theme with a novel within a novel; I felt a little bit uneasy. Because my big-ambitious novel was set in a city in which I had never been, with the protagonist as an entrepreneur, that I had not been that time; and being married, that I would definitely not be in the recent time. So I decided to stop. I had written around 31,000 words, but I decided for good, that I needed to stop, since I was not doing any good in pursuing something that requires a broader panorama.

In the meanwhile, I got into poetry. The best thing about poetry was it didn't hinder my story-telling spirit, since all of my poems had either a story to tell or an emotional recount. Somewhere around this time, I got interested into limericks(which are five-line funny poems) and crafted many of those in my notebook, while idling in the lecture theatres.

Facebook gave a strange gift to me. It polished my skill in word-play. I started writing one-liners, which sometimes were profound or witty, or sometimes just mere play of words. This gave me a strange familiarity, since I now knew writing from a completely different perspective. A story can be told in even one-line. How's that for a story? It gave birth to my business idea and made me realize that all the ideas - be it design, literary, artistic or business lie on the same plane of existence, one just needs to change the perspective to catch it.

I started up and am enjoying a lot as a content writer for my website. Meanwhile, urged by my readers, with more than 1000 mails in my inbox asking me to write the sequel to my incomplete first book, I decided to give it a go. In a day, I got the plot. For your information, the word 'got the plot' means knowing how you're going to end the story, since once you know how you're going to end, everything falls into place. So, I started writing the sequel around 1.5 months ago, which clashed with my venture, and I had been fighting really hard to get a state of being with completely uncluttered mind and no tasks on head, so that I continue with the mammoth task with passion. It's currently at 8,000 words and would require almost a month of dedicated efforts to give it the shape of a book.

That's all from my 3 years writing journey. A journey that'll never end. Since a writer never quits writing, he keeps writing - sometimes his destiny and sometimes, history.

Just for interest:
Graffiti - My Stories Blog
Witty Shit - My One-liner Blog
Quantum Leap - My Old Travelogue
Oops! 'I' fell in love! - The Story of Making of my Novel

P.S. To write is to live - with all the characters of all the worlds.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

On Ideas

Earlier I was really insecure about sharing my ideas. I felt that someone will steal it and start working on it.

However with time, I got matured and things have become clear to me. Two of the important things are listed below:

Association: The best thing about your idea is the association that you build with it. A new person, can copy your idea but would never be able to put the passion that you'll be having for it. The idea gestates in your mind and when it's your child you know it better than anyone else on this world. This ensures that no-one, other than you, can really pursue your idea to the fullest. Innovations can be brought by others on your idea, but the sacred bond one should have to the idea remains with the person in whose mind it occurred at the very first place.

Sharing: With time, another thing that has happened to me is that I've become more keen on sharing. Now instead of holding all the ideas that I get to myself, I like to find an interested person and ask him/her to pursue it. Because every idea has a time, and since currently I am working on one idea, I would not be able to pursue many. So, it's always good to find interested persons who are capable enough to rear my child - brainchild, to be precise. And I love to guide them.

I feel blessed to have experienced four different kind of ideas in a really grand way viz. business ideas, story ideas, photography ideas and design ideas. And with time, I hope to experience thousand more kinds.

P.S. Ideas are intoxicating and non-toxic. It's the best addiction one can have. And certainly, they can change your life.
P.S. After reading this, I feel that I am going towards writing non-fiction. A welcome change.