Sunday, June 07, 2009

If you think you're Shakespeare, please get away from my sight

Those who know me reasonably well, should also know that I hate pretence of any kind. People who spend half their life putting up an image for God knows whose benefit, physically tire me. Perhaps that's one of the primary reasons I'm sick to the teeth of all those folks who think they're born to be writers, especially the ones who think they were born mumbling Haikus or Sir Philip Sidney's sonnets. You see such species everywhere. At least I do. They burst into poetry like it's a spate of bad words or quote great authors like one would say 'How do you do?'

Ok, let's start at the beginning. Anyone is allowed to think they can write; it's a free country. But can these kind, gentle folks exercise their fundamental rights a little less vehemently?

Still don't get it? Let me explain.

Fine. So you think you can write. Congratulations. But can you not keep harping on and on about it, and try and keep it personal? So if you're still as thick in the head as I think you are, you can do the following and let me move on with my life:

1) Don't refer to your writing as if you're carrying Shakespeare's legacy forward. Which means you're not allowed to say things like, "I'm not inspired enough to update my blog" or "Like William Golding says, my writing is ". You should be clobbered and made to feel a little stupid, in case you're waiting for divine intervention to come up with a mere blog post. Next time, try laziness as an excuse. Far more believable.

2) Don't write idiotic, pseudo intellectual "poetry". It does nothing for your writing, except maybe make you sound batty in addition to demented. Also, don't try camouflaging utter rubbish under 'modern verse'. Doesn't fool anyone. Examples of said "poems" are:

I walked through the maze.
Looking for him.
Will he come? Will he go?
I laughed to myself and came out of the blinding light.

Sorry. But what are you even talking about? If this is poetry, then even I can come up with some:

I looked at the ice-cream shop, wistfully.
Ice-cream beckons, said the voices in my head,
I stared hard at the hamburger in my hand.
Who took a bite of it when I was wasting my time thinking of ice-creams?
Boy, I must really be stupid.
A blinding flash of light, sudden silence.
I had been standing in the middle of the highway.

See? It's that easy. One and a half minute is all it took, to come up with modern verse. And if I can do it, it's not art. Wake up from your reverie and get a job, please.

3) Don't ask for feedback as far as possible. Unless, you really are prepared to hear someone (me) say "I don't think this is making any sense." If you still do come and ask for an impartial critique of your piece, I will not criticise your work in a way that makes you think about your life. I will cite exact reasons as to why your piece of literature isn't working for me. Trust me, I take feedback in the same spirit (if I've asked for it, of course). But since most people begin to mouth the word 'bitch' in their heads the moment I say something like "I think you could have worked on this in another way", I refrain from giving feedback. You can shove your lovely little pieces of writing where the sun don't shine.

4) Don't pretend you have read the entire collection at The British Council twice over, when your "Books I've read" list consists solely of Chetan Bhagat, Dan Brown, Sidney Sheldon, The Godfather, Paulo Coelho and The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari. It's all ok to have read them on the side, but if those are your list, you are in serious trouble. Don't even bother writing.

5) If your punctuation is terrible, you need to go to school. There are no two ways about that. Frequent use of '.......' isn't cool either. It displays a clear lack of vocabulary or an inability to connect two sentences together. If both, punctuation and vocabulary, are a problem, kindly don't venture near pen and paper. And while we're on the subject, if you think blogging or writing in SMS language is cool, please go and write SMSes. ONLY.

6) It would help if it ever crossed your mind, that even the best pieces of writing may not be as amazing as you think they are. Your first draft cannot be your final draft (in 99% of the cases). Don't go about thinking that whatever you throw up on paper is going to be perfumed. Be open to the idea that it may stink and you can only do something about it, if you accept the possibility of it stinking. Also, edit and re-edit. Too many typos are extremely uncool.

7) Don't ask for advice from friends who don't read. Quite often, they will bloat your ego to the size of a spaceship by repeatedly using the word 'SUPERFAB!' in connection with your writing. This causes you to think that you know it all and there's no room for improvement. It is never the case.

And before I'm done with the bombardment of DONT'S and hence, the post, one word of advice for the person doling the feedback. It's very easy to sit there and poke holes with the piece under consideration, but difficult to produce it. So, be gentle. Don't just discard something as worthless without having the patience to impart constructive criticism (if the person is willing to listen to you, of course). If you can't do the latter, you've no right to do the former.

P.S. Nowhere do I claim to be the best writer there is. Heck, I don't even think I'm good. So, if you look really carefully, nowhere have I implied to be the Tolkein of our times. If anything, the post is to have aspiring writers (or people who believe they're already there) to stop making me feel like a bitch, simply because I think you write badly. So if I get any comments questioning my integrity to dole out advice, I will impale you. I promise.

15 comments:

Sakshi said...

Thank god- I am not a writer or claim to be one. Valid pointers. For a novice like me, I will keep them in mind. And now- PLEASE- Chill ji. Itna gussa?

Moo said...

@ Sakshi,

Nah re, no gussa. Just telling certain people to get out of my face. ;) P.S. I'm following you on Twitter and I'd like a return favour! :D

Meghana Naidu said...

I, Frost re-incarnate, who channels Yeats through my body, am here to show the mortal civilization what transcendental powers my poetry can possess.

OK.

point taken and felings reciprocated. ;)

Meghana Naidu said...

Meanwhile, what do you make of the following?

"anyone lived in a pretty how town
(with up so floating many bells down)
spring summer autumn winter
he sang his didn't he danced his did

Women and men(both little and small)
cared for anyone not at all
they sowed their isn't they reaped their same
sun moon stars rain

children guessed(but only a few
and down they forgot as up they grew
autumn winter spring summer)
that noone loved him more by more

when by now and tree by leaf
she laughed his joy she cried his grief
bird by snow and stir by still
anyone's any was all to her

someones married their everyones
laughed their cryings and did their dance
(sleep wake hope and then)they
said their nevers they slept their dream

stars rain sun moon
(and only the snow can begin to explain
how children are apt to forget to remember
with up so floating many bells down)

one day anyone died i guess
(and noone stooped to kiss his face)
busy folk buried them side by side
little by little and was by was

all by all and deep by deep
and more by more they dream their sleep
noone and anyone earth by april
wish by spirit and if by yes.

Women and men(both dong and ding)
summer autumn winter spring
reaped their sowing and went their came
sun moon stars rain"

G@K said...

Rofls lolling away!
But I guess to each one their own. As long as they don't come asking for my opinion.

Lamont said...

Wow Moo!!... thats just scared me off writing ever, now i dont think i will attempt to write to you either... LOl :p u know i will .... Thx for the tips cow... i need to improve my list of books read.... :-)

Me said...

Shame. All I can say is that Bal Nandan judges you.

Moo said...

@ Meghana,
I'd beat you into pulp if I didn't know you're joking. :D About your poem, it took me back to my critical appreciation class. So what exactly do you want me to say about it?

@ G@k,
To each his own...That's exactly the point. But when I somehow end up being warped with bad writing and expected to say nice things (because the person wouldn't show it to me if he didn't think it was nice), is when ny temples start throbbing.

@ Lammy,
Bah. You act like you write to me thrice a day. :P Maybe next time you will be more careful with the spellings and the punctuation. :D

@ Bal Nandan,
Sweetheart, a person with hair like yours cannot judge anyone. :P Go shave and then we shall speak. :D

Meghana Naidu said...

@moo
mighty mighty thanks for not beating me up. I'd beat myself up too, if i knew i wasn't joking ;)

Infact, Call me, i need volunteers for the -u tlk lik dis so u outta b dead biatch- movement

and the poem: E.E.Cummings
the creator of modern poetry

just wanted your reaction is all

The Shmoo said...

I'm not talking to you anymore :'(

Mugger Much said...

Wokkay. I shall get away from your sight.

@Meghana: Nice! I had heard of Cummings before (obviously due to the "e e cummings" urban legend), but this is the first time I'm reading one of his poems. Danke.

Sreejit said...

Hmmm some one sure has pissed u off real bad.

All points are noted and will be followed when I blog as well as post comments afterall who wants to be at the receiving end of yr gussa!!

And Chill!

Saroja said...

Hahahahaha! I loved this one, especially the ice-cream bit. :D

Saroja said...

"A blinding flash of light, sudden silence.
I had been standing in the middle of the highway."

RoFL!

Roger M. said...

I like this too! Moo, moo, moo!