Thursday, March 24, 2016

Fantasies in the W.C.

Straight to the point.

We relive some of our best dreams and fantasies in the W.C.

We all do at some point. There’s no denying it.

It could be anything—giving an acceptance speech for a literary prize; as the man with no name who kills outlaws in Lawless; the singer who performs on Broadway; the wannabe writer who finally lands a publisher; as the cricketer who scores a ton on debut; or the entrepreneur who launches a million-dollar startup. Like the sky, fantasies have no limits.

As you sit in that confined space, boxed in by sterile white tiles, you become creative, you start dreaming, you whisper ideas aloud, gesticulate with your hands, and even play them out. You become your own actor and your own audience.

Gross, but an engrossing moment, nonetheless.

You lend a voice to your unfulfilled aspirations, you see your dreams taking shape. Naturally, you are elated. It suddenly seems doable. You look around for a piece of paper, anything, to write down your thoughts before they vanish like a fart in the wind. You eye the toilet paper but it won’t hold. You grab it anyway. You drop everything (no pun intended), rush out of the bathroom, open your laptop, and stare at an empty page.

Poof! It's gone.

Your mind is as blank as a blue television screen. You know it’s not going to come back. Next time should you sneak in a pen and paper or speak in hushed tones into your smartphone? Not a bad idea.

The truth is we do some mean thinking in the toilet. Much of our stargazing is harmless, most of it is self-gratifying—we dream of achieving something great, something astonishing, of being heaped with praise and glory. It’s a strange thing, this search for recognition. Who doesn’t fantasise about becoming rich and famous? Even for as long as the mind holds a mirror to our dreams.

We snap out of it eventually when a sharp rap on the door jolts us back to reality.

“Everything okay, honey? You’ve been in there for like an hour?”

“I’m fine. Coming out!”


The next day you’re back on the thinking toilet— dreaming about what you’d do if you won the lottery or pulling up in front of the world’s most expensive hotel in the world’s most expensive car or whatever it is that tickles your selfie brain.

The thing is—nowhere is idle time more gainfully employed than on the toilet seat.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Just saying

I finally cleared a bag of books, mostly paperbacks. What a task, phew! I stuffed them into another bag of books. Now that they are together, the books can read one another. Who said anything about reading them!

Saturday, March 5, 2016

There’s only one rule of writing — write every day

Writing is more than using stationery—pen and paper or laptop and Word document—and telling your story. Writing is first collecting your thoughts and then laying them down in chronology. Arrange your thoughts, words, and sentences in a logical and progressive order. Together, they should set off a sequential chain of events—a domino effect on your writing, but in a good way.

Thoughts are like a military parade on Republic Day. Each thought, each idea, is like a soldier in a well-ironed uniform and polished boots, marching in tandem, never missing a step, and giving off a smart salute. Picture the parade as you think and write. Visualise your thoughts forming into words and words into sentences and so on. This is the basics of writing, anything.

If you are not clear in your mind about what you want to write, you are not going to write much and that ca
n be awfully frustrating. No writer, famous or otherwise, likes to stare at a blank page and develop a complex. So clarity of thought and purpose are two important elements of writing.

However, before you acquaint yourself with clarity, do your homework and do it well. A little research backs up a story a long way. If you are writing a news report, get your facts right, cover your tracks, don’t leave any loose ends, and capture both sides of the story. There are always two sides to every story. It’s only ethical that you do this. It makes both you and your story credible.

Writing is as much about credibility as it is about readability.

Once you are clear about what you want to write and your thoughts are in almost perfect order, you go to the next level—you start writing, or t
yping, and give coherent shape to those ideas inside your head. If it’s a report, an essay or an article, try and finish it in one or two sittings.

Here’s a golden rule to any kind of writing: stay away from social media. It is the single biggest distraction, not to mention obstacle, to writing. You will never get any writing done as long as you keep fussing over your statuses and updates every few lines.

Writing requires a lot of patience and a lot of perseverance. You are not going to be a paragon of either if you don’t switch off your phone and disconnect the wifi and concentrate on your writing. The only way to write is to sit in once place, preferably undisturbed, and write. There is no other way.

American writer E.B. White once said, “Writing is an act of faith, not a trick of grammar.”

Here’s what I think he meant.

A dedicated writer will resolve to write a certain number of words every day. Most of us at some point in school resolved to study by the timetable, particularly during exams, and stuck to it. Similarly, draw up a timetable for your writing: let’s say 300 to 500 words on weekdays; maybe a 1,000 each on weekends. But don’t be too finicky about the numbers. Less or more doesn’t matter. The important thing is to write every day. Pick a doable target.

Many published writers and authors of short stories and novels swear by a first cut or draft. They don’t look at their manuscript till they have written it all down. The prevailing trend, however, is to read through and revise what was written the previous day. Some consider this a waste of time, as it breaks the chain of thought—akin to losing the plot—and spending an entire day with the manuscript. What this effectively does is you write new stuff every other day.

Writing also has a wretched foe called procrastination, which can have a bad influence on the writer in you. Just try putting off your writing by a couple of hours and see if you get your magical spell back. Those few hours often turn into days and days into weeks, and you suddenly realise that you have lost the spirit to write again. The only way to overcome this common problem is to never let even a day go without writing.

If you are serious about it, you won’t let anything come between you and your writing.

Just saying

Truth and morality are rare virtues and directly proportionate to your conscience. Kill your conscience and you kill both.