Sometime back I wrote a story. It had a girl, a boy and a motor bike in it with some love and an accident thrown in for good measure to spice things up, like I suppose in n number of other stories doing the rounds. Having written it, I did the next thing any of your normal blogger does on completion of one. I posted it at my site. In walked this boy in his late twenties, who having read my humble effort at telling a tale which I hoped was worthy of being read by the likes of him, pronounced his verdict in no uncertain terms,
“I am not impressed.”
I must say that one sentence of his jolted me rudely out of my complacency. Of course I was glad that this small matter of whom I was trying to impress with my stories was cleared up, as up till then I had been totally ignorant on that count. Hence, when this young man breezed in and expressed his reservations so frankly, I simply had to sit up and take notice. One must at all costs take note of what the critics say. They are what you call sacche dost, your true friends. They point out the flaws in your writing which but for them would have remained a closed book to you, letting you remain smug and probably also snug as the bug in a rug, but an ignorant one at that. And what is the use being smug and snug when there are deficiencies in your written work?? It is from the critics, the salt of the earth, that the you get the necessary feedback for turning out a newer and improved version of the writer in you, something like Shail Writer version 22.214.171.124 or Shail Writer version 126.96.36.199 as the case maybe.
Hence it was with sky-high hopes of upgrading into a new improved edition of me and scaling greater heights that I determinedly moved on to read what the critic had written next. I must confess that my heart beat a wee bit faster in trepidation. Did I have it in me this scope for improvement to overcome the flaws and do whatever it takes to modify myself into the latest version of Shail Writer and impress my critics in the bargain?? Sigh, the challenges life throws at you!!
“So many Tamil films have heroes having bike accidents!” he continued and… concluded!!
Errr… ummm… Excuse me… Was that it??!!!!!
I scratched my head in utter bewilderment and confusion on reading it. Well, I am the first one to admit that I am a dunce of the first order, an out and out duffer. So I was not all that surprised I couldn’t make sense of it at all. Yet, I tried. Many Tamil movies have heroes having bike accidents, says he. Fine, I have no bones to pick with him on that. Errrr…but… was that why he was not impressed with my story?? The thing baffled me and still does for that matter. I have been losing so much hair over this that when people see me nowadays they make pointed references to the miracles the shampoos and hair oils of the present day can achieve.
I tried to look at the matter dispassionately. Actually I am pretty good at this looking-dispassionately-at-things stuff. Countless movies are churned out by Kollywood which has had and still have of course, heroes going vrooom vrooooom on their mo-bikes, having accidents and dying by the handfuls or having accidents and getting saved miraculously also by the handfuls by that soulful song sung by a sobbing heroine if not a continent away at least in the next county. For that matter movies from most states in India, as well as those made in Bollywood, Hollywood (minus the songs, naturally) and for all I know in Timbuktu as well have mo-bikes and accidents woven into the motif. But… but… how the heck did that make my story any less impressive?? Aaaaargh!!
Every respectable writer expects and accepts criticism whether he/she likes it or not. But to have such mysterious criticism chucked at you makes you throw up your hands in despair and give up. Life is nothing but unfair. All you asked of it was some straightforward critiques which offered you a decent chance at reforming yourself. Yet what does it do?? Flings you a cryptic critic!!
Ahh well, one has to be philosophical and make do with what one gets. Being content is the key to a happy life whether you are a blogger or a postman. The postman mind you has to take a lot of criticism from the canines in his daily rounds. They hurl abuses at him, make unkind remarks about his countenance, his dress sense (unfair considering that he is obliged to wear the regulation uniform) and even make fun of the way he rides the bicycle, not to mention his technique of dropping mail into the letter box. Compare this with your lot as a writer. Not half as bad really!! After all you are only saddled with cryptic critics who speak in riddles. You just have to put your so-called-brain through some extra grind to decode the enigmatic comments he leaves behind for you to decipher. A much better life than the poor postman’s, don’t you think??
After much thought, circling the critique and looking at it from all possible angles, I have unraveled the mystery and have hit upon this brilliant idea. Brilliant by duffer standards of course!! I have decided to start watching all the movies that have ever been released in this big bad world. Carrying it one step ahead I am going to read up all the books ever written too. Once this mission is accomplished and only then I am going to write a story using characters, vehicles, emotions and incidents that have not occurred in any of them. Oh boy, that will be a story to reckon with. Just you wait!!
I too(in italics) am not(in italics) impressed…
A Tamilian critic endorsing another Tamilian critic.
To impress the Cryptic Critic…………..
it is not enough to watch all the movies ever released and all the books ever written to filter out all damn possible characters, bikes and situations and write that ultra unique(in italics) story…u gotta watch all those serials ever made for the telly tubby….
Only then will I be impressed (in italics) and put in a commendation for the Booker Prize…..
Kannan, writing comment under an alias huh?? 😛 BTW sorry to disappoint you, the Cryptic Critic is a Mallu!! Haha!! Anyway, I will add watching the serials on telly to my to-do list. Thanx for the suggestion! 😛
Think the aforesaid cocktail has been presented, drunk, diluted to the lowest ppm. And hence the blog didnt strike a chord to the 20 something.
The day you unravel the mystery of presenting the same cocktail in a new glass, with new garnish. Or maybe give it in the old cask and make it a blockbuster!
But yeah, stay away, far away from these 7pm-10pm soaps on ANY channel. They kill and bury your creativity!!
Now how about this….. The hero died driving a bullock cart??!?? (Bashing against another bullock cart) God knows if that had appeared in some movies (well… you never know… Indian movies can have anything in them!!! May be we can ask the critic if he knows!!!) You may watch movies and also read reviews but for heavens sake… don’t ever sit in front of those serials… I tell you… that will drive you nuts and make you a serial killer!
I was out of the circuit for a while and realize I have a lot to catch up on 🙂
well, the hero on a motorbike is an archetype shail. he transcends time and cultures :). my advice is don’t run away from him!
Bob Hoff said:
What I wonder about the “cryptic critic” is: does he write and share his thoughts and feelings and points of view about life’s many situations with others in a way that is always completely unique and impressive? With everyone who reads him? Always?
I doubt it. Even the masters, the professionals, the people who write day in and day out, the bloggers who share the contents of their hearts and minds and their dreams and goals cannot impress everyone always. It just can’t be done I believe.
That you want to improve your writing is laudable and understandable. You also know that the only way to improve from day to day, week to week, month to month, and longer, the only way possible, is by frequent practicing and being open to criticism.
But the criticism must be specific so that (a) you can decide how to do it, (b) decide if you need to do it, and (c) measure whether it ties into your writing goals and plans.
Asking unique questions about life, thinking about as many angles on a topic as possible, being open-minded to new ideas, and valuing authenticity in your own personality–all these help to continue your journey as a unique and thinking and people person.
You can ask someone about why something you wrote didn’t impress them, but you don’t have to worry about their opinion. As a thinking writers, you have no obligation to live your life by other people’s opinions.
I know that you know all this. I guess that I am writing it down to remind myself. If someone isn’t impressed by anything I do, I know two things: (1) I wasn’t trying to impress them (probably), and, (2) that is their right to have their own opinion and I hope to not lose sleep (or hair) over it.
Great writing–exxageration and satire are two of my favorites.
Bob Hoff said:
please subtract extra “is” in first line. Thanks
Balaji, as long as there are bikes running on the road, boy and girl and love between them, they cannot help but recur in cocktail or any other form in stories, movies, real life et al. So one would expect the boy-in-his-late-twenties to wake up to facts!! I suppose when he sees a real life accident he would deny it totally saying, “Oh no no no!! I am not impressed. So many people have already had accidents before this! How can you have one now??”
Don’t worry. I am not your TV soap addict. I have better things to do with my time. But then to impress people like him, I will have to watch each and reject that story line!! 😉 😛
Bubbly, Bullock carts are probably old story. A friend of mine at sulekha site had commented that I could write about a collision in outer space. Sigh!! Since she already mentioned it now I will have to look for some other form of accident!! 😉 😛
Oh yes, watching serials on TV will surely make you a serial killer!! Haha!!
Roopa, right on! The hero on a mo-bike transcends time and cultures. How well put. It is not his existence in the story, but the rest of the trappings that should do the ‘impressing’!
Nice to have you back!! 🙂
Bob, wow what a long comment! Thank you, your points are well noted. You know Bob, I am the last one to worry about whether something I wrote impressed someone or not. But when such a comment as the one above is made, it is excellent blog-fodder. I just cannot pass it off now, Can I?? 🙂 By now you know Bob how I like to write tongue-in-cheek posts!! 😉 Hehe… Satire is not something that ALL can understand or enjoy. I have had to face the consequences quite a few times from friends and extended family. The humor seems to go right above their heads and I have many of them seriously advising me that I shouldn’t be talking thus. I tell you, it has me non-plussed and at other times really puts me off!!
Right now I have been witnessing a royal row in another blogging site where a retired gentleman wrote a post with humorous undertones (his brand) which unfortunately was not understood by the young girl mentioned in it. Now the man is having nasty comments flung at him publicly at her site. Very sad. 😦
Bob Hoff said:
Yes, I must work on “saying more” with “less words.” In general, I guess I believe that with understatement lurks more chance for beiing misunderstood, so I “explain too much.” I need happy balance, my Friend.
“pattikal kurakkum…saardhavaahaka sangham munnootu pokum”
very loose translation:
let the dogs bark,but the processsion will go forward?
***dont know the exact english transaltion of the mallu version***
Swathi, nice saying! So true! 😛 But cannot pass up the opportunity for a blog provided so helpfully by the barkers!! 😉
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