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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 or Shail Writer version 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!!