Word of the Week #160:

Remunerative

I think I have spoken a lot about how excruciating editing can be, right?

“While writing is like a joyful release, editing is a prison where the bars are my former intentions and the abusive warden my own neuroticism.”
― Tiffany Madison

This is what I mentioned way back

Well, these are the problems that arise when you are editing your own work. Editing words that someone else wrote is an entirely different scenario.

It almost feels like walking into a field full of weeds, a machete in each hand, and just swinging with gay abandon!

Like, getting paid to find fault in someone else’s work. That’s the dream, right?

And if there aren’t too many faults? Why, that is just a walk through a field. Nobody minds that, right? Especially if you are getting paid for it.

So, remember: Writing as a passion is great. Much admirable. But as a profession, editing is far more fruitful.

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Word of the Week #151:

Aerodynamics

Imagine you are a child.

Done? Good.

Now, imagine your parents telling you the following things at the following ages.

At 8: Kid, stay away from aeroplanes.

At 12: Kid, stay away from aeroplanes. They are not safe.

At 15: Kid, you are staying away from aeroplanes, right? You better… It is for your own good.

At 18: Kid! I have told you a thousand times, stay away from aeroplanes! No talking about them, no looking at them, no thinking about them. Nothing. This is not how we raised you.

At 21: Kid, if you do not stay away from aeroplanes, I swear to God, I will shoot you both out of the sky!

At 25: Kid, you have been good all your life, and as a reward, I am getting you a plane! So what if you have never been in, or even around, a plane… So what if you have no idea how to fly it, how to land, how to maintain it, how to make sure you won’t kill yourself in a fiery crash within the next year… Oh, I’m just so happy! You know what we should do? We should celebrate this news with thousands of people we barely know and will never meet for many, many years!

Sounds ridiculous, right? Well, that is how marriage works in India.

No wonder it is such a bumpy ride.

Word of the Week #149:

Ambience

As a writer, I often get the opportunity to converse with readers and learn what they like or dislike in books.

Over the past few years, too many of the readers I encountered are of an unusually impatient variety. 

They have neither the temperament to endure the few pages, and occasionally chapters, of descriptive background a good book might need before the plot takes over, nor do they have the ability to appreciate the mood that needs to be bolstered by the seemingly insignificant details in the background of the story.

These are the kind of people who think Edgar Allan Poe is dull and Agatha Christie is slow. Well, not that Christie isn’t slow, but that is part of her charm.

It may seem odd, but I believe this impatience is borne out of mental lethargy. Minds that have been benumbed by decades of cinematic indulgence.

Think about it. If I want to talk about a secluded cabin in the woods, it would take me hundreds of words to make the reader understand the extent and limits of its seclusion. In contrast, a movie can do that in a single still, and cover the cabin, the woods, the weather, the sky, everything you could want and more. 

After all, they are not stupid to say that a picture is worth a thousand words.

But in a book, there are only words. And this is exactly why we need thousands of them to tell our story.

If only each reader could differentiate the subtitles of a movie from a book…

Word of the Week #137:

Proposition

As I mentioned a few weeks back, I am currently in the process of querying, and for the first time I feel like I am actually doing a good job.

Now, for those unfamiliar with the term, querying refers to contacting literary agents and hoping they like your work enough to want to work with you.

Over the past few weeks, I have noticed that the process is eerily similar to asking a girl out.

Think about it.

Firstly, you always present yourself in the best light. You talk about yourself and what you do, and hope they like what they see.

You learn about their interests and preferences, and modify your approach to convince them how you can cater to those.

You adhere to their rules, even if you do not understand or appreciate them.

“Double-spaced manuscript? Sure! Why? Well, this is not for me to ask, is it?”

You start feeling good about yourself. Why wouldn’t you? You’re nice. You have worked hard all your life. You should have confidence in what you bring to the table.

After you have poured your heart on the page and hit the send button, however, you find every single thing you would have done differently, from that one comma before a conjunctive adverb to that shirt you wore to your high school graduation. What teenager appreciates Pink Floyd! Well, there is nothing to be done about it now.

And once you do send it, you are consumed by your curiosity. You cannot possibly just sit there and wait for a response; you have way too much on the line. Unfortunately, that is what you have to do. You cannot keep badgering them.

“Did you read it? Did you like it? Did you like me? Say, want to make this official?”

You may keep thinking that the whole day, but saying that will get you labelled a creep. You do not want that, do you?

And if, as is quite likely, maybe you get a rejection. And not even a thoughtful, well-crafted rejection that tells you what you did wrong or what you could have done better. Nothing that shows you that they respect the efforts you made. Just, “Yeah, I don’t wanna…”

Obviously, your heart sinks. You are devastated. You want to ask, “Why? Why not me? What do I lack?”

It is true. It is natural. But ask yourself this, is that the kind of men you want to be? Really, are you going to be that guy?

Surely, there could’ve been many reasons why you did not make the cut.

Maybe they’ve never seen a guy like you and don’t want to take a risk. Maybe they’ve seen too many guys like you and want something new. Maybe this is just not the right time for them. Maybe they are already with someone. Or maybe they believe you are just not ready.

All understandable reasons, you would realise.

So, what do you do now? Well, you cannot keep wallowing forever, right?

Maybe you work on yourself a little more. Understand what sets you apart, and what holds you back. Present yourself better. Maybe trim down on some of that mass around the middle.

You keep improving, and you keep looking. Because you know that once you find the right now, together you are going to build something magical.

In the end, that is what makes this endeavour worth it.

HWAITING!

Word of the Week #134:

Balefire

Gah! I am so tired… I’m in so much pain…

Why, you ask? I mean, I hope you do. You seem nice, after all. Okay, I’ll tell you.

Have you heard of a thing called the Halo effect?

It is basically why women forget about the pain of past pregnancies and choose to have another child.

If you think about, it is the entirety of Domino’s business strategy. The remote possibility of some remnant of a happy memory will draw a customer back is the only reason they are still in business.

Now, you see, I love playing basketball. The thrill, the joy, I can hardly put it in words. And that is basically what I am supposed to do, right?

So, anyway, I haven’t played much over the past few months. Hardly any since I hurt my knee in May, and definitely none since I moved in July. I have been back to the gym and on the court, though. Nonetheless, the feeling of a real game is not something you can ever emulate in any solo drill.

As it would turn out, I had forgotten quite a few things about the game over these months.

I am still good at making passes, which is a relief in itself, but getting into spots where I can receive passes was something with which I really struggled tonight.

And my defence, in general, was just abysmal. Like, for the first few possessions, I seemed to have no idea where to go or what to do.

Luckily, I am a quick learner, and apparently an even quicker relearner. Within half an hour, I had improved drastically in every aspect.

That is when it hit me; I had forgotten the most important thing about basketball.

It hurts… Hurts like hell… Hurts like a hundred nails being hammered into my shins… Hurts so much that I have been whining about it for the past four hours!

Gah!

Of course, it is not like that will stop me from going back, tomorrow evening.

Yeah, it will hurt, but it will be worth it.

Well… At least as long as I don’t break my knee, or my shoulder, or my ankle, or something new.

Word of the Week #127:

Gastronomy

I like cheesecakes and I cannot lie
You other brothers can’t deny
That when a girl walks in with an itty bitty plate
And a cheesecake in your face
You get sprung!

I love good food.

Maybe you’ve had a long, dreary week. Maybe your spouse is being especially annoying. Maybe you didn’t get any sleep because your cat peed in your bed.

Whatever may go wrong in the world, the moment you put that first spoonful of cheesecake in your mouth, all your pain and sorrow just melts along with its soft, creamy love…

Unless you are lactose intolerant, perhaps. Or diabetic.

Still, you know what I mean, right? Food does have the power to change the world, your world, from the inside.

It is not surprising that I love good food. Who doesn’t, right?

Well, at least that is what I used to think, till I really went out in the world and met more people.

“Tell me what you eat and I will tell you what you are.”

— Anthelme Brillat-Savarin

I often notice that people who have no appreciation for good food are rather bland individuals.

I mean, look at this:

Or this:

Or this:

How can I ever trust someone who does not love these, right? Sounds reasonable to me.

“There is no love sincerer than the love of food.”

— George Bernard Shaw

So give me some cheesecake, and you will see how much I can love you.