Word of the Week #138:

Mercenary

You know what I love about freelancing?

The Money.

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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 #135:

Ennui

Watching the world is a part of being a writer.

Of course, one could say that it has always been a part of my personality, and one of the many things that make me naturally inclined towards this profession.

And when I do watch people, do you know what I see?

I see people leading empty lives…

Of course, not all people, and of course, not entirely empty, but the theme is clear and  tangible.

It does not surprise me, to be honest. When people spend their lives doing things they do not enjoy, and not doing things they do enjoy, there will be consequences.

Everyone seems to have these holes, and they keep trying to fill them with whatever they can find.

This is why they have to go out every weekend. This is why they have to go on trips every long weekend. This is why they have to party and get drunk every chance they get.

Now, there is nothing wrong with living your life to the fullest. However, this compulsion to find an escape from the emptiness… This is hardly living. Sounds more like running away from your life.

To be honest, it is quite tragic.

And all this for what? Some money? In the end, they don’t even make that much more than I do.

It seems silly to someone like me, but hey, I’m not known for being pragmatic, anyway…

Now, I am sure there must be someone looking at my life and thinking something similar.

“He does not have a job. He stays at home all day. Avoids people. Rarely goes out. Seldom parties. Never gets drunk. Such a sad life.”

Well, all I would like to say is that my life is full of things that I want and that matter to me.

In the end, that is enough for me.

Word of the Week #133:

Porcine

Say… What do you think about bacon?

I had some a couple of hours ago, and I just could not stop thinking about it. So, as one does, I decided to write about it.

You know, there are some things over which Western pop culture tends to obsess, right?

We all know the OG, the hotdogs and the hamburgers, the pizzas and the apple pies. Now, I still love a warm slice of apple pie, especially with some sugar and cinnamon dusted on top and a scoop of smooth vanilla ice cream, and firmly believe that people who cannot appreciate a good pizza simply should not be allowed to mate.

However, the Holy Grail has always been this thin strip of fatty cured meat which, quite honestly, always seemed far too overrated. I mean, it cannot be so good that grown men would swoon over it.

Little did I know that its majesty cannot be described. It needs to be experienced first-hand to be truly appreciated.

Of course, all of this love cannot good for my heart, right? Or all of this cholesterol…

But I can’t help falling in love with you.

Word of the Week #132:

Bide

Think of a profession. Any profession.

No, I am not going to guess which one you are thinking about. That is not what I do here…

No, think of a good profession, one that you wish was yours.

Okay, turns out, I will be guessing…

I guess a common answer would be a professional athlete. That is fun, after all, right?

Well, I agree, playing for money does sound fun. But think of it this way. Is every aspect of the profession fun?

Being able to take the pressure, the weight of expectations of your fanbase may not always be fun, but some people are still better equipped to handle it than others, right? But I am not talking about the mental aspect, right now.

No, the parts that nobody would enjoy are the more mundane ones. Things like the incessant travel. Nobody wants to take a cross-country flight after every game. But, it is something you cannot avoid.

It is the same for musicians, singers, comedians and such. You have to travel before you get to perform.

Lawyers have to do lots of unglamorous things, like examining briefs and filing motions and visiting jails. It is not all courtroom drama.

Now, I don’t know what part of being a doctor is fun… I do not understand that profession, to be honest.

But, you see, that is how all professions work. You need to do some of the annoying stuff in order to do the stuff you love.

It is like eating on orange. Nobody enjoys peeling an orange. But if you like eating an orange, you have to endure peeling it.

Being a writer is the same. There are so many parts that drive me so crazy: Editing, querying, marketing, dealing with publishers… None of it is really fun.

But you are done with all that, you get to do what you really love. Just sit back, and keep writing all day.

That’s the dream, right?

Well, I look forward to the day it comes true, once again…

Of course, I remember a time when my Mom would peel the oranges for me. A convenient system, you know.

If only I could find an agent to handle all the peeling for me, now…

HWAITING!

Word of the Week #125:

Amour

Ah, love.

Everyone loves love, right?

Isn’t this what we grew up watching in our movies? A young couple, hopelessly in love, who battle against all odds and either end up living happily ever after or die trying.

The formula is quite old. Romeo and Juliet was written over 400 years ago. Considering this, it is quite surprising that the story is not considered outdated.

Why?

Because our society still does not seem to understand that personal relationship should be just that: Personal.

Instead, it becomes a referendum for the entire country. Not just your close family and friends, everyone from your teachers to priests to gynaecologists feels the need to weigh in.

Of course, none of this concerns you when your parents have your back. But when they don’t? When they cannot accept the fact that their children are capable to making decisions for themselves?

That is how we end up with 251 reported cases of honour killings in one year. The key word here being ‘reported‘. Who knows how many of them slip under the radar because, well, dead men tell no tales.

I would generally go on to elaborate the widespread chilling effect this has on women in general but Kavita Krishnan already did a great job at it, in her article for Al Jazeera.

For now, let us look at something interesting.

Our Constitution gives us the right to freedom of speech and expression, which should enable us to express our feelings for whoever we happen to love, and any person who tries to stop us will face the wrath of our legal system, right? Right?

Actually, quite wrong…

You see, there is a catch. Just half a dozen lines later, the Constitution also states that the State can “impose reasonable restrictions” in the interest of “decency or morality“.

34% of our Members of Parliament had pending criminal cases when they last got elected, 21% being charged with serious crimes.

These are the people who get to “impose reasonable restrictions” on us in the interest of “decency or morality“.

After all, nothing says freedom like having your voices muffled by thugs.

Romeo and Juliet must be rolling in their graves.

Word of the Week #124:

Secession

Earlier today, on the eve of our 72nd Independence Day, the President addressed the nation.

Did you watch it?

Of course, I did not watch it live. I did not even know it was happening tonight. For some reason, I thought the speech happens on the Independence Day…

But, for the very first time in my life, I actually watched the entire thing.

Among his 21 minutes of remarks, one statement stood out in particular to me. I must warn you that the following is not a precise translation, but I believe I do his sentiments justice.

At the very least, I did a better job than the folks over at NDTV. Come on, guys. You are supposed to be the professionals, around here…

Expanding the extent of freedom is an unabating endeavour.

— President Ram Nath Kovind

Such alliteration… Wow…

Of course, it is news to nobody that we, as a nation, have a long way to go.

On 15th of August, 1947, we did successfully secede from the British Empire. I wonder if any country can truly be called independent, in this day and age, but we have maintained our sovereignty, which is commendable.

However, when it comes to freedom, we have a particularly long way to go.

Just a couple of years have passed since the JNU incident, wherein the government decided to arrest students protesting in the campus and charge them with sedition. Talk about overkill…

While the matter is still sub judice, the court asked the university to take no coercive action against the students, including Umar Khalid.

Naturally, the university responded by refusing to accept his PhD thesis. This was, once again, followed by much hullaballoo.

Now, Khalid was allegedly shot at just three days before the next hearing. Coincidence?

Maybe it was all unrelated… Maybe he is just unlucky… Who can say, am I right?

Of course, according to the National Crime Report Bureau, over 142 unrelated cases of violence against journalists have been registered in the past 3 years. One wonders how many passed not registered.

Interestingly enough, not a single murder of a journalist has been solved in the country over the past decade.

So much coincidence. It makes my nerves tingle.

Clearly, we have a long way to go. And a particularly difficult one at that.

But for now, we fly these colours. Let us talk more about it next week.