You know what I love about freelancing?
You know what I love about freelancing?
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.
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.
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…
Let me start off by asking you a question. Did you know what Fax actually stands for?
Well, not much anymore, right?
Such cheap shot… I know…
Anyway, let me tell you something I really do not like. No, I’m not talking about copy machines. I have nothing against them. After all, the ability to copy dozens of chapters worth of notes in a matter of hours is nothing short of divine.
Do you know how many of the 50 highest grossing movies of all time are not an adaptation, sequel, prequel or spin-off of an existing piece of art? 5!
Sounds ridiculous, right?
Well, of those five movies, three were created by Disney, one of which was inspired by Hamlet.
The other two of those five, which also happen to be the two highest grossing movies ever, were Avatar and Titanic, both written by James Cameroon. And even Titanic was based on real life events, right?
So, how many of those 50 movies can be called truly original? 3? Is that not insane?
Still, I can accept that adaptations are more than just copies. They do add a lot to the original artwork. After all, Hermione was always a memorable character, but Emma Watson’s performance made it unforgettable.
What I truly cannot stand are these reboots and remakes that keep popping up and ruining something wonderful. And this is especially palpable among live-action adaptions in animated series.
Let us take an example. Have you seen Death Note? Well, for the uninitiated, let me just say that Death Note is one of the best anime series ever made. It follows the life of a young boy with extreme intelligence, ethics and discipline, and how his acquisition of a divine object leads him down a dark path.
Good story, right?
Now, Netflix decided to make a live-action adaptation, and they had to make a few changes to the plot to make it more palatable to American audiences. Is that difficult? Apparently not. Eliminate the intelligence, ethics and discipline from the protagonist, and you have an American-style plot ready for production.
And this is still not the worst of the worst. But let us not go down that particular rabbit hole, or we will be here all night.
Let us just bunker down, and prepare to weather this torrent of faecal remains of the things we know and love…
What has been will be again,
what has been done will be done again;
there is nothing new under the sun.
— Ecclesiastes 1:9
You know what I truly dislike about this country? The labour laws… Or perhaps the seeming lack thereof.
How many hours is an average person expected to work in a week? In most reasonable parts of the world, the answer is 40. 8 hours a day, 5 days a week. As I said, reasonable.
In India, however, the answer can jump up to 60. The law actually states 9 hours a day, 6 days a week, but who cares about that, right?
In most parts of the world, every employee gets around 35 days of paid leave every year. Plus weekends, which gives us roughly 140 days a year. In India? 25… So adding a lone Sunday each week, we get around 80.
Add to that the geographical size, lack of affordable and reliable transportation, and the high concentration of jobs in urban centres, odds are you would not get to visit your home more than twice or thrice every year.
And, as I probably do not even need to mention, the pay is far from stellar.
Growing up, I was always led to believe that we work in order to live, but I do not see much evidence of life around here.
Knowing all this, one might wonder just how this can continue, right? Why do we, in India, tolerate such treatment for so little compensation?
Well, the answer is simple. If you don’t, someone else will.
We are a nation of many people. Too many people. Way too many people.
And as the workforce keeps growing, the employment opportunities struggle to keep up. It does not take a genius to realise this system is built to implode.
I just hope I do not get caught in the aftershocks.