Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Blog thoughts, returning

I stopped posting on my blog in late September. I was changing jobs and that involved tying up a lot of loose ends, so I really didn’t have the time to write decent or at least entertaining posts. Now I’ve been in the new job for nearly three months, settled in all right, travelling a fair bit – I have both the material to write about and time in which to write about it. So I should go back on my blog, shouldn’t I?

But I’ve been thinking about my blogging. It started out as a search for affirmation. I hadn’t written for a long time and I needed to know whether I could write worth a damn. Now I know there are 30, maybe 40 people out there who like the way I write. Some of you are even kind enough to say so. And some of you are scathing, but funny. Of course it’s all about the comments. There’s this sense of community. People we know, cyber-presences we even like, without the need to be polite or to get dressed when you interact. People who are around without ever actually getting into each other’s space. Perfick, as Pop Larkin might say. Quite perfick.

Thanks for dropping by, folks. Getting to know you has been good.

What next?

I’d love to be a writer. A person who makes a living by writing. I’d love to write stuff that’s clever, put together words that can stir the reader, make him think, laugh, react. And at the end of it, earn his admiration. A good writer. A story-teller, a thinker.

That means work. Research. Thinking. Planning. Plotting. Writing. Reviewing. Re-writing. And the business side – finding an agent, a publisher, all that jazz. It’s a long process, it doesn’t happen overnight (unless you’re Siddhanth Dhanwant Shanghvi and get a good press for the most utter mush.)

Because after all, I want to be a successful writer. Of course, being read is itself a kind of success. But do I have the stomach to spend a year or two writing a book, getting it published, then watching it sell 1322 copies in three years? It would kill me. Because I’ve had things easy in life, I don’t know whether I have it in me to buckle down and go through the grind. There’s no fire in my gut, I don’t really want anything badly enough.

That’s the rub. To produce something good, something of value, you have to want it badly enough to give part of your life to it. If not your whole life. And I’m having too good a time in my life the way it is. Do I want to change my life? Do I want it badly enough? Only one way to find out, of course. Go out on a limb so that I have to write if I am to survive.

Difficult. My day job pays the bills, keeps me in a nice flat in a nice part of town, sends me to interesting places. Do I dare give that up on the off-chance that enough people will like my book to pay for it, pay me to write more? Nope. I do not dare. “Time to turn back and descend the stair / with a bald spot in the middle of his hair”.

Besides, I don’t even know what I’d write about. What moves me?

More than anything else, I like humour. The most under-rated genre of creation. Oh, it can pay well. Dave Barry probably makes far more money than, say, Julian Barnes. But we still have the entire “burbling pixie” syndrome. The Master was just about as good as it gets, but was he ever considered a writer? People have a sneaking guilt about laughing too much. Just because the world is mostly a pretty terrible place and human beings are quite vile, we feel that we should go all sombre and long-faced and stop laughing. Silly, because the only way to deal with a crazy world is to laugh at it. “Nothing is real / and nothing to get hung about”.

I love my city, but do I know enough to write about it? I don’t think so. Not enough about the geography, let alone the history. Going everywhere in a chauffeured car, I don’t feel the city. This is the right time of year to try that out, February onwards we’ll be back to sweat and B.O. It’s an idea. But who will overcome sloth to implement it?

Travel …. I just read two Pico Iyer interviews (thanks to the Griff) and Mr. Iyer says he plans his travel, does a lot of reading about it before he starts. He also says he takes copious notes and then “leaves them on the other side of the room” while he writes, now that sounds a lot like me. I had a week in Hong Kong last month, what have I written about it? Zilch. Nix. The same vast inertia.

So basically, I need to get off my ass and write. If I want to gain readership, I should write about Ibiza. Or Jessica Simpson. Or Greg Chappell. Just start writing. ANYthing.. Then keep adding to it whenever. The end result – if it ever ends – will appear to be cobbled together, but then I can only become a writer by writing. And by reading, as the Bouncer pointed out once.

So I guess that’s what I shall do. Set aside an hour every day to write. Anything. And perhaps in 2008, there will be more of me to read than there is on my blog.

Insh’allah.

Meantime, there’s always the Simple Desultory Philippic.

Have a good one in 2007, blog-folks.

**** ****


29 comments:

Ph said...

Yay!

Ph said...

The Council is happy to see The Old Man being so indulgent. You are hereby forgiven. Not without a warning though.

km said...

JAP, have you been watching Preston Sturges' "Sullivan's Travels"? Because it sounds like you've been watching "Sullivan's Travels". All this talk about hitting the road to experience the city and all....

Just in case you haven't seen that wonderful film, see what the great Sturges has to say about making people laugh.

bongopondit said...

Nice to see you back, Happy New Year, totally agree with how underrated humor writing is, and looking forward to more in 2007.

enjay said...

What a perfect way to start the new year!! Even my google reader is grinning. Don't ever stop again, I ran out of all your archives this time.

neha vish said...

Heppy Noo Year JAP. :)
Write. Even if it is about bald heads.

DoZ said...

Howdy stranger. Welcome back, and happy new year and what not. Write anything, so long as you do write!

Chronicus Skepticus said...

Oh *finally*!

We don't know what brought him back, but we are very glad it did.

Falstaff said...

Welcome back.

Have you read Stephen Fry's new book - The Ode Less Travelled? Fry is dealing specifically with writing poetry, but the point he makes is probably worth keeping in mind:

"None of these adventures into technique and proficiency will necessarily turn you into a genius or even a proficient craftsman. Your view of Snow on York Minster...doesn't make you Turner, Constable or Monet. Your version of 'Fur Elise' on electric piano might not threaten Alfred Brendel, your trumpet blast of 'Basin Street Blues' could be so far from Satchmo that it hurts and your take on 'Lela' may well stand as an eternal reproach to all those with ears to hear...You are neither Great Artist, sessions professional, illustrator or admired amateur.

So what? ...You have another life, you have family, work and friends, but this is a hobby, a pastime, Fun. Do you give up the Sunday kick-around because you'll never be Thierry Henry? Of course not. That would be pathologically vain. We don't stop talking about how the world might be better just because we have no chance of making it to Prime Minister. We are all politicians. We are all artists. In an open society everything the mind and hands can achieve is our birthright. It is up to us to claim it....The average practitioner doesn't expect to win prizes, earn a fortune, become famous or acquire absolute mastery in their art, craft or sport - or as we would say now, their leisure pursuit. It really is enough to have fun."

Don't do this because it might get you somewhere. Do it because you enjoy it. You don't need, and won't find, a better reason.

J. Alfred Prufrock said...

Ph, I 'umbly note the warning. (Oh, THAT Council?)

KM, have you been meeting Mary? Because it sounds like you've been meeting Mary.
Since I haven't seen that wonderful film and TGGG (The Great God Google, since you didn't ask) does not throw up any writings by Preston Sturges, lay it on me!

Pondit Moshai, koutuk rosh niye kichhu gombhir gobeshona hoke taholey

Enjay, thank you thank you, the cockles of my heart are positively steaming.

Neha, how about fat tums? (Or bums)

Zihuatan, I hear and obey.

Chronicus, how about YOU post now?

Falstaff, I entirely agree with Fry and you (how reassuring to note that you have the time to read Fry!) Except that I want to be rich and can't see any other glimmer of hope (nobody even OFFERS to bribe me, such a downer).

J.A.P.

PrufrockTwo said...

Welcome back, and all the very best with that writing resolution.

Anonymous said...

In my opinion and experience, solemn resolutions to write are usually an indication of complete future unproductivity.

DO NOT let that happen to you.

Anonymous said...

Ah! First day, First show and 12 comments. Not bad at all!!!

Plumpernickel

Ravages said...

If these comments say anything, they say you ought to write. You have three readers in Madras.
Write, kindly sir.

Sunbeamz said...

Yessss!
So happy to see you back!
Here's to that book!

adopted bong said...

the bad, bald penny returns. I for one, am glad - this hiatus was unseemly. i hope you keep writing, there is much to be said and read and loads of people to do it...
Cheers!

Anonymous said...

Finally! :)

Tabula Rasa said...

allah-u-akbar. you may not think of yourself as a writer, but do think of me as a reader.

may you think of yourself as a writer.

joyee said...

So glad you are back. Have a good year too.

Anonymous said...

JAP,

I really like your writing. But you remind me of the Judge in The Inheritance of Loss.

Even your blog leader lnes are Floyd.:)

No hard feelings. I am guilty of a little bit of the same. With much less talent.

Welcome back. Missed you. Keep up the good stuff.

Tempted to leave you a couple of couplets from Ghalib. Scared that, it would end up being a novelty. And Wodehouse, mainstream.

--Obviously tormented..:)

Srin said...

I had the feeling I would see a new post here when I clicked on the link. Good luck with writing. I was incidentally thinking of writing too.

Anonymous said...

There is this reader of your blog in Moscow too.. a few months down the line, it could also be Vladivostok.. you have tremendous global reach ;-) Just keep writing.

J. Alfred Prufrock said...

Hola, all. Thanks for dropping by, you folks are my major motivation (as I was saying to a potential blogger over the weekend - Goo-roo, get your ass in here!)

I've been good and written spur-of-the-moment posts, even one on a plane, but I can't upload them because of a wi-fi frequency mismatch. Here's hoping I don't have to rely on Teuton keyboards tomorrow and can find a port to plug my laptop into.

Till then, my lords and gentles, I await your further utterances.

J.A.P.

J. Alfred Prufrock said...

glaoh
Hola, all. Thanks for dropping by, you folks are my major motivation (as I was saying to a potential blogger over the weekend - Goo-roo, get your ass in here!)

I've been good and written spur-of-the-moment posts, even one on a plane, but I can't upload them because of a wi-fi frequency mismatch. Here's hoping I don't have to rely on Teuton keyboards tomorrow and can find a port to plug my laptop into.

Till then, my lords and gentles, I await your further utterances.

J.A.P.

Karthik said...

This augurs well for 2007. Welcome back.

Anonymous said...

gvfgfJust a line to say I also came , saw and read ... good to see you back .

Prerona said...

Happy New Year and Happy Birthday
You didnt get my sms?
I am back in Edinburgh now

Anonymous said...

Hello JAP. Two things that prompted me to comment on this post of yours :
1) "Insh’allah" - There is a person who is very close to me who uses this phrase not very often. But everytime he uses it he really means it and wants his wish to be fulfilled by God. So, for the same sentiment I wish you a great deal of luck with your book.
2) Inertia - I have faced this situation myself of doing something different in my comfortable life. To risk a few things etc etc..I havent managed to get around to it but sure hope you do :)

Anonymous said...

good to see you back, SOB.