It’s a calming view.
The mountains and the faraway sea are deeply in love, quietly courting each other. The late afternoon sun gleams wide over the sea, spreading its warmth all over. The valley is a shade card of all the green and hay that you will ever see in your life. Little sparkling silver streams line the ridges of the mountains, playful and eager to trek downhill. The leaves on the tall trees that line the mountain walls are a lush green, fresh, wet from a recent rain. You are driving through the road, angle-sliced on the mountain’s slope, in your car, cruising at a comfortable uniform speed along the locus, lost in happy peaceful thoughts, one with yourself and with the world that allows you to be such. One hand on the steering wheel, the other resting on the window, elbow sneaking out just that little bit, feeling the moist misty breeze. You almost don’t need to pay attention to the many curves, the slight turn on the steering comes to you naturally.
That, is the experience that a good writer allows his readers.
Amit, in spite of being stood up up the last time, has tagged me on this Writer’s Meme. As some of you are aware, I never refuse tags, yet that one instance that I did, haunts me like the stigma that a criminal – willing to reform – carries. Society, will never allow me to integrate and be one with society. One slip-up, just one slip-up. Nope, not ducking this one. Like Amit, I followed the link back in blog-time to understand the nature of tag, which, I must admit has become slightly open to interpretation regarding the presentation. I’ll just write about writing, perhaps I am looking to get there, perhaps I have admired a few writers’ styles, perhaps I write like that.
It’s almost obvious, but structure and grammar are important. There are many arguments going in favour of the SMS language, for example, and I don’t quite disagree with it, yet there has to be a common minimum ground when communicating. There is a difference between writing to someone telling them that you will meet them somewhere and expressing a thought. If you are in the IT industry, you will remember the analogy they used to help us understand TCP/IP. My car comes to a screeching halt when I have to take a detour into the mind of a writer and wonder what was really intended. Then I have to make an assumption. Somewhere along the reading, I have to correct or reset those assumptions. That makes for bad reading (and therefore, bad writing). Till, A Bridge Across Forever, Richard Bach’s writing was the smoothest I ever experienced.
Conviction in one’s words is a good quality to have when writing something. Be it an office email or objectivist-philosophy. Tentativeness in a writer doesn’t make for good reading. What I call ‘padding’ is a big turn off and is the same as driving on a pot-holed road on a rainy night with squeaky wipers. Unnecessary words and contexts used to fill-in matter. I see that a lot in everyday writing. For that reason perhaps, I have started appreciating some of the writing skills of a few of the British columnists. Writing with conviction is very different from “writing to convince”, mind you. It is often easier to disagree with a writer who writes with conviction, because the clarity shines through. Ayn Rand is one writer who wrote with such conviction and clarity. No wonder there is a very small number of people, if at all, who sit on the fence about her ‘way of thinking’.
Amit has already a post up about Brown Writing, which is not about the writing skills of the British Prime Minister. Colonialism in language, you see, will take a while to be eradicated – till the kids who learn non-colonial English start teaching in schools, and till these kids start writing. I am somehow reminded of English, August by Upamanyu Chatterjee. However, I think it is wrong to ask Indians to write in a region-neutral/culture-neutral way. The essence of your writing is your ability to express your observation in your context. I believe that writer is the richest in her writing when there isn’t a conflict with readership demographics (the ‘will they relate’ dilemma). Sacred Games, by Vikram Chandra is one book that I have admired for that reason (there is of course a whole lot more to admire in that book). He refuses to provide a glossary of Mumbai-isms; refuses to even italicise them where they appear. So you perhaps have a lot of non-Indian readers searching for Mumbai profanity on Wikipedia. Take any -ism and that is what makes the writer, the writer she is. Take the -ism out and you have an unimaginative translator.
A picture is worth a thousand words. If those thousand words are well chosen and well crafted, give me the words – anytime. As a visual person, I have great regard and respect for writers who are masters of imagery. Who are able to build the image with words, rather than colours. As a writer you don’t have to detail out the colour of the couch or the texture of the upholstery. Yet, some writers make visual magic with less than thousand words. Shakespeare is the one magician who rules this show. Sometimes, he uses less than a hundred words, to tell, not of a picture, but of a thousand pictures. That is also one of the reasons, I always prefer to read a book first, if there is a movie based on it. It’s easier that way. All through The Namesake, by Jhumpa Lahiri, I had my own personal DVD being authored in my head. Even after having seen the movie, I am glad, my movie is still doing well at the box-office.
Some writing, however, is sheer pleasure that is beyond explanation and analysis. Perhaps a combination of all the above and the various things that bloggers before me have mentioned, when they took this meme. Humour has a large role to play in such writing. Most of all, however, it has to be human.
This is such a wonderful tag to do. So much better than the 10-things-about-you kind! Thank you, Amit, and I do hope you will be more generous when you tag me next time! I hope I have done justice.
Every tag deserves TLC (Tender Loving Care), and I know a few who will do just that:(in alphabetical order):