Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Right for a Cause

Friends, Family, Countrymen!

A few friends and myself have been running a ‘Writing Marathon’, where we are supposed to bring up 50k words in a month; each one on their own; from Nov 1st to Nov 30th midnight. Basically come up with a novel in 30 days. The competition is called ‘NaNoWriMo’, short for ‘National Novel Writing Month’. Their website is www.nanowrimo.org

If you want to understand what its all about the gist is out here…

And like other marathons this one too asks you to get ‘friends, family and countrymen’ to pledge stuff if you complete…. You can donate for the cause out here. The donations will go towards building ‘Libraries in South East Asia’. For more on how to donate check out details here.

Right now I’m at 28027 words…. 10 days to go with approx 2200 a day… Well I came up with a name for the Novel too, which is ‘Eight Queens’. I have uploaded an excerpt out here.

Thinking about a story is the easy part. But then trying to get it out in so many words is the tough part… and finding time to write is even tougher…. You realize that you can’t write with noise around you, with the TV on, with people talking…. So you try to find a corner of the house where you go and lock yourself… sometimes its late at night, other times its early morning…. when everyone else is asleep!!!!! But then you get frustrated that the words you are churning out are not worth it and you get depressed…. Your depression increases cause usually a world of feelings should be compressed in a single line but that is not happening… Then you make a pact with yourself that its just the first draft and you go on…. You create a character who one day wakes up and realizes that ‘Life is like a box of Chocolates’, but by then he has Diabetes !!!! And then you create another character who is surprised about the reasons behind his favourite colour being his favourite colour and is so appalled with his reasons that in the bargain becomes obsessed with going and standing at traffic signals !!!!!!

But its fun too in its own way…. Maybe I’ll just kill the guy at the traffic signal with a car that can’t see him cause its traveling at the speed of light. Or whatever :-)

The friends who are writing or were thinking of writing are in the CC list. Tell them that its good to write… CHEER THEM ON!!!!! Do your bit…. The links point to their orkut pages….

Reema – has reached 27000 words… will get to 50 k with a little bit of cheering on….
Goli – started writing and got depressed thinking about the topic he chose :-) so decided to scrap it and is writing on something else.
Prateek – is thinking of writing
Jaya – was thinking of starting to write from 20th ….
Neeti – would have loved to write but as usual is busy.

After November will be the time when I put some patterns to the randomness of words and try to make it readable so NO I won’t let anyone read it November end :-) Still have to add symmetry to words and thoughts and actions and reactions…. Without symmetry and rhythm and structure and flow it would just be noise….

Came across this interesting discussion on Poetry and Prose:
Poetry is not a turning loose of emotion but an escape from emotion. Poetry is not an expression of personality but an escape from personality. But only those who have personality and emotions know what it means to want to escape from these things --- T.S. Elliot.

Poetry is like severing an artery and watching one’s lifeblood gush out. It demands emotion. Prose on the other hand is a flat, tranquil sheet of water on which one can tack about at one’s leisure, making patterns on the surface. Prose does not demand emotion. In poetry the action can take place everywhere and nowhere but prose demands a specific setting…

Right on!



Noble cause and all. The earth is but a global village and we are all bound together as humans, no? There is a level where one rises above the mundane run of daily affairs and sees things from a macro perspective - a level where one fancies that one can make a difference yet.

There are those who say that these are all momentary delusions of grandeur that afflict the romantic at heart. They say that we are all too insignificant to be able to make a difference. This too shall pass, they say, all the while sagaciously nodding their heads as if they know something that the others dont and passing knowing smiles at others like them. Causes are subjective things, they say.

I must admit that they create doubts in my head. "Is this the difference I really want to make to the world? I am sure the kids in South East Asia are in desperate needs of libraries. Libraries are great things. Each time I enter one, I feel as if I am a little kid in a candy store. And yet, I cant choose between the kids in Laos who want books, the kids in Somalia who dont have food and water, the kids in Darfur, Iraq, Afghanistan and all around the world who dont have parents or guardians and my own desire to buy that beautiful 32' plasma TV."

I am not that cynical. Not yet. Doubt is good, I say. Makes us re-examine and rediscover that what really matters.

Cheers to you and the others who have embarked on this mission. Kudos to you for the very fact that you took it upon yourselves (regardless of whether you get there or not). Years ago, when I made a documentary (only draft- being a dreamer, I ran out of funds before I got through to the end), I realized in the end that I was paying too much attention to the end all the time. In the end, its the journey that you relish more than anything. Nevermind what the cynics say about your ideals, your dreams of making this world a better place and about (and this is where the fear gets personal) your writing skills. March on full steam and complete those goddamn 50k words.

One thing though- please dont write 50k words just because that is what the competition (or whatever Nanowrimo is) mandates. Some of the greatest books I have read have been 100 pages odd - perhaps about 15000 words or maybe even lesser. Come to think of it, I dont even know how many words they had. It was enough that they provided joy, or new thoughts or ideas of whatever it was that I was seeking when I read them. That ensured that I just flowed with the wordstream and never bothered to stop and count the number of words. I am not a great one for quantification. A picture, they say, is worth a thousand words. I dont know how they arrived at that number. I suspect something missing because the most beautiful ones I have seen have left me wordless. So write or paint or photograph or whatever it is that you feel like doing. Please pick your own style, your own way of making a difference to the world.

And please dont choose your cause just because it seemed better than the rest in the list provided by someone else. Libraries in SE Asia or food and water in Somalia, do it for reasons that matter to you the most. Heck, do it for a plasma TV if that is what appeals to you. Better than the other causes is, in my humble opinion, not good enough.

If some day I found out that our dreams can only be picked from silos of prebundled ideas, it will only go to prove that the cynics were right all along. Dream on then and if you feel that you did justice to yourselves at the end of it all, please send along the novel(s) that you write.


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