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To write and not to wrong November 29, 2013

Posted by Sharath Rao in Uncategorized.
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What does it take to write?

Kurt Vonnegut (of all) apparently said – “When I write, I feel like an armless, legless man with a crayon in his mouth.” He wrote anyway.

I, however, am a lesser being. What does it take me to get down to writing?

I need the write/right environment, the ambience, the quality, the setting, the context and – what is the word I am looking for – the buzz. In case all of that was not conveying enough, I can even think of a word in a language I am even less comfortable with – a Hindi word – the right ‘Mahaul’. An elaboration follows.

Yellowish light. Incandescent is probably best, even if that yellow is not green enough. Not in the wavelength sense, but environmentalist sustainability sense. However, having researched this topic in the aisles at the University library local Home Depot, I think soft white is best.

The music needs to be right. That would mean instrumental because words can be very distracting. I might want to look up who wrote the lyrics. Have I heard this song before? Probably, but it was a different person singing because the voice isn’t as familiar as the words are. So I have to google it. Soft instrumental sure, but preferably no trumpet notes. Some violin and/or cello is ideal because there is a delicious melancholy to it and most of my writing is sad (I will let the pun be). I say violin or cello because I cannot often/ever tell between them. That apart, guitar and piano are always great. Among Indian classical, it will be Sitar, Sarod and (Mohan) Veena. What strings all of these instruments together? Yes, strings indeed. Or “string operations” if you will.

The time has to be right too – I must start writing preferably at the hour or half past the hour. Often the quarter hour too, but its tempting that if the time were 3:37 I would rather put it off till 4 pm than 3:45 pm. 3:45 is a nice enough as a round number but putting off to the nearest quarter hour does not satisfy the inner procrastinator.

Having found examples of music pieces that will do it, I need to create a playlist of these. Wait, will that playlist last long enough though. Hmm, either I can put it in repeat mode or maybe just find a pandora channel which lasts in perpetuity. Except it can be distracting if I am distracted enough by an unexpected piece – it is a pandora’s box after all – to have to google it.

Hey, its a midweek and wednesday is typically when Pratap Bhanu Mehta’s column is out in the Indian Express. Can’t miss any of those; I often feel like I live from one of his articles to the next. Oh ok, not out yet. Is it a holiday in India or maybe his column might be out tomorrow? Just to be sure, let me check pbmehta@twitter which he updates whenever his column is out. Verified that there isn’t one yet. But Indian Express has otherwise great op-eds. I will check th0se out.

Can I check twitter just once before I start? Maybe I will see a nice piece of writing, or well, a link to a nice piece and be inspired. Yeah, I have been there for hours in the past months and without being inspired enough to write. But maybe that inspiring article is just around the corner. This time it is different.

Actually brainpickings is the best source for just general inspiration. Never lets one down – except when it kills with the occasional monotony. Or Farnam Street.

Inspired. Ready to start.

Restroom break. Even before I start writing. While I am at it, I can take a bath too.

I need to find an editor I love. Actually I found one – its called Draftin. So, this is actually taken care of. Next one.

Its been a while since I changed the blog theme. Let me do that first.

Who is going to be reading this anyway? Those days of blogging back in 2005 were great. We had this group of people who blogged and generated conversations around each others’ posts. Nobody I know from those days or otherwise is a regular blogger anymore. Wait, perhaps I can contact some of these guys and get them to resume all over again. But then having myself made so many false restarts at blogging, I have little credibility now! So let me first write a few posts before I speak to them.

I should get a cup of hot tea. After that. I promise.

And to the most important thing for the last – what do I write about?

I could write about A but A might end up reading it.

I could write about B but B may not read it after all.

I could write about C but that might come across as being too opinionated.

I can’t write about D because I am not an expert on the topic.

It is hard to take a clear stand on E because I have never been in the other person’s shoes. I cannot write about E.

I want to write about F, this book that I am reading but maybe after I finish it.

I want to do some research before I write on G.

That is when I go meta and write about why I am struggling to write. That is why, coming back to Kurt Vonnegut, I remain the lesser being.

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