Breaking the silence

This is your typical end of year blog. It is a web-ritual of sorts, and for someone who is just about starting to find some meaning in rituals, this might well be the lifeboat, or more likely, the proverbial tinka — that is the last (and useless on its own) hope of one who’s drowning.

Two Zero Zero Eight buzzed past me. I was hoping to become more serious about my writing, and more methodical. Going by the complete lack of method in the madness that my writing has been, the latter aim should have been a cakewalk — any method would have been an improvement! And yet, at the close of the year, I look back and am amazed to have missed that simplest of milestone. In fact doing worse. Apart from a few poems, a character sketch, and a few non-fiction pieces, which weren’t even well written, this has been the longest dry patch, since I started blogging (a good five years back).

Only the geniuses can thrive without method, if anyone can. And it’s no surprise that this dry patch has come at this time. But then, I like to think of the year as the year of osmosis. Yes, osmosis is vicarious, it’s non-productive. Yet, it nourishes, it makes the roots stronger, helps them grow deeper (no this is no shampoo ad). In ’08, I absorbed a lot. Audio-books helped improving the score too — turning hours spent driving into reading hours (if one can call that reading).

It’s in the audio-book format that I rekindled my love for non-fiction. Here are some good non-fiction books that I read (or listened to) this year:

  • Guns, Germs and Steel (Jared Diamond)
  • Last Chance to See (Douglas Adams)
  • Salmon of Doubt (Douglas Adams) — still reading
  • Life on Air (David Attenborough)
  • Omnivore’s Dilemma (Michael Pollan)
  • In Defense of Food (Michael Pollan)
  • The World is Flat (Thomas Friedman) — still reading
  • The Tipping Point (Michael Gladwell)

Then I decided to try my hand on fiction in audio-book format. I picked up The World According to Garp, which incidentally I was reading as a book too. While driving, I would listen to the audio-book, and otherwise, I read it. It was an interesting experience. And Although I still vouch for the reading, especially for fiction, I must confess that my reservations about the (audio-book) medium were unfounded.

As for the other fiction works that I read this year, it was all the old-style reading. Here is the list (not exactly exhaustive, but covers almost all the good ones, I believe):

  • South of the Border, West of the Sun (Murakami Haruki)
  • The Kite Runner (Khaled Hosseini) — okay
  • Pather Dabi (Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay)
  • Ravan and Eddie (Kiran Nagarkar) — okay
  • House for Mr. Biswas (V. S. Naipaul)
  • Such a Long Journey (Rohinton Mistry)
  • Mysterious Flame of Queen Loanna (Umberto Eco)
  • The Island of the Day Before (Umberto Eco) — still reading
  • Ficciones (Jorge Luis Borges)
  • The Sea of Poppies (Amitav Ghosh)
  • Dubliners (James Joyce)

And then there were tons of movies. Phew. Vicarious living is good 😉


6 thoughts on “Breaking the silence

  1. Aria says:

    I’ve read the Naipaul book you mentioned .. and I think I’d read Pather Dabi long ago .. and the rest .. umm will try finding them.. haven’t ‘heard’ any book so far but should be a good idea listening to poetry.. tucked in a warm quilt.. I’d give that a try sometime..
    and yeah your ‘dry patch’ had been the longest.. hoping the next year would begin with some poignant verses on the ‘fine imbalance’ …
    Season’s greetings to you and S
    take care.

  2. IW says:

    >> Only the geniuses can thrive without method, if anyone can

    Was Veeru at crease when you wrote this line ?

    With my customary flippant remark done with I will tell yu something serious & profound, which I read while flipping thru Gulzar’s biography (penned by Meghna Gulzar). About the art of writing Gulzarsahab says, “Karne ki vidya hein.. karne se aati hein”. Those might not be the exact words (I just flipped thru the pictures and read few pages in library few month back) but that’s the gist.. as in the more you write the more adept you become. He says he still sits everyday at a fixed time at his writing desk and writes (what else?). It’s his daily ritual.. riyaaz.. whatever that you may like to call it.

    So stop cribbing about writers block, elusive muse, biwi ki jheek-jheeg, project deadlines etc. etc. and engage in daily writing ritual.

    Baaki do keep posting lists like these as it guides clueless people like me in picking good books. I can’t thank you enough for introducing me to some really brilliant writers (Marquez, Umberto Eco, Orhan Pamuk). I take your word as gospel when it comes to book recco’s.

    A very Happy and Safe New year to you and S.

  3. asuph says:

    aria: thanks for the wishes. hope the holidays refreshed you too. and that ’09 bring you brighter fortunes.

    thesupergirl: i read blink last year. it’s very interesting. although my problem with gladwell is his verbosity.

    iw: lol @ veeru. gulzar is not alone. most serious writers will tell the same story. and i’ve tried that earlier this year. that’s what started my writing slump ;-). maybe i’m a genius after all, and the method has screwed my natural rhythm (or lack of it). see my latest fiction for the output of the method :p.

    but yes, frivolity aside, there is no alternative to the method. and inshallah, it will come (no, not the method — that has to be my wish alone).

    thanks for supporting this blog through thick and thin.

    new year wishes to all of you.


  4. asuph says:

    mayuresh: thanks. but zero isn’t exactly the quantity i am looking at (for fiction). i ended up with a non-zero quantity in the end. and to be fair, i have a few unfinished but promising (although stuck) pieces in drafts, so it’s not all doom.

    quality over quantity yes. so far the quantity meets minimum requirement 🙂

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