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By Trilokjit Sengupta

trilokjit sengupta metal communicationsDo you know what good writing is? For that matter, do you know what good soup is? Or

good art? Okay, how about a good song? Why call a beer good? Now that we are on the

topic, what exactly is a good girl? Do you know any? Could you forward me their numbers

when you are done reading this?

I am writing this with an open tag. Which means anyone who reads this can write about the

same. In the comments section or as an email so I can put it up. It’s called The Writer’s

Meme. And though this is a better tag than the “spot the 18 lies about my homophobic uncle

turned miniature taxidermist” kinds, let me warn you, it is also kind of pressurising. But more

relevant. Because as bloggers we write and share our lives, likes, dislikes, quirks with millions

of nameless stumblers. And we try our best to make it as readable and interesting as

possible. We proclaim, educate, amuse, impress and ocassionally seduce (yes, yes, yes). So

it is but natural, that most of us will have sound and somewhat vociferous ideas of what

makes the cut. And like all opinions, you might not agree with a few. But that’s ok. We still

have regular jobs. And working plastic.

So here I go. In my attempt to try and encapsulate all that I know about the myriad strengths

of a writer. I will try to keep it simple and unpretentious, just like the girl-next-door you wished

you lived next door to. A good writer.

Fits you like a sock. The first few lines. It’s all in the first few lines. If it starts good, it probably

is all the way. And the metaphoric advice isn’t silly. Try it. Pull up a sock to your ankle and it

fits you well you just have to pull it up all the way. It’s karmic engineering (or plain good

elastic). That’s how I picked up most of my books that now take up more space in my house

than the floor.

Wants you to enjoy his creation. Which is why he keeps it simple. No complicated 233 word

sentences. Or a fiery volley of words that leave you with a weight upon thy tongue (apologies

to the great bard). Their words are their arsenal. But not big, flashy ones. They would rather

employ small, sharp knives that seldom inspire awe or fear, but cut red and deep. And the

pain is scarlet. To illustrate with an example; Haruki Murakami in ‘Hard Boiled Wonderland

and the End of The World, describes Dylan’s voice as, “Like a kid standing at the window

watching the rain”. Feel that? Good. Next.

Is interesting. There’s a plot. And it moves. The writer has a point of view. An idea, a theory, a

concept. And he wants to share it. He wants to be heard. And the one’s who succeed in

talking to us, are the ones who kept them interesting. And this holds true from the very first

time man learnt to write. They were stories with epic battles, brave men who fought dragons,

rough seas and beautiful women who liked marmalade. All an attempt to keep us reading.

And it worked. Still does.

Lets us find the magic. He seldom tries too hard. A regular slight of hand becomes fantastic,

ethereal even. And it is done amidst the casual clutter of everyday. Do you remember feeling

hungry while reading about the Famous Five? Or feel despair like the Joads? Didn’t you feel

like making aquiantance with a certain Bertram Wooster as he slipped into the Drones for

dinner? You remember the littlest of details, the most insignificant ones that have nothing to

do with the plot. Because one lazy afternoon, a long, long time ago, as you were reading in

bed, you guffawed out loud or wet the pillow case with uncontrollable, little sobs. All for a few

words, painfully and lovingly arranged for you to feel that way.

Respects you. There is a breed of writers, who write to assert their superiority. Their godlike

grasp over the subtle nuances of the language. Their skills in weaving 3,076 characters in

one episode. Their ability to manufacture fantasy characters with semi-Gaelic first names. To

me it shows a clear lack of things to say. They aren’t storytellers, or communicators, or

propogators of change. They are there to fill up shelves of yellowish, chain, neon-lit, plasticky

book stores.

Can induce change. That’s because he makes you think. His idea is something that you

spend time with, long after you have finished reading what he had to write. You argue with

people over fictional characters you feel compelled to like or dislike. You are scared to admit

that they scare you. That’s how they bring about change. In acceptability. In society. In

morality. Future states of being.

There are enough examples to go around without me indulging in name dropping. And those

of you who have reached this far are probably rattling off a thousand examples in their head

as you read this line. Aren’t you already? There are more things. Bigger, greater, more

important things that a writer does to amass the kind of strength that he has. To move

generations by a sweep of the pen. But these are the few things that I thought are the most

important. That what gives a writer the keys to our kingdom. To enter our being and flutter

there forever. Becoming who we are, almost.