I’m supposed to be writing, which naturally means that I’m doing nothing of the sort. Part of the problem is that what I want to write is a rant, but what I have to write is… not a rant. So the rant has to wait until I’ve got the not-a-rant out of my system. I came across McSweeneys’s — rather Colin Nissan’s — “The Ultimate Guide to Writing Better Than You Normally Do” recently and the first commandment is to write every day. His exact words are:
Think of your laptop as a machine like the one at the gym where you open and close your inner thighs in front of everyone, exposing both your insecurities and your genitals.
It just struck me that I may have (unconsciously) taken Nissan’s advice somewhat literally in one of my recent writing assignments. The ploy worked well for that piece. However, I’m just not sure whether repeatedly exposing genitalia is necessarily, well, effective. Anyway, the point is that when reading The Ultimate Guide, I balked at the idea of writing every day. It sounds terribly daunting. Except, the odd thing is, I do actually write every day. Some of it pays, a lot of it doesn’t and most of it is nonsense but it’s rare for me to have a day during the course of which I’ve written absolutely nothing. Maybe Nissan should have specified that you need to write something vaguely cogent for this particular commandment to have any effect. But that’s not the point. Thinking about writing every day, I have realised that there are two things that decide my writing output in terms of both quality and quantity.
1. It seems I have a quota in my head. Once I’ve vomited a bucket of words, I’m done. No matter how many brilliant thoughts and ideas I may have — and when they haven’t been put down in words, all thoughts and ideas seem brilliant — if I’ve written my 800-1,000 words, then I’m done for the day. Unless, of course, there’s a deadline. In that case, I’ll produce the number of words I need to but everything after the first 800-odd words is largely bollocks.
2. I can’t write at night. This is profoundly problematic because I’m awake for much of the night so writing would be a good way to deal with this sleeplessness. However, there is one of god’s creations standing between me and my evolution into today’s F. Scott Fitzgerald: the mosquito. It is impossible to write while there are tiny living things intent upon treating you like you’re their midnight buffet. Not only does this constant biting lead to constant twitching as though I’m popping at my desk, all my attention is actually concentrated upon my peripheral vision because, at unexpected moments, the dark little blur of a buzzing mosquito may appear. At which point, I will swivel around and start clapping loudly and manically in the hope that said mosquito is squished in my applause. Like I just did now. To no effect, I might add, other than the fact that I’ve forgotten why I’ve written all this stuff about my inability to write when the reason I opened up this window was to put up the work of someone whose illustrations have given me much joy today as I
procrastinated planned the piece I should be writing now but can’t because of these damn mosquitoes.
So, allow me to present Rita Gomes, or Wasted Rita, who has a blog that successfully distracted me from the fact that my neighbour — whose tv wall is right in front of my window — is watching The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. There’s some hilarious and thoroughly irreverent stuff on her blog, which has many drawings that are not for the faint-hearted and some that are NSFW. Good fun.
If Delhi men could read English, I’d suggest this one be printed on a T-shirt and distributed with the morning newspaper.
Ok, time for an applause. For both Ms. Rita and, if I’m lucky, to celebrate the violent death of the bleddy mosquito that just bit me on my sole (worst place to get bitten. You try to itch and you end up tickling yourself. Gah).