What makes some quality pieces of writing more shareable than others? What makes some writing go viral while others stay quietly dormant where they started?
Good content is a must for a strong chance at being shared (I can see some rolling their eyes here and I agree. “Good” is a term subject to interpretation. Good here would be a measure of how far the writing has met its own goals which might not not necessarily be aligned with a universal standard of wholesome writing.)
There are too many “how to write viral content” articles out there for me to rehash here again. What intrigues me today is not so much the writing itself but the people involved with the writing in some form or the other–the readers who read, discuss and share–with or without having read the article.
The desire to share
Where does this desire to share come from? Do we gain anything from sharing an article written by somebody else, most often a total stranger? Could we understand the shareability factor of writing by not just looking at the writing itself but at the people who share? Is this new phenomenon really as new as it sounds? Continue reading Why we share and what can go viral→
I was looking to widen my horizons through reading literature recently and look what I found outside the book!
A stretched world that’s already shrunk so small that I don’t know where to look to expand my mind anymore.
I saw people in Washington Square Park yesterday eating South Indian dosas wrapped like a Mexican burrito from a street vendor and I read in the news that they got 3G on top of mount Everest at last. Continue reading Why I don’t read literature→
How do you write your descriptions? How to you remember the little details that are oft forgotten and fall by the wayside of our memories? How do you bring a moment to life exactly as it was as you were going through it? Above all, how do you get your memories to lie like truth? How do you create moments that make us remember things that were yet were not to lead us to our make believe worlds as though we were in them with the clarity of a memory? Continue reading Writing and detail→
I was browsing my Facebook page and noticed that I’ve managed to come up with several words of wisdom over the past few months through my status updates. Some are topical and have lost their punch but there are several others that I thought merited compilation here on the blog. Since status updates are so ephemeral in nature, do “like” the Facebook page if you’d like the updates as and when they show up.
If not, just taste 15 of them here below. If they seem rather disjointed, keep in mind that they were just nuggets (I hope of something akin to wisdom) that appeared scattered over weeks and months.
**1. Read before you think. Think before you write. Think very hard before you hit publish!
Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that’s no matter–tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther. . . . And one fine morning—-
“I wouldn’t ask too much of her,” I ventured. “You can’t repeat the past.”
“Can’t repeat the past?” he cried incredulously. “Why of course you can!”
He looked around him wildly, as if the past were lurking here in the shadow of his house, just out of reach of his hand.
“I’m going to fix everything just the way it was before,” he said, nodding determinedly. “She’ll see.”
From where she sat she could see the river and many boats on it. At first she used to think that so many different kinds of boats on one river in one place was just a dream. All of them beautiful, all of them pretty against the sparkling blue water. White sailboats against the summer sky in the horizon, huge cruise ships returning at dusk, even flat barges carrying garbage that glinted in the sun.
The squalor and the morbidity of the rest of the city, nay the rest of the world seemed far away, hidden behind razor sharp shiny buildings as though the dust and the shabbiness was sifted away by some invisible hand towards the periphery of this glorious center of the world. She knew those other places could be reached via long train rides through dark tunnels and when the subway emerged out of the ground, it was another world. Continue reading Boats→
I was thinking of blustering Bounderby today, the industrialist character from Dickens’ Hard Times, always lecturing, always talking loudly, always right. I was also thinking of two other people, George Eliot’s Dorothea Brooke in Middlemarch, the innocent idealist and her fraught relationship with Casaubon, the collator of facts, the inhabitant of dark libraries, the person obsessed with not just doing things but doing things right. Rather quieter than Bounderby, Casaubon is not just obsessed with facts but is always driven by a desire to control them– to collate, to classify, to categorize. His obsession with control translates in real life to squishing Dorothea’s world, the idealist who has not armed or protected herself against the facts and aggressive logic of Casaubon’s ordered universe.
Fictional characters are just that–fictional. Yet, if you’ve been around them, that is to say, read and thought about fictional people for a while, whether to create some or to analyze them, you suddenly get an insight into real people in a very personal way. Continue reading Aggressive characters real and fictional→
The reading police are coming for ’em young minds because they know what’s best.
Raja Bose, almost thirteen now, has another showdown with his mother. That’s because he is not as docile, as good a boy as his younger brother Sanjeev.
Raja insists on spending the long summer afternoons reading his story books. His recent favourite is the Famous Five series, stories of two boys and two girls and one big dog and how they solve mysteries during their holidays from boarding school.
Sanjeev, the younger one, is more clever. He covers his comic books as soon as his mom comes near the study table. The book he usually uses is a big, fat one that proves a very useful camouflage because the words in the title always pleases his mother: Mathematics Made Fun Grade 5.
They do have fun. The boys have exams to take, textbooks to study and carpentry projects to finish every week—mostly those stipulated by the school. Sometimes the carpentry projects are so complicated that the maid has to be sent to the local carpenter’s to do the intricate parts for a few hundred rupees. The carpenter is a good-natured young man, just a few years older than the boys themselves.
I have been wondering, like many a scattered soul on the blogosphere, about what it might mean to write aimlessly. By aimlessly I mean to write without a specific purpose such as to sell, to build a resume, to add to a larger work, or to vent.
On my shelf is a small book about 5 inches square. It has a brown paper cover with my name on the paper cover. I can’t remember who covered it–me or my brother. Until a few years ago, its binding was as strong as the day it must have come freshly out of the bookseller’s box. It’s Palgrave’s Golden Treasury, an anthology of poems. Continue reading Our little book of poems→
I went to listen to a talk at the New School in Manhattan yesterday. But this post is not about that talk. It’s about something incidental I spotted in our aimless wanderings preceding the event.
It’s about books.
But to understand what I mean you have to listen to my whole rambling story.
I had to take an underground train ride below the Hudson river for about half an hour to cross over to Manhattan from Jersey City.
When I entered the depths of the station on the Jersey City side, bright sunlight was still making the Manhattan skyline shine magnificently across the river. I came out back to the surface of the earth on 6th Avenue at 14th Street on the other side of the river, a bustling thoroughfare full of cars and people and chain restaurants.
I’m used to a certain spacious ambiance around school campuses. But campuses here in the city are very different. When I came out and entered the street off of 6th Avenue on which the building with the auditorium was located, I was surprised. Continue reading Possessing books→
This holiday season I have “read” many real life stories on Facebook.
A group of girls in evening dresses with cocktails in their hands smiling at the camera in a line on the 31st. Groups of people on snow covered mountain tops with their hands spread out in a posture that says we have conquered the world on the 29th. A photograph of one of those same girls in an individual picture, more awkwardly taken perhaps right before she went out, but with the full limelight, with a heap of laundry visible in the background.
Pictures that enhance the beauty of people just a little bit. These are accompanied by status updates on significant days that mention happening places or exotic food or crazy things that people are up to. And comments. “too cute,” “awwwww,” “u guyz r too cool.” Continue reading Facebook and the person within→
Some of us want to write more, and more, and more in 2013. Others would write less, but well. Some of us would like to become famous writers. Yet others would like to hit that jackpot deal with publishers. Many of us would like to win that literary prize or at least see our names in print in that journal that never publishes anyone. Others would just like to go viral no matter what the subject matter.
Some things just become better with practice. I never realized the importance of this dictum until I started this blog myself.
There were some tenets of writing on the web that I knew theoretically but never really felt the importance of until I put those ideas into practice myself.
Through numerous trials and errors and experimentation, I’m afraid, on my extremely generous readers, who have always been ready with their good words, I’ve come to make the following observations about blog writing specifically and writing on the web generally: Continue reading Improve your writing on the web→
I was at the Sacramento airport one bleak winter morning trudging up the escalator managing several scraps of paper in my two hands (ticket, baggage tag, ID to name a few) while balancing my roller-board with my elbow on the moving surface.
I am not a morning person from any angle and I always find early morning flights depressing, more so if they are preceded by long commutes in shuttles and long waits in the dark when you inevitably turn out the first passenger to be picked up by a van at 4 am.
So needless to say, I was yet to appreciate the beauty of the morning.
Continuing on from my perspectives on whether we should write about everything, whether we can and whether we should wait before putting deep experiences down on the screen, I could not help but reflect on the exuberant bursts of writing on social media that we currently see by anybody and everybody.
Status updates, micro blogs, comments, captions, tweets, text messages–it’s an explosion of writing out there.
The only image that comes to my mind when I’m surrounded by all this writing is this: So far, it was the night sky in a strange planet dominated by a few yellow moons. Dependable, stable, guaranteed to rise and shine on certain periods of the month.
Now, there is suddenly a burst of sparkling firecrackers from everywhere covering the black night sky. Most of these stay only a few minutes and then disappear.
A small town with stretches and stretches of concrete. Shiny cars parked in the sun in clean parking lots with not a soul in sight. Plazas with huge edifices of departmental stores and chain restaurants displaying happy signs with overly happy mascots dozing in the sun with no one to see. Continue reading Settings→
I’ve been wondering. I’m not sure why I read blogs myself!
Why not read articles by established opinionators, stories by reputed writers, whacky visuals on established ads, photographs taken by friends rather than unknown people, instructions on how to do something or solve a problem from established players in a field?
Why is storytelling important? Why is it important to learn how storytelling works?
Never mind fiction. Never mind other people’s stories.
Never mind the manipulations of truth that we are subjected to everyday as news.
Never mind those stories that are silenced around us.
No matter what we feel about stories, or how much we hate reading stories, or don’t want to listen to stories, we are constantly subjected to at least one story. We cannot escape the one story that is constantly with us. Continue reading My stories→
In an earlier post, On learning writing through blogging, I wrote about the benefits that blogging has brought me. I still stick by my idea that blogging is beneficial overall. But having said that, once the exuberance of maintaining a blog has subsided, I do think there are a few caveats related to the blog form that regular bloggers need to be aware of. This might be even more true of new writers who might be getting into a mould through repeated writing that will set their habit for life.