2012 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 2,000 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 3 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.

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You now have 200+ total likes

“Congratulations on getting 200 total likes on Confessions of a Disquisitive Writer.”

Logged into wordpress this morning and found that, thanks to my last night’s post on Reader’s Block, the no. of likes on my blog have increased to 200+.

Well, it felt nice to read it the first time, but then I realized that more than 30 posts, spanning over 4 months of blogging is a big deal for me personally because I had been spending a few years before that only thinking about starting my own blog but I could never get down to it. It was probably the fear that I might not write as well enough as I want to. It was a huge dilemma for me because reading has been an important part of my life and being able to Write was important.

So, considering the fact that I spent 3-4 years only thinking about starting writing, but never being able to start, it is indeed a big deal for me to realize that I am suddenly 32 blogs old, and better still, over 200 viewers have liked what I have written.

So, here is a big Thank You to everybody who has liked my posts till now and those who may like them in future. Writing, well enough or not, has been a personal voyage to me and I am glad that I am able to share it with others through this medium.

Taking Down Bob – My First Short Story eBook

Finally, I have managed to write my first short story, something of an achievement considering the fact that I’ve been toying with the idea for a couple of months now.

Bob is the hostel psycho, a brash fat giant who often loses himself in enthusiasm and whose idea of fun often meant suffering for others. Most of the hostel inmates are tired of Bob’s bullying and their inability to return the favor. Tonight, a weird shoe fight riot has broken through the hostel and Bob has already been dominating the entire proceedings by beating the crap out of most inmates with his heavy boots. Though scared of him, they ultimately hatch a plan of getting him alone and attacking him in a group. The story deals with how 18-year olds of this Bob dominated hostel work together to catch him in a spot through conspiracy, risk, teamwork and double-crossing.

Taking Down Bob is a story that is close to my heart as it reminds me of the great time I’ve had in our college hostel and, though it is a piece of fiction, it will certainly seem inspired from a series of events sometime in 2005, to those who spent their time in the same hostel as me.

The story has been published today as a multi-format ebook by Smashwords.

I hope you will read it. It’s completely free and available at:
https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/243973

And if you like it, don’t forget to let me know by leaving a short review.

My profile page at smashwords is:
https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/shitijbagga

Writer’s Block??

The thought bothered me a lot. I was sitting in front of the computer, going hard at the keyboard. It was office hours and I was trying to finish writing this email to our client. It has already been long enough to fill my entire screen and I knew it was only another couple of sentences. I finished that too and went through the entire draft once again for a sort of proof-reading.

I sent the mail but then the thought returned. I know I have the stamina to write long emails with consistency of thought. I even write 20 page and 40 page technical documents from scratch and write them effortlessly. But damn! When it comes to writing a short blog or a short story of 2 pages, I am hopeless. Utterly hopeless!

Then my mind started wandering. Sometime back, a colleague at office asked me what I thought I would be, had I not been a consultant. I know the kind of clichéd question that it is. And I hate it, absolutely. Have you ever asked this question and seen the kind of frivolous replies people give? One time, I heard someone say, “If I hadn’t been an engineer, I would have been a fighter pilot!” And what is my response to these answers? “Bullshit! Really? So if you were not doing your current job, you would have been a pilot? You mean you were THAT close?” Then, another senior at office said, “I’d probably be a Film Director.” Don’t even get me started on that one.

What I’ve observed is that people usually answer this question with something they know they could never become and yet it needs to sound something fabulous as if it were already a secondary achievement of theirs. It is as if merely by saying “otherwise I would have become so and so,” we are making our present sound better than what it really is. As if wishful thinking is something to be proud of.

Anyway, coming back to the present, the reason I was feeling bothered right now, during work, was that I attempted to answer that question myself. And the way to answer this was by asking myself what was the next best thing I want to do with my life if I had the time and resources for it. And I realized that in my case, the answer is very simple: I want to be a writer.

But then, do I also not make the same hypocritical mistake of saying that I would have been a writer had I not been what I am today? I mean, the two are not related at all so it is not as if being one automatically disqualifies you from being another. Also, have I written anything during the last 2 decades that even qualifies as good writing at any level? No, I’ve not done anything of that sort, but just read hundreds of books. Then how dare I say I want to be a writer, when I don’t know the first thing about writing? That was wishful thinking on my part as well.

The truth is, ever since I read my first novel (Jeffrey Archer’s ‘A Matter of Honor’), I had known that I wanted to write my own book one day. Now, 14 years and another 200 book-reads later, I know that the ambition is still the same. I just have to.

But I can’t! At least for now, I am not good enough. First, I have some ideas to begin, but none of my ideas is complete and that’s why, if you look at my blog, you will find very few posts (5 out of 25) actually contain me writing something. Most of them are either photographs that I’ve taken in the last couple of years (another hobby of mine) or short reviews of some of the books I’ve read, but nothing that I can call a substantial writing.

Everytime I decide to sit down and write a short story about ANYTHING, I invariably end up feeling miserable at my inability to do so and repeatedly feel distracted with my shortcomings.

Then, I read though dozens of blogs and realized that I too have been suffering from what is called “Writer’s Block”, a state in which an author loses the ability to produce new work. The reasons can be many but for me it has mostly been the awareness that my writing will not be good enough. And this is a feeling that has discouraged me from writing for I don’t know how many years now.

Over the past few weeks I’ve also become aware that there isn’t a level of “good enough” that one needs to meet to be able to write. I mean, my desire is not to gain appreciation or recognition from the audience. In fact I don’t even care if nobody reads what I write. That is not the point. I could never write for that since it would be unfair to my own self. But then, what my girlfriend always tells me is that I must write for myself. Write free, whatever comes to mind. Write something that I would myself like to read again and again.

And so, I realized that the only way to do that is to start right now. And what topic do I pick up? Pick up the first thing that comes to my mind. The first thing that then comes to my mind is that even though I am working right now, I cannot but think only about my inability to pick up a topic and think through enough to start writing about it without the fear of failure yet again.

Well, well! I just looked at my word processor and find that expressing this inability to write has already made me compose 850+ words and it is a big achievement for me, considering that 99% of my works end within 2 sentences and then I give up.

So, what I basically mean is that I don’t want to say I would be YYYY, if I weren’t XXXX already because whatever I did has always been my own choice. Nobody and no situation has taken away my desire to be a writer one day and so I want my answer to that stupid question to be that if I weren’t what I am right now, it wouldn’t matter much because my 2nd love – that of writing – is something that I am already doing side by side. Just that I am not a professional at writing, but that hardly matters to me now, does it?

The other day, I read a story by Guy de Maupassant. It was just a 3-4 page short story of 2 Frenchmen who sat at the shore of river Seine fishing and they get caught and executed by the invading army. That’s what I remember of the story and I might be slightly wrong. But the point is that by reading this, I realized that even the most simplest of writings can be beautiful simply if the author connects with the story and writes it from his heart.

All this, in no way lifts the writer’s block that I guess I am suffering from. It merely raises a corner a little for some of the thoughts to escape and find words by themselves, but I know that the moment I publish this, another calm will prevail that will not let me write anything for some time. How long? I don’t know but maybe 2 days, a week, a month? Who knows?

Still, I hope I start with something short but nice very soon..

P.S: Dear Reader, have you ever suffered from such frustration of Writer’s Block? How was it when you first broke through it? Do share your experience with me in the comments section.

Related article by a fellow blogger Christian Mihai:
http://cristianmihai.net/2012/10/04/overcomin-writers-block/

The Liebster Award

After a very busy day of wandering about in Delhi looking to buy the iPad, but returning empty handed (a very long story, more on that later), I was feeling very tired and just logged in to check my blog. And what do I see? A fellow blogger Wanton Creation (hereafter WC), whose blogs I really like, has nominated my blog for the Liebster Award. (See http://wantoncreation.wordpress.com/2012/08/18/the-liebster-award/)

‘The What Award?’

Well, really, I had no clue about what this means because I am only 2 weeks old on Blog-land and wrote only a handful of posts. Then I went through his detailed post and other posts linked with it and that’s when I understood what the Liebster Award basically means.

So, let me start off by saying a big THANK YOU, WC (I can’t figure out your actual name from your pages so I hope you don’t mind me calling you WC for now). It is very nice of you to nominate me and I hope I will do justice to your questions.

The Rules

So, here is how it works. The award is targeted for those bloggers who have less than 200 followers. I had 15 when I started writing this post and 16 when I finished, so I guess I qualified pretty nicely.

Moving on, the rules say that I must answer 11 questions put up by the award giver. Fair enough, I will do so below.

Next, the rules go on to say that I must, in turn, pick 11 people of my own choice for the award and pose 11 new questions to them as well.  Now, that’s pretty interesting. I am also listing my list of 11 below and hopefully you, dear reader, will find them interesting as well.

But I liked the concept. I really did. It is a really nice way to introduce new bloggers like myself to the rest of the blogging community and give us some platform to talk about us and hopefully, a larger no. of bloggers will read what I have to say.

So, without further ado, here are my answers to questions put up to me, after which I will post my 11 nominations and their 11 questions:

Wanton Creation’s Questions (and my answers):

Q1. What’s your favourite word in the English language?
— My favourite word in English language is: “Sweetheart”. It just is.

Q2. What are you listening to as you write the answer to this question (if not music, what sounds)?
— I am listening to the slow hum of the air-conditioner in my room.

Q3. What was the last thing you ate that you really, really enjoyed?
— My mom cooked chicken curry at home and I went ballistic.

Q4. You’re at a job interview, and the interviewer asks you to make them laugh. What do you do or say?
— I would say, “Sorry Sir, but my doctor told me not to be myself today until I reach home.” And then I would look towards an imaginary figure behind him and wink.

Q5. The world is about to blow up, but you’re being saved, and are allowed to take five things to another planet (aside from the clothes you are currently wearing), where you and only 999 other people will now exist (ignore the bleakness of this question). What do you take?
— 1. My complete collection of Books.
(special mention: The book ‘Pale Blue Dot’ by Carl Sagan, so that I can remember my home planet when I miss it.)
— 2. My complete Photos Collection.
— 3. My iPod.
— 4. A Telescope.
— 5. My folder that contains all the Greeting Cards that I have ever been gifted.

Q6. What’s your favorite drink to consume first thing in the morning?
— Tea.

Q7. What was the last book to make you cry?
— Love Story by Erik Segal.

Q8. What’s the most ridiculous or silliest way you’ve been injured?
— I was reading a book and got a paper cut and it bled.

Q9. What’s your favourite city in the world? Why?
— My favourite city in the world has to be Paris. It’s just an awesome place to be if you are living there, or just visiting. There is absolutely so much to see and enjoy. Plus, I found people there to be partying really well in the few days that I stayed.

Q10. What’s the most embarrassing album in your music collection? (Be honest)
— Well, when I was a kid, I bought the album “Govinda” by an Indian actor turned one-time-singer of the same name. I basically did it because I was a big fan of the actor and I loved whatever work he did. In hindsight, I feel though he did make a serious effort of singing, the album was mostly crap.

Q11. To borrow an old line from a Crowded House song, would you rather a mansion in the slums or a caravan in the hills (i.e. a nice house in a not nice area, or a tiny living space but with views)?
— A caravan in the hills.

My list of 11 nominated blogs for Liebster Award:

Quotography

Rampant

The Happy Snapper

Clotildajamcracker

Minibreak Mummy

Writer vs the World

Books j’adore

INDIA UPDATE

The Paper Wallflower

The Backlist

Madcitylitchick

My list of 11 questions to each of these award recipients:

Q1. What is your favourite book of all time?

Q2. Which is your favourite post from your own blog till date and why?

Q3. You’re meeting your girlfriend/boyfriend’s parents for the first time. What do you say or do to break the ice?

Q4. You are 100% free from work and other shackles for today. How would you like to spend your day? (in couple of sentences at most)

Q5. Have you ever read a book that challenged your intellect? Which one and how was it challenging?

Q6. Mention one of your obsessive compulsive habits that you’ve ever had. (like climbing stairs two steps at a time.. come on, everybody HAS something)

Q7. One thing that you have always been really good at.

Q8. One thing that you have always been really bad at.

Q9. What did you want to become when you were little and what have you become? Is it the same?

Q10. One thing that you would love to procrastinate forever, if it was so possible.

Q11. Favourite age at which you could go back and live it again.

I wish the nominees have a fun time trying to answer my 11 questions. I hope to see everyone’s response very soon.

Good Luck and Enjoy blogging….

Writing My First Blog

Dear Reader,

It is quite a difficult job, this writing a blog. I’ve been thinking about it for many weeks now, or maybe months, but I just never got down to actually doing it. And even when I did today, one of the foremost problems I faced was “what to write about?”

“Why do writers write? Because it isn’t there.” — Thomas Berger

How do I decide what to write about? I mean I am not a public figure whose opinion is greatly sought after. I am just the guy next door who, like everybody else, is just constantly trying to live and make sense of his life and writing is something that just lets one put thoughts on paper (ahem!!!).

Well, then that raises an important question: WHY do I want to blog? I don’t know but let’s explore. One reason might be that I think I have too many great ideas that are simply waiting to be harnessed. “Intellect of the 21st century” and “The Bertrand Russell of 2012”. Once I unleash my mind, the world will never be the same again. History will once again be divided into two ages. Just like BC and AD, it will now be BS and AS. (Seriously?? BS??) Of course, Dear Reader, I am just kidding.

Another reason might be that I want to be able to write down my thoughts so it improves my ability to express myself. Add to this the fact that I am a ferocious and voracious reader myself, I know there is a pleasure in composing one’s own piece of original thought and posting it for others to read. Or as F. Scott Fitzgerald famously quoted:

“The reason one writes isn’t the fact he wants to say something. He writes because he has something to say.”

I, for some time, have been quite disappointed with myself over my inability to write anything at all. More than half a decade back, when I was still in college, I found it very easy to write down whatever I was thinking about. I just had to pick up a pen and paper and think about the first thing that came to mind and I would be able to write quite a bit. But as time passed and I completed my engineering and then started with my job, whatever writing I did was all technical. And that has gone on for so many years that I have almost forgotten what it used to be like to write down random thoughts. Now, that needs to change.

Well, well, enough of thinking about why. I am still not certain of WHAT I should actually write about. Should I write about myself, my feelings, my experiences in personal life, what I like and don’t like, what hurt me and what gave me pleasure? Nah.. I think netizens have too much already to browse and read up, who has the time to read about my issues with life?

Maybe, I should write about something happening in the world, maybe my observations of political, social or economic events? Maybe, highlight how I see some social practices and my opinion on what is just and what is unjust. Yes, I do have some opinions of my own.

Or should I write about some scientific literature I have read recently, or my interest in astronomy? Yes, I’ve read quite a few books on science in general and astronomy in particular. Maybe I should write about stuff I’ve read that has awed me and which a layman otherwise never gets to find out in detail? For instance, how many people actually know that the Voyager 1 spacecraft that was launched by NASA is already moving out of the Solar System beyond Pluto and is currently in the Heliosheath? Sounds like a simple technicality but it means a lot for humanity as an achievement. More on that in another blog.

Coming back to the WHAT, I also absolutely love some particular writers like P.G. Wodehouse, Carl Sagan, Christopher Hitchens, Bertrand Russell, Stephen Fry and even Sir Arthur Conan Doyle of the Sherlock Holmes fame. And I think that the works of each one of these writers have been revolutionary in their own ways. So maybe I should blog about what I like about their works. Yes, that too sounds like a good idea.

However, my Dear and Patient Reader, I now do feel that it may even just be random thoughts on topics such as this blog itself. But I hope that would not be too boring for you, because I guess it won’t be too boring for me myself in the first place. After all, writing is the best way to talk without being interrupted.

Thanks for listening.

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