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.

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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/

Overcoming the hurdle of Post-Processing in Photography

This blog is for everyone who wants to be a good photographer but is frustrated at how to start post-processing of the pictures taken.

The Background:

Even though I have used Adobe Photoshop very well in the past for designing posters, certificates, creating website banners, etc. But all that was about 5-6 years back when I had my own website and I also used to manage websites for my college fests as well. However, I don’t do web designing and development anymore so that is that.

3 years back I bought my first DSLR and got very enthused with amateur photography. However, I was never satisfied with my photography because other folks simply took such beautiful photographs with such vibrant colors and which I could never achieve myself. Soon, I realized that it was due to good post-processing using Photoshop. After all, capturing good scenes with good compositions was only half the job and improving the picture in Photoshop was the 2nd half, which I never did.

I could never really understand how to begin with this because of one very grave mistake I was making. And that mistake was that I was trying to understand Photoshop again from scratch. I was trying to understand each menu, feature, filter, effect, etc. including what is hue, saturation, layers, blurs, blah blah blah. And all this was turning out to be too much to remember, too much to consider, as a result of which I never really saw a gain from this in the short or medium term. So, frustrated, I quit post-processing.

Over the last 2 years, I’ve travelled extensively to some of the most beautiful European cities like Stockholm, Paris, Rome, Venice, Barcelona, etc. and captured thousands of photographs with my camera and even published them on my Facebook account, but one thing that always disturbed me was that my pictures were never really any good since I never did any post-processing.

However, since last few days, I have been lucky to have taken interest in some Photoshop tutorial online and I have been able to identify simple ways to enhance my pictures easily and quickly. In the process, I learnt how to further ease my work by using actions and simply applying these actions to separate images. Soon, even that was not enough and I learnt creating complex actions and finally using these complex actions in batch processing to apply them automatically to a large selection of my photographs.

For example, see the two pictures below:

Original Image

Enhanced Image

The first picture was the original photograph that I took and the second picture was after enhancing it, attaching a watermark and Saving it, all using a single complex action, that I created myself, without trying to learn photoshop from scratch. See some more:

Palace Cinema Copenhagen – Original Image

Palace Cinema Copenhagen – Enhanced Image

MY Recommendations for easy tutorials for beginners in Photoshop:

(None of these tutorials are written by me but I am happy to share them with you.)

You can enhance pictures using Lab Method as explained in the following blog. I really like this method and the picture above has been enhanced using this only:
http://digital-photography-school.com/turn-ho-hum-color-into-wow-with-photoshop

Inserting Watermark + including that in an Alignment + running them on multiple pictures in Batch mode:
http://www.visualwatermark.com/blog/2011/05/04/photoshop-batch-watermarking/

To accomplish Save for Web in Batch mode, refer to this blog:
http://anyutilities.blogspot.in/2011/01/batch-save-for-web-photoshop-cs3.html

I hope these tutorials were helpful for you. For me, these have provided the much needed confidence to understand how to make my pictures look better and now I have more confidence in my photography than I had before.

I hope my sharing this will enable more like me to gain confidence with Photoshop. I will certainly share more tutorials that I come across, but I hope some of you readers will also share some good tutorials with me.

Please note, I am still a beginner at post-processing so if you find my pictures not well processed, please share my mistakes with me by commenting below.

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