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Most authors happen to be sensitive souls. The kind of cruelty they get subjected to in their routine lives makes one wonder as to how they keep dishing out juicy narratives day after day, despite facing mighty challenges.

For those who specialize in spinning fictional yarns, the basic challenge is that of cranking up a plot and etching out characters which fit into the overall scheme of things. For those who dish out a non-fiction piece of work, the challenge is that of coming up with a novel subject which would provide some satisfaction to their target audience.

Cruelty in the Creative Phase

When their creative juices are in full flow, distractions abound. Social commitments often impede the pace of work. Spouses pop up with some mundane queries just when the proceedings happen to be perking up. Maid servants and postmen come in just at the time when the heroine is about to swoon and fall into the hero’s out-stretched arms. An all too important marriage comes up in the spouse’s family just when the manuscript is being given the finishing touches.

Distractions of this kind interrupt the flow of creative juices. The author develops a ‘block’. To claw her way out of a block, a muse has to come to the aid of the party of the first part. Sanity is restored on its throne. Creative juices resume their flow.

Cruelty in the Publishing Phase authors-n-publishers

Once the creative foray in the imaginary mind space is over, a wannabe author lands on the hard terrain of real life. Publishers of all hues get contacted. The agonizing wait for a firm but polite rejection note, if any, begins. Quite a few publishers believe in the dictum that ‘Silence itself signifies rejection’. Heart-broken, the hapless author starts examining other options. Self-publishing pundits get consulted.

Leads given by friends who are blissfully ignorant of the current challenges being faced by traditional publishers keep getting followed up. The fact that they face an existential crisis these days, what with the barrage of e-books available at the click of a button, gets neglected. Their survival instincts lead them to woo well-established authors even while being wooed by newbie authors.

Surviving in the Publishing Jungle

Keen to share her work with the world, the author finally relents and settles down to a mode of publishing which meets her ambition, her purse strings and the content of the work to be peddled.

The interaction with a publisher – whether of the traditional, the print-on-demand, or the vanity kind – saps the energy of the author no end. Reserves of patience get called upon to answer all the queries raised and the permissions asked for. A realization dawns that nerves of chilled steel are a prerequisite for publishing a work. Exasperation sets in.

Reaching out to potential readers

The mood of despondency gets somewhat lifted when the first copy of the book comes into the author’s hands. But this is no time to sit back and relax. Marketing plans need to be acted upon. Social media updates have to be fed to the virtual world in a relentless manner. Myriad queries keep the poor soul in a perennial state of torment.

Harsh critics pan either the contents or the approach of the book. Dreams of being on the To-Be-Read list of the target audience evaporate. Visions of one being on the Best Seller list in some part of the world get clouded. The art of competing with millions of other wannabe authors to attract the eye-balls of unsuspecting readers gets learnt the hard way.

A Plummy initiativePGWodehouse

Some of you would be delighted to know that Rosie M Banks, the Chair-person of the Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Authors (SPCA), is recently said to have invited nominations for some of the annual awards conferred by the society in the following categories:

  1. Bingo Little Award: For spouses who provide flexible me-only distraction-free time to wannabe authors and ensure that their afternoon cup of tea is invariably served piping hot.
  2. Aunt Dahlia Award: For family members who keep inviting authors to devour the lavish spreads of Anatole, thereby keeping them in a positive frame of mind and ensuring a free flow of their creative juices.
  3. Bertie Wooster Award for Milk of Human Kindness: Meant for pals who are present only when they are needed, and are part of the cheering squad, specifically when the chips are down and tissue restoratives need to be served.
  4. Lord Tilbury Award: For publishers who display their kindness by responding to unsolicited manuscripts within two weeks, and, when rejecting one, are gracious enough to suggest alternate publishing houses who might be interested in the material submitted.
  5. Florence Craye Award: For intellectual critics who realize the kind of hard work that goes into whipping up a book like ‘Spindrift’ and provide constructive criticism of any work referred to them for a review.
  6. Daphne Dolores MoreheadAward: For bulk buyers who pick up more than 25% of the total first print order of an upcoming book.

Do you wish to nominate someone for any of these coveted awards? Further details can be had at www.plumspca.com. The entry fee is a modest tenner, to be remitted to the bank account of Bingo Junior.

The 19 rejections of Plum

A word to cheer up wannabe authors would be in order.

As reported by the late Norman Murphy in the September 2016 issue of ‘By The Way’, published by the P G Wodehouse Society (UK), during the month of June, 1901, a twenty year old Plum was down with mumps and was at Stableford for three weeks.  During this period, he wrote 19 short stories. All were rejected!

If this is what could happen to a Master Wordsmith of our times, there is much hope yet for first time authors of all sizes and shapes.

Having a chin up attitude, recalling one’s bulldog spirit, and facing the harsh slings and arrows of cruelty with aplomb would surely help!

(Related Posts:  

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2015/10/23/of-writers-and-their-blocks

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2013/09/30/the-confessions-of-an-armchair-blogger)

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VACATIONSAh….the unbearable pangs of separation from Blogsville!

ashokbhatia

Dear Fellow Bloggers, Followers, Ladies and Gentlemen,

The high and low tides of life are finally about to take their toll,

For some time I am likely to be off the Blogsville radar, sorely missing you all.

Continue with your voracious readings, have fun, enjoy your time,

Yours truly would soon be back on board with prose and verse that rhyme.

I shall be sorely missing the inner joy of writing and its associated pleasure,

Rewards of your valuable feedback I shall relish on return at my leisure.

AWOL I do not aspire to be, hence this request,

Do please grant me a short leave of absence in right earnest!

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While taking a leisurely stroll through the sunlit streets of Plumsville, lined on both sides with trees offering low-hanging ripe mangoes of unalloyed mirth, we come across quite a few authors, editors and publishers.

We get to meet Florence Craye, the famous author of ‘Spindrift’. We run into Oliver Randolph ‘Sippy’ Sipperley, the aspiring author. Gwendolen Moon, the poetess, crosses the street in front of us. George Webster ‘Boko’ Fittleworth bumps into us at the next corner. Smooth Lizzie, a poetess in whom critics might be disappointed, flashes past us in her two-seater. Even Bertie Wooster, our favourite hero, can be seen rushing to the offices of Milady’s Boudoir, possibly to submit his piece on ‘What the Well-Dressed Man is Wearing’.

Daphne Dolores Morehead can be seen headed somewhere in a hurry. Rosie M. Banks can be seen rushing to her humble abode, just to check if Bingo Junior’s bank passbook has finally got updated with the tenner handed over to her loving husband some time back. Bingo Little, himself an editor of Wee Tots, can be seen trying to touch Oofy Prosser for a tenner, so the loss may be made up before her loving wife discovers it. Lord Tilbury, the famous publisher, may get noticed rushing off in a disguise, ostensibly to avoid any manuscripts being hurled at him by aspiring authors from the windows of a passing bus.

A transient state of mental menopausewriters' block image

Though we happen to know most of the authors, writers, poets and poetesses mentioned above, we have no clue as to how they keep whipping up juicy as well as not-so-juicy stuff for their public. We empathize with their feelings of despondency and gloom if they pass a single day without writing at least five hundred odd words. But we continue to be clueless if they ever encounter the dreadful condition described by those in the writing trade as a Writer’s Block. Given the challenges they face in their mundane lives, they would surely be facing a transient state of mental menopause, as it were, at some point in time or the other. But they hide such perils of their profession well.

With one exception – that of Ashe Marson, the hero of Something Fresh. In his case, we get a sneak peek into the kind of conditions which can leave a writer’s sensitive soul all of a twitter, facing a condition which stupefies the brain. The flow of ideas gets blocked. The words no longer pour out, much like a public water tap which goes dry without a warning in a city in one of the emerging economies of the world.

Ashe Marson and the Wand of Death

Residents of Plumsville are aware that Ashe keeps the wolves at bay by dishing out the adventures of Gridley Quayle, Investigator, which are so popular with a certain section of the reading public. He is also known to be a regular when it comes to performing Larsen Exercises in public spaces, having become immune to the no-longer-curious glances of the proprietors of Hotels Mathis and Previtali, few cabmen, some chambermaids and even a cat. Physical fitness is his gospel.1915 Something Fresh collage

But one morning, he gets laughed at by a girl on a first floor balcony. Ashe gets beaten. On this particular day, this one scoffer, alone and unaided, is sufficient for his undoing. The depression, which his exercise regimen had begun to dispel, surges back on him. He has no heart to continue. Sadly gathering up his belongings, he returns to his room, and finds even a cold bath tame and uninspiring.

The breakfast, comprising a disheveled fried egg, some charred bacon and a cup of chicory which is euphemistically called coffee, aggravates the grip of misery. And when he forces himself to his writing-table, and begins to try to concoct the latest of the adventures of Gridley Quayle, Investigator, his spirit groans within him. He rumples his hair and gnaws his pen. He looks blankly for half an hour in front of a sheet of paper bearing the words: “The Adventure of the Wand of Death,” and tries to decide what a wand of death might be.

This is how Wodehouse describes the inner thoughts of his hero:

It was with the sullen repulsion of a vegetarian who finds a caterpillar in his salad that he now sat glaring at them.

The title had seemed so promising overnight–so full of strenuous possibilities. It was still speciously attractive; but now that the moment had arrived for writing the story its flaws became manifest.

What was a wand of death? It sounded good; but, coming down to hard facts, what was it? You cannot write a story about a wand of death without knowing what a wand of death is; and, conversely, if you have thought of such a splendid title you cannot jettison it offhand.

An interruption makes him feel all the more disoriented. However, the intruder happens to be the heroine, Joan Valentine. She de-mystifies the Wand of Death for him thus:

“Why, of course; it’s the sacred ebony stick stolen from the Indian temple, which is supposed to bring death to whoever possesses it. The hero gets hold of it, and the priests dog him and send him threatening messages.
What else could it be?”

Ashe gets back on track!

This is how poor Betty suffers one

So widespread is the silent epidemic of Writer’s Block that even such popular series as Archie Comics has been forced to accord recognition to it once in a while.

Take the case of poor Betty. She has unique qualities of head and heart. However, given her unselfish and helpful nature, she ends up hitting a Writer’s Block. The milk of human kindness sloshing about within her proves to be her undoing. In one episode of these popular comics, she runs quite a few errands. By the time she can please everyone else and hit her typewriter to start pouring out her ideas onto some sheets of paper, the brain refuses to fire even on a single cylinder.

Betty 1 01 (43)betty 2 01 (42)Betty 3 01 (41)Betty 4 01 (40)Betty 5 01 (39)

Even the high and mighty suffer

Present day authors and bloggers can derive some solace from the fact that some of the greatest writers in literature — Leo Tolstoy, Virginia Woolf, Katherine Mansfield, Joseph Conrad, Ernest Hemingway — were tormented by momentary lapses in their ability to dish out some juicy text or the other.

The sensitive souls that authors are, they are apt to be influenced and distracted by external occurrences. But come to think of it, it is their jaundiced view of such occurrences alone that provides them the fodder for their literary produce.

Imagine an author like P G Wodehouse sitting lonely in a dense forest, trying to come up with some escapades of Bertie Wooster and Jeeves. With only a couple of birds and monkeys for company, he is likely to return home in the evening with some blank sheets.

He undoubtedly needs his quiet space. But he also gets in the bargain several distractions. Ethel pottering about in the kitchen. Pets who relish the joys of walking the ramp over some typewritten sheets lying on the floor. A maid who will come in just as he is brooding on his next Hollywood script. A surprise visit by a government official. A postman who brings in some fan mail.

Distractions all, yes. Leading to a Writer’s Block once in a while, yes. But each one is perhaps also an opportunity for him to view a mundane occurrence afresh, with a new perspective. Traits of each real-life person providing him the finer details of some fictional characters he is writing about.

Keeping the milk of human kindness from spilling over

Authors need an eco-system which enables them to strike a judicious balance between their off-society times of solitude and their open-for-interaction times. Successful ones perhaps perfect the art of walking this tight-rope. They make sure they do not exercise in public spaces. They get fed well. They do not get interrupted when they are in their quiet corner, dishing out the adventures of an investigator liked by their publishers and readers. Unlike Betty, they keep their milk of human kindness from spilling over to their grey cells. Their passion for writing keeps them more focused on their journey of creative expression.

Suffering from a Writer’s Block these days? Fret not. Some unique insight is bound to pop up in your mind soon enough. Perhaps, a Joan Valentine is about to walk in and talk about the Indian connection of the mysterious Wand of Death, thereby spurring you on to dizzying heights of creativity!

(Notes:

  1. Images of Writer’s Block and Something Fresh courtesy www.
  2. Archie source: Issue No. 221, Episode titled ‘Betty in the Write Mood‘)

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Why do I Write?

The science and art of expressing oneself in words is captured in this composition very well.

What do you think?

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My dear Blogger,

I think you have a magnificent blog. I just happen to be one of your followers. Allow me to share my plight with you.

De-mystifying my fickleness

To you, I sound fickle-minded. You work hard on creating a marvelous piece that you post. The absence of response 'The Thinker' : Rodinis maddening. You keep twiddling your thumbs, trying to figure out where the denizens of Blogosphere are. It is as if WW-III has broken out and all the followers have gone underground, scurrying for safety. At times, you create something in a jiffy, and lo and behold, you are flooded with likes and comments!

For me, the recipient of all your creative outpourings, yours is just one of the several other blogs I follow. Then there is so much else to be read on the world-wide-web we have spun around ourselves. Please understand that I have the unenviable task of sifting through hundreds of other platforms and blog posts. I might just end up missing your latest post. I may simply lack the time, the will-power or the perseverance to locate the very post you are keen I should look at. Breathe easy. Relax. Give yourself some time.

Of Moore’s Law and sky-diving Attention Spans

You see, the job of keeping a track of what is happening on social media becomes tougher every day. Earlier, I had to undertake an elaborate ritual to kick-start my PC and then see what was up. These days, even while traveling in a ramshackle bus, I merrily continue to check the latest updates. Now, when the smart woman sitting next to me flashes her eyelids and tries to catch up on her updates, I am bound to get distracted, right? Can you then really blame me for missing out on your post, howsoever juicy it might be?

Surely, you have heard of Moore’s Law? As predicted, the transistors per square inch of the ICs used in our gizmos keep going up. Screen sizes keep shrinking. Our attention spans keep sky-diving.

Allow me to propose an AKB’s Law on Attention Spans, which would postulate that ‘The Attention Spans of netizens are directly proportional to the screen size of the gizmo in use, the quality and the topicality of the content, as also its presentation.’ The smaller the screens, the shorter the attention spans. The smarter the content, the longer the attention span. More glitzy the presentation, better the attention it attracts.

If you are in the eye-ball grabbing rat race, aiming at a mass following, you have to keep coming up with zanier and wackier headlines. You can cover topics which are either controversial or of current interest. Press and media professionals do it all the time. But if your posts happen to provide a fresh perspective on issues of global interest, and if you are content with a smaller and more devoted group of followers, you could still catch my attention somehow.

The obligation of providing instant gratification

You already know that blogging is more like a marathon and not a sprint. When you have published something new internet image 2straight from the oven, please do not expect me to rush to my IT contraption, all agog in excitement, quivering in keen anticipation, and post either a ‘like’ or a ‘comment’ right away. I could be busy with my own life. Even if my eyes are glued to a screen of sorts at the time, I could be deep into something else. Give me some space.

At the end of each tiring day, as I sit bleary-eyed in front of my laptop, the least I want to read about is one of your raves and rants about the several ills plaguing our society. Or, a personal problem you happen to facing. You see, I am already suffering an overdose of negativity around me. Nor do I expect to read about how your day went. Life happens to me as well and I know the pressures of a typical day in one’s life.

Yes, if you have something to say which could be of some use to me, I might glance at it. For example, if your boy/girl friend has just decided to dump you, you have my deepest sympathies. But I might not be interested in the not-so-juicy details of the break-up. Yes, if you have tips on how to be successful in getting my wife to walk out of my life, I would lap up your post much like a hungry cat would devour a hapless creature of the piscine kind.

The great sermon handicap

I detest sermonizing on your part. As a kid, I had to put up with this charade at the hands of my parents. As a student, my teachers took it upon themselves to mould me right; they simply ended up reducing my self-confidence to pulp. Once I tied the knot, my spouse took up the task of reforming me. Born optimist that she is, her sincere endeavours continue unabated till this day. On the job, several of my bosses continue to do it with unfailing regularity and severity. Of late, to my chagrin, even my children have started making such attempts. Living up to some lofty ideals held sacrosanct by those who profess to love me has left my soul in torment. Please do not add to this discomfiture of mine.

Yes, if you have learnt something new from an experience of your own, I am game. For example, your internetBlogging illustration connection has been playing truant and you have discovered a deity which specializes in setting it right. I look forward to learn from you the special invocation which you find to be effective. Let us say your spouse has been bed-ridden and you have suddenly found a website which sends you a maid at a very short notice. I would surely like to try it out. Or, you have just found a new trick of convincing your boss to let you have a day off. I would be delighted to know. You could have discovered a way of having your morning cup of tea while reading your newspaper peacefully, without being disrupted by a nagging spouse. Please, oh please, do share it with the denizens of Blogosphere. Like me, all permanent members of the Harassed Husbands’ Association would bless you no end.

Not looking for a fly-by-night wordsmith

Try to be regular, will you? If you get erratic in posting your ideas and thoughts, I might just lose track. If you are a regular, I shall love to watch your progress with considerable interest. We may even become blog-buddies, exchanging ideas and what not. If your ego is sublimated, I could even think of giving you some tips. If you are feeling down in the dumps, I could perhaps cheer you up. I could be your sounding board for ideas for simmering within you for future posts.

The long and short of it

When you start composing your outpourings, you find yourself unable to stop. You go on and on. Please have a pity on me. With continuous exposure to screens of all kinds, my eyesight is already failing. Also, I have limited time at my disposal. Please come up with pieces which are short, sweet and to-the-point. If your post is a long one, let it be. In that case, just ensure that I am able to grasp the likely nature of the contents within the first two paragraphs of your post. Or, group your paragraphs and provide sub-headings.

Another thing that puts me off

Often, I take some precious time off and exercise my grey cells to write a comment. But you do not bother to either acknowledge or respond within a reasonable period of time. If you are too busy to do so, you are welcome to remain in your ivory tower. I would then simply exercise my democratic rights and ‘un-follow’ you.

Let the title not be a cross-word puzzle

Do please provide a heading which says it all. If you make it too tantalizing, I may simply get put off. If you make itinternet image 1 too indirect, my pitiable IQ levels might just fail you. Please be aware that my idea of an exciting career is not to become an assistant to either Sherlock Holmes or Dr Watson.

The inner glow of happiness

When you post, you are happy for having expressed yourself to the world. Yes, words of praise and encouragement become the fuel which keeps you chugging along on all six cylinders. But try not to be over-dependent on me to provide this fuel to you on a regular basis.

I am in Blogosphere merely to relax, to get amused, to derive some inspiration, to be entertained and, at times, to get educated. To learn something new. To discover new vistas. Help me in any way you can in doing any of this, and you shall be suitably rewarded. Great many likes may come your way. Juicy comments would continue to flow in.

Hope some of this makes some sense to you. If it does not, pray do not fret. I am myself not someone who practices what I preach. The fact that this post itself has become much too long, exceeding 1,500 words in all, goes on to prove this, right?

Happy blogging!

Your Ardent Follower

(Inputs from a fellow blogger, Ms Lopamudra Mitra, are gratefully acknowledged)

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Mahabharat Krishna ArjunaHad Lord Krishna been around, this is how he might have advised a clueless and gloomy blogger Arjuna:

 

What you have already blogged, you have blogged well,

What you are blogging, you are doing fine, you can tell,

What you will blog, will also get blogged well,

Live in the present, your heart-felt ideas would eventually sell.

 

Never beseech someone for a ‘like’, a ‘reblog’ or for a ‘comment’,

Let your soul never be in torment,

For writing what you are passionate about alone you are meant,

Read more, get inspired, get cracking, never get bent.

 

At times, you may get upset for not having been ‘Freshly Pressed’,

Well, it is not the end of the world, do not feel unduly stressed,

Escaping a deluge of ‘likes’ and ‘comments’ instead leaves you feeling blessed,

You are not in a short sprint but in a marathon, you have already guessed.

 

Be contented, know that pain follows pleasure,

Keep up the frequency, even though you blog at leisure,

Your faith and passion in what you blog is the only measure,

Let each post of yours be a fragrant flower which one can treasure.

 

Write from your heart, do not copy-and-paste,

Time spent savouring a temporary surge in viewership and ‘likes’ could be a waste,

Your sins could soon catch up with you, leaving you repenting in haste,

Well thought-out juicy comments alone dish up a success you can taste.

 

Do not worry for awards and rewards which make you raise a toast,

Be more anxious for the quality of what you post,

Write for posterity a message that would never be lost,

Receive criticism with equipoise, those alone shall teach you the most.

Krishna_Arjuna_Gita

The effort you put in to blogging is alone your right,

The result may or may not come, even though you push with all your might,

Continue to blog in a detached manner, hold on to your path tight,

Simply enjoy the journey, be happy and scale the desired height.

 

Life will keep happening, ups and down will keep coming,

Resolve to remain steadfast, view them with an attitude which is welcoming,

Free from fear, free from anger, free from desire, keep blogging,

Like a tortoise, withdraw within yourself, ultimately winning.

 

Which idea really does belong to you?

In Blogosphere, you are apt to find somewhere a similar view,

You just propose your own perspective, fresh as a drop of dew,

The reality, as you see it yourself, presented anew.

 

Just like your indestructible soul,

The spirit with which you blog shall survive even a black hole,

Let the novelty of ideas put forth by you remain your goal,

Others may imitate and flatter you, but they make you play a worthy role.

 

Fire shall not kill your ideas, water shall not sully those ever,

Air shall not dry, ether in cyberspace shall support those forever,

Like a wave in the universe, these shall continue to travel, dying never,

These would never decay, built upon further by those who are equally clever.

 

Like your soul, your ideas are also unborn,

You and the universe you inhabit are neither divorced nor torn,

Like a well-tuned antenna you catch, your mind sounds a horn,

You manifest these, but believe you alone are the cause for their being born.

Krishna

Grow attached to your blog posts and you may become addicted,

Disappointment and anger will follow, your mind getting confused and conceited,

Lessons learnt from your own experiences getting forfeited,

The power of discrimination lost, the very purpose of life defeated.

 

Smart bloggers bring a fresh perspective, all the time aiming for a perfect post,

Doubts they double-check, keeping the post simmering, achieving a delicious roast,

Text they spell-check, the inner glow of satisfaction they host,

Read thoroughly, hit the ‘publish’ button, and raise a self-toast.

 

Most of their posts are wedded to the welfare of others, rich values these sustain,

From undue ridicule, criticism and offensive content their posts normally abstain,

Howsoever controversial the topic, a high degree of self-control they retain,

Their outpourings are merely to amuse, educate and entertain.

 

Be humble, be harmless, have no pretension,

Be upright, tranquil, steadfast, blogging will never give you any tension,

Master your ego, relish the joy of expression and retention,

Be aware of the weakness in mortal nature, keep your senses in wilful detention.

 WordPress_logo

This is the supreme knowledge, above all other,

Purified, made plain, easy its virtue for you to gather,

Its practice easy, you may resolve to follow it rather,

It is the blogging truth eternal, imbibe it, do not bother.

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I extended my hand from under the blanket, and rang the bell for Jeeves. Promptly, he shimmered in, with one of hisPGW HughLaurie-BertieWooster pick-me-ups on a silver salver.

‘Good evening, Jeeves.’

‘Good morning, sir.’

‘Is it morning?’

‘Yes, sir.’

‘But it seems pretty gloomy and dark outside,’ I said.

‘Winter is already upon us, sir. In the depth of winter, we learn that within us lies an invincible summer, sir.’

‘Shakespeare, Jeeves?’

‘Albert Camus, sir.’

I sipped the tissue restorative in a mood of quiet repose.

‘Well, what goes on in the great world?’

‘There are several messages for you on WhatsApp, sir. On Facebook, you have messages from Mr. Gussie Fink-Nottle, Ms. Florence Craye and Ms. Stiffy Byng. Aunt Dahlia wants to chat with you over Skype. A blogger oninternet image 1 WordPress desires to have an audience with you. On LinkedIn, Sir Watkyn Bassett wishes to connect with you. Several tweets await your attention. Also, there are some other items which might interest you on Reddit, Digg and Pinterest, sir.’

I shuddered at the prospect of having to brave the world at such an early hour.

‘Jeeves, I have somehow come to despise this extra dose of, what do you call it, something sounding like gravity?’

‘Perhaps you allude to the term connectivity, sir?’

‘Absolutely. Both have the same pull for all of us these days. You know, this intricate world-wide-web we have woven around ourselves? The world was such a quieter place when this was not there. To avoid aunts, all one had to do was to sprint across the Atlantic. Now, one gets chased all over the planet. Civilization’s foundations are quivering. Something ought to be done about it.’

‘But you may wish to consider that it has also made life much simpler, sir.’

‘Faugh! Earlier, I could saunter across to the telephone in the hall in my bath robe and mauve pajamas to hobnobSkype_logo with the aged relative. Now, I have to worry about the dark circles below my eyes and the dress I am wearing before saying tally-ho to her over Skype.’

‘This does present some challenges, sir.’

‘And how could anything be called Twitter? I thought only birds indulge in that pastime. Don’t we have any birds’ Twitter_bird_logoassociations? Would one of those not like to raise the issue of a serious infringement of birds’ intellectual rights?’

‘I believe the contingency is a remote one, sir.’

‘Consider Google. It has too much of information, making it difficult to chug along in life. One, it is no longer easy to pinch umbrellas. Those carrying umbrellas on their shopping sprees often keep a tab on my location and do the vanishing act whenever I happen to be in the vicinity. Two, it has reduced whatever little thinking I was earlier able to do on my own. I once told Stiffy Byng how I was much superior to Gussie Fink-Nottle when it came to being pumpkin-headed. Now, thanksGoogle_2013 to Google, I am no longer too sure.’

‘You feel, sir, that you have become mentally more negligible?’

‘Yes. I also shiver at the prospect of a Big Brother prying into my searches and building up an intimate profile of what I like and what I don’t. What has happened to the civilized norms of privacy?’

‘We have to take the good with the bad, sir.’

‘Then think of Facebook. It is high time someone like Roderick Spode spoke to Mark Zuckerberg. He might take a dictator who designs women’s underclothing on the side more seriously. How can one place all one’s friends on the same level of intimacy? Are we not entitled to have few who are really close and intimate, some others who are useful in some way or the other, and all the others who are mere acquaintances?’

‘There is some merit in what you say, sir.’

‘Of course. And why is everyone posting only about the good and positive things happening to them? Do you think I mind posting the number of times I have been nicked for fines or have been jugged into a chokey for thirty days without the option?’

‘Your openness on social media deserves to be heartily applauded, sir. It might interest you to know that some people have formed SPIN – a Society for Prevention of Narcissism on Internet. They wish to see you in person, ostensibly to request you to accept to be the President of the outfit.’Facebook

‘Right, ho. That is how I have preserved my bachelorhood status all these years. After all, who would risk having me as a son-in-law or a nephew? Is that not the reason Justices of the Peace wish to connect with me? They just wish to keep a tab on what I am up to, possibly forewarning police constables in my vicinity to strap their helmets a wee bit tighter.’

‘That is being clever indeed, sir.’

‘‘Yes. Consider all the delicately nurtured ones who shiver at the prospect of taking a saunter down the aisle with me. Still, I have a long list of those wanting to befriend me over Facebook. I wonder why they wish to connect with me. The mind boggles.’

‘Perhaps to capitalize on your generosity, sir? Several times in the past, you have assisted young ladies in getting affianced to the real love of their hearts. You had done so, if you may recall, by first declaring your intentions of marrying the young women yourself. This had left their guardians all-of-a-twitter, much relieved to eventually allow an alliance with the true heart-throb instead.’

‘I am sure my record in such acts of chivalry is beyond reproach. What I resent is the commercialization of all our relationships. Look at LinkedIn. One would like to have a large circle of influence. But to what avail? We end up LinkedIn_Logonetworking only with those who could be used by us to further our own career interests. What we need instead is a platform where we can connect only with those we admire for their sterling qualities of head and heart.’

‘Well said, sir, but you would readily appreciate the difficulties involved. Perhaps there could be better ways to filter out only those who love and admire one and one’s work.’

‘Jeeves, I do think I have one such idea!’

‘Indeed, sir?’

‘I think I should start a blog of my own.’

His left eyebrow went up a quarter of an inch. I braced myself with the old Wooster grit. I persisted.

‘The more I publish my own escapades and my several acts of mercy, the quieter my life would be! In fact, the journal at the Junior Ganymede Club – could that not be serialized to great effect?’WordPress_logo

‘The rules of the club are rather strict, sir.’

I bridled at him.

‘Jeeevs, if you could get the Eulalie stuff on Roderick Spode once, surely this would not be difficult?’

‘I fear, sir-.’

‘OK, I know what you are going to say next,’ said I, waving an imperial hand. ‘Don’t you think having a blog of one’s own helps? Would you know how one starts and develops a blog?’

‘Sir, having had the privilege of assisting an avid blogger earlier, I can say that it is hard work, indeed.’

‘I don’t believe this. Blogging would be like a song and a lark. That is what Bingo Little told me last night at thePinterest_Logo Drones. His wife’s popularity has gone up since she became an active blogger. You just bang on the keyboard whatever you happen to be thinking of at the time. You hit the ‘publish’ button. That is all there is to it.’

‘One also needs to do so regularly, sir. To do this, one has to learn to read with great fervor. One has to keep the interest of the readers in mind. One has to edit a piece thoroughly before deciding to publish it.’

‘Reading? You mean some juicy stuff others keep writing?’

‘Wisdom would dictate that writers of the stature of Shakespeare, Wordsworth, Charles Dickens, Ernest Hemingway, Spindrift and Spinoza could provide regular inspiration, sir.’

‘What? One has to read such blokes just to be able to blog?’

‘A course you would be well advised to pursue, sir.’

‘But that would be tough on the nerves, Jeeves. I remember when Florence had expected me to read some stuff on Reddit_logoTypes of Ethical Theory or whatever. Is there any other procedure one is supposed to follow?’

‘Yes, sir. You most likely need a thesaurus, a rudimentary grammar book, and a grip on reality. The latter implies that there are no free lunches. Blogging is work, with uncertain rewards. And courtesy demands that one promptly replies to all comments coming in, howsoever impolite these might be.’

‘Oh, that does not sound very simple, does it? It would consume a lot of my time, I guess.’

‘Indeed, sir. Blogging needs dedication. It also strains the cerebellum to some extent.’

‘Is there any other requirement?’

‘The place where you write must be one of solitude. It would be advisable to hire a secluded hamlet far away from the temptations of a city life, sir.’

‘Oh, but then we should have no boy scouts prowling around on their acts of mercy in the vicinity, cleaning chimneys and burning cottages.’

‘Yes, sir. One has to minimize the probability of such an occurrence. Allow me also to point out that availability ofMona Lisa connectivity would be a sine qua non.’

‘That would be a disaster. I was not aware that you need to depend on internet to be able to blog. So, if I were to take up blogging, I would end up feeling like someone on whose head all the sorrows of the world had descended. Who was it you had once mentioned, Jeeves?’

‘Perhaps, you allude to the Mona Lisa, sir.’

‘Well, if she calls up now, tell her that I do know just how she feels when confronted with the harsh slings and arrows of life.’

‘Yes, sir.’

‘By the way, Jeeves, what are all these applications I keep hearing of these days? What do people keep applying for?’

‘If I have understood the query correctly, sir, you perhaps refer to some programs specifically developed for smart phones, sir.’

‘And what do these do?’

‘These are used for simplifying some mundane tasks of life, sir. First, we had WhatsApp. Then we had Line and HikeWhatsApp_logo apps. Now, we have Viber which is catching the fancy of the people. I believe there are about 1.3 million Android apps and Apple’s app store hosts 1.2 million of the things. By comparison, Windows has only around 300,000, Amazon 240,000 and Blackberry 130,000 or so, sir. ’

‘The mind boggles, what? But is this not a delightful affirmation of human ingenuity and creativity, Jeeves?’

‘True, sir. But the reality is that while there are indeed some creative programmers producing elegant, witty or ingenious apps, there are also some misleading programs which entrap one for an uncalled for burden on one’s wallet.’

‘Oh, a prospect better avoided, then?’

‘Depends on how one looks at it, sir. Let us say, you wish to replace your Alpine hat with a more suave version. UsingViber-logo some applications on your cell phone, you can sell as well as buy.’

‘But I do not wish to replace my Alpine hat, Jeeves.’

‘Sir, I just sold it using one of the apps on your cell.’

‘What? These smart phones are making me even more dumb. Let us get rid of it right away.’

‘As you say, sir.’

‘Yes. I am just getting fed up with this continuous slavery of today’s technology. All day long, messages keep beeping, giving one no respite. Is there no place left on earth where one could get some rest and repose? What about that World Cruise we were discussing sometime back? Do ships have internet, Jeeves?’PGWodehouse

‘Not necessarily, sir.’

‘So why don’t you book us on a voyage to Antarctica or some such place where one can really live life to the fullest, devoid of all e-distractions and boy scouts? You had better get the tickets tomorrow.’

‘I have already procured them, sir. Before we proceed on our voyage, may I suggest your meeting the representative of SPIN – the Society for Prevention of Internet Narcissism, sir?’

‘Sure! Jeeves, you stand alone.’

‘I merely endeavor to provide satisfaction, sir.’

(Note from Jeeves: Those of you who have enjoyed this line of thought may like to check out https://www.facebook.com/SocPrevInN)

(Related Posts:

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2016/09/23/bertie-jeeves-and-the-internet-of-things

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2014/08/04/mirror-mirror-on-the-wall-who-is-the-smartest-of-them-all; https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2014/01/23/why-become-a-slave-to-technology)

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