The Short and Long of Writing

I have always nursed a desire of becoming a writer someday. A writer of short stories. Why only short stories? I do not know but I think it has a lot to do with the fact that I am comfortable reading short stories than longer novels and essays.

But I know I will never be a good short-story writer. Years of writing verbose, non-sensical and winded sentences for engineering and management exams and term papers has, well, screwed up my English. No matter how hard I try my sentences do not stop where they should. Many of my friends and classmates share a similar anguish. Now that I have transferred the blame to the system for my failure as a short-story writer ( :) ), the truth, my dear readers, is that I was never made out to write crisp and memorable stories. If you have read Roald Dahl's The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar and Six More, Lucky Break will let you know what you need to have and learn to be a good writer. What it takes is creativity in good measures, a keen sense of imagination and the skill to observe people and their mannerisms. Take any of the famous and successful writers. Be it Hemingway or Saadat Hassan Manto or Roald Dahl. They had all these qualities. But, more importantly, they also knew the power of the written word. I have always believed that I struggle with my writing because of that (not just because of that though). I do not know how to weave words together to create a lasting impact like how Manto did, for example. His sketches in Mottled Dawn are lessons in powerful writing. Words are like the yorker ball in cricket. It is effective when used sparsely and appropriately. Just because you know how to bowl one does not mean you throw them at the batsmen six balls an over. These are some of my observations on writing. What triggered this post was this instructive essay ( link via India Uncut). I especially liked the part where he says,

"I respect that kind of care for what is being done. That's all we have, finally, the words, and they had better be the right ones, with the punctuation in the right places so that they can best say what they are meant to say. If the words are heavy with the writer's own unbridled emotions, or if they are imprecise and inaccurate for some other reason—if the words are in any way blurred—the reader's eyes will slide right over them and nothing will be achieved"

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The Short and Long of Writing

2 thoughts on “The Short and Long of Writing

  1. First of all, not fair – you shouldn’t put up four posts at one go!

    Second. Loved this post. I understand so well when you say that your sentence doesn’t stop when it should :)) Not stories, maybe, but you do have a good language for general writing, like what you are writing now.

    Oh btw, I am a huge fan of Roald Dahl.

  2. Lol! I am still back-dating my earlier posts… So yes guilty as charged :)

    Yes, my sentences keep going on and on! Roald Dahl is a magnificent writer. If you like short stories, you may also want to try Raymond Carver!

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