Writers, the fighters

Writers, the fighters

humour

Writers, the fighters

The pen is mightier than the sword,” wrote Edward Lytton, and with a single stroke turned writers into fighters. Authors will endorse this wholeheartedly, for the battles they wage are not only hard, but also encountered every inch of the way. The aspiring writer may begin his trade sooner or later.

Did I say begin? I was wrong, for that word is not the right one for this misguided idealist. He is rather ensnared in a magnificent obsession, in duress, to what is romantically termed the ‘muse’, or the mistress of words.

Men may come and men may go, but words display a will of their own. They cannot be coaxed or cajoled, for they come only when it suits them.

Countless are the famous and not-so-famous who have burnt the midnight oil and hammered on keys only to see their efforts filling not the pages of books or newspapers, but the inconspicuous WPB. With a little bit of luck, the would-be writer may produce what appears to be a pièce de résistance. With fond hopes, he sends it to the Editor. Will it be accepted? If it is, when will it be published?

These are questions best kept to yourself — yours is not to reason why, yours is but to do and try. Comes the day when you see your masterpiece in black and white. You read it over and over again. You marvel at the flow of ideas and at the felicity of the words used. Your eyes travel to the byline, small though it is. It’s your passport to the Hall of Fame. Satisfaction, joy and pride take hold of you.

Alas, disillusion waits for you around the corner. It’s an experience that takes on many guises. There is, to begin with, the reader who greets you with the utmost enthusiasm. Gratified, you ask him, “Did you read my article? What did you think of it?” There is a small but significant silence. Then shifting his eyes and his feet uneasily, he says, “Actually, I didn’t get the time to read it. But I’m proud and glad of your success. All the best!” With that he makes an exit.

Another reader may assure you that she has read your piece. “A delightful article! So well-written and informative. I didn’t know you had gone to Portugal!” You are taken aback because all you know of Portugal is what you learnt in your geography text. She has mistaken you for somebody else. Your pride and hopes are in shreds.

Then there are those who are adept at damning you with faint praise. “Lovely article. But, haven’t I read this before?” You are left wondering what she is accusing you of — dishonesty or plagiarism?

The road you traverse can sometimes serve as an eye-opener. During a walk, my eyes fell on a discarded page from the newspaper. One of the articles was by yours truly. On it were numerous muddy footprints, a reminder that yesterday is history.

There are comments that leave you dumbfounded. During a get-together, someone exclaimed, “Take care while talking to her. She’ll use you in her stories.” All this may make you wonder why a writer soldiers on. It is because success, like the rose, has thorns. Its fragrance, however, is sweet, something quite hard to beat.

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