can i have money

I miss the times when I used to be able to spend time with the paper and my morning coffee. Sipping the 2nd cup of the day, I’d sit back after the home emptied itself and comb through it in a serene cloud of silence. Turning the pages, occasionally pausing to savor the language, and then at times brushing past the jargon not making much sense of it, but marveling at the sheer genius of being able to string words without saying a thing, was, indeed a luxury. Something that perhaps few folks who have the luxury of sitting back home and doing “nothing” while the rest let the clock dictate them can relate to.

Sipping my evening tea, I picked up the Post magazine (which I incidentally think can produce some fine gems despite being overshadowed by its parent) and I turned to the “spot the difference” pages wishing that the husband did’nt beat me to it. He did, and I tried finding the last difference that he could’nt, and of course gave up. The man is brilliant when it comes to picking up nuances in a visual form and I stop there. I then flipped it back to the column – Below the Beltway – Gene’s weekly.

Almost always filled with subtle humor on everyday annoyances and peeves to DC’s political circus that surrounds us in the area, the man never fails to bring out a chuckle and at times, even a guffaw in us. It helps even more when such beauts can be shared by more, and these days my older two have chimed in to lend their take, twist and add-on to Gene’s words.

Last evening, I snorted a hefty dose of some strong ginger tea up my nose as I read these lines. (and if you thought that helped clear my sinuses, it so didn’t. Just very messy, I assure you, in case someone decides to try it.)

The point I am trying to make is that it is very, very difficult to get a book published, which is why I am dismayed by a hot new phenomenon in the publishing industry: People who cannot write are getting fat book contracts for work they didn’t do. I’m talking about certain kinds of bloggers: people who run Web sites that subsist on things like reader-submitted snapshots of dogs in stupid outfits or photos of big plates of greasy food. The publishers are paying these bloggers for this “content,” which they then turn into paperbacks.

I digress just a bit to allow for my own take of what I see:

In recent times, there’s been a spate of bloggers bagging book contracts and they’ve been looked upon with wonder, amazement and awe within our blogging community. It seemed the cool thing to do once you have enough readers subscribed to your blog. Look closely and most were arts majors, journalists, creative poets, copywriters or ones who at least grew themselves to belong to one of those categories. They are indeed a marvel and I admire the grit for following through dreams.

Then again, the phenomena of writing and garnering an audience (for publishing purposes) is not entirely about writing as I quite naively imagined until recently. It’s quite like how one climbs the ladder of success everywhere else. Though can’t imagine why I thought writing was above it all! It’s not so much of what you know as who you know. You’d think with a creative avenue like writing, the most successful and cash-able are the ones who are well, creative. Who let their ideas, words, content and style be so inimitable and un-cookie-cutter-like that people would want to pay to read them.

After reading a few bad books that I refuse to review apart from expending the minimum energy one can, I am led to believe as a sad inference that I am indeed right!

I think this trend is a bad idea. But how do you fight an idea? Maybe you don’t. Maybe you just decide to cash in on it yourself.

If Gene decides to join the crowd for the most ridiculous book ideas, who am I to contend?

Let’s see now: read Chetan Bhagat? Writers like him ought be applauded to give hope and faith to all aspiring writers. The ones that enjoy the words, the play, the fluidity and the unique visual art that gets created within each reader’s head. That is what an art form is, in my humble opinion. A medium, where the artist provides the freedom for the recipients to take it and make it their own by how it speaks to one is inherently slightly different than the other.

Here’s the:  Me want book kontract, too. – The column by the inimitable Gene Weingarten’s in May 17th Washington Post.

***

Talking about writing, I’ve been dabbling in some micro-fiction on twitter (apart and hve them all collected here, which would be an ongoing process till I get bugged with it all.

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47 thoughts on “can i have money

  1. Personally, on a scale of 1-10, I would grade my writing at a 3 (max 4), just short of half decent. And that too when I am writing about cricket, something that’s close to my heart. But before I started venting on my blog (or before I started penning these really long emails), I never knew I was capable of stringing a few words together. I think I am where I am because of my blog. But then, there are people who could be a 6 to start with, and with a blog, they could go to 8 or 9. And those are the ones that deserve a book. And from where I am sitting, the ones I know with signed contracts truly deserve them. So more power to the bloggers, I say!

    • anantha, you sell yourself short. :)

      Good writing just needs practice, and you are right. Blogging helps hone and give room to allow for growth, just like swimming, singing or even coding.

      Absolutely@power to bloggers. :)

  2. Hey, every monkey has an equal chance of becoming a shakespeare :) You should probably make your fables into books or compile your photos to make a coffee table photo book. It will definitely sell to those who have a coffee table and don’t drink coffee and don’t know what to do with the table :) Just kidding, but photo book will be a cool idea.

    • lol, but of course. One never knows until we try, and follow a dream. Then again, one should ahve relatistic expectations of their capabilities.

      Yep, Coffee table books have quite the niche. :)

  3. books are for borin ppl, who cant encapsulate their ideas in a page! They end up writing reams of paper, killing trees and provide shelter to spiders in bookshops…

    aajkal too many idiot-type ppl have begun writing, esp bloggers. Mediocrity is the new benchmark.

    writers are born, they dont sprout out of a blog!

    ps: good luck…

    • LOL@killing trees. You know, am so with you on that. Am a bit of go green freak myself, and recycle one sided sheets with a vengeance!

      Blogs help fan that spark me thinks. It’s practice. :-)

  4. If it sells it sells. As with so many things a “ready” market will be exploited. Bloggers turned authors cannot be worse than celebrity turned author…

    In the meanwhile there are some lovely blogs, well written, well informed available for all to read. I think I am happy with the current situation :).

    • lol, pearls, you don’t mince words do you? :)

      There’s a market for anything these days. To sell, one just needs to find it. Amen@blogs.

  5. Making a book out of a blog is the same as presenting it on a different user interface, so I don’t understand what the big deal is. There is nothing inherently sacred about presenting it in a book format. If the blog is crap, then the book will be crap – let the market figure it out. :)

  6. I feel cheated when I buy a book and it turns out to be insipid. But then, every blogger, after garnering few loyal readers, nurtures the book writing dream. Maybe it is the ‘you are the king/ queen of your blog’ that gives us bloggers so much confidence!

    • True. Having people read, comment and come back for more is a high that’s hard to ignore, but as long as the blogger’s able to filter out the honest opinions from frivolous raptures, it’s all good. My 2 cents.

  7. Writing a book? Hmm not a bad idea..lemme think about it…but I’m not a creative writer and never was…my blog is just too quench my thirst for writing and that’s what all bloggers do i guess…but nothing wrong in exploring n getting to a higher level if the stuff is really good n deserving…but if its jus like another forwarded mail n full of jargons its gonna put bloggers to shame.

  8. Loong time, had been a mute reader all the while.. good pics.. manchi kalaatmaka drushti :). and by the way, you have been tagged.. dont really remember if you had taken it up already though.

  9. I am late! Don’t have anything different to say.

    Spring season for mediocre talent. Producers (music and films) and publishers are keen in looking for quick selling “products” backed my sensationalism and heavy duty marketting.

    Readers will forever be faithful to their favourite bloggers wheather they turn writers or not :).

    And I thought you wanted to bang that Chetan Bhagat on my head :D

  10. Haven’t you heard the American Dream is no longer buying a house, its selling one (preferrably for profit) or landing a book deal.

    This only happens in US where every single person in a crime scene or any situation can land a book deal. Sometimes I wonder who is reading these books.

    It’s been a while since I have read a book but read your blog religiously. And I am sure pretty sure you will land a book deal and when you do that I’ll come to VA and get an autographed copy.

      • LOL@American dream! I would think more like counting their blessings with regard to selling home for profit :)

        yeart@me writing a book. You sure can come visit me though! I even met Shobhana and Manju Bhargavi, doesn’t mean I can touch them :p

  11. Hey Rads,

    I hope you will one day make your fables into a book and publish it.
    But please dont give up blogging.

    Personally my vote is to read an interesting blog than to the long books.I listen to audio books very often as i just cannot make time to read books.

    • We went on a long trip and the ladies who were driving love audio books. On the way to the conference, I went to sleep while they enjoyed the “book”. Me, I prefer the paper kind. We have a book sale here and all of us love Bag Day. We fill our bags with books and pay $5. Read them all up, and put them back for donation :-). I used to love going to the book fair in Madras. I still treasure the Tintins and the Asterix I got from the Mount Road exhibition. Sigh.You can date me by the fact I don’t call it Anna Salai ;-) Happy reading, hearing. Reading Rozabal Line right now.
      http://www.aauwstatecollege.org/bookSale/default.html

      http://www.amazon.com/Rozabal-Line-Shawn-Haigins/dp/1430327545
      Rads:Please delete if inappropriate.

      • Paper absolutely, and these days have gotten used to online. We still subscribe to magazines and newspaper, yeah I know :)

        heh, I still refuse to call Madras Chennai, so go figure ;-) Bought the husband the 9 volume Tintin-Asterix set this trip. They classics eh?

        Link’s perfectly fine, what’s inappropriate about it? :\

        • “Bought the husband the 9 volume Tintin-Asterix set this trip.”

          looks like the garage was looking rather forlorn after the last cleanup. you go girl! ;-)

          – s.b.

        • Oh wonderful. I still need the Lotus one and one other Tintin. Asterix, I only have the one from my Madras days. Maybe this summer :-). But funnily enough my kids don’t care for the Enid Blytons which I still love and enjoy. All I do in Mysore is re-read all my old books. Sherlock Holmes is my favorite.

        • @My3. I donno why I inclued Asterix in the set. Picked up only a few of those.Tell me about Enid Blyton! Weren’t they the most wonderful books to sit back with in the summer and the kids now don’t fncy them at all. Daughter started Agatha Christie and am thrilled to bits. i still re-read them :-)

          @ sb. sometimes it’s the books, sometimes its clothes. ;-)

  12. rads:

    steps to write a book that sells:

    1) get yourself head over heels (in mortgage debt) first.
    2) make sure you’ve lived rent and mortgage payment free in your mansion for a few months.
    3) write a book on how the entire world was out to get poor little innocent you.

    i bet that book will get you big moolah!

    -s.b.

  13. Hmmm…. interesting perspective. I was thinking in the last few months that buying a book seems like an incredible waste of resources. I am not talking about text books and the ilk. But more like the travel books, cooking tomes… since I can find up-to-date information online. Trust me, I am one of the few who would rather give away my sarees(which I treasure) but NOT my books. I will hound the borrower until I get it back :D And here the bloggers all want to be authors. Sigh. Life does come full circle, eh!

    • You right about such books. I’ve even stopped looking up the phone book and by that I mean, the reason why we pick up a tangible paper has narrowed considerably. Considering that, I’d imagine that the quality of what’s being printed ought get stricter, or else why would anyone spend good money when you can get much more for free?

  14. I have no problem with bloggers bagging book rights; however, I do have a problem with mediocrity.

    Yes, there are a lot of good authors out there who have written books – however, they are few and far between. If the quality of writing on most blogs is any indication, the writing will be dismal, the plot lacking and the piece disappointing. At best.

    If anything, I feel that blogging gets in the way of a good writer. I personally know professional writers who are rather well respected for their good quality of literature (as opposed to pop authors, whom I equate to Britney Spears and boy bands of writing). These people do not simply put what comes to their mind on paper, but rather let their ideas ferment for a while before putting their thoughts down. I would argue that the fact that you can type faster than you can think on a computer (and consequently, on a blog) is not necessarily a point in favor of quality.

    Now don’t get me wrong – as with everything, there are always exceptions. However, I feel that blogging without good content has brought down the average literacy level of most people. It is akin to music or publishing. When only the best could record music, people listened to the very best. Similarly, when only Aristotle and Plato’s works were popular and easily available, that is what people read. More people read Maxim than London Review of Books. Facilitating access to the masses ignores the fact that the masses tend toward the lower end of the median.

    Wake me up when we see the likes of Borges or Pamuk in the blogging world!

    • Am glad you wrote in.

      It’s always about the quality isn’t it? Just coz someone can string a few lines together coherently doesn’t mean they get published, blogger or not I mean. I’ve picked up some really popular authors and dropped them halfway through coz they were bad. No plot, no style and in some cases just ridiculously terrible editing, and am just an average reader.

      I’d imagine there are two distinct scenarios with respect to writing. Good caliber writing and then there’s the rest. Blogging only just helps with practice, if that’s what one would like to use it for. It’s use of an online medium as opposed to writing pages in a journal.

      Similarly we have different kind of bloggers, ones who take writing seriously and ones who don’t. Clubbing all of them while talking about bagging book deals isn’t fair imho.

      I feel that blogging without good content has brought down the average literacy level of most people.

      Right on. The ease at which anyone can write and get published and have an audience has in fact made writing, slack and careless. Readers are in fact settling for less as there is more of mediocrity to get tuned to.

      This is good stuff, you need to comment more. Wait, for you to read, I need to up my quality eh? :-p

  15. I stumbled on your blog from Lakshmi’s site, and I think your style of writing is great. I find myself clicking on the link almost daily to see if you have a new post!

    Who knows… maybe a book deal is around the corner for you too :-) Good luck!

  16. Rads, it will be a separate post if i wrote abt this book business(from a reader’s perspective) but I liked the way you wrote this post. Starting with the morning newspaper routine and eventually moving to an article in it.

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