Friday, June 29, 2007

Mystery Surrounds Anonymous Wikipedia Correction about Chris Benoit's Wife's Death

The turn of event leading to Chris Benoit's murder of his wife and children and suicide is one of the wired world's bizzareest incidents to happen, I think.

How else can you explain Benoit killing his wife, children and himself, and someone posting it on Wikipedia this text at 12.01 a.m. in the morning on June 25: “Chris Benoit was replaced by Johnny Nitro for the ECW Championship match at Vengeance, as Benoit was not there due to personal issues, stemming from the death of his wife Nancy,” even before the police discovered the body at 2.30 p.m. in the afternoon, a good 14 and a half hours later.

Here’s the incident as reported by Wikipedia (horse’s mouth):

“News of Nancy Benoit's death was inexplicably posted on Wikipedia 14 hours before the police discovered the bodies. This was initially reported on Wikinews and later on The original posting reads: “Chris Benoit was replaced by Johnny Nitro for the ECW Championship match at Vengeance, as Benoit was not there due to personal issues, stemming from the death of his wife Nancy.” The phrase "stemming from the death of his wife Nancy" was added to the English Wikipedia's "Chris Benoit" article at 12:01 a.m. EDT on June 25, whereas the Fayette County police reportedly discovered the bodies of the Benoit family at 2:30 p.m. EDT (14 hours, 29 minutes later). The IP address of the editor was traced to Stamford, Connecticut, which is also the location of WWE headquarters. After news of the early death notice reached mainstream media, the anonymous poster accessed Wikinews to explain his seemingly prescient comments as a "huge coincidence and nothing more".

"The press has reported that police are seeking information about the anonymous editor."

I went in further into Wikipedia’s editing feature where one can identify the exact text content that was edited and came up with this (the portion in red is edited text):

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Thursday, June 28, 2007

Fulcrum: an annual of poetry and aesthetics at

Fulcrum is a journal of poetry and invites submissions that must arrive by mail between June 1 and August 31 and must be accompanied by a brief cover letter. Include a return envelope with sufficient postage International Reply Coupons (IRCs) if a response is desired. Fulcrum: an annual of poetry and aesthetics: Address: Philip Nikolayev and Katia Kapovich, Editors, Fulcrum: an annual of poetry and aesthetics, 334 Harvard Street, Suite D-2,Cambridge, MA 02139, USA
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Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Of Bumblebees and Technology!

This is just a thought that raced through my mind this afternoon when I went for a walk to the nearby mall. It seemed that people who know nothing about technology run nearly most (that would mean almost all) technology companies. It gives rise to irrational, or, funny situations – look at it the way you want to. The sage who said, “Ignorance is bliss” was probably wrong. It is disaster, as the following example would show:

The managers of a technology company in Andheri, suburban Bombay, were interviewing a candidate for the position of Search Engine Marketer. They didn’t have much knowledge of Search Engine marketing, which is a very specialized field. The candidate said something about “pinging” the feeds of the site to feed aggregators. (Feed aggregators are the entities that aggregate content and supply them to Real Simple Syndication (RSS) readers. If you don’t understand this mumbo-jumbo, doesn’t matter, neither do I.)

The managers didn’t know what “pinging” meant and asked the candidate to explain. The candidate wasn’t very articulate and botched the explanation. That was the end of the interview. The managers ended the interview because the candidate (who really knew what “pinging” a site meant through experience) couldn’t explain the term properly.

The managers’ ignorance made them lose a good candidate. Then how do technology companies run when they do not know their own businesses and techniques? Heard of the bumblebee? The bumblebee cannot fly (speaking technically) but it tries, and tries, and tries and somehow manages to stay afloat in the air. This is the same with managers of technology companies in India.

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Tuesday, June 26, 2007

How To Accept a Dear John Letter!

Here, ahem, is that vital piece of information that many (Including me, John, hehe) have been looking for. How To Accept a Dear John Letter

Not that I have received any "Dear John" letters so far in my boring life. Thank providence for small mercies (draws sign of the cross! God bless!). But the tips here seem rather useful. Among them:

Write a "Dear Jane" letter in reply, but don't send it yet. If you read the first part and posted it, go to the post office and ask for the letter back, as I did (No, not a "Dear Jane" letter, but a letter to an errant relative) some time ago.

Take your "Dear Jane" letter. Go to a far off place, a mountain top, perhaps, would do just fine. Take a match, light it, stick it at the bottom corner of the offending "Dear Jane" and see it burn bright and then die.

You can then open the Chardonnay or Bordeaux and celebrate life and the "love lost" relationship! Celebrate your freedom!

Monday, June 25, 2007

Fatwa upon Fatwa, Is Rushdie to Blame for Knighthood?

Read what Sunny Singh has to say about the threat to Sir Salman following the bestowal of knighthood in her blog.

In the years since those heady days of university, things have changed. Mr. Rushdie’s pen seems to have grown blunt as his social appearances take precedence. Of course, I still rush out to pick up every new novel, only to be disappointed. And amongst certain Indian writers in English, it is now fashionable to run down both Mr. Rushdie’s skill as well as his contribution to all our writing trajectories. And that is indeed a shame – far greater perhaps than the illiterate religious fanatic fringe that threatens violence.

Salman Rushdie's greatest achievement was to blast open the hallowed portals of writing in English for a whole generation of writers from the former colonies. And he did that to the sound of joyous - albeit at times, sly - laughter, with luminous prose that thrilled and delighted. If he never puts down a single word on paper ever again, his oeuvre is worthy of respect. For that alone, his knighthood (and any other honour) is well deserved.

Most intellectuals and even writers in the sub-continent with literary aspirations have shied away from commenting on the Iranian foreign minister's comment. Are even the more vociferous of them afraid to come into the open because of invoking the ire of the fundamentalists? Somehow, the silence seems thick and uncomfortable, according to me.

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Rains - Morning Walk and Commuting

It has been raining heavily, in fact, pouring. As I go for my daily walk at the Artist Village pond - my own Walden Pond - the little jogging track is covered with boughs and leaves that have been dislodged by the heavy rain and wind. It is still raining and I wear my windcheater and shorts. I am also holding an umbrella to protect my head. Overdressed? Hehe! Maybe!

The trains are late because a few of them have been cancelled. The platform is dark and smelly and there is a cut in power supply. And, it’s a Monday too! Late trains and a cut in power combines well to set me on the edge. But I use my meditative powers. I can’t even read anything. A friend waves from across the other side of the platform. I wave back.

The train arrives. It is thickly packed with people. Mercifully, I only have to travel from CBD Belapur to Vashi; which is five stations away. But the crowd today is unyielding, because of the delay. Somehow I push myself inside. The flesh, muscles and bones wriggle tightly to make space for me.

“Please push inside, there’s plenty of room inside.”

“Han, han, there’s lot of space. Why don’t you come inside,” said sarcastically.

I give the owner of the voice (I can’t see him, my head is jammed by other heads) a dirty smirk.

A few years ago I used to travel in comfort in the first class compartment. Ah, those were the days! In fact, sometimes, since these compartments were empty I used to go into a second-class compartment for fear of being robbed. In the last few years because of the development around Kharghar and Panvel, the trains have gotten too crowded for comfort. Real estate agents have pushed up prices in these areas saying, “The airport is coming close to here!” Damn their lot!

As the train progresses towards Vashi, it gets worse. I fear I won’t be able to get down at Vashi, unless I push very hard towards the door. The man behind me is despairing because we are too far inside, and there’s a thick wall of flesh ahead of us. He curses, swears in English. Obviously, the outsourced-worker type from the look of his sleep deprived eyes.

By now (I am a professional of forty odd years of commuting in Bombay) I know the rules. In Bombay trains “Might is Right.” I fight my way to the door, I step over people’s feet, and I push and prod. I know what you are thinking. Ungentlemanly, isn’t it? But I also say, “Excuse me, aap ko Vashi utharna hai?” and “Thank you.”

The grinding flesh yields bit by bit. I am near the door. As the train nears Vashi I give the man in front a big push with all my strength. “Your *$%^&*()@…” he begins but before he knows it, in a flash, I am out of the train and walking on the platform.

I look back; the man behind me, the despiraing, foul-mouthed man has been swallowed by the people who got in at Vashi. He is nowhere. May be, just may be, he shouldn’t swear so much, and be polite like me (Yeah, why don't I pat my back a little? Be polite buddy even in the worst circumstance, gets your work done!) Now he will have to travel all the way to Mankhurd, and then board a train back to Vashi. Poor chap!
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Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Salman Rusdie was born today

In this post I wrote about Elton John’s birthday and it’s time to write about another iconic figure’s birthday – this time one of my favorite authors.

Today June 19, 2007 is Salman Rushdie’s (Or, is it Sir Salman’s?) 60th birthday. What a happy coincidence that he also received knighthood at the hands of Queen Elizabeth just recently. Though certainly not an Indian writer anymore he has been identified with Indian English Literature by default, as he writes mostly about incidents in the subcontinent.

Born and brought up in Bombay, around the posh Pedder Road area of Bombay he migrated to the United Kingdoms and his novel Midnight's Children (1981) won him the Booker Prize and brought with it international fame. However, when his controversial novel The Satanic Verses was published, Ayatollah Khomeini issued a fatwa decreeing death for Rushdie's, claiming that the book was blasphemous.

Rushdie went into hiding and was provided the highest category of security; the Japanese translator of his book was murdered and two other translators escaped assassination attempts. In 1998, the Iranian government relented and declared that the decree would not be carried out, and only then did Rushdie come out of hiding.

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Monday, June 18, 2007

New content on my site

I have added some new content on my website A book review section features my articles and reviews.

Elton John Celebrates 60th Birthday with Concert at Madison Square Gardens!

As I have crowed before Elton John is one of my favorite singers. I love his melodic voice and, yesterday I listened to his 60th birthday concert at Madison Square Gardens where he sang an emotional “Empty Garden” as a tribute to John Lennon, another favorite. I don’t know if it is the name (John) I share with them, but I love these two songwriters, singers, and musicians.

Old timers, such as yours truly, would perhaps recollect that Elton mourned the loss of John Lennon to an assassin’s bullet in his 1982 hit "Empty Garden (Hey, Hey Johnny)", from his Jump Up! Album. Twenty-five years ago, in August 1982, he had performed a tribute to John Lennon at a sold-out Madison Square Garden show, joined on stage by Yoko Ono and Sean Ono Lennon, Elton's godchild.

Twenty thousand fans attended the abovementioned Madison Square Garden concert and the audience include Bill Clinton, Pierce Brosnan and other celebrities, too many to name here in this puny blogpost. Of course, celebrity spotting kept me glued to the screen as much as Sir Elton’s antics. This is his 60th performance in Madison Square Gardens, coincidentally, on his 60th birthday. As nice a surprise as it comes.

Sir Elton is an institution and has done many concerts for charity and for his own Elton John AIDS foundation. I do a search. When I see the results I go “Whoa, what’s this?” It brought out the lyrics of hundreds of songs that he has sung and performed. And here I am fidgeting and fidgeting to write just one poem, just one measly poem!

What has made this man reach the top and stay there while others like John Lennon, Jimmy Hendrix, Buddy Holly, and Jim Morrison have come, made their mark and died or gone into perdition? Something called charisma you say? He is still hitting the charts when he is 60 (many of the celebrities present debated his actual age. So it may not be 60, rather, may be a few years more, but who cares as long as he gives the world another “Your Song” or “Circle of Life”).

I sat there mesmerized by the glitzy razzmatazz, the fantastic piano work (his pudgy fingers on the piano keys is a treat to watch), the pyrotechnics, and his showmanship that has him wear atrocious costume and weird eyeglasses. Mercifully, I must say, this time he had worn a dark glass, and not one of those ugly heart shaped ones with his name embossed on it.

Like all great people his beginning was humble. His music loving parents Stanley Dwight and Sheila Harris had christened him Reginald Dwight. He became a weekend pianist at the nearby Northwood Hills pub, playing on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights. The crowd was often rough. Reportedly sometimes an unruly patron would dump a pint of beer into Reginald's piano and the youngster had to work hard to please them. He played everything from Jim Reeves country songs ("He'll Have to Go") to Irish folk numbers ("When Irish Eyes Are Smiling"), decades-old ditties ("Beer Barrel Polka"), hits of the day ("King of the Road"), and songs he had written himself.

What is the secret of this chubby man who has performed 500 songs from 32 albums, many of them hits, and is still a prolific music-making machine is anyone’s guess. My wild, wild guess is that he is not human. He is the captain of a spaceship from a planet where people speak songs, not languages.

A big “ha!” to that.
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Friday, June 15, 2007

Stop, Stop This Hypocrisy!

This is dishonest, this is cheap, stop this hypocrisy, why are you doing this? What do you get by doing this?

These are questions that came to my mind when something happened before my eyes yesterday. How can I describe the revulsion I felt? Ineffable.

A man had entered the first class compartment. He was dressed in a dirty, grimy shirt, and his head was wet all over. He must have walked in the rain. He was dark, small and wiry. Immediately a man warned him rudely, rather cruelly, “Get out, this is first class, you aren’t allowed her.”

“What? Don’t you know? Have you come from some village?”

“Why don’t you be in your own ‘aukhadh’”?

This is a very dangerous territory this territory of “aukhadh.” Yes, I have heard it plenty of times, in movies, in daily soaps, in daily conversation. We all have our “aukhadh” and do not venture out of it. The man’s “aukhadh” was the second-class compartment and he was not supposed to be in first class.

What followed was unbelievable. The entire compartment joined as one to ridicule, shout, upbraid the small man who looked around like a cornered animal. I could do nothing except feel sorry for him, while none of my fellow travelers felt anything.

Are our own countrymen, though a bit poor, the object of such ridicule? Or is it that poverty is the new hate word, the way we stereotype and persecute people based on their caste, religion, social class etc.

In which case is it “class war” of another kind?

Just a few hours ago I watched as a similarly poor man carrying a polyethylene bag the sort in which cement is packed was stopped by the policemen on security duty at the Vashi railway station.

The policemen were there to check if terrorists were carrying explosives, guns, or weapons of terror. Many people just waked past the seated policemen and they didn’t give them a second glance. For all I know they could have been carrying the worst form of RDX in their bags. They just walked past the comfortably seated policemen, all three of them.

But this man was stopped. Because he was poor, his dress was dirty, and his hair was unwashed. He looked as if fortune and riches hadn’t favored him.

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"Potato" or "Potatoe" - Dan Quayle's Dilemma

This day in 1992 Dan Quayle: misled a student to spell potato ''potatoe'' during a spelling bee; he was vice president of the US at the time. That the vice-pressy can’t spell became obvious. The press had a whale of a time, in fact, they went Quayle-hunting, with pens loaded with the yellow stuff.

During his term as Vice President, Quayle was made into a comedian by the media and derided as someone of inferior intellect. He received the satirical Ig Nobel Prize for "demonstrating, better than anyone else, the need for science education" in 1991. In fact how he rose to become the veep was stuff of rumor mills.

His public statements are characterized by what one wag once called the disease of putting his foot in every time he opened his mouth. "We don't want to go back to tomorrow, we want to go forward" and "The future will be better tomorrow" and "For NASA, space is still a high priority", or the fallacious "It's time for the human race to enter the solar system,” are only some of them.

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Thursday, June 14, 2007

Poyal oru vakku, kittiyal oru mala

Uh? What? Let me explain to those who came in late, or, clarify for the uninitiated Mallus who haven’t bothered to keep in touch with their richly endowed native state’s customs.

Malayalam is filled with engaging aphorisms, such as this one for instance. My mater tongue is full of the most expressive idioms and aphorisms that can say much more than a thousand, um, no, hundred words.

The gist of the above needs some explanation. I was thinking of it on the ride to work and noted it in my leather-bound pocket notebook where I note all fleeting thoughts that later transform into blogposts such as this one. I am such a filter when it comes to thoughts that unless I write it down I lose it.

Poyal oru vakku, kittiyal oru mala

Here’s the story: A man in yonder Mallu lands badly wanted a mountain on which he wanted to build a house and cultivate some crops. The owner of the mountain lived on another big mountain nearby. (The very word “Malayali” apparently means “people who live on mountains.” So there!) He knew if he asked for it he might get the mountain to cultivate, as the owner didn’t take much interest in this patch of greenery.

So he asked his wife. Wives (even mine) are known to be repositories of such sayings in the land of the swaying palm fronds. Now we come to the most important part. She says, the above aphorism which means:

“What is there in asking? If he doesn’t give it’s just a sentence (that you said) that’s lost. If you get it you get a mountain.”


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Monday, June 11, 2007

When Our Writing Becomes Us

I wrote this essay and posted it on Caferati and Shakespeare and Company and the responses I got were varied and, well, um, multifarious, insofar as the content was concerned. I would also have liked some comments about what exactly the reader thinks about the Kafkaesque (Franz Kafka is a writer of the existentialist movement who postulated that what we go through life is, at most, absurd) moments that make him/her want to write badly, yet, flounder when he/she puts pencil to paper.


Well written didactic. Existentialism has always interested me, and in these times when offices are cubicles and people are designations, this struggle to be something, to be heard is even more.

Do not have time to think about a befitting response, so just letting you know. Your words work. :-)

-Vyom Prashant

Why do I write?
Because ink runs in my veins,
not blood,
and it throbs, pulsates
and it must bleed,
and so I must write.

-Ozymandias (Raamesh Gowri Raghavan)

A good book to read in this context will be Amitava Kumar's "Bombay-London-New York." The book essentially attempts to answer the question "why do we read the books we read." It's a good self-reflection as to why do we veer towards certain authors and certain books. :-)

-Dan Husain

John, critics can judge, applaud, point to flaws, and compare with other writers, but they cannot tell a writer what to write. They don't decide what books must be written.

I recently read that the number of new English books published in 2004 was 375,000. Total number of English books available for purchase the same year: 450,000. The average reader probably goes through 10 or 20 in a year.
This of course excludes all magazine articles, blog posts, newspapers and every other form of printed information a person comes across, online or offline.

What an avalanche of advice, impressions and thoughts! It seems impossible for anyone to leave any lasting impression behind. I hope we all write at least in part to please ourselves, and those who may chance on it today, rather than posterity.

(If this realization isn't the stuff of Kafka, what is :-)


Hi John, a very good piece of writing.

- Mathew Joseph

“Why do we write?”

A question oft discussed at writers’ forums. “To express ourselves” is the obvious but simplistic answer. Even before the process of writing or printing was invented, humans composed verses and told stories and their spoken words were preserved in the oral tradition. Before they even had a language, our forefathers painted on walls of their caves. It is not only humans who have this urge to communicate. All living creatures use some form of communication, to survive and multiply.

Communication can be spoken word, writings, painting, singing and all kinds of arts. Searching for reasons for one’s existence and discovering the hidden self is at the root of all arts, I think. Do we hear questions such as “why do I paint” or “why do I dance”? Then why is it that writers seem to ask this question more often?

May be we writers are not really ‘asking’ the question. May be we are honing our writing skill by delving deeper into the process of writing itself. May be we are ‘practicing’ the art of writing by asking us this question and then answering in a coherently written piece?

Any ideas?

- Rajendra Pradhan

Our writing is us. And some of us write, while others don't. Maybe they find other means of expression. For those of us who write,it is so many things-expression, communication, connection, self-discovery(attempts at), trying to understand the world,finding the beauty of words, the list is endless.

For those who write, writing often is akin to breathing, beyond analysis.

- Abha Iyengar

Well-written, John. I liked your admission that criticism of your writing hurts you. It's the same for all of us, though we'd like to rise above our egos.

- Batul Mukhtiar

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Thursday, June 07, 2007

The First Rain Saudade

The first rains came and I wrote a poem about it. The First Rain Saudade can be read here.

Saudade, according to wikipedia ( is a Portuguese word for a feeling of longing for something that one is fond of, which is gone, but might return in a distant future. It often carries a fatalist tone and a repressed knowledge that the object of longing might really never return. (Thanks “?!” for introducing me to the word.)

Friday, June 01, 2007

When Our Writing Becomes Us

"Develop a Thick Skin," Norman Mailer

It’s afternoon, I am writing boring content for my website. The job is interesting but I am getting a bit restless. A thought, a nice thought, um, epiphany, no less, strikes me.

Why do we write? What’s the need we have to talk to other people? I am reading Albert Camus’ The Myth of Sysyphus, which discusses in great detail, Franz Kafka’s existentialism and other thoughts in literature. To clarify things: Camus, Kafka and Jean P Sartre et al belong to the same school of existential thought in literature that was the rage when I was a boy being tutored in the literature of the twentieth century by my venerated English teacher - Shankaranarayan. This beloved teacher and writer who inculcated in me an abiding love for literature and poetry has since turned to non-literary things like managing a foundry that makes casting for furnaces. How un-literary!

What I am waffling towards is this. Kafka et al formulated the existential thought in literature based on the absurdity we feel everyday in our lives. Kafka’s novels like The Trial deal with the absurdity that strikes one when one is in the process of doing what one usually, and, routinely does. For example, today, when I woke up I felt the absurdity of life and, prompted by the book I am now reading, thought immediately of writing this article. We all have such attacks of “absurdity” described, rather shown, by Kafka in his novels. Camus’ essays, which I am reading, deal with thoughts of intense absurdity, which leads us to thinking of suicide as a way out of our misery.

Suddenly we feel life is meaningless, absurd. We want to communicate, share, feel one with some people, belong to a sect of people who mean something to us, but we can’t because the listeners are lost in their own worlds of meaninglessness and absurdity. That leads us to thinking of suicide, ending it all, so that we can get back at the people who ignored our pleas of listening to us. I may also venture to deduce here, rather facetiously, that a person who is ignored in a forum also has similar thoughts. However, this morning the thought of sharing my thoughts with some people on a forum made my life seem meaningful. And maybe they will remember me for this essay. Who knows, they might prescribe it at school level as a must read. That’s the power that communication has over us. That, I think, is why we write, at least, that’s why I do.

We all have this inexplicable, uncontainable, and unmasked need to connect to others, or, communicate. Why is chatting the most popular medium on the Internet? That’s because you can work and chat and communicate on the sly at the same time. The boss won’t even know. When I catch a train back home there is this great disgorgement of people from the station who look so earnestly into my eyes, asking me silently, “Will you listen to what I have to say? Will you please listen to my side of the story, and not theirs, those enemies of mine? Will you tell me I am right, and they are wrong?” I am sort of, like, you know, “I gladly would, but I have no time.”

The need to communicate is that strong! Just as the need to communicate is strong, so also is our need to listen to communication. That’s why people lurk on Internet fourms! That’s also why you find people on trains with their noses buried in books and newspapers, oblivious of the beautiful world passing by.

As humans, we need to communicate more than anything else. We need to share more than communicate, and make a difference in others with whom we are sharing. Therefore write we must. Or, as one wit said, “Write we must, or, burst.” Look at those blabbering idiots who preach obscure cults, meditation, and such like. They are famous because they are good sharers and communicators and have convinced people to believe in their words, which have made them appear superior.

Such is the power of communication. But, then why write? Why not just talk all the while? This whole process of sitting down with a pen and pencil, scratching one’s head, making foolish attempts to string together words is part of this urgent need to communicate and share, and be known to have contributed something to the world of letters.

The way we communicate is also important. Printing and publishing evolved because of the need to communicate to a larger audience across centuries and across oceans. The British Raj is so vivid in our imagination because of the literature they left behind. When I was working for a British multinational in the Persian Gulf, I would see these reams of reports written by our British project manager, detailing every aspect of the project. These documents were so accurate that, as his assistant, it was a pleasure typing them. Through our writing we are communicating our ideas, our personalities, leaving our impressions and judgments to those who may need them in future. This is what I, rather ambitiously, intend for this article, this written communication. Well, we all are entitled to our illusions of grandeur!

And there are people who write, write, and write. Unstoppable. They have so much to communicate that they would go mad if they didn’t. Recently at a meeting of Caferati I was told by the moderator to cut short my story into half. I don’t know if I can. How can I cut something that has become as precious as my own limb? As I read the story to the audience I felt there was, indeed, a lot of fluff that was crying to be excised.

I feel my words are precious; I think of them as my own; the writing has become me. How can I cut my hands, legs, nose, ears, and tongue? Now, that’s a difficult proposition. If someone criticizes what I write, I feel hurt, just as I would if my tongue is pricked.

It’s like, we have so much to communicate that we feel our communication is us, our writing becomes us, the need becomes us. When my writing is rejected, as happens many times, I feel very hurt. Rejection even threatens me, the one who wanted to communicate because of the absurdity one felt, just as Kafka must have felt in his life when he wrote The Trial. When we feel our life is absurd and meaningless and we say so in as many words, it hurts to think that our critics are laughing at us. That compounds the absurdity of it all. That’s why Norman Mailer says in this interview to Kavitha Rao that writers should develop a “Thick Skin.” Developing a thick skin, a sense of absurdity, a sense of irony, would help a writer more than anything else. Except, of course, learning the tools of good writing like grammar and sentence construction. When your writing has elements of absurdity, self-mockery and irony, it would seem sweeter.

To quote Kavitha Rao in her interview with Norman Mailer, “His advice for would-be-writers – develop a thick skin. “Writers must rise above despising themselves. If they cannot, they will probably lose the sanction to feel like a God long enough to render judgment on others.” He also advises writers to “climb high enough above their egos to see every flaw” in their work.”

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