Category Archives: Blogging

Confessions of an Author that Never was (TSS)

From Flickr

From Flickr

I have always wanted to write. However, I have always failed to achieve much beyond self-pleasing tid-bits. Like most of us who want to be ‘authors’ without having the discipline to churn out a single short story of any decent standard, I have always blamed it on the genius of people I have already read.

After a lot of thought, it was settled that I will be the one to show that despite the madness that is the modern life, a solution to this ‘human condition’ lies in seeking a reconciliation between the creative urge and the materialistic compulsions. Ideas after ideas were mooted and rejected. Characters were created, played with, and killed. Plots ended before they began. Ultimately, I have been left with nothing but utter desperation and a huge dint on my self confidence.

Probably, I think nowadays, I was never meant to be an author. Or rather, to be consistent with my existential claims, never ‘good enough’ to be an author. By disposition, and by training, I am a lawyer and probably a good one at that. But author I definitely am not.

People say that all illusions are best when in the past. I myself have been and remain a big proponent of that school of thought. Living in absolute reality is not only a tenet I preach but also purportedly practice. While in theory, there is hardly any evidence to the contrary, it is difficult to accept that the one thing you like, the one area were you are passionate is that where you have no talent.

For now, it is settled that I shall focus on the profession of my choice and relegate my passion to write to a hobby. Whether this is ‘giving up’ or living up to reality is something time shall tell. Or maybe, time shall not. In either case, I am bound to bear the consequences of my choice.

Sunday Salon

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A Short Hiatus for a Long Journey

There are a few updates:

  1. Finally, I am a proud owner of a macbook. That should definitely change the frequency of posts on this blog. Why? See my stupid poem A Dead Laptop’s Poetry.
  2. I shall be on a complete blogging hiatus for the next month. Getting married on the 8th of December. Later, between 18th and 24th December, will be visiting Italy (Rome, Florence, and Venice).
  3. My house interior work has started and should be able to shift by the end of February.

I promise to post about my experiences in Italy once I am bac. With the new macbook and the Italy trip, I am looking forward to coming back to blogging as much as I am looking forward to the marriage and Italy! Didn’t someone say blogging is dead?

Is it the End of Blogging?

I wonder how many out there in the blogosphere would agree with Paul Boutin when he says, “Thinking about launching your own blog? Here’s some friendly advice: Don’t. And if you’ve already got one, pull the plug“, which is how he starts his insanely illogical piece titled “Twitter, Flickr, Facebook Make Blogs Look So 2004“. I have found this phenomenon of skepticism tingled with speculation a little amusing. Amazon launches Kindle and half the world starts preparing for a funeral of the printed page. Bloggers start posting widely about books they read, some actually able to critique it as well as can be, and intellectuals start shedding tears for the good old days of journals and professional critics. Now, while social networking through innovative internet comes in, the Boutins of the world argue that [t]he time it takes to craft sharp, witty blog prose is better spent expressing yourself on Flickr, Facebook, or Twitter. I am yet to understand why we live in the age of exclusives. Can Kindle not co-exist with the printed page? Do journals have to wind-up because of literary blogs? Are blogs already things of the past due to something as flimsy as twitter or facebook?

On one hand, if you compare just the social networking aspect of it, I am sure no one would argue that innovations such as Twitter, Flick, Facebook, Friendfeed, Meebo, My bloglog etc. outdo blogs in most aspects. But the question that remains is whether blogging is primarily about social networking. Did you start blogging as a social networking tool? I am sure I did not. I may also agree that in the past, in a non-facebook era people must have used blogs for this purpose, and some may continue to do so. However, it seems only logical to conclude that blogs serve another purpose that these social networking sites cannot even begin to.

I have been blogging on ‘wordpress.com’, free of cost and without having any knowledge of HTML or CSS. I have had no troubles and it has been a more than satisfying experience to say the least. Boutin, however will want me to believe that blogs are ‘impersonal and tedious’. He argues that the onslaught of commercial blogs and online magazines has washed off all that was personal in blogs. However, if we go by that logic, no social networking site has been left alone either. Institutions and companies having Facebook and Twitter accounts is the ‘in-thing’. Because it is also a means by which many people make money, it does not essentially become irrelevant. As a blogger, I have been putting up my views here and there and also been reading genuine personal stuff all over.

The lamest argument possible against blogging has also been taken by Boutin – that your posts will invite numerous ‘insult commentor’. Am sure no one takes that seriously. The walls on facebook are generally more susceptible to being defaced than your blogs by ‘insult commenter’. Another one of his thoughts is that the text based medium fades before the new media on internet. Meaning YouTube makes blogging rediculous. Where he absolutely leaves me bowled is when he says that “Twitter — which limits each text-only post to 140 characters — is to 2008 what the blogosphere was to 2004“. How do you answer that? Smirk.

Finally he discourages you by putting you up to compete with Huffington Post and New York Times blogs, as if you ever ventured out onto the internet intending to do that. What he completely misses out is that the real attraction of blogging is to see some decent writing on relevant ideas and stuff by people not looking to gain anything out of it, which in turn guarantees a reader an honest opinion. Twitter, Facebook, YouTube or any of those (great) new things around can never take that away from blogging.

I have been a blogger more for personal satisfaction than anything else and therefore, most of the times, very irregular. I am neither a student nor an expert on the ‘phenomenon of blogging’ or social networking. However, i have used blogs as well as each one of the networking sites Boutin thinks of and I see no merit in anything he says. But maybe some of you who have been out there longer and more often may shed more light on to it?

Another Interesting Fun Idea for Book-Bloggers

An interesting concept, a Book-Blogger Appreciation Week, has been thought up by My Friend Amy. It should be interesting to participate. And not only that, since it is the first time it is being organised, it might be fun to suggest just how it should be organised. For more details, please visit this page.

UPDATES:

1. As a part of this, I have launched a blog post writing competion. Have shamelessly called it “Write for BookCrazy”.

2. A complete list of participating blogs is posted here.

A Word for the Host – WordPress.com

For almost a year now, I have been blogging off and on. I have enjoyed it more than I ever thought I would. For all the fun and contentment that I had in doing that, I think it is only befitting that I thank the host that I have finally stuck to – WordPress.com.

I first began on the Blogger. I do not remember how, but I stumbled upon WordPress and decided to give it a try. Alongside, I also tried out Vox (only because many reliable people opine that Movable Type is the best blogging platform) and Livespace. However, WordPress beats them right, left, and centre in an overall analysis. Therefore today, I have two blogs running and both here.

First things first – it’s free. Typepad, which is definitely a good option is too pricey in comparison. Secondly, (now) it offers more space (3GB) than any other. Thirdly, for those who do not understand coding beyond a point, it is damn simple to use. The ability to make your blog look good without any coding at all is stupendous. That’s one of the places where Blogger takes a bad beating.

Above all, the dashboard is extraordinary and damn organised. Anything that a blogger might need is there within the top blue bar. The ‘tag’ feature creates a community / route to find blogs or posts of similar interest, something which Blogger does not do as well. The ‘My Comments’ feature is another superb innovation to create an involuntary and extraordinary community.

There are definitely things that we all crib about – e.g. the inability to use javascript enabled widgets, CSS upgrade that comes at a cost (free on Blogger), no freedom to choose fonts, etc. Despite all that, I am here and am more than satisfied.

I had come to hold an opinion that on the net, any Google venture is better than others. In blogging, Sir, my host takes the cake.

This is just a post to say ‘thank you’ to all those behind wordpress.com. Great job guys!

My Favourite WordPress Themes

I went through each one of the 59 themes that wordpress offers, applying it to my blog. Trough this post, I share my views as to my favourite ten. I am no web-designer and cannot even design the worst of them all. This is just a user’s review and very subjective:

1. WordPress Classic – Truly, the grandfather of two-column themes. The sidebar is elegant and takes the secondary place that it must. All focus remains on the written word. Good font, easy to read – the best a minimalist theme can be. Only negatives – no custom header image and no description in the header.

2. Freshy – One of the most elegant themes, the highlight being the date design. Custom header image allowed. Only problem is the font – it’s a little small for comfortable reading. And it is definitely not a ‘dark theme’ as the description below it says.

3. Quentin – The most reader friendly theme. Best font size and a brilliant classic look. The only problem is the colour. This theme with white, black, and grey colour combinations would be a perfect 10.

4. Misty Look – A very elegant theme, with a search bar and feed at the top, integrated into the theme. A better font and comments link distinctly placed from rest of the stuff and this one becomes difficult to beat.

4. Contempt -Probably, the most elegant sidebar. However, a better font for the text and distinct placement of the comments link required.

6. Occadia – Very elegant, soft-colours, distinct datestamp and comments link. Text font and size could be improved.

7. Neo-Sapian – The most ‘heavily’ designed, and the most recent theme on wordpress. There are three sidebar, a very large customizable header image and yet, in all this, the text does not lose significance. Though it is a dark theme, the text background is white. A lighter background for post titles, distinct datestamp and comment link and I would be the first one to shift.

8. Thirteen – Elegant, good design, and well-organised sidebar. However, given the design of the theme, the text font does not match up. The colour of the sidebar and header should have been different from the default background colour of the browser.

9. Clean – This one has a good sidebar, though the width of the theme is too narrow. Datestamp and comments link distinctly placed at one place, on the top, is a great idea.

10. Silver is the new black – As wide as the name, gives proper first-place to the main text. However, the font is too small. This oneis quite close to the WordPress Classic, but loses out on the elegance of sidebar and the font – its very essence. Datestamp gives it a diary-look. Probably perfect for a diary blog.

Fun Facts About Reading – Doing Rounds On Various Blogs

I saw this on many other blogs and couldn’t resist doing it myself. Specially, given the mental state one is in during exams, my brains will permit me nothing more than these tid-bits for the time being. Book Reviews shall have to wait.

Hardback or trade paperback or mass market paperback?

Trade paperback. Hardback only for really special books.

Amazon or brick and mortar?

Amazon. Great features!

Barnes & Noble or Borders?

None.

Bookmark or dogear?

Bookmarks.

Alphabetize by author or alphabetize by title or random?

Random. Sometimes by category.

Keep, throw away, or sell?

Keep. Never Sell. May give away as gifts, though.

Keep dust-jacket or toss it?

Keep.

Read with dust-jacket or remove it?

Remove the dust-jacket while I read it, although sometimes it ends up getting smudged that way.

Short story or novel?

Novels. Am just beginning with short stories.

Collection (short stories by same author) or anthology (short stories by different authors)?

Haven’t read many but I would prefer an anthology. Though would prefer collection of favourite authors individually. For example, Raymond Carver is best read as a collection and not as an anthology.

Harry Potter or Lemony Snicket?

Harry Potter. Never read Lemony Snicket.

Stop reading when tired or at chapter breaks?

Generally, chapter breaks. But if none are approaching and am ready to doze off…well then, I don’t have a choice, do I?

“It was a dark and stormy night” or “Once upon a time”?

Once upon a time. I love classics and once upon a time remains the most ancient first-line of stories – including grandma tales.

Buy or borrow?

Prefer to buy. If I read something I borrow and like it, I will buy it anyways, despite having read it already.

New or used?

If it’s not too costly, new. Have nothing against old though. But generally prefer rare books from the used stalls.

Buying choice: book reviews, recommendation or browse?

All three, but my first choice is browsing followed by recommendations and book reviews.

Tidy ending or cliffhanger?

Tidy endings. A book not ended well is a book not well written. In case of books, well begun is half done does not hold true, I guess. Have always held it against Erich Segal for ending his books abruptly.

Morning reading, afternoon reading or nighttime reading?

Generally, nighttime. That’s by default due to work hours. If given a choice, anytime but morning is good for me.

Standalone or series?

Standalone.

Favorite series?

Harry Potter.

Favorite book of which nobody else has heard?

India: From Midnight to the Millenium by Shashi Tharoor. Even people who might have heard about it may not have read it. I read this book long back in school, having no idea about who Shashi Tharoor was. I still consider it the best non-fiction on India.

Favorite books read last year?

Arthur and George by Julian Barnes
Plato Papers by Peter Ackroyd
The Great Divorce by C.S.Lewis
Myth of Sisyphus by Albert Camus
Bhagvad Gita and
Jude the Obscure by Thomas Hardy

Favorite books of all time?

The Myth of Sisyphus by Albert Camus
The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand
Man and Superman by Bernard Shaw
To Kill a Mocking Bird by Harper Lee