Expectations Of Writers And Readers

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When a writer puts the first word on paper; a dream world opens before him, a world that ignites his creativity as well as fantasy. Former makes him produce his magnificent work but the latter makes him a celebrity overnight (in his dreams.)

You may be writing out of creative compulsions or the satisfaction of venting your voice could be your trigger, most writers harbor a secret wish – to be read, to be reviewed and admired. Admiration comes easily but you never know how hypocritical it is. Reality hits you when you see how much money you are earning from your books.

You may stay determined with the cliché – “never give up” but when you read others’ work and feel that many average books are overflowing with 5 star reviews; you wonder whether something is wrong with you when you feel like dropping a book that has been fetching 5 stars… (for whatever reasons!)

However, there are critical readers too. They know what they want, their discerning eye can’t be escaped. Their expectations are immeasurable.

You think you have the most original ideas, you would be the best seller but your readers feel you ramble, you repeat and the setting of your story is vague or the title of your book is a misnomer.youtuber-2838945__340

You think you write perfect English, your beta readers are excellent helpers and you have a long list of friends under the acknowledgements but your readers find typos and structural errors in your book.

Each reader expects an amazing book; he doesn’t want to think what were your compulsions or exhaustions. He doesn’t want to buy your excuses. He doesn’t want to digest your lack of finances for hiring an astute editor. All readers are not writers and they have every right to judge your book according to their own parameters. All readers are not kind enough to overlook imperfections in the plot, style of writing or characterization.

Then there are writers who focus on money. They write just what sells. The day writing becomes a chore for you, you are no longer a writer, and you become a businessperson, churning out book after book, devoid of any real emotion.

Your writing may not be “like a windowpane” or “impenetrable fog” but it has to be an “exploration,” it has to “enrich the life of those who read it.” If it is just inconsequential chitchat between a few characters, going around in circles, you may befool a few readers but not all.

Robert Frost’s definition is worth pondering: “The ear is the only true writer and the only true reader. I know people who read without hearing the sentence sounds and they were the fastest readers. Eye readers we call them. They get the meaning by glances. But they are bad readers because they miss the best part of what a good writer puts into his work.”

Are you an “eye reader” or a critical reader? Do you drop a book if you don’t like it? What do you expect from your readers?

Thank you for reading this. Please share your valuable reflections, they are much appreciated.

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Balroop Singh.

 

Book Readers and Reviewers

e-book-1209040__340When digital devices invaded into our lives and living rooms, people thought books would lose their significance. Debates were organized to discuss and create awareness and a new generation of readers cropped up. Smart phones became their books and that was probably the turning point in the habits of readers.

There are three kinds of book readers.

First are those who read just for pleasure or to pass time. They don’t care to write woman-2701154__340reviews, as they take a book like a stranger who passes by. Characters don’t inspire them, as they look at them from imaginative perspective. They don’t dwell on their fictitious troubles, which are dismissed the moment they close the book. They don’t have any TBR list and read whatever they come across. They have a few favorite authors though.

Second are those who read a book just to review it. They are fast readers, may even skip many parts of the book, focusing on the elements that could be useful for their review. Emotions can’t sway them; words don’t move them and nuances of life fail to affect them. They can whiz through pages like a wizard; they can read all genres without a word of dissent. They can read multiple books at a time like a ball juggler. I call them super humans, with magical reading and reviewing skills. I envy them but am glad that I have never tried to be like them.

book-4133988__340 Then there are readers who approach a book like a friend. They fall in the third category. Reading is an experience for them; they connect with characters, feel the emotion of each one, savor the words and highlight what touches them. They are committed readers, in no hurry to finish a book. They choose their books carefully and don’t like to go outside their genre. Their reviews are critically framed, inclusive of good and bad aspects of author’s style and characterization.

Can you connect with one of these readers or are you a combination of all three?

Book reviews speak for themselves whether they have been written by a quick reader or a thoughtful reader; the former would just summarize a book, without going into finer details or saying anything about characters. They don’t care even if their review contains spoilers. I avoid reading any reviews of the book I pick up, as it is a pleasure to tread unknown paths and meet new people from the comfort of my favorite couch.

Do think giving one or two stars to a book is justified?

Recently I have read ‘Where We Belong’ by Emily Giffin and really liked it. But some reviewers have called it “the most appalling book”. This book has such varied reviews…from one star to five stars! I am astounded by the uncivilized language some of the readers have used while reviewing this book, which deals with emotions and relationships brilliantly.

Reviews acquaint us with our imperfections, if they are honest. They also provide a learning opportunity. I like a bad review too; if it is constructive and offers an in-depth analysis into writing. A good review is like a fragrant breeze that wafts around me for many days, boosting my creative juices.

Thank you for reading this. Please share your valuable reflections, they are much appreciated.

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Balroop Singh.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why People Believe in Illogical Things?

Beliefs and logic

We live in a complex world, driven by galloping technology that has opened vistas beyond our imagination yet the vice-like grip of mythology, superstitions, religion, and mysticism has not waned.

Why do we believe in the empty words of spiritual gurus who talk in circles, entrapping people in their words?

Why are we fascinated by paranormal world of fairies, mermaids, werewolves, ghosts and dragons? Why do we read books that take us into unknown realms, which we know don’t exist?

Why do we derive pleasure out of irrational movies and shows?

Why do people bow down to so many deities, offering flowers and money to get their prayers answered?

You may be having your own answers to my questions but they may seem illogical to me.

It all depends on the way you have been raised.

If you were allowed to ask questions, if they were answered convincingly; if you could dig deeper to satisfy yourself; if beliefs were never imposed on you; if your critical thinking was encouraged and nurtured, you would never believe in illogical thoughts.

How beliefs develop:

We tend to believe what we are told by our parents and peer group. All children don’t possess discerning thoughts; some can be easily led and molded. In a class of 40 students that I taught, 39 raised their hands when they were asked whether they went to a place of worship every weekend. Why? The answer was that their parents took them along. One student who didn’t raise his hand was the one who was never told to go.

Belief in Santa is created till we grow up to realize the truth of the magic that fascinates children.

Self-beliefs are created by our own mind, depending on the kind of treatment we get from friends, family and society. Once they get embedded in our minds, they become a part of our personality. We refuse to change them unless something drastic compels us to reconsider.

Books
Fantasy that carries us away…

Books we read:

Books leave a lasting impression on our minds. As children we get carried away by fantasy and believe each word we read till we start questioning the authenticity of the worlds created in those books. I have often wondered how could Alice go down the rabbit hole and find so many friends and potions there! When we grow up with such books, we think everything is possible.

Respect for others:

We don’t want to hurt the sentiments of those who believe that Feng Shui could bring harmony in our relationships and peace into our homes. I have never told cat lovers that a black cat is considered to be inauspicious if she cuts your way. The superstition of never calling a person from behind when he is leaving his home has always been respected for his wellbeing and security.

Fear of repercussions:

Many people continue the traditions, which serve no useful purpose for fear of upsetting the elders of the house. I know a friend whose grandmother had placed an idol in one auspicious corner of the house and just because she showered and worshipped it every morning before entering the kitchen, the belief had to be followed by everyone. No one could think of moving the idol to another corner. Even the direction of the beds could not be changed, however illogical it may seem!

Political beliefs too can be illogical but they can cause serious rifts between friends and partners. So it is better to keep them out of discussion.

Do you know such people who harbor illogical beliefs?

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Thank you for your support. Please share your valuable reflections, they are much appreciated.

Balroop Singh.

What is Success?

Success is looking forward
All aspire for ‘success’ – the magic word we hear the moment we are introduced to our goals. It is only when we have accomplished some of them that we tend to ponder over this question – what is real success? Is it what people around us define for us or is it what the world thinks or most importantly – is it what we think, and believe it to be?

Sometimes this question never comes to our mind. We get so engrossed in the perpetual race of earning money, more money and fame that any other aspect of life doesn’t just occur to us. Till we get tired of running and rushing, till we yearn for some peace, till we realize we need a break!

It is only at such a time that we let our minds wander to these irrelevant but most significant questions. There is no specific age for such reflections. It all depends on the maturity and the hard work, which we have put into our aspirations and how successful we have become.

So we come back to the question: what is success for you? Is it money or fame? Is it how powerful and popular you are in your arena? Is success measured by your purchasing power or the influence you can cast on people around you? Have you ever pondered or even thought about all this?

If you haven’t, now is the time to do so. If all you want is money, then, keep on pursuing it but I am sure you will get tired of your wild goose chase in a few years. If you want power, to influence people—this kind of illusion vanishes soon because our minds are very supple, they are easily influenced by change and new faces.

No single person can hold the attention of people for a long time and successful people know it very well. Once you have achieved some level of success, you have to take care of other aspects of your life. You can’t afford to focus on more money and more influence. There is more to success than just practical goals.

No single definition: 

Success is subjective; it can be defined in as many ways as you wish. To my mind, it does not refer to just arriving at your goals and then basking in the glory of those accomplishments. There is no end to goals. They keep on multiplying with each achievement.

Yes, it may be completing one part of your journey, which you started, to build a career of your choice but you have to continue that journey to satisfy your needs. It is at this stage that you have to define your limits. Are you satisfied? Are you making a constant progress or do you need to make a new beginning?

Success is being happy, being at peace with yourself; being able to look after yourself and being content. If you are not happy after all the efforts you have been putting in to earn money, then it is time to pause and redefine your success.

Money is no doubt an important component of success but it is not the only one. If success does not add compassion to your life, if it expects you to become mechanical, if it consumes all your time, if you have no time for your family, if your children dislike you…would you call this success?

Let’s try to understand it in a different manner – success can be defined at two levels: personal and professional. Which one is more important to you? I know all of us give a lot of importance to professional part of our life and in the process personal aspect gets pushed into background.

Sometimes it is difficult to slow down our pace and by the time we realize we need to look back, we could have missed the best part of our life, the precious hours, which we could have spent with family. Success is redefining your goals

Success does not just mean a lot of money and power or the house of your dreams, filled with lovely faces. It also means bringing a smile on those faces with your own presence. It means spending quality time with your spouse and children. It also means glowing in their happiness and feeling that much sought after peace of mind.

Success is not just money:  

Young and ambitious may equate success with more money, more comforts and enormous purchasing power. They are too immature to understand why rich people are not happy and how their money has failed to bring that stage of life, at which they can say – ‘I have nothing more to ask for.’ That stage never comes because money is never enough and it cannot buy health, contentment and peace.

You may argue that health should not be the priority for those who are just at the brink of hitting success, who are about to accomplish their goals and they have to put that extra hour to push ahead and to prove themselves. No longer so! The stress of modern life and the demands of galloping technology may affect your health in various ways.

Success in itself should be a long-term goal, which involves values we live for. If we equate it just with money and stop doing so after we have accumulated enough, it would be very difficult to change our expectations at a later stage.

Success is taking control of your life the way you want it to be. Many times the situation gets out of our control; the paths may diverge, we may not see the same kind of results we hope for and in disappointment, we may get pushed toward an unwanted way.

Success should definitely be following our passion and refusing to accept what we don’t want.

Success is:

  • enjoying our work
  •  being happy and making others happy
  •  upholding the values you believe in
  •  contributing something positive to the society
  •  bringing a smile to the faces of few
  •  earning love, respect and appreciation of people around you.

Success is leaving your footprints behind, so that others could remember you.

What does success mean to you?

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Thank you for your support. Please share your valuable reflections, they are much appreciated.

Balroop Singh.

Do You Strive For Perfection?

Chasing perfection?

Do you strive to be perfect? A flawless skin, a curvy model-like body, a project that could win you accolades, a loving and understanding spouse, a perfect home with smiling children. Do you think it is possible? If you do, you are following a mirage, as nothing is perfect in this world.

Why perfection? Who creates this myth? How do we start believing in perfection? Probably people around us impel us, expectations of our parents and challenges of our peer group sow the seeds of this illusionary idea of chasing perfection. We want to excel, accomplish all our aspirations and self-belief propels us towards putting in our best efforts and time.

You may reach the zenith but life is much more than just being successful, as no success is eternal and no life is perfect. Relationships go awry, marriages hit unknown boulders, unforeseen circumstances throw you overboard, and stress tells upon your health.

That perfect score of your child might be hiding a deep grudge against you for pushing him into academics. That zero size model might be starving herself into depression. That perfect moment of love loses its significance with time. That nagging habit could be alienating your spouse.

The wizard of perfection rests on ski slopes, smiling at us only till the snow melts.

I too, was fascinated by the perfect home settings shown in movies, magazines and advertisements and even tried hard to keep my home in perfect shape, yelling at my children to keep their toys and books where they belong. Any book left here and there carelessly was confiscated, and returned with the promise that they would be more careful in future…till they flew away to accomplish their own dreams and nobody spread things around!

My endeavors of creating a perfectly organized home robbed me of many moments of joy with my children. I am more tolerant with my grandchildren, never coaxing them to pick up the things they love to scatter around their house. Sometimes they clean up but most of the time they just walk off to their next activity and that is perfectly okay with me, now.

Do not seek perfection, as:

  • It encourages unrealistic demands
  • It fosters frustration
  • It creates stress and unnecessary arguments
  • It wastes energy
  • It derails dreams

Please don’t confuse perfection with excellence. You may try to excel, which leads us to better avenues and inventions. It also fills our heart with contentment but putting in your best efforts should be in coherence with self-love and personality building. When we try to accomplish something at the cost of relationships and health, when we ignore the core values of life in our pursuit of excellence, it could eventually prove detrimental for us. “The essence of being human is that one does not seek perfection,” said George Orwell.

Haven’t you heard that legend about Draupadi, (of The Mahabharata fame) who wanted a perfect husband and asked Lord Shiva to bless her with one? She was told that all the five qualities she wished for in her husband couldn’t be found in a single man. Her wish was granted but she was destined to marry five brothers.

Quest for perfection culminates at weird destinations! What do you think?

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Balroop Singh.