In the ninth episode of our ‘Nothing In Particular (NIP)’ podcast, we talk about the good, the bad, and the ugly side of Censorship. And we are joined by a returning special guest N Madhu – known to many of this blog’s readers as the Reluctant Bookworm.
Together, we discuss how censorship has a growing role to play in the classic literature taught in classrooms and popular movies to the everyday social interactions. The Charlie Hebdo incident is debated. Salman Rushdie’s Satanic Verses is trashed. And the question arises – how liberal is liberalism if it denies freedom of speech and expression? Or is there a line where we need to control the content that is out there?
Writing about social issues used to give me fake powers. Arms stretched out, I jogged across a building terrace – pinching the loose ends of my superhero cape. I was on a mission way to save lives. Tackle injustice. Analyze political quagmires. Make bold statements about societal norms. No fear of consequences. Always ready to fight the good fight.
When I reached the terrace’s edge, I put one foot up on a raised platform. I folded my left elbow and cupped the right shoulder with the center of my palm. I looked up to the sky before peering, heroically, at the city below. I saw all the people on the ground. So many of them needed help. They wanted to be rescued.
Writing might feel like a strange purpose when you aren’t paid for it. You should keep at it because improvement only comes with practice. However, a writer’s pursuit for perfection is a never-ending journey. That’s a fancy way of putting it. The truth is that there are neither zeniths for us to attain. There are no moon landings. No timeouts either.
But there are are perfectly-valid reasons for you to stop procrastinating and start writing.
In a perfect world, nobody would feel guilty about listening to any sort of music. But we do. And it’s not just because the world we inhabit is, at best, a tragicomedy. Music isn’t an art form anymore. It is a business unit in the entertainment industry. Success has as much to do with talent as it does with marketing budgets and social media strategies.
I do more push-ups when I listen to Madonna’s Ray Of Light. When she sings “and I feel like I just got home”, I am inspired to work out a little extra. But I feel terrible after it. I want to cleanse myself in unicorn milk, button-up my shirt, backcomb my hair and be a good boy.
As a writer, you are probably more self-absorbed than the average person. You find it cumbersome to socialize. You hate confrontations when it is your turn to listen. I am not saying you can be moody too. Just that there are motherless honey badgers in the Kalahari dessert with shorter fuses. Only in language have you found the comfort you need, without feeling inadequate about expressing your emotions. For you, writing is more than a celebration of the art form. It is your bomb shelter. Your refugee camp. You take it way more seriously than you should.
It is perhaps why you egg, at times, those you interact with to physically harm you or give up their respective belief systems to consider placing a voodoo curse on you. So here are five things – as a writer – you (we) can do to avoid getting punched in your (our) faces.
As writers, we sometimes feel like members of an exclusive club. We can’t wait for others to ask us about what we do for a living. We wait, in baited breath, to nonchalantly talk about ecstasies and erroneous ways of being writer. We want people to believe it isn’t a big deal. However we secretly hope that they do.
At times, we get lost in our delusions of self-grandeur as a writer to the point that our writing abilities take a backseat. We stop trying to fine-tune our skills, and better ourselves in the process.