Archive for the ‘Catharsis’ Category

So the much awaited Bangalore Literature Festival is over. After attending it in December last year, I have been waiting for this year’s edition with my breath held. And now that it has come and gone in the blink of an eye, I want to ruminate over the power packed literature festival spread across three days.


As a struggling writer, I learnt many things out of this edition of literature festival in my city. The organisers had done an absolutely fantastic job of putting together sessions ranging from poetry to cinema to theatres to best selling author phenomenon to history to erotica. So many speakers well-known as well as wannabes were a part of this special event. It was also heartening to see young, enthusiastic and highly energetic volunteers who were all the time on their toes to meet with any demands.

The venue is lush green Crowne Plaza at Electronic City far from the hustles and bustles of the city. As many as three wide stages (Mysore Park, Lawn Bagh and Makkala Koota) are awaiting the footfalls of famous writers, poets, poetesses, film makers, historians, TV news anchors and best selling writers. There is a food court dishing out South Indian delicacies at quite reasonable rates. The last kiosk sells chilled beer in mugs and there are funky looking youngsters at a stall before KingFisher who keep whispering waffles waffles to passers by in some strange voice. Till the last moment I cannot understand what the fuss over waffles is all about.

What attracts me the most is a tent with a table and chair in the middle overlooking a lake behind Mysore Park. This tent is called Author Interaction Desk where you can interact (pose for photographs) with authors while they sign your copies of their books. The books are available with Oxford Book Stores tucked away in a large hall and to go there you should take a wooden bridge over the lake. The settings are surreal.

After all, great minds are supposed to meet and interact and engage the audience in stimulating discussions. Suffice it to say that the atmosphere is electrifying with the city’s glitterati out in full force right from T Mohandas Pai to Kiran Shaw.

I am very much interested in listening to wannabe best selling authors. I want to know how they promote their books and become best selling authors. I want to pick up a few tricks of trade from them so that I can promote my e-novella Fatal Admiration successfully and maybe become a best selling writer like them.

Keeping this sole aim in mind, I arrive in Literature Festival without any company. A single young man like me is seen as a potential trouble maker. So wherever I go and sit, I notice the guy or girl sitting next to me snigger in disgust.

To get over this, I decide to live tweet the proceedings using my phone. Little do I know that the decision to live tweet all these happenings would cost me as many as fifteen precious followers. Having said that I did live tweet as much as I could. Now coming to the learnings that I can proudly boast of. They are as follow:-

A fiction writer is a specially gifted person who can imagine things vividly and put them down on a piece of paper in a convincing manner. This self belief is extremely essential to survive as a writer in this age of cut throat competition.

You should be a rich person. Only rich people can write and produce quality prose and their books have better chances of making it to the best seller’s list.

You should greet strangers as if you’ve known them since donkey’s years and pose with them for photographs beaming at the cameras. This gesture is essential to increase the visibility of both writer and his/her books. This also indicates that you are this approachable writer who loves people and like to be surrounded by them.

Who is a best selling writer? What’s a best selling book?

What I notice is every writer believes that he/she is a best selling writer and the book that he/she has written is exceptionally good and it has every chance of making it to the best seller’s list. I know the secret behind this firm belief. I’m not talking about Chetan Bhagats, Amish Tripathis, Ashwin Sanghis and Shobhaa Des. I’m talking about relatively unknown writers like yours truly.

There’s a somewhat intricate process to become a published writer. A hitherto unknown writer’s book has reached the book stores because the publisher has seen a lot of potential in that book. But it so happens that economy is slow and the budget to launch new writers is under severe constraints. Since the book is very special and it has the potential to break all the records, the publisher doesn’t want to disappoint the writer only if the writer can bear or share the cost of printing his/her baby.

The publisher is smart enough to convince the writer that the book will make a huge profit from which the writer will easily recover the cost of printing. The writer falls for it because he believes in what he has written. The book comes out and is available at all major book stores across the country.

It is only available. It is not moving. The publisher happens to be busy with other book launches. There’s no time to promote or market this particular book. So again it is the writer’s duty to take his special book to the readers out there and make it a best selling book.

The writer has a never say die attitude. He cannot accept the defeat without putting up a fight so he decides to go all out to promote his book. He organises book launches in two or three major cities hoping readers will throng the venue to catch a glimpse of him. He will be sitting on a table next to a pile of his books behind which there will be a long queue of readers holding their copies of his book in their hands waiting for him to sign them for them.

Then the writer decides to visit lit fests where he is a part of a panel comprising of three or four writers like him. Before the panel discussion there is a book launch in front of bored audience. After the book launch the discussion starts where the agenda is to sneak in the title of the special book as many times as possible.

If the writer is lucky enough, he or she gets to read a chapter or two from his/her book before the audience. If not so, then bravado is the greatest weapon. For example, I heard one best selling writer say on the stage that in between he had some unexpected break from his routine assignment. It was during this break he chanced upon an idea to write this best selling book. The wife and friends suggested that he sent the manuscript to publishers. He did that and bingo within next two weeks as many as three publishers were ready to publish that book. Oh really?

If only it was that easy.

Then some best selling writers make it a point to tell people from that platform that they are in such a such a big position in such a such a big MNC. The publishing of best selling books have made them humble. Their senior position was making them arrogant. Now thanks to this success in the publishing industry, they are back to being humble. What’s the underlying message? Only people working in the senior positions at MNCs can write best selling books. Simple.

And you know what? The book that they’ve written is of completely different genre and they have invented that particular genre. Now I am neither at a senior position with an MNC nor I know to pronounce genre properly, so I decide to get a life.

Then there’s the panel discussion of erotic writers. Whenever there’s a mention of Cs and Ps and Fs, they giggle erotically before proceeding to read the next verse or sentence. It’s getting hotter by the minute so I decide to stretch my feet and notice this smartly dressed wannabe best selling writer who has read steamy hot chapter from his novel in the previous session standing by the paav bhaaji kiosk waiting for paav bhaaji to arrive with a question mark on his face. That question mark tells me that after his session nobody had approached poor writer in that tent down there for autographs and he was wondering why what had happened had happened.

Feeling sorry for him, I take a U turn and I notice my favourite columnist who is smartly dressed for the occasion standing under a tree on a path leading to Mysore Park locked in conversation with some important person. I’m overwhelmed by a strong desire to say hi and shake hands with me. So I go and stand a little away from him trying to catch his eye without interrupting their conversation.

But he doesn’t notice me. I refuse to budge. Minutes pass and then a beautiful lady happens to walk past looking at them. Suddenly that important man turns around and tells her, “look who is here. Remember you like to read a column from so and so magazine? He is the sub editor of that magazine.” The lady goes, “Oh my god, really? I cannot believe.”

Seeing their warmth, I edge away and suddenly remember where my sons are. It is the Sunday final day of this literary extravaganza and they’ve joined me and I haven’t seen them last in a coupe of hours. I head out to Makkala Koota only to find them hunched over a piece of paper with pencils in their hands. They are drawing the pictures of ghosts and trying to write a story with dreams in their eyes.

My feet are wobbly. I don’t want them to notice me standing around so I back out wiping tears from my eyes hoping that their stories will find takers if and when they become writers. Maybe yes, who knows?

Wow....!!! This Much Love.....!!!!

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