Some not-so-serious thoughts on reading and writing
Sometime back I jotted down some random thoughts on reading and writing. These thoughts, not so serious, of course, were intended as jokes and were the result of plain frolicsomeness. Readers are requested not to take these pieces of advice too seriously, though some of them might carry some whiff of truth in them. Some tips might come in handy for readers and especially for new, budding writers, who wish to earn a name in the literary world.
If you want to get rid of sleeplessness and save on sleeping pills, keep a copy of ‘Lord of the rings’ at your bedside table and every night before going to bed try to read one page of it. You will fall asleep half way through — I mean half way through the page, not the book. At this rate, the book will last for about three years. Now with saved money you can buy more of Tolkien’s works, that is, if your insomnia is not yet cured.
If it doesn’t work, read some works on postmodernism, post-structuralism, deconstructionism and post-colonialism by Urdu critics. This is a time-tested and sure-fire way of curing insomnia. Warning: an overdose of Urdu criticism may result in side effects such as nausea, dizziness and acute depression. In some cases an uncontrollable urge to commit suicide or shoot somebody (especially the writers of such works) has been reported. In such and similar symptoms Mushtaq Ahmed Yousufi’s writings may serve as an antidote. The unfortunate readers educated at convent schools and some others with a low IQ (and hence unable to understand Yousufi’s works) may take a glass of ‘lassi’ (a drink made with yogurt) instead.
Buy two bulky paperback novels by George R. R. Martin before you start any serious reading. They come in handy to repel mosquitoes, flies and other irritating distractions such as wives, not necessarily in that order.
Remember, a prose poem is neither of the two; nor is it a statement by a political leader despite its incoherence, meaninglessness, impertinence and impractical ideas.
Never trust a person who introduces himself as the editor of some Urdu literary magazine and praises your writing skills. Next he will offer you to publish ‘a special section’ in his magazine on you and your great literary services and ask for something around Rs40,000 for this “great service to literature”. What you should do is to demand a whole special issue on you (since you are much great a writer than those who deserve a mere section, never mind if you have never written anything except love letters). Secondly, the rate for such special sections is Rs15,000 and a whole issue on perceived great literary services rendered by someone costs around Rs40,000. Also, do not forget to compare prices: the same services are offered by some Indian Urdu literary magazines as well.
The IQ of a woman is inversely proportional to the number of volumes of women’s digests published in Urdu she has read.
A writer’s IQ is proportional to the number of rejection slips he or she has received.
The remark “computers will never replace books because you cannot hide a computer under your pillow” held true until the arrival of laptops. Even laptops may be consigned to oblivion pretty soon buy expensive toys for grownups such as tablets, certain brands of cellphone and other devices (read diseases). But, many people believe, they can never replace the joy of smelling the newly-printed paper and turning over the pages of a book you have been longing for.
The so-called social media is the latest, fastest, cheapest and smartest way of wasting time. The CDs will never replace books: you cannot stand on them to reach out to the top of the shelf.
Some overseas Pakistanis or Indians may offer you to write for their Urdu literary magazine, which qualifies as ‘international Urdu journal’ as it carries an overseas address. It is usually ‘printed’ in Pakistan/India but is ‘published’ from overseas. Be careful! After an issue or two, they will be asking you to write an article on themselves or their magazine’s greatness. Some of these fellows started as amateur writers themselves, but their poetry were published in literary journals (as Mushfiq Khwaja put it) only if they were written on the back of a bank draft. They have matured a lot since then and to get rid of editors who demanded money or merit, or both, have launched their own magazines. What you should do is: offer them all kinds of service, including composing, proofreading, printing and mailing (and get paid nicely in the process). As a bonus, include in “the great international Urdu magazine” as many of your ghazals and short stories as you wish.
Do not buy computer books: they would be outdated by the time you reach home and open them to read.