Thursday, 17 May 2012

Because being unpredictable is like being a child!

Just finished reading Diary of a Wimpy Kid - Cabin Fever. It seems like children books may be the only form of literature that is not cliche or predictable anymore. Or should I say it about fiction at large? Maybe not. I don't seem to think likewise about visual media fiction for sure!

Nonetheless, after a long time, here was a book that kept me guessing - without actually consciously doing so! Without the need to analyse or speculate, or just basically "over think" as has become a habit with me over these recent years.

I think what really worked for me was that I took up the book on a lark, expecting nothing but some interesting graphics, and I don't know, just a juvenile bedtime story. I can't really say why I picked it up - except that it landed in my possession somehow, and I don't really know how to hold books I haven't read.

Oh well. Turns out, it takes a children's book to just reconnect with the joy of "reading" as from a time when I wasn't doing it with awareness and motives. Like school work. Or like being in loop of latest updates and suggested readings of literary groups. Like reading for picking up on literary styles and tools. Or even just to have read a book beforehand, if its being adapted as a movie I want to watch. Strange, but I realized as I finished up reading this book, that it had been quite a while since I last read a book just for the story. Sure, a book stays with me only if I connect with the story. But it hasn't been the driving motivation anymore, and I can't really pin down the time it ceased to be.

A lot of my recent reading - fiction and non fiction - has been plainly to "equip" myself in various aspects for the writing of my own novel. And suddenly I feel like I'm missing the point. Like I think I'm writing because it's what I want to do, and what I was made to - but not what I'm doing for real.

I do enjoy days when I get good kind of writing done. But it's been getting somewhat mechanical, and I've abandoned one too many pieces because I lost interest shortly into them. I keep thinking back to abandoned pieces, now and then when something in my routine or surrounding reminds me of related nuances, and I even envisage whole scenes playing out - but I don't seem to get them written out anymore all that much.

Even the gym song list doesn't seem to be compulsive enough - ideas sprout up, but ephemerally, often not long enough for them to materialize into words.

So back to the book. For all reasons - odd and even - I loved reading it. It seemed like a collection of disjoint diary entries to begin with. But then a pattern was starting to form. I was starting to connect with the mind of the preteen narrator. Starting to see his streak for disaster, his curiosity and observation that just reminded me how unfathomable a child's mind can be - and how unpredictable hence a story that revolves around one or more.

There were no good or bad guys. There seemed to be no need. There were situations, because the preteen central character sought them out all by himself with his penchant for plenty of "wise decisions" which (adorably I thought) quite fit in accord with his character.

One of the best thing was how the book wasn't preachy, at all. But how there were still those simple direct lines thrown in, which were suspiciously laced with a wisdom that can only be either too profound, or too obvious! Lines that didn't make you stop and ponder, but those that pleasantly stood out for you, even in a preteen story book! 

Here goes my favorite -  "When I was little I used to want to be an author myself. But whenever I started telling Mom my ideas she'd say my story was just like some book that was already published. I realized all the good ideas were taken before I was even born." 

I think it also so happened, that after quite a while I read a book without having reviews/feedback/synopsis about it beforehand. I had no idea what to expect. No idea what the story was about. Dim as this will sound, I did not even know I was reading "one" book (Cabin Fever) from a series called Diary of a Wimpy Kid - basically I had not clue of what to expect, and I wasn't even expecting myself to expect. I just sort of picked it up and begun reading. And it wasn't until I was a good 40 pages down, that I begin to treat it as a "story" at all! One with continuity and a plot. And I guess that's what really took me back to the past, to times when reading books was like that for me - a discovery in every sense, without consciously making it happen so!

Anyway. So that's my latest update on the last book I read. If I can inspire anyone at all to go buy themselves a copy of the book and read it because it will truly feel revolutionary in a back to basics way - yes I insist you do so!

And if you enjoy it half as much - I guess I've passed on the credit of a good message!

ps: On a note of confession, it struck me I can never really write a children's book. And I mean in a sense of a lacking as a writer. Writing a children's book is like watching an apple fall from a tree and discovering gravity! Why? Because when I look at something obvious after 20+x years of my life, it is very hard to actually stop and wonder about it. Most times, it will just pass me without notice! And it is in what is obvious to an adult, that a child's wondrous imagination truly evolves. A child's mind like a clean slate is capable of being intrigued by what is routine and mundane to me, an adult. And thinking like a child again, then, is (I would say for me) impossible. That, when I plan to think like one, creatively, and weave a story of it.

And on that note, I say we adults - all ages - overrate complexity and maturity. We think a child is too simple to fathom the riddles of life, and that growing up is the process where you slowly begin to wrap around the tedious stuff - a process that is ceaseless unto the end. But look at it the other way. We constantly trade off that freshness about us, in perceiving something, anything, sans preconceived notions and sets of rules. Every moment of life somehow adds knowledge to out natural database, something that we consider "Expansive" but something that is in turn increasingly robbing us of the ability of absolute objectivity!

The discussion can run on - but I think this is where I leave it for now. If I didn't make it obvious enough yet, go get yourself a copy of the book. Sometimes, going back to the basics - at the very fundamental level - is what a revelation is about! 


  1. Hey j.a.z.z,

    Love your writing. I have been reading your posts on IF and have always wondered if you have ever considered writing fiction/non-fiction. Looks like you do!

    I don't know anything about you but that you write well and think that you should keep at it.

    Wish you well.


    1. Hello Mini - and welcome to the blog! =)

      I'm going to assume you're not the one "Mini" I actually know from the forum, but someone I haven't had an aware interaction with? Because the reply sounded part introductory!

      My field of study does revolve around literature, writing, fiction and all that goes with them. So hopefully one day I will be a published author. And then hopefully even further in the future, I will be a real writer =)

      Thank you for a bump. One always needs to be told what they're at, is what they should be doing after all!


    2. :) I am another Mini.

      Oh, I should have guessed it from your posts that you are from the creative writing field. You do identify with characters, their motives, their attitudes and interplay of dynamics between characters, better than the rest of us at IF.

      I say you should keep writing, more in encouragement to your blog post above, where you mention this disconnect between wanting to write and actually getting some writing done. It actually reminded me about this article by aspiring writer, Joe Bunting.
      I understand that serious writing is hard work. No pressure. :)

      I would love to read a story/novel you write.


    3. If you don't know, or don't know enough - those words mean a lot coming from just about anyone! Perhaps even more coming from someone whose not a parent or a sibling or a fiance or a friend, because that just makes this other person not morally obligated to give the leverage!

      So thank you =) We do have regular retreat sessions as writing students/researchers which - like the post you linked - hit the core of problems and offer counters. Which do work. A while for me. In the long run I've realized it's all between my story and me. My characters and me. My writing and me...

      And because my school year commitments have been different and more exacting this year my "other" reading/writing has been like occasional respite. Consequently I've left a range of books/writings suspended because they're just not what you term "serious" writing for me, but it's not like they're out of my head either!

      So I'm having that phase of a variety of unfinished projects and work at hand - and little organization to wrap up in any order - the synopsis is a priority, but my mind keeps racing to odd things I left half written, and yada yada =) You can figure! Like the post you linked said, you can't really argue yourself into writing!

      I'm not super worried because I know it's a phase - but yes, I have my panic moments, lol! Like all of this morning which was being awfully loaded and a drag until I came by your comment and then suddenly I find myself sitting down with resolve again - so thank you! A word in the passing goes a longer way than we know sometimes - wherever and whoever you are, I wish you very well! =)

  2. To be honest, I skipped a few paragraphs ... but as u know I easily run out of patience to read ... lets see how much did i understand it ...

    " Being unpredictable is like a being a child"
    The title made me think, are kids really unpredictable? or was I as a kid least bit unpredictable? After a long thought I dont think the word unpredictable wud suit a kid, per say any kid I have grown up with or the kids I see now, we/they all were/are growing up absorbing stuff from the surroundings.

    "Dairy of the W Kid" I remember watching the movie ad in the theater and when i read the title here in ur blog, it is then i came to know Oh! this is a book...

    " And I guess that's what really took me back to the past, to times when reading books was like that for me - a discovery in every sense, without consciously making it happen so!"

    Oh this takes me back to those days when i as a kid started reading anything I found interesting.... I remember reading Gokulam, Chacha chowdary, Archie, Chandamama stories, Vikram betaal and then slowly progressed to reading Sidney Sheldon novels who introduced me to the harsh and cruel world....

    "something that we consider "Expansive" but something that is in turn increasingly robbing us of the ability of absolute objectivity! "
    I wanna hug u for this line !!!
    Wad is the basic difference b/w a child and an Adult ? Innocence.... Even today when ever we as adults come across a new challenge or a new stressful situation in life, I can say everyone thinks Why cant I go back to my childhood days....
    In a different set of words " Any new achievement is inversely proportional to Innocence"
    I think after turning into adults one main mantra to hold on as u go on a mission to achieve things and not to completely loose innocence " Ignorance is Bliss"
    Dont get bogged onto find everything or to learn everything..know everything ... let certain things be hidden it is better that way....

    PS: I hope I didnt take a whole new route deviating from the topic, this is wad i cud grasp or wad I was thinking ...
    PSS: I saw ur reply on the other blog post... The blog entries shud also be given "like" buttons. It wud b easier to indicate that we have read ur answer.
    PSSS: I hope u had a good vacation but wud also like to know how shocked were u to see the state of NBT 2.0 after u came back...I am almost out of the forum and lost the interest tto read the written updates too...wad abt u ?

    1. Do you know how the "like tabs" can be added to posts Bhavna? I have seen it on some blogs and it would be a good idea, now that you mention. I'll look up the settings soon and see if I can figure it out? Not the most technically smart person you will know :P

      @deviating from the topic, not really! It's interesting to hear different interpretations, because when I blog something it is obviously inspired by something else I perceived from whatever source. Given how the perception that inspires me may not be obvious or even available to the reader, your take on what I write is more generic, and makes me look at my own thought from other angles =)

      @children being unpredictable - so, I don't say they are "perpetually" unpredictable. But the point I wanted to make was, that while the response of adults to a situation can be "logically" analyzed for possible outcomes, with children, you can't always really say what will drive what reaction out of them. Go on a bus. Take a train. Walk down a beach. Sit on a park bench. Children will surprise you in the fresh ways that they will perceive things that are obvious to an adult "comprehending" mind. Or well... so I think! =) I think their imagination is less invaded by "knowledge" for them to "think" things through. Their reactions and responses are more... impromptu, than adults usually manage. Catch the drift? And reading Wimpy Kid was just a reminder of the same! Sometimes, its a wonder what reading a children's book will do. More often than not, you will read an old fable that was a favorite so many years ago, and wonder how different it seems, from what you remember of it from another time of your life...