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I Lost!

Discussion in 'Wednesdays with Varalotti' started by varalotti, Dec 16, 2007.

  1. varalotti

    varalotti IL Hall of Fame

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    Most Gracious ILites,

    It's really strange to have a title like "I Lost" for a thread. IL is more like a family to me. And I have been sharing all good news with the ILites. Whether it is publication of my books, acceptance of my stories, or having a feast at Chithra's, I have been quite prompt in telling things.

    But life is not a bed of roses. Once in a while you stumble upon a thorn. And whom would you tell that, other than your family?

    I lost in a short story competition conducted by Deccan Herald. I wrote a really good story of about 3000 words. And then adhered to all the rules of the competition.

    But when they announced the prizes yesterday, my entry did not figure even in the consolation list.

    I am not going to deceive myself or deceive you by saying, "Oh, it doesn't matter." It hurts. Really hurts.

    But you get some of your real lessons of life only when you are hurt. And so was the case with this loss.

    My writer friend who was there at the announcement ceremony yesterday sent me a mail. She has written that the entries that were chosen were of a higher order. Sort of what is now becoming popular as stream of consciousness writing. There is no central theme or plot. But the writer simply writes down from his consciousness. And some argue even then there is a beginning, a middle and an end. And the judges for the competition were renowned writers.

    Well, to be honest to you, ladies, had I known that famous writers are judges, I would not have sent my entry at all. I am not crying "sour grapes" here. I just want to say that my writing is different from what is now considered as "high-end" writing.

    I write only when I have a strong story to tell. I write so that any one who is not a bookworm who has a glossory of about 2000 words could understand and can even relate to the story. For intellectuals and geniuses who win Bookers and Nobels, what I write is just crap.

    To put it in the parlance of the hotel industry, I don't run a five star hotel where the wealthy come to dine in their Mercedes Benz. I run a street-corner, neighbourhood joint, where those who come for a good Masal Dosa or a soft idly, do not go back disappointed. Or in the parlance of painting, mine has never been a "post modernistic abstract" painting which requires hours of explanation to understand it. I draw the picture of a beautiful maiden which a peasant from the country can understand and relate to.

    I am not licking my wounds either. I just want to tell you where the litrerary world is going at this moment. I also wanted to share this news with you. And I want to know what do you think of this.

    When my friend wrote about the prize winning story lines that were read at the function yesterday, I was only reminded of what the Writer Sujatha wrote in his website 10 years ago. The FAQ on writing published in that site is a must for any aspriting writer. My schooling on writing happened there in that site.
    One aspiring writer asked Sujatha, "I read some of the very big names in writing. I cannot understand a word of it. What do you think of those whose writings we cannot understand?"

    Sujatha's answer was cryptic. "Let them be fed to hungry lions. The function of writing is to make people understand and relate to. And if you fail in the basic function, then better become food for lions"

    Love,
     
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  2. Vysan

    Vysan Gold IL'ite

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    Dear Varalotti,

    I am really sorry hear about this.... I am neither a great writer or a oratious reader.... But I know what is hard work and understand the hurt when we loose in a competition....

    I always define beauty into two categories... Cold beauty- It is extremely beautiful... you can keep it in the showcase and watch thats all.... Warm beauty - you can enjoy the beauty and be part of it... As long as your story is a warm and receptive, it will be appreciated by the people, even if it doesnt get awards...

    Five star hotels, we can enjoy the ambiance/quality/stylish food etc... But when you are really hungry, then you can enjoy the food only in the roadside joints...

    I am not a competent person to comment... But I can only suggest that... You have put forth your 100%+ efforts... So no need to worry about...

    We are always there to support you... All the Best for future...
     
  3. varalotti

    varalotti IL Hall of Fame

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    Dear Veda Vyasan,

    It looks as if the Sage Veda Vyasar himself is consoling me. Thanks a ton for those words, which mean a lot to me.

    Thanks for your kind support, which I shall cherish so long as I live.

    Love,
     
  4. Vidya24

    Vidya24 Gold IL'ite

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    Dear Sridhar,

    It is not strange having a title, 'I Lost'. One of the most gripping soaps running now is named 'Lost' .

    I am glad that you chose to share this news with our IL family. If you had won this contest, I would have congratulated you. However, in this context, I am not going to offer you commiseration. For two reasons- for one- you have rightly said that some of the real lessons of life are learnt in a loss. And second, the law of averages always works. (Cant believe I am saying this to a successful professional CA). You have been on a winning streak for long. Nature has to balance it with a loss. God willing, the winning streak can start again. For long!

    I know it hurts. As as aspiring writer, I wince everytime, a piece is rejected. I cry silently when I enter a contest and don't win even a mention in the consolation list. And I brood when my writing skills are pulled short in comparison.

    Honestly, I dont believe in haute couture, art films, abstarct art,high end writing, fusion cuisine/molecular gastronomy etc. This is all a lot of judgemental crap. Who is to judge which is better- a bowl of home-made yogurt or a sludge of Iranian caviar? It is a matter of personal taste.

    I am not a fan of 'high end' writing. But I read such work and I have attempted to write a couple of such pieces myself. Like you, I too believe that a story should have a plot, a theme, a beginning, a middle and an end. And in my parent's view, a story should even have a moral, a lesson to teach. So, under such standards, modern stories are not stories, they are just narratives. But at times, reading and writing such pieces can be liberating. You are not under pressure to convey anything. Your mind, fingers and stream of consciousness can run on and the effects of finishing such a work can be emancipating. This again is a very personal opinion.

    While the famous writers who were judges, in this contest may have several axes to grind, I feel that you did a wise thing sending the entry unknowingly. And even if you had known who the judges were, you should/would have still sent your entry. It makes more honour to be judged by Homer and found short, than to be judged by Vidya and found outstanding. Better to be a small fish in a big pond, than a big fish in a small pond.

    I like what you say about running a street corner joint as opposed to a Five star hotel. The best food is street food and the humble rasam sadam that amma serves. But why are we even comparing? There are some who can read **** in the net and feel that it was a good read. There are others who can read Karuvachchi Kaviyam, not understand much of it and still feel smug. And then there are others who can read SHE, thrash it and still love it. And finally, there are some who can read Ian McEwan and feel sublime.

    What I am trying to say here is dont dismiss your writings, dont dismiss your readers. At the same time, dont dismiss the high end writers as well. Let me ask you a simple question.If they had found you a winner yesterday, would you still have dismissed them? Maybe yes, but the win would still have meant a lot.

    Your goal does not have to be winning a contest judged by these writers. Your win is among the discerning readers who wait two weeks for your timeline to click in, then interact with you personally. And your win is when you still enter DH contests and lose/win them when juded by the high end writers.

    In the literary field, there are no winners.There are no others. There are only writers and readers. The rest is silence.

    Sorry for this long post. And if I have hurt you in any place here, it was unintentional and I am sorry.

    regards
    Vidya
     
    Last edited: Dec 16, 2007
  5. Arunarc

    Arunarc Moderator Staff Member IL Hall of Fame

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    Hello Varalotti
    It was really sad to know about your loss. Why give up??............better luck next time. I think this is not the end. You might be knowing the story of the spider who built the web 6 times but did not give up and was successful the 7th time. I think the time has not yet come, there might be something better waiting for you.
    I think the street corner, neighbourhood joint is much much better then the five star hotels. I think your writing is simple and too the point, which is much easier to understand, even by a simple person.
    The whole of ILites are there to support you. All the best next time.
    We learn more only after we lose................
     
  6. varalotti

    varalotti IL Hall of Fame

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    Dear Vidya,

    Even if you have offered commiseration, it would not have helped. In fact that could have hurt more than this judgment. You have done what a good parent does to her child,when the child comes back running after a defeat. The child's eye is extremely focussed on the defeat whereas the mother draws a larger picture of life and places the child's defeat in the context of the life's larger picture.

    I had to admit that to some extent I was smug. I thought winning this context would be nothing. And the result was a good chastisement to my ego.

    But honestly even if I had won this contest hands down, my opinion about the high-end writing would not have changed. Agreed that it is a true art form. Agreed that it brings out the best in the writer as there is no need for him to conform to any model or norms. There is no pressure to convey anything. But how many readers can enjoy that piece? And by readers I mean persons like me, the ordinary, prosaic mofussil accountants who look for something interesting, after they had done more than a dozen tax returns for the day.

    My first role model in writing as Somerset Maughm. He was a popular, prolific writer. A friend introduced me to Maughm in 1990 and ever since I got hooked to him. Whether it is a short story or a drama or a novel, Maughm talks to you, tells you something interesting and by that irreversibly changing you for all time to come. I tried some of the high-ends; honestly I could not even focus for more than a few minutes. I read one novel in Tamil by Saru Nivedita. I think it was called zero. It was free writing. There was no story. Lot of sex, profanity and debauchery. A lot of uncensored promiscuity and unwitty dialogues. I took pains to finish the book and vowed not to touch any such book thereafter.


    Then I realised that I am a chronic story teller. I cannot even write a philosophical treatise without telling a lot of stories and anecdotes. Even my book on religion is filled with lot of stories and anecdotes.

    I know how it hurts when you are pulled short in comparison. Once I unwittingly did that to my writer friend. And that is one regret I am going to carry to my grave and even beyond.


    I have never thought from this angle. My daughter used to say that I should writing something "exclusively to myself." She says when you write something which even your spouse does not have access to, you tend to be brutally true there. Such a brutal truth could be liberating.

    I attempted it. But became so depressed and left it out. I have a hard day at my office. So when I come home to write I want to enter into the dreamland where Sharada will be dancing, Sethu explaining, Nalini managing and Madhavan and Priya, leading their high-profile married life.

    At times I think I am like the cooly of 60s who will go to an MGR film as an escape from her real life. Jeyakanthan captured those emotions beautifully in his short story 'Oru Sitthal Cinema Paarkiral' .
    I don't go to any movie where the end is tragic. May be I am escapist. But I think I am wired that way and after half a century of living that way, I don't want to mess up with the circuits now.

    Words to ponder over, Vidya.


    Very profound words. As to my reaction, Amen.

    I have to thank you for the long post. No, it did not hurt me. It was a healing post, not a hurting one.

    regards,
     
  7. varalotti

    varalotti IL Hall of Fame

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    Hello Aruna,

    thanks for those kind words. Your support means a lot to me and gives me the urge to rededicate myself to deliver the best in me to my readers.

    Your support and that of all the ILites mean a lot to me.

    regards,
     
  8. Saraswathipv

    Saraswathipv IL Hall of Fame

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    Dear Varalotti Sir,

    I understand it hurts when u take part enthusiastically and then find that ur work is among the winners list....but so what..... it sure would have been noticed

    With due respect to modern art painting...some of the works are famous and fetch a big amount when put on hi fi auctions....but I wonder how many really understand it. :confused: :confused2: . Not all homes have modern art works framed in their drawing room. Instead we can see some paintings of sceneries or that of gods and goddesses and some thing which we can easily identify...


    Similarly,many ppl, and almost all in IL will appreciate ur style of easy narration than those of Nobel prize winners.(I have nothing against them,though..).
    Continue with ur style and u sure have ur loyal readers here..

    All the best..

    bye
     
    Last edited: Dec 17, 2007
  9. Kamla

    Kamla IL Hall of Fame

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    Dear Varalotti,

    You lost ?? Naa, you did not. You are a winner hands down. Why?...Because you took part...and that in itself makes you a winner!
    Vidhya, Vyasan and others here have already given beautiful answers. There is not much that I can add to it and agree with their words totally.
    Vidya has said it beautifully...you had a winning streak going, sometimes, losing is also part of the game. Why, you yourself have described about the hand of fate in your last episode of He...how when one clears the slate clean, the fate is waiting at the wings to jump in!
    Knowing you, you might have already learnt a great lesson of life from this incident and now your writer's mind is brimming with new ideas and plots for further write-ups!
    My reading days are not that many these days. Hence I am totally lost about all this modern, liberated writings! What is that ? Don't think I have read anything like that...but may be, I did not understand the first line and have given up on it even without noticing it much! I can understand an abstract painting having audience...how can there be any readers to abstract writing?? After all, time is precious and why read something that you wont understand at all and kill time?! Beats me...
    I indulge myself in some TV watching...sorry sir! After a tiring day, it is an easy vice that I give in to..
    I followed this reality show on dancing, Jhalak Dikhla Ja! It is a dance competition where celebrities take part, they are from all fields and not necessarily dancers. This young actress Sandhya Mridul, a non-dancer, did beautifully and turned in an amazing performance every week and was adjudged the best by the judges! But the public votes and the final winner was another actress who had a great fan following due to her successful serial!
    The results were not justified. But there was no doubt in everyone's mind who the real winner was..Sandhya !
    Similarly, I know who the winner is here. You!
    I had written another fb in your HE column, prior to reading this. Please know that it was not influenced by this thread.
    You are beyond winning and losing now Sridhar. You are a writer with your own inimitable style and fan following.

    L, Kamla
     
    Last edited: Dec 16, 2007
  10. Sharada

    Sharada Senior IL'ite

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    Re: I Lost too!

    We are sailing in the same boat cos I lost too! Had sent in what I thought was a well-written short story - but it didn't seem to measure up! When I heard the results I felt rather disappointed and low, but later I thought to myself that judging a short story is so subjective - plus the judges have their own personal views and preferences that are so different from ours.
    Varalotti, we may have lost this competition - but who knows better awards (the Booker perhaps!) may be awaiting us! This is just the fall before we rise sphinx-like, dramatically.
    Cheer up, you are in exalted company!
    Sharada
     

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