Thursday, November 11, 2010

How do we end up doing what we do?

I am not quite sure how it happened or exactly when it happened. I was a science student at KC College, Mumbai when I got introduced to USIS Library at Marine Lines Churchgate and British Council Library, at Nariman Point, Mumbai – both stones’ throw away from the college. After a great first year smelling H2S in the chemistry laboratory, I began to prefer the woody, air-conditioned aroma of the libraries. With this shift in preference or should say I better sense, I got exposed to a whole new world – the New World, literarily. I moved to St. Xavier’s to pursue liberal arts majoring in Economics (which I still struggle to understand) and took Mass Communication as my elective (which in turn has become my life and passion).

So, what happened?

The new knowledge was coming at me at mach speed like bullets at Keanu Reeves in the movie Matrix. This dump of information / knowledge had to be captured in some manner to make it meaningful to me and others who were likeminded. This prompted me to write. But, information alone does not writing make for that would be ‘cut-paste’ in advertising agency parlance. Writing is about providing a new perspective to something that has already been communicated or a completely new thought that hitherto lay dormant waiting to be hatched by a mind sitting on it for a while.

Learning to write is also a bit like learning to type. ‘The brown fox jumped over the moon’. A series of words strung together by thumping on a keyboard without any attempt at meaning. How liberating that is.

For good writing there has to be a thought before the words flow - and therein lies the challenge for the novice – the writer’s block. To have a thought one needs to get off the treadmill of information flow and allow the mind to float until an idea or observation takes root. You can easily lose it if you’re impatient. You need to allow the idea to drift where it will like a meandering river, often to unexplored territory. The very thought of something new charges your mind and takes a life of its own. Like these words flowing clickkity-clack out of this keyboard.

As postulated by Mihaly Csikszsentmihalyi on his classic on Happiness, I got into the ‘flow’ of writing because I felt I had something interesting to say which when you put pen to paper or keyboard to computer screen produces ‘something’ that surprises even me because it is not what I had intended when I started but magically takes my writing to some logical and seemingly constructive end. Sharing a part of myself that could be of interest to someone else on a subject like ‘how I got started writing?’

This love for writing mutated naturally to working in the field of ideas with an advertising agency but in client management where you’re the bridge between a clients’s marketing issues and the agency’s creative abilities. A good place to be, me thinks, when your own creativity is doubtful, but your ability to inspire someone who is talented serves the purpose admirably. Just a thought I had this morning which I am congenitally incapable of just letting it lie in my mind. So it is on paper.

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