So.. It all started with a phone call. I am a published author (ermm.. I have self-published a poorly edited (written) novel in Kindle). So naturally, I was in all the available forums to publicize my books. That was when I understood there were more writers than readers in the Facebook forums. Now coming back to the phone call, it was from one of the writer acquaintance I had managed to get close to through writing forums.
“We should start a writing club,” he said as I picked the phone call. I was not sure if he was addressing me. Writing alone is fun, why would someone make an orgy out of it.
“Hello?” I said.
“The other guy, he started a writing club and got featured in newspaper and all. We should do something like that.”
“Which another guy? And what is this writing club funda, I don’t understand.”
“We will gather in a set date in a coffee shop and discuss writing. If time permits, we can read them out and get feedback.”
“Wow. That sounds cool. But that is what we are doing on Facebook without spending a penny. Why should anyone come to coffee shop?”
“We can meet a lot of girls.”
“I am in,” I said and cut the call.
Soon enough, I got a notification to RSVP to an event. It was from my caller. Hungry Papers was the name of the event. I pinged him to ask about the name. Apparently, the other guy had called his group as thirsty keyboards and to indirectly show his rivalry; my caller had come up with this name. It was heading to disaster. But I went to the event anyway.
To my surprise, there were more than 25 people in the room before me. And another ten came a bit late ‘Uber is such a bitch ya’. So there were around 36 people in the room, and if everybody wrote a short story or even a flash fiction for 500 words, it would take at least half an hour and read 36 stories, we have to rent the coffee shop at least for two days. I wondered if I had clicked the going button without checking the duration of the event. My parents wouldn’t let me stay out even a single night. *Sad story. Different post* I expressed my discomfort to the caller and he accepted. So we planned we would just have an introduction and start writing and posting in a closed group.
“Hey, you must know this girl. She writes very well” my friend said. Some girl had already clicked pictures and some 101 selfies. I was tagged. Her profile headline read “Writer. Feminist. Mentalist”. “Have I read her work?” I asked him. “I don’t read. You go and talk to her”
I tentatively walked to her. She said “Hey. Pleased to meet you”. I just smiled. I should have a similar tagline for my facebook profile I thought. “Writer. Mennist. Machinist” probably. “So my friend said he enjoyed the way you write. Do you write in a magazine or blog?” I asked.
“No. I don’t have a blog, and I don’t send it to magazines.”
“So where can I read you?”
“You can give me a friend request on FB or follow me on Instagram. I mostly write there.”
“Writing on Facebook is called status messages, correct?” I didn’t want to go into Instagram. I know it was a photo sharing application.
“Yes. I have many followers who like to read my status messages. So I thought I would attend the meet and help people.”
“Yes. People need to write about what they think. They are not doing it. So I am here to encourage them. And you?”
“I am here to learn milady. And you are Godsend.”
I quickly moved to the next table, and there were a couple of guys arguing with each other. I observed them while sipping my already cold coffee. All the cups in the coffee house would have been filled to the brim if they had tried to fill it with the passion they exuded. I felt I finally found my circle.
“So what do you write?” I asked one of the people on the table.
“Umm. I write movie reviews.”
“So you guys were talking about movie reviews all these while?”
“Not only that. We take an already hit movie and write about it.”
“More like critiquing than reviewing huh. Interesting”
“Not just any movies but the popular ones or the ones which got released recently. Then we would write a letter from the protagonist point of view, then antagonist point of view and then the side characters point of view. It is fun.”
“Wow. Do people read such long passages in social media? How long would these letters be?”
“Minimum 1500 words. If you remove the hashtags, it will come around 300 or 350.”
“What are hashtags?” I knew what they were. But I didn’t understand how they manage to put hashtags for more than 1000 words. Before they got mad at me, I walked off.
My caller had already arranged some news reporter to come to the coffee shop. I was waiting for this moment since I arrived at the meet. I hoped to get at least two sentences in the next day’s newspaper. But they just clicked the photograph and went. “Bro. I had already sent the write-up.” my caller said.
So through hungry papers, I learned that people don’t read books or don’t write short stories. It is not necessary to write anything to be called as a writer. All you need is status messages and hashtags.
The morning paper had an impressive coverage of the meet (?!) that happened, and the headline was “Sculpting Chennai with words.” I left the paper on the table and started doing what I always do. Stare at a blank MS Word document.
(Bro. Don’t tell blank page of MS Word document. Say that you write in Scrivener. It doesn’t matter what you write. It only matters where you write. If you have a Mac, then it is even better. Click a picture of the apple logo, upload it to Instagram, apply filters and share it with hashtag #iamwriting.)