The Owler
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The Owler

Moving Swiftly in an Uncontrolled Way

Big Hello! 🙋🏻‍♂️

I’m writing this to you from London. What am I doing here? I’m pursuing my Masters in Creative Writing. It’s a one year course, and I’m so pumped to be doing this. Finally!

I alluded to this in my previous newsletter as well but I’ve applied to a Masters in Creative Writing before too. Mostly in London. I don’t fully understand why it had to do be London and not the US or any other place. Maybe it’s the work culture in London that I appreciate, or the work culture in the US I dispise. Or maybe London made an impression on me at a young age — much more than the US ever could. I remember in school, after taking a vacation to London, in my English test, I’d written a letter to a friend talking about how awesome London is and how it had captured my attention in a way I couldn’t quite understand. Not back then. When the test results came back, my teacher had left a comment on the letter saying “too vague”. While I’ve carried a grudge around for that teacher forever, sitting here, thinking about that vague little letter, I guess she was right.

But that doesn’t help explain “why London?”

I’ll come back to that. Let’s change track for a bit.

Back in India, when I told someone — especially from my parent’s circuit of people — that I was going to London to do my masters, there is a single word that cropped up quite frequently — career. I have always hated this word. It was thrown in my face quite often when I was a teenager and the rebellious me kept dodging it. I didn’t want a career. I simply wanted to write. Sometimes simplemindedness is often confused with stubbornness. I simply wanted to write and tell stories. But the word career had to be attached to it. How? It didn’t have a place. It didn’t feel right.

The career path I’ve selected for my life has been, to quote my English teacher from school, too vague. That’s because I’ve never had one. My hatred for that word has steered me to waters where that word never made its way into regular conversations. But it was still a word and like any other word for which I have strong feelings, I went about hunting through the dictionary for what the word career meant.

As a noun it meant profession. As an adjective it meant committed. But as a verb, that’s where it got interesting. As a verb, it meant to move swiftly and in an uncontrolled way.

From the Oxford Dictionary

I quite liked the meaning of career in its verb form. To move swiftly and in an uncontrolled way. It’s a good way to describe my writing “career”.

Because you see, I’ve never had a set path. Most of the times, I barely knew what I was doing — I just did what I enjoyed and that was that. If someone paid me for it, that was even great. But of course, no one saw it that way. When the word career is attached to something, everyone want to see a trajectory. The closest thing I have to a trajectory is a list of dreams I wish to achieve. And on that list, somewhere in the middle was “Study Creative Writing in London.”

How did it find a place in my list? I’m not sure. Maybe it was all the English authors I read growing up, or maybe my first visit to London played a role, or maybe it was my father’s constant saying that education was the best gift he could give my sister and me and it was a gift I wanted to give to myself, or maybe somewhere deep down I knew I needed to learn more about English and writing and stories, or maybe I needed to get out of a city like Bombay where art is only seen for its commercial value and move to a place where there is an ounce of more respect for someone who’d like to add a dragon or two into their stories.

Or maybe, it’s none of these and I’m just moving swiftly in an uncontrolled way. I must say, I quite like the sound of that.

Picture by yours truly

Recommendations 🍎

This time I’m going to recommend a few things that I’ve learnt in the past week I’ve been in London.

  1. Apples go well with peanut butter (unsweetened and unsalted) — Holy shit, I was blown away by this. You must try.
  2. Lugging books cross country is a bother. Invest in a e-reader. (Yes, I said it.)
  3. You don’t set your Forex Card pin code. It’s emailed to you. Note it down and don’t forget (like I did).

What my friends are up to 🎶

Check out this new song.

Manaswi is the wordwizard behind the lyrics and Karan is master music maker behind most of the other sounds you hear in this song, and a lot more out there. Give them a follow and let them know how much you like their work.

Words to leave you on 📝

“Remember that sometimes not getting what you want is a wonderful stroke of luck.”

Dalai Lama

You’re reading a newsletter by Akshay Gajria. This newsletter is delivered to your inbox on the 30th of every month via Substack and appears later in the month on Medium. You can also find him on Twitter, Instagram and Medium. If you found what you read helpful, you can consider tipping him by buying a cup of tea (or three) here or buying his ebook (linked below). You can discover his work at akshaygajria.com

getbook.at/Home_AkshayGajria

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