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  • Writer's pictureKuzhali Manickavel

ich bin ein auslander

Updated: Aug 4, 2020

This blog title is taken from this song. It seemed appropriate because it’s apparently in German and German is exciting and we live in very exciting times. ExcitingExciting things have happened. The hero of teh internetz Julian Assange was charged with sexual assault and while many people who hate both wikileaks and women found it very difficult to decide which side to take, the majority seemed to agree that this was just another example of how women ruin everything. Which sort of proves what I said once before- women ruin everything because they have uteruses and uteruses ruin everything. So it’s really the uteruses that are killing wikileaks and freedom and everything. Stupid uteruses. Anyhoo, child abuse was completely eradicated everywhere forever because some people on Facebook put cartoons in their profile pics. I originally thought all these people were doing this in support of child abuse. But apparently people don’t do that kind of thing on Facebook.

On a much sadder note, RIP Cami Park, a writer whose work I admired veryveryvery much. You can read some of her work here.

I understand that it is customary for people who consider themselves writers and who are having blogs to talk about inspiring writing quotes that have inspired them to be inspired about inspiring writing and be inspiring also. I thought I should do this. But I could only think of the writing advice I have received over the years that I felt was complete crapnonsense that made me want to take vomit. So I thought I would write about that instead because as one person very kindly pointed out to me, I am only capable of writing about vomit and nothing else.

I wanted to say some other things also. All the advices I am putting forth here are advices that enamored, ensnared, enslaved and then embittered me. So it is not like I am casually hating. It’s like I am having intense love failure with these advices. So this brings me to the second thing I want to say. These verysame advices have worked wonders and miracles for others and that is fabulous and I am so happy for that also. I hope it’s ok that they were crapnonsense for me. If it’s not ok I don’t care also. So this brings me to one another thing I want to say. I feel that at some level, writing is something that is very personal, you need to do what is best for you and that might not be what everyone else says is the best and also people will get all judgy and in your face about how you’re doing it rong. I wish these people all the blessings raining down from a God. I actually read that somewhere ‘All the blessings raining down from a God’. I don’t know what it means but it seems appropriate to use here.

CrapNonsense #1

‘Writing Is.’

Some of the crapnonsense writing advice I have read is so vague and minimalist that it ceases to be advice altogether and becomes art. Like all good art, it also makes you think you have the superpowers necessary to give advice for things without knowing anything about these things. You find yourself telling people that Astrophysics Is. Synthetic Poly-cotton Is. Tuvan Throat Singing Is. Open-heart Surgery Is. A Chair Is. I mean, it’s easy to say so why not say it and spread that good advice all around, no? Anyhoo, it’s bad enough if someone says ‘writing is’ to you for no reason and I am surprised at how many people will actually do this and think you will care. But I think it would probably suck even more if you invest time or money or both just so someone could tell you that ‘writing is.’

CrapNonsense #2

‘You’ll never make it as a writer if you don’t write every single day’.

Sometimes this is written as

‘You’ll never make it as a writer if you write every single day’

I slavishly and desperately followed both of these and then came to the understanding that they are actually the same thing. I tried writing everyday and it was a crapnonsense and I thought I was writer phail. Then I tried not writing everyday and that also was crapnonsense and again I thought I was writer phail. Today, I can look back on my writing routine and say with a tremendous amount of conviction that I write when I can and when I can’t write, I don’t write and it’s no big deal. And when I don’t write, my heart doesn’t fall out of my body and I don’t writhe in creative agony with my eyeballs dissolving into waterfalls of sadness because I can’t write. This absolutely and totally means I am writer phail because real writers get very emo about not being able to write and you never, NEVER say it’s not a big deal. NEVER!!!

CrapNonsense #3

‘Do not read work outside your specified genre as that will pollute the originality of your voice’

Sometimes this is written as

‘Literary fiction writers should only read literary fiction’

In any other area of life, I think this kind of mindset would be called bigotry but here, it’s writing advice. No doubt, there is a good reason behind this which I can’t understand, just like there are good reasons behind the rule that you should only marry people of your own caste and keep all that wholesome in-breeding in the family. I’m not saying that’s bad or anything. I know people have had happy and awesome lives by only associating with people of their own caste and I know people have had successful writing careers by only reading certain kinds of writing. I feel if you want to follow reading bigotry, that is great for you and I hope you win at life. I do have a problem with advocating this kind of reading bigotry to others, coupled with threats that your voice will get corrupted and polluted if you read a comic book. Like many things in life, I don’t think reading bigotry works well for everyone. I also don’t understand why you would limit yourself in reading, particularly when one is a writer or likes to say they are. I’m sure that my own wide and varied reading is the reason why I am only capable of writing about vomit and nothing else. 

CrapNonsense #4

‘Writing needs to make you bleed and cry and break off your head and put it back on again and it needs to feel like you are puking razor blades. You also need to be raped by your own words because word rape is so important.”

This kind of writing advice is often very attractive, especially if the word ‘rape’ is thrown in there for effect. In my old age, I have come to believe that this is one of those things that if you look at it one way, it’s like wow. But if you look at it another way, it’s like LOLOLOLO like

When I think of how I was in shock and awe about overly dramatic writing advice which seemed to focus more on massive internal bleeding, decapitation and sexual violence, I feel like I was one of the stoned gentlemans who couldn’t sit in their plastic chairs. I think of how wantingly people played all the open strings at once just so we could watch the stoned dudes become so overwhelmed with the awesomeness that they fell off their chairs and possibly broke their faces. I don’t think they broke their faces. Well, maybe they did a little. I don’t think they felt anything anyway because they were stoned and it’s ok to watch stoned people hurt themselves because they are stoned so it doesn’t matter. I am now wondering if they made it home at all. Oh whale.

CrapNonsense #5

‘Good writing is universal’

I need to make two things clear here. One, my problem isn’t with the ‘good writing’ or even with the word ‘is’. It’s with the word ‘universal’ because when it comes to the English writing universe, ‘universal’ tends to mean ‘stuff written by white dudes’. Two, I love the English writing universe in the way you love and feel you belong to a universe that doesn’t think you belong to it but you love it anyway. Of course we must never say things like that because art knows no color or something so if all the universally good writing in English just happens to be by white dudes, it’s probably because all the other folk just can’t write as good and shame on you for noticing the color or gender etc, etc of the person who did the writing anyway, you bigot.

I don’t know any other writing universes but I honestly feel that the universe of English writing has lots of nice things going for it. But this is also a universe that has a term called ‘The Other’ which lumps all sorts of things together like people of color and the differently-challenged because they are all freaks so that makes them all the same- I guess this makes it easier to write fiction about them or something, I don’t know. It’s all a bit of a bummer but people get bummed when you tell them it’s a bummer and there’s nothing more bumming than angry colored people who keep whining. This is a universe that believes you are writing in a language that really belongs to them, and you are simply borrowing it from them. This is a universe where your fiction needs to function like a guidebook when you’ve decided to be ‘difficult’ or ‘inaccessible’ by writing about a place that doesn’t have a Taco Bell. This is a universe that firmly believes you can write anything you want about anything and nobody should be a meanie and say anything about it, thus explaining the phenomenon of the dusty Indian villager morphing into a Supernatural Oracle of High Prophecy as well as a baby-eating alien at the same time and we are to believe this is ‘realism’. This is a universe that loves to say that it ‘actively seeks out diverse and international writing’ because I think you get in big trouble if you don’t say that. Sometimes it proves its internationality by telling you it has read Indian authors like Jhumpa Lahiri even though Jhumpa Lahiri is American which is not Indian. Really, it’s not. I also find this is a universe that really likes it when Indians write about the immigrant experience, slum dwellers and and bigfatIndianArranged weddings but it has absolutely no idea what to do with you when you write about other stuff.

I love this universe very much. It’s the only universe I know. But it is also fucked up. So with all due respect, I don’t think you can say ‘good writing is universal’ until you fix your definition of universal.

I thought maybe I should also write about writing advices that I am appreciating but I think I’ll do that later because this blog post is starting to bore me.



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