Nice, the new mean?

How does a writer go from good to popular? Write better, of course – something you and I would agree readily. But most often than not, one would have ended up writing very well, only to end up as a ‘good’ writer, and not necessarily a popular one at that! Who then gets the ‘popular’ ‘vote’ or ‘like’, if you will? Let’s guess: a. someone who has done monumental deeds – lot of them, a lot more than they could finish writing about. They can spend the rest of their glorious lives cherry picking delicious episodes from their adventures and serve them up hot and spicy to drooling readers;b. Someone who has clout, and can have the parliament ducking for cover when the individual sneezes. They will have a cohort of faithful who will drum up enough noise about their idol’s writing, that the world is gifted with real-time updates of the said individual’s literary pursuits;, c. Someone in whom resides the most deadly triumvirate of an illusionist, a hypnotist and a tantric. They need no one to endorse their writing, but only need to have the air of a conscience keeper of the masses, with a grave tone and a graver promotional line. In short they are all set to become the next messiah in their part of the world; and finally, d. someone who had a swell marketing career and then decided to take a stab at creativity.

What about the writers who aren’t attracted by any of these categories and those who choose to repel from them? They’ll probably be eagerly joining up fraternities that deride and ridicule members of the aforementioned classes of individuals aka writers.

Naturally, because they are mostly at the mercy of people who are ‘nice’ to them. The ‘nice’ brigade. Make no mistake, this is a dragon rapidly growing in size, and will start treading mindlessly over our magnificent structures. This is very much akin to the massive army of sentinels that awed us in ‘The Matrix’ trilogy. What do the nice ones do? They want peace on earth, which we all do too of course. But, while it’s unclear if they are doing any bit for the peace that’s eluding the geopolitical hotspots in this world, they will certainly praise our writers to the skies and avoid the remotest possibility of conflict. Here’s a poor chap who has lost sleep over a critique of the growing popularity of visuals in social media, and goes about urging people to read his piece. The first chap who comes along – just our writer-critic’s luck – is from the nice brigade. The latter, as he begins reading, has a benign smile plastered on his face, which remains static till the last line of the essay. He looks up at our writer and says it was absolutely fantastic and his vocabulary was exquisite, and that he has style. Keep writing, you’ll do great, he says. Er, what about the critique? Oh, he just remembered he had to rush for a meeting. See you around buddy, keep up the good writing. Never the one to give up, our writer continues hawking his thoughts to other likely buyers.


The nice guys, if one were to think, are probably striving to grow their social network (including the virtual one). Their elating feedback is bound to lift anyone’s spirits up, and bingo, they have collected another ‘friend’. The next time the writer comes out with a piece, they’d have chosen to ignore, as the writing would do anything but boost their social status. So our writer waits up for a while – their readership has remained as low as their toddler’s age-, and decides to knock on Nicey’s door. Nicey is at their effervescent best. Hi there, how do you do? But of course I will read your stuff. I thought you had stopped writing these days. Do show me no, quick. Nicey does a quick scan through. There you go, brilliant as always. Writer says, ‘c’mon you are being nice’. Nicey says, naah, you know I never believe in complimenting people for the sake of it. Wish I could write like you. This is followed by an abrupt silence. Our writer, being the sensitive sort, decides to change the topic, and Nicey all but hugs the opportunity tight.

Our writer by now knows better than to expect any real connect between the world and their writing. People, he reckons, will make time for ideas, but only from certain people, a privileged lot at that!


The Admirable 10


  1. MK Gandhi – Forget non-violence, truth, the freedom struggle and the other points of reference associated with the Mahatma, it is just that at the time of extreme moral decadence as this, we can always hark back to our history and feel blessed that a great soul who lived very much in our midst walked the earth. Its nigh impossible to get another Gandhi, because people will have realized by now that, as GB Shaw says, ‘it is dangerous to be too good’!


  1. John le Carre – A book critic had once wondered in one of Le Carre’s book reviews, as to why he hasn’t received a Nobel Prize for literature. The critic’s rumination is not unfounded, at least for me. Le Carre is at once a spy master and a high priest of language. His plots are apposite to the state of the world, and never miss the human element which we do with such abandon in our real lives.


  1. Rajinikanth – The first individual, and the only one so far, whose autobiography I cannot wait to read, whenever it comes. So great is this personality, that I lie in perennial doubt if he’ll ever let the story of his life be trapped within covers. He should though, for this world is always full of inspirations, but never full with.


  1. AR Rahman – My appreciation of his music will probably do injustice to his divine talent, as I am aware that it requires an extremely discerning ear, even for ovation. But I also know that beyond his music lies love, which really is the sum of his life’s achievements. A true saint he is.


  1. Alan Moore – A comics  writer, Moore has beaten hollow some of the greatest practitioners of non-graphic fiction of our time. V for Vendetta and Watchmen are more than testimonials to his literary genius. His writing leaves me amazed at the unfathomable depths the human mind can go to, in unravelling the complexities of the its own psyche. Little wonder then that he is regarded the greatest graphic novel writer of all time.


  1. Jimmy Wales – He founded Wikipedia. I don’t need any other reason to celebrate him. He was on Time magazine’s 2006 list of 100 most influential people in the world. When knowledge is offered free, spare a moment for the giver before grabbing it with both hands. I will take this opportunity to urge you all to contribute to Wikimedia, and do your bit to make Earth more accessible to its own denizens.


  1. Sir Tim Berners-Lee – One can’t mention Wikipedia without mentioning the Internet. If there’s a Briton I have consciously reminded myself to start admiring, it is most certainly Berners-Lee. Hell, he invented the World Wide Web. I can bet my bottom dollar that many of you know me because of what this individual came up with in the summer of ’89.


  1. Robert Maitland Bereton – The Indian rail route from Bombay to Calcutta is touted to be a part of the inspiration for Jules Verne’s Around the World in Eighty Days. This line was the result of the rapid expansion of the Indian Railways from 1857. And the Robert Bereton was the gentleman who was primarily responsible for building the complex network of railroads in our country. Can we doff our hats for the Brits this once?


  1. David Gilmour and Roger Waters – The soul of Pink Floyd. Their regime on the rock stage was colossal. Their sound to this day is most distinct, as are their lyrics. Waters and his profound lyrics, and his equally plangent, resonant, deep-toned and silken voice, Gilmour with his amazing dexterity on the guitar, Gilmour with ‘his’ guitar, and a ‘feathery’ voice, along with steadfastness that saw him till disbanding (never in spirit though). Pink Floyd and its stalwarts had to be on this list, no two ways about it!

Who are your admirable 10?