Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Keeping it short

This is my post on Kreat!ve Kahaani, a website that publishes the works of new authors or anybody who wants to write any kind of fiction. Do check it out.

The short story is the best escape from the monotony of desk work. In only a few words, it creates a whole new world for you to step in and explore, to identify with a character and follow his/her path to a fitting (although not often acceptable) conclusion. It opens up a world of possibilities — of how things could have been or how things should have ended.

I like a short story because it comes as a welcome break in between editing news and features and writing more stories/articles. It inspires me to write in brief. And as a writer, that's what I need. As an editor, it gives me something fresh to think about. Sometimes, a word I've read in a short may just pop into my head and I might use it in the headline of a news story.

I hated reading novels/story books when I was at school. I found them tedious. I didn't care for the Nancy Drews, the Hardy Boys, the Enid Blytons, the Jeffrey Archers, Stephen Kings, Daniel Steels or even Mills and Boons. But I loved short stories, the creations of Graham Greene, O Henry, William Somerset Maugham, Ernest Hemingway, Edgar Allan Poe, Rabindranath Tagore, Rudyard Kipling, Saki, Mulk Raj Anand, K A Abbas and Munshi Premchand. I could finish a few at a sitting, then go out to play, then come back and read some more. I did not have to remember what I had read before.  And so, for years, when girls in my class moved on to bigger novellas and novels, I kept looking for the shortest of the shorts.

Then, I discovered Shakespeare. His plays, with many acts, became a mix of many things that English Literature as a subject had tried to categorise. It had poetry, prose, a blend of short stories and anecdotes within a longer, complex plot of a novel. I read all of Shakespeare’s creations — the historical, the comedies, the tragedies, even the sonnets.

Had I not liked Shakespeare, I doubt if I would have picked up my first novel, the Wuthering Heights. Had I not liked Wuthering Heights so much, I would not have gone for another epic romance, Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. To break away from the trend, I picked up a couple of David Baldaccis for a long train journey and became addicted to his thrillers. I liked Dan Brown's Da Vinci Code but never followed up with the second (though I did watch the film, Angels and Demons). I read The Hungry Tide and devoured all of Amitav Ghosh’s books just the way I had done William Dalrymple’s after reading City of Djinns. I stayed away from Harry Potter but got trapped into the intrigue of the Twilight Saga, the Shiva Trilogy and Alex Rutherford’s series, The Empire of the Moghul.

Though I still read many more books on films, science, history, travel, health, people, economy, management and countries than fiction, I’ve warmed up to the idea of reading a novel on a rainy afternoon  sipping some hot coffee. What I miss now are the short stories. I don’t find too many compilations by new authors out in the bookstores and searching for short stories on the internet can be a bit of a downer. This is why I am looking forward to a site like this one — Kreat!ve Kahaani — so I can read new shorts by new authors at one place. It gives me the freedom to Alt+Tab whenever I need to refresh myself mentally at the desk. I only hope I don’t get addicted to it!

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