By Prathap Suthan
Arranging words one after the other doesn’t make you a writer. And putting them coherently in lines without making grammatical mistakes isn’t writing either.
Of course you can write. Anyone who went to school can write. And everyone who took an exam can possibly write as well.
In fact, the nice greying man at the post office can write. The elderly lady at the bank can write. The slightly portly doctor at your nearby clinic can write as well.
So can the cop at the local police station who will file your case sheet when you get booked for Whatsapping your boss along with Facetiming your girlfriend’s constipated hamster, all while driving.
Unfortunately, none of the above writers can write. None of them are genuine writers. None of them can write with the kind of ink that makes tears moist.
None of them can take a couple of words and put them in random order and change the way the world thinks about sport. Or war. Or peace. Or influence large tracts of barren land in your brain to think in a very specific way.
They can’t move ice-hearted people to jump into boats to save a thousand dolphins headed to a secret atoll somewhere in the Japanese archipelago to get their heads bludgeoned and guts pickled.
That is a different kind of writing. A higher craft. It will take you a completely different whip to make words fall in line and obey you.
It’s an art form, much like painting, singing, or even mimicking the randy bellows of a lusty stag in rutting season.
You just can’t, by the singular ability to structure a sentence, give yourself the epithet of a writer. It’s like picking up gravel and calling it gold just because it’s panned from earth.
Just because you can write an essay or a blog or an article doesn’t make you a writer. Just because you write funny posts that makes your third cousin giggle in abandoned Dhanushkodi doesn’t make you a writer.
Just because you write clichéd poetry that rhymes with soutanes and croutons doesn’t make you a writer. Just because you write a half-boiled potato stamp on the prevailing political scenario doesn’t make you a writer.
Just because you lashed back with a nasty comeback on Twitter doesn’t make you a writer. Just because you are always high on cat food, and three and half cups of basil tea with jasmine essence and two drops of thyme, doesn’t make you a writer.
And just because you are a tongue-pierced, belly-button pierced, ear-lobe pierced, and whatnots-pierced pretentious little runt of a copywriter, doesn’t mean jack when it comes to writing.
It just means that you use the language a little better than a trained peacock that can do the rain dance on cue.
You aren’t a writer if you can’t write a new line, a new chunk, and a new page. You aren’t a writer if you don’t have a pen that chisels paper into art.
You aren’t a writer if you can’t shorten breath and burn nerves. You aren’t a writer if you can’t stab and shred everything ever written to garbage.
And most of all, you aren’t a writer if you only write for your wallet.
Write if you must for your heart. Write for your anger. Write for your angst. Write for all those things that make you puke.
Write for pain. Write for love. Write for hate. Write for wrongs. Write for rights.
Write to free yourself. Write to unshackle yourself. Write to liberate yourself. Write to save yourself. Write to find yourself.
Be bloody. Be gory. Dip those words in your veins and your arteries. Write with your truth. Write with the glow that fills you. Write with light.
Once you reach that point when your writing is the leaking, dripping, oozing trail of your wracked soul, then call yourself a writer. And only then should you put that six-letter word called writer next to your name.
Prathap Suthan is from God’s own country, Kerala. From his New Delhi home, he picks up memories of tranquility, nature, love and longing, backwaters, Old Monk, banana chips, avial, music, and dark humour. He writes daily poetry on mundane and not-so-mundane things to free himself, entertain, and even ruffle people around him. For bread, butter, and jam, he suits up as the Managing Partner and Chief Creative Officer of Bang In The Middle, a creative agency based in Gurgaon. It was Prathap’s work that gave us ‘Incredible India’ and ‘India Shining’ campaigns. Plus ‘Next is What’ and ‘Be You’ and hundreds more.
You can follow his writings on https://www.facebook.com/BeyondLayouts/