The most under-rated art: Writing (Part I)

The most under-rated art: Writing (Part I)

Establishing a shared method of communication is one of the key components of advancement into founding a civilization.

awritin051p1

Speaking, talking, singing, conveying our ideas to others, teaching and learning in a faster way, verbalizing feelings, rallying crowds or manipulating masses… it’s no surprise that the ability to have meaningful, oral communication with others, has put humanity on the top of the planetary food chain and made it possible for us to found an advanced civilization, where much stronger animal species like dinosaurs, bears, lions, and such never could.

Oral communication is always considered the most viable inter-human communication since we were cavemen; talk well to inspire an army into a triumph, beg for votes on a political campaign for a chance to rule the world, or simply express inner feelings to foreplay mating in a ‘civilized’ way.

Sounds the best?

But, for the likes of me (and hopefully for the likes of you when you finish reading this), it can only come after writing. It’s just much more than speeches can ever offer:

  • Oral communication is lost in the present whilst writing can travel forward and backward in time. Or else we wouldn’t be meddling to decipher ancient hieroglyphs or send letters and emails to others for a future read. Writing is the best way of preserving memories, retelling history and transferring knowledge into future generations.
  • Writing grants immortality to its creator as spoken words are scattered in the wind and soon forgotten if not recorded.
  • The unnecessary components of oral communication such as small talk, echo questions and filler words can be mostly avoided unless a dialogue is being mimicked in a work of fiction.
  • Writing requires education of some level at least and that’s all the difference between a toddler mumbling about their needs to their parents and a scholar influencing millions.
  • It’s possible to translate a piece of writing into the reader’s native tongue as no immediate responses are needed.
  • Never forget that ‘pen is mightier than the sword’ and that a sword can cut a blabbermouth. Writing always wins.

 

So, despite all this proof, why do most people underestimate the power of writing in the modern world?

Why is being a writer not considered as a proper job?

Why are the benefits of hiring a professional writer is seen as an asset by only a few selected businesses?

You don’t build the house you live in unless you’re an architect and a bricklayer. Do you?

Would you like to know more?

Then, stay tuned in for the next part of this article coming up soon…

1200px-Calligraphy.malmesbury.bible.arp

Dickie L. Rowbotham

Dickie L. Rowbotham

It’s becoming more and more difficult to stay sane with all this self-isolation going on. So, I decided to write a flash fiction piece; a parody of the corona virus pandemic, main-stream media, social media blabbering, being clueless and the idea of hope. All characters here are fictional and have no relation to real world people or events. Here’s the punchline of the story: “One day, a loser wakes up to discover he made the headlines everywhere during a lethal Pandemic.” You can read the complete story by scrolling down. I would love to see some honest comments! Cheers!

corona-vaccine-reuters

Covered in sweat and feeling a pain of uneasiness in his chest, Dickie woke up almost an hour before his alarm clock set off. He quickly hurried to the bathroom, turned on the tap, squirted some liquid soap onto his palm and began rubbing his hands in the harshest way anybody had ever done. He started silent counting and stopped when he reached 22. Twenty seconds were enough to kill the virus that might have been residing on his hands, but he’d always do a couple of seconds extra just to be on the safe side. He dried his hands with a paper towel and disposed it right away. With the corner of his eye, he checked his paper towel stock sitting proudly on the shelves. Yep, the remaining 37 huge rolls would be more than enough to last him in case paper-towel shortages started. Encouraged by his vast paper towel collection and not feeling well to his usual standards, he turned on the tap for another 22 seconds and peeled more skin off his hands.

It was the beginning of a huge day. The previous week he’d gone to the emergency service of the memorial hospital for Anoroc-91 testing. He had all the symptoms; a mild diarrhea, a little muscle pain especially in the back, dry coughing a couple of times throughout the day, shortness of breath accompanied by a mild fever. He’d waited a couple of days before he went to the hospital for a test as he couldn’t be sure if he was developing symptoms due to his own precautious actions. Since the world has been taken over by this pandemic, he’d completely changed the way he lived his life. He set up the heater at least ten degrees as he was informed by social media that the virus couldn’t survive in higher temperatures. This could be the reason he felt his elevated body heat. His diarrhea could be just because he’d changed his diet to natural Anoroc-repelling food advertised by a well-being specialist he’d been following on Twitter. His shortness of breath could be explained by not taking his protective mask off even when he was home alone. On another note, he was always home alone. Not that he was following strict self isolation techniques, but because he didn’t have any friends. “Darn!” he mumbled to himself. Where did he put the new batch of masks?

The landline phone rang, but he couldn’t get it in time as he was too busy putting on his latex gloves to pick it up. It was too bad that these old models didn’t display missed calls. He was sure though that he missed the call about his test results as his phone only rang three or four times during a full year. And it was only March! Angry to himself, he ditched the gloves into the bin and sanitized the receiver thoroughly to save time for the next ring. He just hoped they would call soon as the wait had already been messing up his nearly non-existent sanity. Not having anything better to do, he turned on his laptop and logged-in to his Twitter account. It was a pity that his cell phone, where he usually checked his messages and social media, was totally wrecked after laying it in alcohol bed for quick sterilization. The coffee table the laptop was on, was just making him bend lower than usual and have back pain after an hour of computer time. But, this time he wasn’t planning on spending more than ten minutes on Twitter, perhaps only a bit longer if he found some new information on the virus itself.

Surprisingly, the Twitter trending topic list had his name on the very top: “#dickielrowbotham”. That was strange. He never thought someone sharing his uncommon full name to be trending. It wasn’t him for sure. He was a nobody. But seriously, how many Dickie L. Rowbothams, down to the middle initial, could be in the whole world? He tapped on the topic and started scrolling down millions of uninformative tweets:

Terence Woodbury, a guy with a profile pic of a slam dunk close-up tweeted: “Don’t be a dick! Be a dickie and save the world! #dickielrowbotham #anoroc-91 #anaroc91 #anaracvirus

The next few tweets were emojis of thumbs-up or closed fists… or combinations of these two with varying smileys.

Another tweet by a certain well-known celebrity, complete with a blue tick next to the name, was saying: “Yay #dickielrowbotham“. It had nearly 90k likes, 28k retweets and nearly as many comments.

Dickie got frustrated as he scrolled down the never-ending tweets. There was not a single tweet giving him an insight on what was happening!

Then, he saw it! A doctor, or at least that was what his username “dr.chadwick8080” implied, had tweeted: “As the acting director of Springwell Memorial Hospital, I can neither confirm nor deny the discovery of immune cells in a suspected patients blood work. It’s just too early for a final verdict and false hope does not help in this case. #dickielrowbotham #anoroc-91 #stayhome

Dr. Chadwick? Springwell Memorial? That was where Dickie had his Anoroc test! The tweet didn’t really seem like it was written by a real doctor, but even if that was true, it was still a weird coincidence.

The phone started ringing while Dickie was still trying to make heads or tails of the whole thing. This time he was quickly on his feet and answered the phone in record time:

“Hello! This is Dickie speaking.” He said with a trembling voice.

“Hello Mr. Rowbotham,” The voice answered. “I am Doctor Richard Chadwick from Springwell Memorial Hospital. I am calling about your blood test results regarding Anoroc-91.”

“Yes?” Dickie said in a shaky tone after a brief pause.

“We have discovered certain antibodies in your blood that prevent the Aronoc virus,” he said. “To put it boldly, you are immune Mr. Rowbotham. We would like to invite you here and run some more tests and perhaps you could be the one saving all of us,” he concluded.

“Wait! Wait! How is it possible that I am just hearing about this now. Twitter is flooding with this ‘new discovery’,” he glared.

“We couldn’t reach you before Mr. Rowbotham!” Dr. Chadwick said calmly.

“Yeah, like 20 minutes ago. And I’ve been staying home since I got tested.” Dickie replied losing the timid tone. “It’s been spreading on Twitter faster than Anoroc ever could. Just tell me how this happened and I might consider coming there.”

Dr. Chadwick cleared his throat before answering. “Your test results came yesterday morning and we… yadda, yadda, yadda…” The doctor spoke some more. but all Dickie could make out from the long technical details were the words: “immune cells”, “antibodies” and “vaccine”. He finally came to Dickie’s initial question. “… and I told my wife about it. I didn’t know she had a whatsapp group of about 80 senior citizens. And the rest is that people have been sharing this story for the past ten hours or so. I am so sorry, but we had to make sure before we contacted you.”

“But, you tweeted as well.”

“I don’t have a Twitter account, Mr. Rowbotham,” he replied. “Please drop by today, as soon as possible.”

“Ok.” Dickie said before hanging up.

He ran his hand through his hair slowly as he could. God, how he missed these simplest actions. Fearing infection, he’d been refraining himself from touching his face or head for the past couple of months. Next, he binned the sanitizers in his house. He hated the smell, besides he didn’t need protection now. And the best of all, he didn’t have to isolate himself in a 2-bedroomed-house anymore. He wasn’t really a people person, but observing them from time to time while seated at a cafe, sipping his latte did make him feel a bit more joyous. Whistling to himself, he got dressed and got out without wearing the usual latex gloves. He walked all the way to the hospital.

It was way more crowded at the front door of the hospital. Media outlets, reporters, ordinary people who didn’t look sick swarmed the steps leading to the entrance. The security guards were not allowing anyone to pass. So, Dickie had to shout from the back to be able to get through:

“Hey! I am Dickie L. Rowbotham. Dr. Chadwick is expecting me!” The clamor instantly ended and every glare was pinned on him in no time.

People made way just enough for him to pass, but kept touching him; rubbing their hands all over him as he got closer to the security guards. Just before he reached the top step, one very attractive blonde held him by the collar, drew him towards her and gave him a firm, longish kiss, possibly with the intentions of healthy droplets transfer… A shortcut to immunity perhaps. A media reporter also made a move with her mike, but was blocked by one of the guards before he could take action. After presenting his ID, Dickie was taken to an empty waiting lounge. 5 minutes later, a couple of doctors showed up and introduced themselves. One was Dr. Chadwick, and the other one, the woman was Dr. Hill.

Dr. Hill was the one who spoke:

“Mr. Rowbotham, thank you for coming. We prepared a spacious room exclusive for you,” she smiled.

“A room?” Dickie echoed. “What for?”

“To start working on a cure right away, of course.” Dr. Chadwick said. “Your room has an en-suite bathroom and a marvelous view from its window.”

“No, I won’t be staying!” Dickie said raising his voice. “Just take my blood and let me go.”

“I’m afraid we can’t allow that.” Dr. Chadwick said as he signaled to a couple of orderlies in the distance. “You’re the cure and we’re doing this for the greater good.”

“Noooo!” Dickie shouted as the orderlies began dragging him to his isolated room.

“Don’t worry, the vaccine will be out and approved in less than a couple of years.” Dr. Hill smiled behind her mask. “The clock already started ticking!”

The Near-Death of Decent Content

The Near-Death of Decent Content

This article is a premature obituary of decent artistic content… in every aspect of our lives…

Decent Content in Entertainment and Art Forms

Early 21st century – 2020 (and ongoing/down-falling)

We have arrived at a crucial point in our mundane timeline when real and engaging content started slipping out of our existence at an ever accelerating pace… replaced by uninteresting shenanigans of the modern, content-less society.

Good content does not pay anymore…
Content does not pay anymore…
It has lost all its value…

Here’s why:

Leonardo created “La Giaconda (The Mona Lisa)” in a period from 1503 to 1517…it’s still the most visited attraction ever in one of the biggest museums in the world…

Circa 1500, Michelangelo carved out “David” giving life to a 5-meter (17 ft.), 6+ tons of marble… which still stands the test of time with all its glory…

And let’s not forget about other works of art created before the 21st century like “La Guernica” by Picasso or “The Scream” by Edward Munch… those were the times when art became alive…

In 2019… we had a browned-out banana taped onto a wall sold for $120000… The proud buyer and current owner defended the masterpiece as “… the unicorn of the art world…” Not only that he could have created a better piece with a fresh banana costing him less than a dollar, what would he do when the banana decomposes completely? Replacing the banana at regular intervals would certainly kill the originality of the fruity masterpiece…no?

Banart4
The Priceless Banana Art…

The sad thing is that renaissance art masterpieces or any good art is truly appreciated only by a handful of people… the others most likely swarm museums just to take selfies with the art, and to make their social media followers/friends jealous.

This is the death of art

Now, let’s have a quick look at the demise of writing… mainly script writing for contemporary Hollywood blockbusters…

Imagine a time 150 years + in the future when the only technological breakthrough seems to be modernized tanning beds capable of curing every disease while the world seems to have stuck in the 90s technology otherwise…

Or… a group of scientists land on a hostile alien world and one of them decides to pat a viper-like hissing monster with affection… and no… he wasn’t mind-controlled. How did he ever become a man of science anyway? Everything’s possible on big screen!

Or… a thin, feather weight ex-special forces operative lady takes on multiple trained assassins three times her size in hand-to-hand combat with a gaping gunshot wound in her leg.

Or… two science-enthusiast buddies invent a time machine and choose to travel 17 years into the past to allegedly stop a world-wide catastrophic event which started 25 years ago.

There are tons of examples of poor writing like the ones above in nearly all recent movies. Here’s the funny thing… all the titles exemplified previously have IMDb ratings of 6 and above. As people who gave high ratings are highly affectionate towards an actor or two in the production, no matter how bad the script is or how horribly the character is portrayed. Can you guess the titles of these three blockbusters (the last one is a series and not so popular like others)?

Music hasn’t been doing great either…

We tend to listen to the latest crap not because of musical or lyrical quality, but just because it blocks the ear-assassinating everyday clamor which is only a tad worse than what we pay for…

Right? Or… why would we just keep listening to band of mismatched instruments out-of-beat with lyrics like:

“Now you get to watch her leave out the window
Guess why they call it window pane…”

(I know I am going to be roasted by Eminem fans… but the word play on “pane” and “pain” is unbearable.)

Or…

“Are we humans?
Or are we dancer?”

(Or are you just untalented musicians with bad grammar?)

Lastly, check your favorite social media for good content… or just some content… I bet you’ll find none other than Instagram posts showing floor tiles with the tip of the big toe of the artist penetrating the shot from a corner with the message: “Good morning y’all!” Thousands of likes guaranteed…

floortoe

Or…

A tweet from a celebrity saying:

“Today is Saturday, tomorrow will be Sunday and then Monday.”

It must have been very informative, enlightening and inspiring indeed as it got tens of thousands of likes and nearly three thousand retweets shortly.

Or…

A young, good-looking youtuber making thousands of dollars monthly by blabbering about her dull daily routine.

So, what can be done to revive decent content? Is it too late?

Not yet. But it’s getting to a point of no return.

Just try not to appreciate horrible content because someone with good looks created it. The more we appreciate bad content, the more they will be encouraged to create even worse content. Support true artists for their art and good content (not because they are cool/famous/good-looking) as they need some boost to be even better.

The Overuse of Lexical Items in Describing Emotions

stop saying like

Language has never stopped evolving as more new words are added to the lexical pool every passing day. We are now using more words than ever, to express ourselves fully to one another. But, is it all necessary? Or are we simply dulling our senses and devolving ourselves, restricted by the limits of language itself?

In face-to-face encounters, language loses most of its function as actions take over the role of wordly structures. We never describe our actions in wordly forms when what we are doing at any given moment is so obvious. Imagine you’re in a cafe with someone, do you ever need the urge to make sentences like: “I’m now holding the cup of coffee with my left hand, preparing to take a sip.”?

Of course not, as each person is equipped with a behavioral decoder of their own. But, then again, why do we use words to describe our emotions to the other person accross the same table; saying we are happy, upset, depressed or scared… Have we disconnected and devolved so much that we can’t decode emotions without the aid of words anymore?

The joy of hugging someone and transferring our emotions in a silent harmony is what we should have been doing all along. “Wordless” does not mean it’s “worthless”, it’s just more. It’s actually feeling for each other.

We are taught to “apologize”, “praise”, “confront”, “encourage” and “congratulate” each other even before we start school… but even the words picked for such actions are random letters in tiresome, long sequences, …. difficult even to pronounce let alone understand each other’s feelings.

In writing good fiction, there’s one fundamental rule: “Show, don’t tell.” How come “showing” is more appreciated than “telling in words” at a medium where the reader and the writer is almost never in the same place?
Showing, not telling adds great value to writing, so,  perhaps, we should implement this rule to our daily lives for a change to enhance our personal relationships.

Finally,

Who is the culprit for demoting our emotions, then?

Is it the gibberish rules of society we are dictated since birth?

Is it the technological advancements causing the daily rush we find ourselves in, to get pointless things done in little time?

Is it because we are becoming more and more selfish and ignorant?

Whatever the cause, it is never late to share our feelings in an entangling bundle of limbs, enclosing two hearts within…

The Significance of Numbers in Literary Titles

Se8en

Numbers are never related solely to mathematics. They have the immense power to make literary works more alluring and certainly add a unique flavour to titles irreplaceable by any other non-mathematical word. Numbers are symbols… and we have always had a special liking to symbolism. Tip off 8 and you get eternity, Nine along with its mirror image make up a spiral heart…and so on.

Numbers also remove vagueness from stories and make them credible. Isn’t to say that there are 5,876,777,091 stars in our galaxy more credible than saying there are billions of stars in our galaxy, even if it’s not true.

The numbers in book titles, foreshadow events and attract readers subconsciously. Just look at the literary titles and my own explanations below and decide if any other number or word could replace these numbers in the title:

“20,000 Leagues under the Sea” : It couldn’t have had the effect if it were a different number. In the times of Jules Verne, 20,000 was a massive number and the reason why a round-up number was chosen is basically because it’s easier to say it out loud than “forty-five thousand” or any other inexact, massive number.

“Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves” : Not all the thieves in the story are indeed relevant to the story but it’s a credible and a huge number to describe the enormity of the bandits. Any number from 30 to 50 would have worked, but 40 does have a special ring in this case.

“The Three Musketeers”: Why is it the three musketeers when there were four? (Yes, I am counting D’Artagnan as one…) It’s simply because three is an odd number and it shows the balance could change when taking decisions. One side will always win.

“Two minutes to Midnight” : The title which is also the name of a popular rock song suggests the severity of the time running out as midnight symbolizes the end of something (at least the night..)

“A tale of Two Cities” : You can foresee the conflict brewing in the story by just looking at the title…

“The Thirteenth Tale” : 13 is associated with “unluckiness” hinting the unfortunate events to be unfolded in the story…

Never forget! A good story always begins with a good title…and the right number in the title…

On loneliness and ointments

Living alone has it pros and cons. We all know what they are so don’t expect me to write what we already know or can immediately think of. Recently, I have discovered the most horrible downside of living alone when trying to apply ointment to an aching back, my back. 

First of all, the saying “Scratch my back, and I’ll scratch yours” loses meaning. When you’re alone, you’re alone. Even your own shadow abandons you during daytime. And at night, it’s not much help for anything let alone providing comfort for your back in agony although it lurks right behind you just like an unwanted friend. 

Secondly, severe back pain limits your mobility. So, the only ally you have is your brain to figure out how to apply the medication (the ointment) to your sore back. 

Here’s a list of my failed attempts:

1. Spoons don’t really work unless you have ape like arms.

2. Ointment applied Ice cubes sliding down your back might worsen the problem rather than cure it. They’re cold.

3. Using the wall to get the ointment in the right spot almost works but you soon realize that you’re applying it onto the wall and not to your back. Besides, it hurts and the wall will soon have a nasty greasy patch. The wall is also cold. 

4. Do not ever swallow the ointment, there’s a reason why they write “For external use only” onto the box. 

5. Asking neighbors to rub your back in the middle of the night isn’t a marvelous idea as well. 

So, the only thing left to do is….start writing something no matter how stupid it is  (just like this entry) to reel your mind away from the pain… Aaaarghh… shouldn’t have mentioned the pain. 

Getting the ultimate taste in literary works!

We all love reading…. At least the ones who have found their way to this humble blog, do! As avid readers; we have read plain text and (like this first paragraph) let our imaginations run wild to visualize what the author had been trying to convey. That was when writing was a true art, which depended heavily on the author’s magic of using the right words in the right sequence. The key to some popular writers’ success was also due to their inclusion of the five senses into their writing; sight, smell, sound, touch and taste in comparison to using a two dimensional method of describing only sight. Look at the crappily written sample statements below and decide which one you favor:

  1. John opened the microwave door and took out the overcooked pizza. (Sight only)
  2. John opened the microwave door upon hearing the feeble bing, and a gush of hot air greeted his face. The burnt smell of the dark wheel inside made him regret setting the timer to 30 minutes instead of just 10. (Sight, sound and smell included – We also sense that it’s either John’s first time with the microwave or that he’s an idiot).

Anyway, with the emergence of graphic novels, writers had less worries about descriptions and plots became more engaging. Using pictures made the reader’s job easier.

sbam-mister-no-2

The image above (from the fumetti “Mister No” by Bonelli Comics) clearly outlines how the character feels although there is no text involved.

Now, you see what a mere image does to the story. Imagine adding all the senses to it. How would your reading experience be? Perhaps, books can have a list of items and maybe a soundtrack CD for readers to gather up before starting reading. Let’s say; whenever a character in the book bites into a decaying apple, the reader does, too. Feeling the rotten taste and the horrid feel it leaves in the mouth and fully experiencing the character’s feelings! That would be priceless.

No?

Before I finish, try rereading this post as described below:

I would recommend….

  • Listening to the song “Not to touch the Earth” by the Doors.
  • Making your environment really hot by either over-wearing thick clothes or turning up the heat on the AC.
  • You may also want to pour yourself an icy drink.
  • Then, wipe the accumulated sweat off your forehead with a smelly handkerchief

….while you’re reading this post. The points above summarize how I felt while I was writing this piece. Come on! I’m inviting you to invade my mind!

Why I am obsessed with time travel… and why you should be, too

IMG-20160521-WA0010-2

Being an avid reader/writer of cool science fiction stories, admiring traveling and having very little money most of the time could very well be used to describe some of my traits. I know I sound like a broke geek with the above description but I assure you I have a lot of other non-geeky qualities and likes, such as;….errr…..hmmm…..well….fantasizing about historical events.

Ok, now you can see how  my traits and time traveling meet up at a common point. Here’s why I can’t seem to keep myself away from thinking or writing about it:

  • I’ve always been a time-traveller, right from my birth to my current age. Although, I’ve only managed to travel forward in time in this period, it’s still a thing I’ve been doing so well for so long. And guess what? You’re just like me! (unless you are Benjamin Button)
  • There are endless possibilities in time travel and a whole, massive history of interesting times and events you can visit. You can run along dinosaurs, be on the Titanic when it sank, witness your grandpa hitting on your grannie or simply watch a good football match that you’ve missed,…live….
  • Paradoxes! Who doesn’t love a good time-travel paradox? Imagine, what would happen if you went back in time and shot Hitler before he rose into power? Hmmm…since you changed history by killing him, he wouldn’t have risen to power and we wouldn’t have heard about him in our time in the first place so that you couldn’t have gone back in time to kill him….Nice, right? What if you accidentally killed one of your ancestors? It’s good thought practice. Isn’t it?
  • You can read or write without paying attention to grammar as the statement “I’ll see you yesterday” would still be technically correct.
  • Believe me, there is always a good story in time travel. and tragedy. and mystery. and humor. and… every kind of emotion that you want to experience.
  • The best thing is that when you (read or write about) time travel, you won’t be spending a single penny. It’s indeed the cheapest way of vagabonding.

Can’t time-travel? Then, live your life to the fullest, make excellent memories, make love, take selfies (not necessarily in that order) and revisit your memories, thinking about all when you get older.