Chucking the Ropes

Hello! My first blogpost is about chucking the ropes (as opposed to learning the ropes!), in this case, about how I unlearned some of the advice I received regarding writing and submitting!

I studied in (what is called in India) an English-medium school, which is not the same as a convent, and hence we were taught English as a language of communication, not too strict with usage and grammar. Thankful for that, because it was liberating. We use our native tongue just the way we like, bending and breaking rules, don’t we? So we could with English! To my surprise, I found most of the publishing industry outside, allows a little tweaking, noun used as verb, innovative use of a word etc. Hence I learnt not to fuss over the language too much, even though it is foreign! Maybe you can make your voice your own rope ladder! For instance, in my New Flash Fiction Review piece here , I used the sentence, “I devoured the sight of the galaxies accelerating away from each other.” The Editor Charmaine Wilkerson had some reservations initially about the word ‘devour’, as it is used to mean eating, but I wanted that image of eating greedily, so she let me use it.

Secondly, writing what comes to mind, inspired by the most mundane or the suddenly profound, helps a lot. I’ve found that it is also one kind of unlearning — how not to be too daunted by the rules of writing per se, like where to begin, what counts as stand-out opening line, and so-on. ‘Mom lets us grind the spices not because she wants us girls to have fun in the kitchen but because she could do with some help.’ This opening line in my story for FewerThan500 was not found good enough by the mag’s readers, as it did not give a hint of tension, which some say is a must, a hook line to persuade the reader to keep reading, But the editor let me keep it, saying, “I think the final reviewer did not understand the story, I would not change anything based on those comments.”

And lastly, trust your instincts and observations. Build your own style, construct your own rules and see what clicks. Enjoy the journey, happy writing!

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