I had never heard of Elizabeth Gilbert till this evening, when someone mailed me a link to a piece in which she has expressed her thoughts on writing and getting published. She seems to be a writer of some standing: clearly, I don't keep track of the literary world well enough even though I aspire to be its resident some day. But then, it is not mandatory to know about the existence of Jeffrey Archer in order to become a writer.
I don't know about Ms Gilbert's books, but her piece will certainly light lamps of hopes in the hearts of those who read it; maybe even change their lives. Read it at leisure, I have given the link in the previous para, but I would like to reproduce the bit that fucked my mind:
I have a friend who’s an Italian filmmaker of great artistic sensibility. After years of struggling to get his films made, he sent an anguished letter to his hero, the brilliant (and perhaps half-insane) German filmmaker Werner Herzog. My friend complained about how difficult it is these days to be an independent filmmaker, how hard it is to find government arts grants, how the audiences have all been ruined by Hollywood and how the world has lost its taste…etc, etc. Herzog wrote back a personal letter to my friend that essentially ran along these lines: "Quit your complaining. It’s not the world’s fault that you wanted to be an artist. It’s not the world’s job to enjoy the films you make, and it's certainly not the world’s obligation to pay for your dreams. Nobody wants to hear it. Steal a camera if you have to, but stop whining and get back to work."
If you listen to Herzog, then 90 percent of your problems in life are taken care of. You will never blame the world again for your stroke of misfortune. The world has no time for you: it won't even notice your existence and will unknowingly trample over you. You have to give the world what it likes; don't expect it to pamper you.
That is why I feel sorry for people who look down upon Manmohan Desai or Subhash Ghai and wax eloquent about Satyajit Ray or Mrinal Sen. Manmohan Desai was not a fool: he too could have made art films, but he wanted to entertain the lay Indian, even if it meant weaving a story around incredible coincidences. And he succeeded, because he gave the world what it wanted. Even today, I would not want to watch a Mrinal Sen film even if I was paid for it, but I would gladly watch Amar Akbar Anthony for the 59th time.
Art film directors, not surprisingly, have always been bitter about the shabby treatment meted out to them. But they simply refused to see the truth: why should a bank employee or a mill worker, who is already burdened by problems thrown up by life, like to spend time and money on watching films that only portrayed problems? The new crop of directors, however, understand this. That is why they make films that are a cross between commercial and art cinema -- we know it as the multiplex cinema. They have an impressive star cast, music that smells like fresh flowers and a story that makes you think. When people walk out of the theatre, no one complains, because the films have something for everyone.
So next time, when you feel neglected or ignored, don't blame the world. Just peep into your mind and be honest with yourself. A child doesn't necessarily go to sleep just because it is required to go to sleep at a certain hour. There are times when you need to tell the child a story. So tell that story to the world. It will listen to you. That's something I learned, rather relearned, today, thanks to Ms Gilbert.