Monday, May 28, 2007

The school magazine is useless, unless you turn the pages into paper airplanes.

As you will no doubt conclude after perusing the following article, I engineered it to provoke within my english teacher reactions of extreme annoyance. It's fun, rather. Irritating her, I mean.

That was two parts Sherlock Holmes (clear-cut and precise) and one part Priyanka Kumar(confused as hell).


It all started when I was told to submit an article for the school magazine.

Writer’s Block, like a Bollywood song-and-dance sequence, strikes when least expected. It smacks you in the face just when you are about to get down to chewing your pen and staring dreamily at nothing in particular. You discover you don’t know what to write. You have nothing to say. You feel choked, and could do with some hot soup. You feel miserable and very, very tiny.

I knew I was in trouble when I couldn’t pen a twelve-line poem on nature. I knew I was in bigger trouble when I couldn’t write an article about global warming. I realized I knew nothing about global warming or nature, so I had better keep quiet about it. I fretted and fumed a little more, and made a very important discovery.

Writing an article for the school magazine is a daunting task. You have to make sure that you have pleased all parties who know you. Your teachers must be satisfied with the quality of your work, so it must be of a certain standard. Your friends must not disembowel you for using big words and shaming them, so it must be simple. The general public must not lynch you for writing four pages of rubbish just to annoy them, so it must be short. To cut a long story short, an article for a school magazine must be like the Japanese haiku – short, concise, and vague enough to make people think that you know what you are talking about.

And yes, the most difficult part is what kind of a literary masterpiece you give in. If you are writing a story, it must be a story that fits into two pages and doesn’t have a dog called Tommy in it. If you are submitting a poem, you have to make sure that it actually rhymes. If it doesn’t, you have to make sure it explores themes of disappointment and betrayal within the certified SFMP (Standards For Morbid Poetry) limit. You have to make sure that the jokes you submit induce an acceptable degree of laughter. You have to submit puzzles, riddles and crosswords with the correct answers. To top it all, you have to make it look like an effortless mission.

So what does a student do when faced with such a problem? Which corner does she cower in? And the most important question – WHAT does she write about?

I chewed on my pen more than necessary. I discarded one poem on examinations. I toyed with creating a cartoon strip. And I realized that I could write an article about writing an article. It seemed like a safe bet. Consider the average student, Student A, and her best friend, Student B, engaged in a conversation the day the school magazine comes out.

Student A: I wonder what this is? It’s called “An Article on an Article”

Student B: I don’t care. What do you have for lunch?

Student A (Running a practiced eye over the page): It looks like she’s written about writing an article.

Student B: I wouldn’t read that if I were you. What do you have for lunch?

Student A: No wait, it looks like she’s analysed the kind of articles people write for a school magazine.

Student B: She needs help. What do you have for lunch?

So you see, I face the world with a radiant countenance. I go unread, and do not get lynched. Sometimes, I suppose Writer’s Block helps.

5 kindred spirits have swallowed my rambling:

new age scheherazade said...

haha-that was a beauty shot. it's even worse when your bengali teacher asks(asks?hah) you to write some thing something and you have to wheedle your grandmom into helping.
anyway, my english teacher's given up asking me-she just submits my elective english assignments. and as she in a fit of madness made me an editor, i cut out anything that looks bad.
and that reminds me- I and my friends do have a comic srrip out in the magazine. It's called The Misadventures of the Powerbluff Girls.(A bit juvenile, yes.)
gosh.this is a huge comment. sorry.

raghu said...

hahahah.. once in 6th std i wrote a nice lil story(the ONLY work of fiction i have ever written) for the skool mag..but guess wat the teacher said that i had picked it off a bollywood masala flick.. but i hadnt.. :(

Priyanka Kumar said...

i slaved for the ed board, yes, and didnt even get a mention. sniff. THAT'S the last of the school spirit gone.

and @ raghu.. what was your masala flick story about? mean teacher, but what was the story?

raghu said...

two kiddo bros are playin when one of em is flicked by he becomes don n the other a policeman..there can be a million endings.. but i chose the happy one.. the policeman opens the eyes of the don n evry1 except the taecher is happy :P

Priyanka Kumar said...

well, too bad about your teacher. if she hadn't blown you cold, you might have written shantaram. life and possibilities.
i'm philosophising. not good.