Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Why do I love this author?

Po Bronson is an amazing writer.

'What should I do with my life' had a seminal influence on mine. I happened to read it at a time when I too was asking that question. And it helped me realise the path I had chosen for myself was the right one after all.

Yes, starting JAM magazine had been the original dream. But somewhere along the way - caught up in the grind of running a magazine - I had stopped writing. And with that something inside me died.

'What should I do with my life' rekindled the chahat to write inside me. Besides the book, here's something Bronson wrote on his website titled "Advice on writing":

It takes an average of ten years dedication before you can make a living writing creatively full time. Even those who succeed early are often rewarded with praise too early, trapping them in a yet-to-mature phase as they attempt to repeat their success. It all evens out over time.

Finding a way to allow yourself the time, to buy time as you mature into your writing, is the biggest "how to".

That rang so true! I started freelancing when I was in college, had 100 published articles to my credit before I graduated - in every publication of the day from TOI to Sunday Oberver to Femina. I continued to write during my MBA, then on my first job (where else - Bennett Coleman & Co).

And then JAM happened but kaboom! I became more of an editorial manager than a writer. To begin with, JAM was meant to showcase the talents of college students and I wasn't one anymore. As time went by, I started having doubts about my ability to write for people much younger than me... And then about my ability to write itself.

Nothing I wrote sounded right to me. So I didn't.

To cut a long story short, I did find the courage to start writing again. And more importantly, the 'voice'. By voice I mean the confidence to let the sentences flow from somewhere inside me without agonising over every word. Without comparing myself to anyone else or their style of writing. Just being myself.

But a more tempered, sensitised and reasoned self than the younger me.

Here's what Bronson has to say once again which every writer must internalise:

Write from your whole self. If you have a sense of humor, make sure that flavor’s in your writing. If you like talking ideas, make sure there are ideas in your writing. Anything less will be unsustainable.

And here's another bit of advice I like:
Don't work up to your observations - don't save them for the last word. Start with them. Put your very best stuff first, and then force yourself to grow and synthesize and come up with more, more stuff to rival your best.

Here's one of the first pieces I wrote after I got into writer mode:

Life, liberty & pursuit of yuppieness (Businessworld March 2004)

And another... If you ain't a cat, don't worry! (, July 2004)

Both these articles quote from Bronson's book and this one I like in particular:

Individual success will not be attained by migrating to a particular 'hot' industry, or by adopting a particular career guiding mantra?

Instead, the individuals that thrive will do so because they focussed on the question of who they really are, and from that they found work that they truly love, and in so doing unleashed a productive and creative power they never imagined.

This is one of the arresting thoughts in the book I underlined with a pink marker. And it may sound strange but once in a few months I glance through the underlined paras of the book. And it inspires me, every time!

So there, this is the fan mail I should have written long ago but never got around to.

And as a fan I will definitely be picking up his new book 'Why do I love these people'? A book Bronson himself describes as "another in my unique style of social documentary, using incredibly real stories from ordinary people surviving the challenges of their family".

In short, a subject that could degenerate into a 'Chicken Soup for the Soul'. But, with Bronson writing you know he'll manage to carve out a 'big picture'. And yet make these ordinary people and their dilemmas come alive in a manner that makes you go "I know exactly what he's talking about".

Will let you know in case the book falls below expectation - am pretty sure it won't. Magar kya ummeed se dugni hai? Gimme a week's time to find out!

P.S Also read the amazing: Nudist on the Late shift by Po Bronson. Especially if you work in an IT company!


  1. Hi Rashmi,
    Sounds interesting ! Will look forward towards these reads in the forthcoming holidays only if i don't get tied up.
    Some of the liners you published in your post are quiet good and like you mentioned "oh i can relate to this" was the feeling while i kept glacing through them.

    Signing off,


  2. Hi Rashmi,

    Have read almost all your posts at Rediff. They are original, written with a lot of thoughfulness and offer a sensible advice to many 'aspiring youths'. Might add that i also find Mahesh Murthy of 'passion fund' having very similar ideas towards life. his columns in businessworld are no more visible but they were great nonetheless!
    keep writing!


  3. I've gone ahead and ordered the book online. I hope I don't regret this implusive purchase :-)

  4. Hey Rashmi,
    Thanks for the Po Bronson review. Heard a lot about him and his books but never actually got around to reading them. I guess it's high time I picked up some of his books.


  5. Hi Rashmi!!
    This his very co-incidental, but I too happened to read that book when I was searching for the right answer to "What should/could/may I do now?". I found the book truly amazing, especially Po's way of simple writing. None of his sentences were incomprehensible and I think you would also agree to it.
    And, here I would like to point out one more thing. I find your articles too very easy to read and comprehend. I think that is what differentiates a good writer from the not-so-good one. Your writings have been too good and one of the first few blogs that I read everyday is yours! Continue writing, and if possible, please allocate some space in your blog and post there, the articles that you have written in Business world (BW website is too unser-unfriendly to register and read and sometimes I miss buying the book and am not able to get it later.. )
    Keep up the great work!

    (PS: Is JAM available in Chennai?)

  6. sounds more like Steve Jobs-ian funda..

  7. Congratulations Rashmi, you've successfully slashdotted (or rather youthcurried) your geocities link!

  8. My home pc blocks pop-ups, so hard to use the blogger upload facility. Have done it now.

    Venkat - yes JAM is available in Chennai but not that widely. However u can subscribe to the mag. Details on top rt hand corner. Wait a week and we'll be accepting credit card payments as well

  9. Read the book "what should i do with my life" , but not that much impressed from the book , the book surely talks about the people who defied the norms and listened to their heart, but I am not sure how much of it does fit into Indian scenario........I mean where most of the individuals in west are independent , we carry a bundle of expectations from our family,friends,foes live up to that and think about youself...what does one really want in life??......thats very very difficult ( thats a personal experience ).

  10. I am a regular reader of your blogs and a fan of yours. I like your style of writing and the issues on which you write. I have recently started blogging and so please do check out my blogs at and please post your comments.

  11. hey rashmi;

    I know what you mean......i'd gone into that phase after my college days(graduation) got over....i didnt know what i wanted...a 'proper proper' corporate career or a creative also trying to balance my writing with my MBA and i havnt still truly made yup my mind........
    hey btw i've done something for tooo......dunno if uve ever read those articles?
    neways.....a good post.....

  12. What can i say?...except that a writer understands a writer's mind.
    Thanks a lot for an inspirational piece!

  13. im not too sure if i can write but this guy-Hugh Macloed- sure inspires me to remain creative, u must read his manifesto..'how to be creative' from not like the usual 'how to' books trust me

  14. hey rashmi! read your piece 'life, liberty and pursuit of yuppiness!'in bw. thought provoking and much needed. i guess the thing with our country is that upwardly apirations are so high that everyone wants to do an mba from the iim as a passport to 'achievement' as the world sees it. no one stops to think about what their talents, aptitudes or desires are, its all sacrificed in the mad rush to 'achieve'. hopefull articles such as yours, and books such as po's, will bring back some sanity into our society.

  15. I am unable to open the first article about 'What Should I Do With My Life. The link doesn't work. Is it really not working or is there is some problem on my side. Anyway found an article with similar writing on Is this the same?

    Anyway, hope you find your roots back soon. Keep blogging.

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