Paying attention is particularly challenging for me when I am reading a book. It’s one of the steep ADHD mountains I always struggle to climb. Although I have got better at it over the years, there was a time I only picked up a book on certain days when the WIFI was down, the weather was gloomy, and my coffee was hot. Else, I used to read one paragraph over and over again, until I fell in the deep chasms of my own fantasy, where things were easy to understand and made more sense than a Murakami novel.
To be honest, it’s not always my fault. I do sometimes pick up really bad novels at the airport. The impulsive buyer inside me is more of a superstitious imposter. He thinks, if he doesn’t purchase a book at the airport and start reading it straightaway while standing in the boarding line giving commoners a complex, then somehow the plane will crash and it will all be his fault. The only pertinent things post the crash will be the black-box and his unfulfilled remorseful desires to read a book hovering over it.
So, I am reading that novel, alright. I am paying attention for say, some good thirty-seven seconds. During this time, the whole world around me has ceased to exist. It’s just me and my breath, and of course the cologne of these words sprinkled over these pages. I don’t feel any eyes on me and nothing distracts me at all. You could strip me down, doodle a penis on my face, and stuff my pet in an oven and turn it on and I wouldn’t pay attention. However, on the thirty-eighth second, something happens. Maybe the author uses the word, “suddenly”, to describe an expected set of mundane events. It throws me off. I suddenly stop reading it.
If you ask me, any story could do without the word “suddenly”. Nothing should happen – suddenly. We don’t need that word at all. I suddenly realized that. John doesn’t suddenly need to walk inside the room, sit down on his green couch and leave the door ajar. Too much of foreplay makes me sleep with my eyes open. Let’s get on with the fellatio already. Plus, there is so much fat in a sentence like that, I could take it for a jog, or make it a “before” picture in a fitness commercial. I mean, cut out the irrelevant details and give me just the bones and flesh Mr. Author. Start with getting rid of the word, “suddenly”. The belly fat of all the fats. Let John enter the room normally, but again, don’t mention the word “normally” either. Unless of course you have told me before that John is a habitual dancer and a hardcore nudist. So he likes to moonwalk into the room butt-naked from time to time. Also, remove the “down” bit. John doesn’t want to stand “up” on the couch. Does he? That’s just awful manners. His mom would be furious. And why does John have a green couch in the first place? Who the fuck has a green couch? Not me! I have a beige couch with disgusting patches of green on the corners of it. Or as the eloquent mouths who are supremely anal about colour gradients and their respective made-up fancy names have told me, “these are moss green patches”, followed by my perplexed look and a quizzical “huh?”, followed by their explanation, “it’s fungus, dude!”
Anyway, so John sat on his couch. That’s how much I needed to know. It’s now fat free. I can understand what the hell is going on and I have paid minimum attention to it. Great! But I have a question; why is John sitting? Doesn’t this guy have a job to do, like the rest of us? So, cut out the “sitting” bit too. Now you’re just left with John. There you go! There is John and that’s all. That’s all I needed to know. Keep it to the point. Catch my attention using the least amount of words. Artistic-descriptive creative writing is great but shred the fat for me and that would save me from analysis-paralysis. What I mean to say is, I am a consumer and you’re a brand. You’ve approximately nine seconds to grab my attention or else, I am on to the next one, in which case, I am also like Jay-Z.