How I write: Acknowledgements

This is part of a series of posts on how I write. I am not actually starting here. I just thought I’d acknowledge a book before the start.

The book in question is Language in Thought and Action and you should read it.

I try to be scrupulous about making acknowledgements. If I borrow an idea from somewhere, I mention the source when I talk of the idea.

But what if a bunch of ideas influences you so much that you use it virtually every time you think or write? You can’t help but be unfair to such those ideas, because you can’t possibly acknowledge them everytime you open your mouth.

Language in Thought and Action by S I Hayakawa is such a book. I will be using ideas and terms from the book very often, so I won’t spend more time explaining what the book is about, but you can read the first few pages here.

46 thoughts on “How I write: Acknowledgements

  1. S Nair

    Really unbelievable. You actually seem to believe there will be people interested in how you write? You have an ego that vast? And more unbelivable, there are actually some guys who line up to be instructed?

    Sudhakar Nair

  2. amit varma

    Sudhakar, if you’re here reading Ravi’s post, you obviously value what he writes. So why not be curious about the process by which this thing of value is created? Ravi is certainly no megalomaniac, and it is healthy for all writers/bloggers to be curious about how other writers/bloggers do what they do. I, for one, am curious to see how this series of posts unveils. Of course, I may be mediocre myself, in which case you might as well let mediocrity indulge itself by learning from other mediocrity. What harm can come?

  3. S Nair

    You guys scratch each others’ back, Amit. I’ll scratch my own. A post titled “How I write” is crying out to be lampooned. I’ll leave that too to you, if you like.

    Sudhakar Nair

  4. Nandan

    The Internet is Free Space, Sudhakar, for better or for worse. Go on, lampoon it.
    I, for one, really like the way Ravikiran writes, even though I may not always agree with him. And, assuming Ravi’s ego is that vast and there are people lining up to read, what of it? My point: what’s your point, dude?

  5. JK

    I have been waiting here holding my breath for Ravi’s article on how he writes and there are people wondering if anyone would be interested, and that too a Mallu!

  6. S Nair

    Nandan — I already did lampoon it. here on the Net and elsewhere. My point is simple and may be repeated if your dil chahta hai: a post titled “How I write” deserves to be lampooned. But I also am aware that there are Ravikiran’s admirers who will queue up for the words of wisdom.

    “That too a Mallu” … is this for real? Here’s someone deciding to tell the world how he writes, and here’s one of his fan club offering up a “That too a Mallu!” This is priceless! Must remember to bookmark and come back here oftener.

    Sudhakar Nair

  7. Ravikiran Rao Post author

    Look, if you want to lampoon, go ahead and lampoon. It is most indecorous to get into an argument about it.
    If you go through my archives, you will notice that there is a good reason that I have an almost cultlike following among my Mallu fans. The fact that you don’t know this indicates quite clearly that you are not a true mallu, notwithstanding your name.

  8. Nandan

    Err…Sudhakar, if your point was that a post deserves to be lampooned, let’s just say it was not necessary to be told. I’ll let you in a secret: most bloggers know it.
    And if you have already lampooned it somewhere, please provide the url. I am all for a good laugh and am sure I will not be dissapointed. I am ready to queue up for your words of satire or humour, if they are good enough.

  9. amit varma

    You guys scratch each others’ back, Amit. I’ll scratch my own.

    Er, ok Sudhakar, but why are you coming back here repeatedly to watch us scratch each other’s back then, voyeuristically? You sure you don’t secretly crave a piece of the action?

    And JK’s remark about malluness was obviously tongue-in-cheek, meant to be funny.

    The point being, Ravi has a right to write what he wants, and you have a right to lampoon it. So give us the URL, and we’ll have a genial laugh at Ravi’s expense. Give, give.

  10. S Nair

    I will HAVE to search for a better adjective than “priceless” now…. Not only does Ravikiran decide to instruct the world on how he writes, but he also announces that he has a “cultlike” following among his Mallu fans. Wow-zie! I also have to look for a better adjective for this ego than “vast”.

    And Ravikiran also devises a test for Mallu-ness: whether you know about his cultlike following. Wow-zie again!

    You’re right, Ravikiran. I haven’t gone through your archives, I didn’t know about your cultlike fans, and therefore, I’m not a real Mallu. I’m crushed like you would not believe!

    But be sure, I will not miss a single post of yours from now on out – I want my dose of free entertainment like this. Will you then anoint me a true Mallu? Please?

    And you have guys who actually leap up and ask “where have you lampooned it?” Fine: by email to a whole bunhc of friends (hope you noticed the spike in your hits, Ravikiran. Thank me for that and please pronounce me a Mallu). And also here.

  11. amit varma

    Ravi has a cultlike following among some non-mallus also, who are thereby confirmed as honorary mallus, and get discounts at hotels across Kerela. They also get free massages from hot mallu – or honorary mallu – women, or boys if they so prefer, or even mallu goats, some of whom are literate.

    Okay Sudhakar, since you have such a severe irony deficiency, as Ravi would call it, take the above para at face value and lampoon the hell out of me too, and get all outraged and sanctimonious. And having done that, if you can quit taking personal potshots at Ravi for just a minute, answer this question: why do you visit his blog regularly if you don’t value what he writes?

  12. S Nair

    My dear Amit —

    You ask me, “Why do you visit his blog regularly if you don’t value what he writes?”

    But I *do* value what he writes! I said already, I’m not going to miss a single post from here on out. I also said already, I’m going to bookmark this. (Which is done). You remember that?

    “Indecorous”, “cultlike”, a Mallu test, “Severe irony deficiency”, “outraged and sanctimonious”, this gets better and better!

    Sudhakar Nair

  13. amit varma

    (My dear) Sudhakar

    My mistake. I never realised that you’re actually a fan of Ravi’s, and perhaps even a mallu, and were just fooling with us. As Ravi would no doubt say if he thought of it first, “the medium is the massage”. Get the oils, and come lie down.

  14. S Nair

    Everybody’s dear Ravikiran,

    You ask, “When are you going to lampoon my post?” As I said, I already did. Shouldn’t a man who offers instruction on how he writes know that? Or would that be indecorous? In any case, you will find the lampooning via this link.

    My dear Amit, you got that quote wrong. What it really is, is this: “The medu-vada is the massage.”

    Sudhakar Nair

  15. Ravikiran Rao Post author

    Oh… Now I understand. The entire source of the confusion lay in the fact that I did not understand that you had already finished with the lampooning.

    I am not much of an expert on lampoons you see. I am only dimly aware of the difference between a lampoon and a lamppost. Your lampooning did not look like any of the other lampoons that I saw. I won’t presume to speak for my other fans, but if I would venture a guess, they too committed the same error.

    This incident has been a learning experience for me. This has added a new perspective to that age-old philosophical question viz, if a lampoon falls in the middle of a forest and does not fall on anyone’s head, is it still a lamppost?

  16. S Nair

    Ravikiran, I shall be brave and hazard a wild guess. You’re trying your hand at sarcasm and humour too?

    And sure, you won’t presume to speak for your other fans, but you do so anyway. Also humour?

    I shall never be finished with the lampooning.

    Sudhakar Nair

  17. Sibyl

    Let me add my late comment to this mess!
    This is how I see it as a new reader of The Examined Life.

    -> The fact that I am reading a post on a blog does not mean I find it valuable. I am merely trying to gauge if it is valuable to me, and I may decide either way later on.

    If someone states that he is going to write about how he writes, what comes to my mind is “Who is he?”, “What are his credentials that he thinks he can instruct/illuminate?” I go through his archives to see if I can see anything. But, like Sudhakar, I fail to find anything that impresses.
    That, I think, is Sudhakar’s point by adding his comment–asking why Ravikiran thinks he should write about this.

    -> On the other hand, if people say yes, we like this chappie’s writing and we want to know about how he does it, I reckon questioners like Sudhakar have got their answer. Sudhakar, *anything* can “cry out to be lampooned”–I don’t think that is reason enough to lampoon. You would’ve made a better point by saying something like “Ok, I guess I don’t see anything whiz-bang about this guy’s writing, but if you guys do, go ahead and enjoy yourself. I, however, remain unconvinced.”

  18. JK

    Ravikiran, besides the CAPTCHA system, you need to install an IQ tester also. That should keep most of these Mallus away.

    But then on the other hand, how else will we get free entertainment.

  19. Manish


    When I read your comment, my question was, “who is Sibyl”, “What are his credentials that he can write a comment on such an eminent blog”. But still I read your comment and found nothing to impress me. Are you also a low IQ humor impaired Mallu ?

  20. Ravikiran Rao Post author

    Manish, I think that making comments about people’s IQ is slightly over the top, especially as Sibyl, being a new reader, may not get the joke. JK is allowed to, by the way, as he is a Mallu himself.

  21. Ravikiran Rao Post author

    JK, incidentally, I’ve had to delete a comment for being offensive only once in the history of this blog. That was from a Mallu who took offense about some silly Mallu joke and started making mother-sister comments.

  22. S Nair

    How did this sudden flood of comments come about?

    Sibyl, if people want to learn from Ravikiran’s writing, let them! (Take Manish, for example — he’s the perfect possible student). I’m not even making a comment on the quality of his wriitng. I’m just amused by a guy who pronounces to the world, “I’m going to tell you how I write.” And actually then, it is that pronouncement that says something about his writing. And that is reinforced by all that’s above.

    Sudhakar Nair

  23. Ravikiran Rao Post author

    Sudhakar, it might be useful to put your last comment into a flow-chart format. The linkages of cause-and-effect are rather interesting and somewhat bewildering.

  24. Ravikiran Rao Post author

    Please don’t call people trolls Patrix. All my commentors bring in unique and valuable perspectives.

    I have learnt a lot from Sudhakar Nair on how to properly conduct a lampooning, the proper care and feeding of a lampoon and the various pitfalls to avoid in the process of a successful lampoon.

  25. S Nair

    My dear Ravikiran,

    *When* are you going to do your series on how you write? I’m waiting! So are all your fans. Come on, let’s go!

    Also please do not stop Patrix from calling people trolls. I am a troll and proud of it. I notice that it helps me fool people into thinking they are smart, and funny. Do you also think I’m “Sudhakar”, Ravikiran? Very smart of you!!! Why at all should I deliberately conceal my identity when guys so easily think I am doing it anyway?

    But leave all that alone. Please let’s see some instruction on how you write.

    “Sudhakar” Nair

  26. Manish

    “I’m Waiting”. There is only one person who has used that line often and often in comments.

  27. Ravikiran Rao Post author

    Are you into numerology now Sudhakar? Why did you change your name to “Sudhakar” Sudhakar? And how are we supposed to pronounce “Sudhakar” Sudhakar?

  28. seven_times_six

    Why did you change your name to “Sudhakar” Sudhakar?

    Maybe he misunderstood when his doctor told him to take supplements coz of his irony deficiency.

  29. Murli Adury

    My opinion of Ravi’s writing: lacks subtelety. The slogan on his blog says it all: “where I torture reality till it confesses the truth”. What the hell does that mean anyway? The images that come to mind are rather macabre. Confusing metaphors also make their appearance once in a while such as : “I have come to bury Gandhi” (or maybe it was Nehru). Never mind the fact that they have been cremated like most Hindus and the nation has moved on and away from their ideas. The problem with all of the sloganeering is that reduces the power of his arguments which are the true strength of his writing. His responses to critics are sometimes equally frightening and seem to come accompanied by a textual sneer. Not necessary.

    – Murli

  30. seven_times_six

    Adury, you accuse him of lacking subtlety by retorting on the literal sense of RR’s metaphorical (and subtle) remarks?

    But really the more important question: Is Adury a Mallu?

  31. Niket

    I have been following these comments for quite a while now. But they seem to get better and better, especially after the Blog Mela nomination.

    I regularly visit the “Old boys club” (Ref: and some evolution blogs. Therefore, I just ROFLMAO on picturizing SN’s comment:
    “You guys scratch each others’ back, Amit.”
    Evolution has won! We found the missing link in the *Cartel*.

  32. Murli Adury


    The intent of my comment on Ravikiran’s writing is that there is a lot of unnecessary grandstanding. The fewer the embellishments the better off his message would be.

    – Murli

  33. RR

    Summing up:

    “Sudhakar” Nair repeatedly threatened to lampoon RRao, but failed to deliver the goods.

    He sounded like a pugilist who meant business. Rolled up his sleeves, yelled war-whoops, spat and swore a lot, pranced around punching the air, got himself all red in the face. And after all that impressive performance, jumped out of the ring and whoooosh! vamoosed.

    No show. I want my money back.

  34. S Nair

    My Dear Ravikiran,

    I am *STILL* waiting for your iunstruction, sir! You and subtle?? What a concept. 7 times six, think up something else. This is a chap who tortures reality! aaaaah, I’m feeling tortured!!

    RR, you again! here’s your money back. I didn’t show. Not here. Not writting this. Jumped out of ring. Vamoosed, then va-elked. Sum up that, got it?

    But enuf of this! Please my dear Ravikiran, start up your instruction series?

    Sudhakar Nair

  35. uspeed

    excerpted from comments at MadMan’s blog,

    >> Did you not read what I wrote? We know who you are, D-man!

    OK, I am just guessing here, but is Sudhakar Nair aka Dilp D’Souza ? 😀

    I mean, “certain left leaning socialist writer whom we all know and love”, and “D-man..”..

  36. RR

    Can’t be. S Nair truly appears to be sarcasm-challenged. I refuse to believe that such traits as those that snair exhibits can be faked. There’s an air of originality about them. It must have been he who inspired the coining of the word, “sarchasm”.

    D’Souza on the other hand spends 22 hours a day writing cutting-edge sarcastic prose, the reamining 4 hours being spent in penning cutting-edge satire, parody, comedy and tragedy, in that order. Now I bet S Nair is going to tell me that the numbers don’t add up.

  37. S Nair

    I see that more people are being fooled! Yay!! But not RR, who is an OLD friend. RR, of course your numbers add up. 22 + 4 makes 27, didn’t you know? Thank me for filling you in.

    I’ll make an offer to all those I have successfuly fooled till now: meet me for an icecream (my treat, naturally!) one evening soon. Let us compare notes then on who is whom. What do you say?

    But my dear Ravikiran, you need not wait. Please please please start your instruction! don’t make me hang around in tension.

    And have a terrific day.

    Sudhakar Nair

  38. RR

    RR, of course your numbers add up. 22 + 4 makes 27, didn’t you know?

    Ha. Good one dude! ROTFLMAO! Conclusively proves that you aren’t D’Souza. Anybody who makes people laugh can’t be a D’Souza. A Briganza maybe, or some other stanza, but not D’Souza.

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