Friday, June 16, 2006

deconstructing Writers

Writers drawing inspiration from their experiences sounds familiar. Expansion of imagination (seems like something esoteric :-)) is mostly triggered by happenings, occurences, episodes - personal or otherwise; experience furnishes the seeds which germinate into plots and leitmotifs.

Reality oozes out of fiction. Characters are infused with the DNA of people who've shared treasures of life with the author; people who've let their secrets out, bared their idiosyncrasies and hence, have made themselves vulnerable. Even with the elbowroom of artistic license isnt there a moral obligation not to scrape open wounds in public?

Imagine someone who finds his habits laid bare across the pages of a book, the pages flipped through by many unknown hands, and judgements dispensed. Picture your old flame reading about the details of his/her love life on the stands with a syllable of his/her name changed for consolation (watch 'deconstructing harry' if you find it difficult to visualise).
I'm sure there is a palpable anguish because any linen, dirty or not, washed in public makes the waters murky.

Then there is the problem of perspective. In a work of fiction based on or inspired from real people, what you read is only one man's - the author's - point of view. Whether the portrayal is true to reality or not is extraneous; what matters is that it's been rendered the way only one person sees it. For instance, if its about the author's family then the overriding feeling within, especially if some old skeletons have crawled out onto the pages, is:

One of 'us' has suddenly alienated himself and judged 'us' from the outside.

Is this a breach of trust? Or isnt this a breach of trust?

From the writer's standpoint, is it an occupational hazard?

(No I'm not playing the devil's advocate)

The somewhat morbid demands of his occupaton, to speak matter of factly. He can conjure up fictitious names and add a few traits here and there but for authenticity he has to go back to his original subjects. For the writer working on his magnum opus there's nothing richer than his experiences. He draws ideas from it unapologetically like a prodigal son drains his rich dad's treasures. We all want to be heard and understood. We strive for means to this end. With writers, being read and interpreted arrives as an accompaniment to their work. Their understanding of the world and its people is duely reflected in their words. If they cease to paint their characters in solid, sure shades, or refuse to draw from experience it may very well mean the death of their imagination.

Would 'The God Of Small Things' have been as beautiful a book if Arundhati Roy hadn't based it upon what she went through as a child? Would Baby Kochamma have been as crookedly life-like?

It's a fascinating subject (with no final word on it) that breathes just beneath the surface and stands bolt upright time and again.

P.S: I just realised this blog is a quarter-of-a-century posts young. I've mulled over a bit, taken great pleasure in the process of it, and hopefully, my grammar has improved along the way.


PritS said...

I can imagine now, how one writer is in dilemna of Right vs Wrong, or Real v/s Fiction?It is very easy to cross the fine line between the two.

I dont know about your grammar, but my english and vocab will improve for sure after reading your blog daily.

keep writing :)

satyajit said...

It's scary but really you never know when the ghosts of your past start becoming characters of your present. Even if you are writing 'fantasy' the dust that'll settle on the ground of your imagination will be from another world - your real world.