Friday, August 18, 2006

right to live. live to write

A pen. A paper. And you're ready to write? Alright, some food for thought.

Is it that simple? (rhetoric)

Writing at all times is a personal experience. But within that there are so many demands to be met and so many things to be kept in mind. In school it was to write some sense in 350 words. In college it was to stretch out 'one liner' answers into full pages until the examiner got so confused in your clap-trap he was convinced "iss bandey mein kuch hai". And all the time we never really had to think

Unfortunately, if you want to write..no I mean really write..no you still didn't get me.. i mean really, truly write then the situation gets a trifle tricky.

Pen, paper and food for thought are all mandatory ingredients but you need that something..that spark to ignite the fuse.. and then write as it sets your imagination on fire. Then repeat the process over and over again until it becomes a habit, a second skin. I'm not sure where to get that and I doubt attending creative writing classes help.

Sometimes, or maybe at most times, its easier to write pages about one incident, like in real time, than club huge chunks of time in a single paragraph. When you recount an anecdote there loom a thousand finer points. Some important, or rather relevant to the story, and some not so. Its absolutely necessary to thresh the chaff from the grain. Because if you don't the reader may look upto the wrong pointers to relate to. And in the end, its how much anyone relates to, or understands what you want to say, that makes him harbour any feeling from adoration, love to hate, disgust for your work.

Midnight's Chilren is a brilliantly written book. Its a veritable training module on how to narrate. Yet when I first tried to read it, it just left me with a collection of new words. And when I asked a few of my friends they shared my sentiments ( and I was relieved!). But guess what? It has won the 'Booker of Bookers' award. That means it has been held as the best book to have won the Booker prize in its first 25 years. Yet more people (atleast in the 20-30 group) must've read 'One Night at a Call Centre' and maybe even enjoyed.

Does it say anything about the readers or is there something wrong with being critically acclaimed?

Its the same thing as masala potboilers setting box-offices on fire and crtically hailed, landmark movies coming a cropper at the marquee. Filmmakers never blame the viewers when serious and good cinema falls flat on its face. Instead they say the audiences' taste is different or may be there was something wanting in their product. Its called biting the bullet

It can happen with anyone with creative products to sell for a living ( I mean arts..so all you engineers, doctors, MBAs dont come at me..). But when you're at it, when you're writing...no I mean really really writing... thats the last thing that comes to your mind. You don't measure yourself by any standards. And all you need is just a pen and paper. Because an imagination has run amok. A storm has been raged. You can't ever catch the wind, can you?

I'll end with this piece from 'The God of Small Things'

"Anything's possible in Human Nature," Chacko said in his Reading Aloud voice. Talking to the darkness now, suddenly insensitive to his little fountain-haired niece. "Love. Madness. Hope. Infinite joy."

Of the four things that were Possible in Human Nature, Rahel thought that Infinite Joy sounded the saddest. Perhaps because of the way Chacko said it.

Infinite Joy. With a church sound to it. Like a sad fish with fins all over.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

you seem to be very passionate about writing and considering that you're an engineer yourself i'm amused by the distance you keep while referring to them e.g all you engineers, doctors, MBAs dont come at me

what kind of book are you writing if i may ask you?

shantanu said...

hey...you know i wouldn't agree with the filtering thing that you are talking about...in a way..there are various things about your personality that reflect in your wtiting..some voluntary some not so.....i know what you want to do is try and ensure that the reader is able to follow your line of thought and not get lost somewhere else....but look at it this way...the reader wil get bored if..throughout the book you keep on pursuing the same thread....without leaving any space for the reader...to me writing a book is very much instinctive...and as you yourself mentioned about the midnight's children thing.....
2 things u know...
i think its wrong to try and cater to your readers...
and i'm writing such a long comment because in my opinion i think that such thoughts hamper creativity...so i am fully willing to debate with you on this point...to (hopefully) convinve you..

satyajit said...

what i want to say that is there must be something that u want to say more than anything else in a story..so better make sure that thing isnt lost among all the other things that u also convey..its not necessarily abt enforcing its importance, or relevance, by repitition but by the way you use language

i agree writing is instinctive..so many times u hit upon the perfect phrase when there is no prelude to the thought process.. but all those thoughts cant be put in a coherent way..so many times a good line has to be forsaken for better clarity, for better link..the most painstaking part is arranging all those nuggets into a proper story..no wonder it takes years to write a 300 page book..catering or not catering is beside the point..writing a good story is the most important objective

i would want to know if i've answered pertinently :) because if not then i would surely want to..

PritS said...

i cant say much on what you have written... just that sometimes even i feel the same.

Ravi Shekhar said...

i can understand more in ur comments then actually in the blog and i agree with that..
the other thing i could figure out and agree is that lots of really acclaimed book are really not enjoyed by all readers including me.

shantanu said...

hey...will reply to ur reply...but mean time..i think u'll be able to identify with my new post....

kaushik said...

rushdie is sort of un-understandable...
but the bits and pieces of midnights children that i understood was really beautiful!!

and GOd of small things ROCKS!!