I am scraping my brain for words to write this article. There is this mystifying cacophony of croaking frogs and playful crickets that is getting drenched in rain as I’m typing. The night that was a dome, jeweled with sparkling stars, is now spotless and dark with clouds. Well, its the night and it ought to be dark. Well, night… it now stands like a beautiful seductress drenched in rain. But not so long back did I start enjoying these little nuances of nature. Not so long back did I start feeling the music and rhythm of rain; in its drop and within those drops. Not so long did I start loving the process of writing.
Earlier I would hear the rain, but would never listen to it. Now I’m listening to its music- splotch splotch splotch!!! Earlier the wind would just blow, but now it sings, whistles and roars. Is it not boring to sit for long hours in front of computer typing nothing? I have serious experience of standing over the epitome of boredom when mind brims with words and stories, but the fingers would simply stop inert. Imagine you got a bundle of brand new A4 sheets right in front of you, waiting eagerly for that FIRST KISS from your Parker pen. And what if those fragrant white sheets seduced your hand to put some ink on them and make the nib REALLY KISS their body? How devastating you would feel if your imagination failed to put a single word on to that sheet? It is really tiring and even frustrating I would say. To sit in a room and do nothing but make your fingers dance over keypad of your laptop spitting meaningless words on the monitor. Or just keep rolling your pen in your hand, churning your brain, searching for the right word to begin with- it rots, it sucks and if it was a gun and not a pen, would enjoy the sound of a bullet cracking my skull. But there is something convincingly beautiful in this pain. Let me assure you, the ‘beauty’ part of the pain comes as an incentive when words scream over your screen or when the ink smears on your paper. It is a pain but then an intoxicating pain.
Words. Words. Words. There is no world without words.A mute world is deaf world too. We all love reading books, swimming deep in those beautiful lines is nothing but an ecstasy. As we read, we get this creepy feeling for writing something of the sorts that our idols have gifted us in the form of novels/ stories/fiction or books…whatever you call them. I mean…I got rooted over the years, like an old tree discussing books, authors and stories with likes of myself. I go for a movie and it is not the movie that I see there but a story that could be penned down. There is this endless brooding over inability to write anything when there is so much down there locked in my mind. It makes me damn crazy. But one day I read an article written by Anita Nair and her advice to aspiring author’s was this :
“Don’t talk about your book, just write it”
And that just changed the way I used to ‘think’ about writing. In that article she talks of procrastination as the biggest hurdle that stands between a young writer and his book. That’s when I started seriously writing… no you can call that jotting down things. And the beginning part is agonizingly slow. You grapple for words, you choke and you suffocate, but in the end it will not be the words that flows with you, but you who will be flowing with the words!!! I started writing and the pure joy that is derived from cannot be explained in words. And after killing the devil of “will do it tomorrow”, it’s all the more fun. I just felt like my brain just opened it’s windows to an all new beautiful dimension. Churning out the stories, meaningless stupid ones in the beginning. But refinement and meticulous plotting eventually kicks in. And then there is this pure joy of writing. Writing a story -silly, funny, smart or mind blowing just don’t care. Then the big one comes- your first novel. Giving it to your Mom, Dad, friends to read and getting a review. Even a rejection letter/mail from a publisher is sweet. You have your story in your hand. a story that was locked down there, deep in your mind even without your explicit knowledge of its existence is right there in front of you. What can be more satisfying? What can be more pleasing? The answer is- Nothing.
As human beings, we all have stories to tell. About mountains, about myths and mythologies, about the common man, about fairies and angels and spirits and vampires….well who knows, this universe itself may be a big, huge story and we are just characters in its gigantic plot? Let’s give this world our stories. Forget intellectuals, forget great writers, kick the fear of committing mistakes, forget what critics would say, forget what the society would whisper and write your story TODAY…NOW!!! Maybe there are better writers than you. There is a possibility that you are the worst writer who ever walked this planet. Pseudo intellects and writers who are technically suave and who can play with the language like expert jugglers may laugh at you…mock you. But there is one thing they cannot do. And that is – tell your story. Only you can tell your story and there ain’t nobody better than you to do that.
Today we can see a generation that has alienated itself from to reading. The have closed themselves in that small cocoon of their own world. They seldom go out to play or mingle with other children of their age. In those four walls of their house and classroom, they run a race against themselves and collapse crashing against their parent’s expectations. Many a times they don’t even know what is expected of them. They do not hear stories from their grandparents- those old folklores and stories about the hen, fox and dog who were friends are all but gone. Life is nothing more than the food they have watching Japanese Manga Cartoon shows. Just look around you. Can you see the cover of dust on the playgrounds and the vibrant hullabaloo of children playing in the evening? We see isolated playgrounds, deserted lanes and closed doors. Yes, there are immortal smart-phones and social networking. There are movies and oh yes… televisions. There are reality shows and as though to beat them in the drama we have news channels competing with each other. It is said that Earth rotates at 1670 kilometers/hour. The current rate of progress as far as humanity is concerned leaves no room for speculation that our lives will catch up with that speed soon. A day is all about remembering when we got up and forgetting when we slept off. Life is all but a visual treat now. Visuals are instant and perishable. But imagination is forever. Read a few lines, scribble a few words and it will really help a lot. Make your children read a good book. Inject in them the pleasure of words. Let them immerse themselves in their visualization of events than throwing the visual like fast food, right in front of their eyes. Yann Martel says:
” You don’t have to rake your brain searching for a good book, a cheap Penguin paperback can do the trick for you…”
Well, a Twinkle Digest, a Baalarama, a Chacha Chowdury or Agniputra Abhay can work wonders for your tiny tot.The key is- make them visualize things.
When we say that we lack great innovation, we are implicating that there is a real scarcity of great ideas. Well, great ideas are born out of minds that have great imagination. And for great imagination, we need brains that can really ‘imagine’.Imagination has nothing to do with number crunching, the number of telephone numbers you can remember, the grades that you get in your exams or the big fat salary you take home.Imagination is the process that happen in some remote, unknown planet in your mind. A place where you can look, feel and visualize your ideas. It becomes an innovation when your imagination hits something new, produces something raw. It is about cooking up an idea that nobody has ever thought of.
The habit of reading is inculcated deep in the western culture. I got to know this when I went for an outing with my friend’s to Kovalam (a popular tourist spot in Thiruvananthapuram that attracts tourists from world over). The scorching April sun was grilling everyone on the beach. The beach had more foreign tourists compared to native ones. But even while sunbathing, they had a paperback or hardback or a kindle in their hands. They were completely immersed in their read. I still remember a guy reading Edge of Eternity written by Ken Follett and enjoying the sunbath. That scene would never fade away from my mind and the books that go untouched, uncared and unwanted in our libraries would also never fade away.
The key to the future of humanity is not locked in the smart phones that we hold or television screen that we are glued to. It is locked down deep in our imagination, our ability to empathize, the solace of contemplation on millions of other lives scattered across the globe and to understand humanity through the ages of its evolution. This happens only if you read, read and read.
Let us dance to the music of words,
Find our friend, foe, merry and thrill in them.
Let imagination break the shackles of time
Let us all come back to books!!!
I would like to end this blog with 6 tips from the legendary author John Steinbeck to young writers:
1. Abandon the idea that you are ever going to finish. Lose track of the 400 pages and write just one page for each day, it helps. Then when it gets finished, you are always surprised.
2. Write freely and as rapidly as possible and throw the whole thing on paper. Never correct or rewrite until the whole thing is down. Rewrite in process is usually found to be an excuse for not going on. It also interferes with flow and rhythm which can only come from a kind of unconscious association with the material.
3. Forget your generalized audience. In the first place, the nameless, faceless audience will scare you to death and in the second place, unlike the theater, it doesn’t exist. In writing, your audience is one single reader. I have found that sometimes it helps to pick out one person—a real person you know, or an imagined person and write to that one.
4. If a scene or a section gets the better of you and you still think you want it—bypass it and go on. When you have finished the whole you can come back to it and then you may find that the reason it gave trouble is because it didn’t belong there.
5. Beware of a scene that becomes too dear to you, dearer than the rest. It will usually be found that it is out of drawing.
6. If you are using dialogue—say it aloud as you write it. Only then will it have the sound of speech.
(Tips excerpt from the interview given by John Steinbeck’s to Paris Review http://www.theparisreview.org/interviews/4156/the-art-of-fiction-no-45-continued-john-steinbeck)
Image Courtesy : http://www.firstcovers.com/user/952047/we+all+have+a+story+to+tell.html
– Srinath Krishnamoorthy (14/06/2015)