I’ve been sitting here with my laptop open, my writer’s canvas lying blank and beckoning in front of me. And that last sentence? It took me at least five whole minutes to construct before I was somewhat satisfied with the words and the meaning they conveyed. For some reason, it is generally believed that writing is a romantic experience. You begin with a word and without quite realising it; you’ve filled pages and lack the willingness to stop. In recent conversation with a friend who enjoys writing but doesn’t really find the time to devote to it, I learnt that for him, writing is like an ocean. He finds his zone and it flows. Isn’t it, he asked. I digress. If writing were such an internal process, we’d all be the next JK Rowling.
The storm that brews in every (aspiring?) writer’s head as they sit down to put pen to paper- or fingers to keyboard as in my case- can be harsher than some of the coldest winters one has endured. Having lived in Bombay all my life though, I’m not exactly qualified to comment on harsh winters. But sitting with an open Word document in front of you, the cursor blinking in anticipation of the first letter is quite a daunting experience. And my heart goes out to all the career writers out there who take on this challenge every single day, armed with nothing but a doppio and all the will power in the world. I could never be that person- I have learnt that while trying to maintain some sort of regularity with the blog. Writing is hard work. If it is something you do only to unwind, it probably comes to you a lot more easily because of the weeks of pent up thoughts and introspections which are seeking a platform to be released. Yes, writing must probably feel like an ocean then. But for all those working in the field as novelists, content creators and the likes, writing doesn’t feel like an ocean. It feels like a river that is running rather dry. Sure, this river has its days when the meagre trickle turns into bitter currents and spills onto the banks. But mostly, the task of quenching the thirst of an army with a thin stream is what constitutes the job profile of the regular writer. Figuratively, of course.
There are so many aspects to be taken into consideration when one is sitting down to write. If you happen to be one of those people who are given even a rough outline to construct their piece with- consider yourself lucky for the hardest part is seeking inspiration. Just this morning, I was trying to help a friend with an application to a writing program. He said he was looking around for inspiration to construct a story but he couldn’t find it. Inspiration is just one of those things which tend to be quite evasive. And where does one go looking for it? In the concrete jungle surrounding us or the hustle and bustle of the trains? Maybe it is hiding there because it knows that’s where we will not come searching. But we have to get inspired anyway. So we go after it and grab even the tiniest bit of inspiration we can get our hands on and decide to work with it. Oh but the struggle has not even begun yet. Inspiration tends to be quite crude. It needs to be polished with knowledge and groomed with imagination. It has to be dressed in creativity and presented with panache. Inspiration is only the start.
Even after being inspired, each writer faces a different mountain and has to scrutinize every face before he decides which one to scale to reach the peak. And chances are, halfway up one face they realise that if they go any further, they’ll twist an ankle or snap their harness. So they find themselves undoing all the effort and coming back down to begin all over again. It is an exhausting process to say the least. Satisfaction does not come easy- sometimes not even once you’ve conquered the peak.
And there are the technical aspects that must be paid their dues. Super-duper long sentences which repeat themselves over and over again making it obsolete and resplendent with big and fancy words intended for nothing but self-gratification and asking redundant questions that don’t need answering must be avoided, shouldn’t they? Yes.
Reading requires effort. If someone is putting that in, you’d better be interesting. It’s quite difficult to be interesting all the time. Every piece of literature has its bland moments. Trying to hold someone’s attention through writing is a lot like dealing with a fickle lover. So much for being romantic, eh? And of course, pretty words are never enough. The loopholes and loose ends must come together seamlessly. The plot must ebb and flow with Goldilocks’ consistency. The strand of orange hair Laura found in her magazine three months ago has to have plausible relevance to the murder of her mother on the snowy 5th of January- even if it only ever happened in your head.
As I said, I could never be this person. I wish I were so creative and skilled and deliberate that I could wake up and paint a perfect picture of words on my canvas every morning. But I can’t so I shall moonlight in finance to ensure my sustenance and survival. But if you know somebody who has taken up this task for their love for words and stories overpowers the inherent hurdles he shall have to face, respect their struggle for it is real. Even loving comes with its own set of challenges.