August 23, 2013

Forgetfulness is inevitable in a Writer's Life

Dear M,

I forgot something yesterday. Something that was very, very important to the family, and very important to me. I forgot about it for five complete hours. Nothing happened, no one was harmed due to it but it brought home to me that drastic realisation that my real world and my contrived world are so far apart that it might take me five hours to move from one to another.

It is often said that writers are - as are artists of all nature - an absent-minded lot. When you hear it, standing somewhere at the brim or outside the realm of art, it sounds exciting, romantic, even enthralling. One would yearn to be an artist to be so absent-minded and creative. Except that, when you are in it, it is no fun at all.

I drowned in guilt for a long time. No one blamed me, in fact no one had probably even noticed my absence all the while. Yet, inside I remained shattered for long. How could I forget it? It had been the foremost thought in my mind before I went to sleep the previous night. I was concerned, I was worried, and I was praying. And yet when I awoke, my mind was wiped clean. All those long hours (when I was hard at work), this memory did not cross my mind even once.

It was terrifying. To be an artist so absent-minded as to forget family, friends and one's own priorities, is not as wonderful as it sounds. It is painful - to others as well as one's own self. It is every bit as tragic as a drunkard father who forgets his children. That is what we sign ourselves for when we call ourselves artists. It is not romantic, it is not exciting. And yet, if we are unable to detach ourselves from the daily intricacies of life, we would never be able to delve into our fictional world, our creative world. So this pain is essential, this feeling of guilt is important. Because, until we feel the guilt, we are not deep enough inside it.

If we want to finish all our responsibilities before we take up writing, we would never get there. We would never find time. And if writing is something you do when you get time, then it is not your life. It is merely a hobby, which you can abandon any time, or get back to any time. If writing is your life, then you know this pain, then you must endure this pain.

Who said writing was easy?


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