August 15, 2013

I should have taken up cooking!

Dear M,

You know how much I dislike cooking. I would rather not do it, unless my life depends on it. Perhaps not even then! And yet, sometimes I think that cooking is a very gratifying task. At least if the food that you prepared tastes good, you know it is good and you are happy. If it isn't, you could improve the next time. The point is that you get your results rightaway.

If you prepare dinner for a number of guests, and they all eat heartily, that's probably your reward, delivered right to your hands. If you want to be a professional, you work towards being a chef and make people happy. At least that's one career where the consumers are completely satisfied, mentally and physically! Unless you royally goof something up - but that could happen in any profession.

I sometimes wonder why people take up writing seriously. I mean, what pleasure could they possibly dream of getting from it? But the fact is that people do, many people do, and they spend a lifetime (or part of it) unhappy for the decision. And yet these weirdos, if they get another chance at life, would do exactly the same thing the second time as well. Insanity of the highest order.

Unlike cooking, you never know if your efforts are good. You just keep going, you write what you feel is good. And if someone thrashes you, you just cannot bear it. All those efforts, all those devastating headaches, all those characters who rode their horses in your head. And all it takes is one person's one unkind word.

Writing is tedious, everyone knows that. But only a person who had actually tried writing, and kept on writing for months and years, would know how laborious it is. How terrifying it could get. How lonely life becomes. How unromantic it actually is. I am not surprised that the lives of many famous writers have ended in tragedy. How could it be otherwise? It is not smooth sailing. It never is. If it is, then there is something wrong in the direction we're taking.

I look for some sign - is this what I should be doing at all? Where am I headed? There seems to be no wind, no life, no movement. Everything seems abandoned. Or am I the one who is abandoned? I don't see many results either. No, I do see some - like a thin spring trickling down from between two rocks, drop by drop. It could vanish anytime. Or it could turn into a river.

Perhaps I should have taken up cooking.


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