September 13, 2013

It takes courage to be a writer

Dear M,

I know I have said this before, but I see no harm in repeating: there is more to writing than writing. Hard-work, persistence, discipline, constant learning, reading, observation, ability to develop a thread into a story, talent, skill, writing experiments and exercises, are just some of them. Today I want to stress the importance of Courage.

Now that's perhaps the last thing you would think a writer needs. After all, a writer can safely hide behind his words, however harmful and inflammatory they may be, and justify them with phrases like 'creative licence', 'poetic freedom' or even at times, 'freedom of expression'.

Though writing controversial stuff does require some amount of courage, that is not all. It takes courage to be able to write what you believe in - though it is a mere cat and mouse story. It takes courage to put it out for the world to see. It takes courage to face criticism. It takes courage to face rejection, tonnes of rejection.

It takes courage to sit day after day, with not a single positive sign, on the razor's edge, ready to fall overboard and give up. It takes courage to battle on, not knowing if you have any talent at all, wondering if you are waging a losing war, asking yourself if your efforts are all going to be a total waste and if you are going to die a loser, if you should be doing something worthwhile with your time and be with your family instead of brooding over a blank sheet of paper or a blank MS Word window.

It takes courage to finish one novel, spend weeks poring over query letters, send it out to publishers and then move on to the next novel, then the third and then a fourth, and then come back to the first three and edit them and work on them, one at a time, or all at a time, not sure what you should be doing, not sure which you should be working on, not sure of anything at all, yet trying whatever seems right at the moment, it takes courage to not toss everything into the fire and walk away.

It takes considerable courage to sit and write day after day, not knowing if the next milestone - a small positive encouraging sign or a small success - is going to be weeks away, months away or decades away. It takes courage to not wither away, to hold oneself together when failure strikes as it inevitably will, to be sad and write in sadness, to get over it and write in calmness and look forward to the future and write in positiveness.

It takes tremendous courage to call yourself a writer.


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  1. Good one!!

  2. I agree I agree Oh I so profoundly agree...Thank You for sharing this

  3. Thank you very much for the comments, Anupam and Giridharan.