September 18, 2013

Writing about Nature

Dear M,

There is something about nature that inspires and excites us. Perhaps it is the fact that we have absolutely no control over it - we cannot predict it or change it, most of the time. We are fascinated by something we know pretty much nothing about. And when we can do nothing about it, what we do is compose songs and paint and write about it.

Some writers give a lot of detail about nature (and they do it so well). They write about the road their character walked on, the dust, the trees, the raindrops, the blue sky, the river gurgling in the distance, the rustle of the wind, the nasty storm,... it could go on and on. It is true that we can write about nature with abandon, and never get tired of it.

I like writing about nature too, but I am not so good at the details, I think. I feel it intensely but I think I am miserly about the descriptions. Be that as it may, I like to write about nature. I like to close my eyes and imagine how it must be, and try to imagine the smells, the sounds, the wind on my face, the green of the post-monsoon wilderness. I do not know how much detail is good, and how much is too much. I just write what seems right to me!

When it comes to modernisation, I totally dislike writing about the latest antics of human beings. I don't know why but writing about people connected through the internet or talking on mobile phones makes me feel very artificial. I don't know what that means - people do that all the time, and all contemporary writers write about it, but when I have to write, I try to sneak in a mobile phone to my protagonist's hand and request him not to use it. When I did have to write about him calling up someone or Googling something, I did it in such a distracted way, almost so that no one would notice. If I feel it is artificial, then surely the reader would feel that way too. But there was no getting around it.

Which is why I like to place my story at around twenty years ago. Safe. No mobile phones, no internet - I can easily say that my folks haven't heard of either. They can still grope in the dark and write long letters which they can drop in post boxes or wait in an STD booth and dial long digits to make a call. Hah. Do you not think that's clever?


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