October 1, 2013


Dear M,

Some people can work in any kind of environment. (Just as some people can sleep in the middle of any kind of noise or light). They will be able to focus on their work, maybe make a funny comment or two to the others, listen to what their friends are saying, rock with the music, and all the time, do a lot of productive work.

Some people need music to work; indeed, some need a certain type of music to work - any other kind would distract them. Some people work best in silence.

I am one of the last. If I play my favourite music in the system, I will begin to sing along with it or rock with it or dream about a thousand things the music reminds me of, and before I know it, a couple of hours have passed and I haven't done a single line worth of work. If there is a film playing nearby, my ears will be tuned to the different suggestive sounds and every single dialog and the background score that flow in - even if the movie is playing in the next room.

Really. I am so easily distracted that sometimes I wonder I do get to finish my work at all. Knowing your enemy is half the battle won. (I'm sure there is a saying very close to that, but can't recall). I know that background noise isn't going to help me, so I stay away from it as much as I can. If I want to listen to music, I do it when my work is done (or the day's goal is achieved) or when I am doing my chores. My work area is at the farthest possible corner from the TV. I watch TV when I am having my meals (though that is generally not a healthy recommendation). I follow a routine where my working time does not overlap the time when there is a lot of noise around the house.

This is again, a part of the discipline we develop as writers. The writing is important. More important than anything else in life (but don't tell anyone I said so). The rest of our life is filled with distractions and things (and people) that keep us away from our writing. Prying ourselves away from those is not easy all the time. We could get projected as rude, callous, absent-minded, careless, forgetful and arrogant.

I think our writing life and the rest of it are mutually exclusive events. They cannot overlap. Each cannot understand the other. You're the only common factor between the two, and you're going to have to live two lives. Like managing the wife and the mistress. Every art form has that limitation, that strength. Two lives that cannot overlap. It is easy to lose oneself within the one and forget the other.


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