December 23, 2013

Signs that trigger guilt

Dear M,

Do you know what is the most guilt-inducing thing in the world? When you indefinitely postpone doing an important piece of writing (probably the last chunk to be added to your novel or the final round of editing) and the story you read has a writer in it who struggles with her writing and who faces the same indecisiveness as you do - that hits like a dart on our chest. Is that a sign? you wonder. Not that you believe in signs, but is that a sign I don't believe in? Shouldn't I be writing now?

Then there are times when you have not written a word for days, maybe a week or two, and except for a few pangs of guilt now and then, you aren't feeling any sentiment towards your story. All at once, a name pops up in your radar - you read a news or story about that person, or hear that name in some manner - and the name is the same, rare one you have given to your protagonist after much thought; and you wonder, was it just a coincidence or was someone trying to tell me that I should be getting back to my protagonist? The 'someone' is probably your own guilty self, but if it gets you back to your seat talking to your protagonist, it is a good thing, isn't it?

It is not important if these are coincidences or signs. What matters is what they make you do. Do they make you fix yourself on your seat and start working? Most of the time, it has, in my case. It must certainly mean something if guilt can drive you to do things you are normally too lazy to do.


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