April 26, 2014

There's no glory in the struggle

Dear M,

New authors are so enthusiastic! Just like young men off to battle (so I have heard). They think it is exciting - the struggle of a writer. They think their bravery, valiance, determination, skill and strength will be put to test. They think they are soldiers in uniform marching in the World War 1. They think they are fighter pilots bombing Nazi Germany in the World War 2. They think they're preparing themselves for the World War 3. They think of the glory, the awards, the recognition, once the War is over.

What they do not know is that there is no such thing (even in a real war). In the writing world, the fight is against one's self. The enemy is boredom. The only thing that will be put to test is your persistence. Your skill, talent, or capacity does not matter, if you give up trying because you are bored and you decided that you have had enough.

The days of writing are long and dreary. Nothing happens. You just force yourself to sit at your desk and write word after word after word. That's your world war. Then, one day, you finish. But then you need to edit it. You go over it again and again and again - as though you are trudging through a desert with only a bottle of water for company. That may eventually give out too. And then you approach an editor, and then you rest for a while. The Oasis, from where you need to set off again. By then you are not the same person who had started the journey... let me see, four-five years ago.

You laugh at yourself and all your old, proud talks of being a "struggling" writer. There is no glory in the struggle. I have had enough, dammit, you say, throw the manuscript, half-edited and half-fixed and all, to a publisher's door and walk away, hoping that you will hear a voice calling you from behind.

Nothing happens. This is not a tragic fiction I just made up. This is the truth. This is the struggle. The waiting. The disillusionment. The pessimism. Then amidst them all, still picking up where you left it yesterday and continuing the struggle, disillusioned, pessimistic, disappointed and exhausted.


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