June 3, 2014


Dear M,

Sometimes it is such a relief to write what comes to mind, without bothering about the order or sequence or chronology or depth of characters. Throwing preparations to the wind. I don't know if it is a good idea or if it is anything at all; but I don't mind.

Maybe the reader will be disappointed, maybe the reader will think it has no convincing plot, no amazing characters, no colourful premise. But who cares? - the author doesn't, because the author is enjoying the writing of it, and when the author does that, nothing else matters.

That's the kind of book I am working on now. Just jotting in scenes here and there, with appropriate titles and nothing else. No worry about whether this happens before that or that happens before something else.

There is no strain in writing, no stretching of memory, no papers flying around the room with important notes on them. No planning, no discipline, no setting aside fixed time daily. No pressure.

Just writing when it strikes. Sometimes two days a week, sometimes every day with hours stolen from work. Sometimes just one line in a day. 20K in one month. Not an amazing pace, but enough, for me.

And definitely not the kind of thing an author with credentials would approve of. I can see you there, over yonder, shaking your head at me. It's bound to fail, you think.

Who cares, my dear friend, who cares. Not I. Not today.


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June 1, 2014

The ideal word(s)

Dear M,

Some time ago, some of us - who had been writing for a while as well as who wanted to enter the world of writing - gathered to attend a workshop. There was a lot of interesting discussions on different topics. More importantly, we came to know the strengths and weaknesses of our own writing as well as those of others. It was a good learning. I wonder how many of them still keep writing. I remember a few of those determined faces, but I have my doubts about some others who might have stopped writing two days after the workshop.

Anyway, there was a question raised by one of the attendees. She said that while she was writing in a flow, sometimes she would get stuck because she could not find the ideal word and then the flow would be lost because she would keep returning to that one word. We asked her if the thesaurus did not help. It was indeed difficult to get back on track once the flow was lost. We also suggested to her to write the closest word and continue writing, but to come back later and modify the word. She said it didn't work; she could not continue until the right word was found. And by that time, the thoughts that were running on would have gone ahead beyond her view.

I haven't faced a similar situation, but I do know the suffocation when the right word is at the tip of your fingers but it refuses to come out. Sometimes I too spend time trying to coax it out, sometimes look for it in thesaurus, and sometimes I leave a hyphen where the right word is to be inserted, so that I can return later and spend time on it.

Yesterday I was working on a particularly difficult section of my story. I had to convey it in a way that did not sound like preaching to the reader, and yet, it was a piece of philosophy, though not unknown to the reader. I had been thinking of nothing else for the past couple of days. In my sleep, I would be framing sentences. Those sentences never came out right. But I kept writing whatever came to my mind, even though the words were far from ideal. They did sound like preaching, they did sound condescending, they did sound wrong. But I wrote any way. The same thing in many different ways. Once those thoughts were out there, it was easier to find out what was making them sound artificial. It was easier to smoothen them out and soften them a little and compact them a bit. The final result is not perfect, yet, but I know I will get there.

It is important to write it down, whichever way it comes out, so that it can be polished or edited or rewritten later. If we keep turning it in our mind, it may not come out properly, and the result would be that we get stuck and would lose the thread of writing.


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