Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Freestyle: The pomposity in writing

I went for a swim today. Instead of being at work, I was in a bathing suit counting lengths. And only for the second time ever, I had my lenses on while splashing about in a pool that had pigeon feathers floating on the water. I don’t usually mind bits of bird sticking to my cheek when I surface sideways for air, but my lengths-counting went warped because of the damn feathers. And the fact that I was unable to form three coherent well structured sentences in my head was troubling me.

Even when I dried myself off, I was thinking about my inability to get it up, words wise. More so these past few days because I’ve taken time off from work -- To Write. Do you get how self indulgent that is? And not like how a pedicure or good sex is self indulgent. There, at least only one other person is involved. One getting paid, one hopefully enjoying it as much, and sometimes you might easily not tell which was which.

Writing is freaky; for an audience, only more so. And for an audience it always is, otherwise we’d stick to a journal or blog under notes to self, NOT issued in public interest. At the best of times, writing feels like a self defeating exercise. You can’t write the personal stuff, because that’s too good. One imagines that people should, scoff, pay to read you but when they do begin to queue up, a cold feet alert goes off in your silly female brain and we’re back to square one, which, by the way, is shaped an awful lot like a delete button.

And this other thing they advise you – to read, read and read? I’m reading. I’m Alice Munro. And she’s brilliant. Her descriptions are detailed, accurate, observant and true. But it makes me feel lowly, stupid, ignorant and trite.

Paul Auster? The one book I accidentally bought in September, and recently finished, The Brooklyn Follies; plain fabulous! I enjoyed it thoroughly. It made me want to know about his writing ‘process’ – where he sits, how he writes, if he ever uses pen/paper, does he shut himself up in a room for eight hours straight? Are all his characters really made up? I want to interview the guy and beg him to admit that all his characters are NOT purely fictional. That Nathan Glass is really him. That all his character resemblances to persons living, dead, and in between galaxies, are in fact, and of course based on anecdotes lifted straight from life. That’ll help. I really think it will. I need a communal sense of failure, an assurance that roadblocks are everywhere and no one is differently abled. The reminder could be my drug.

I loved Meg Cabot. I loved Guy Next Door. But even her style, simple, fun, clever and more colloquial as it is, doesn’t seem an ounce more achievable than those other two book-shelf adorners. Of course, you don’t have to be like them. You can’t even. I can’t. So why bother? But, in all humility, I hadn’t imagined falling even these many degrees short to be such a taxing circumstance.

There is, of course, my copy of new Indian writing, a celebrated anthology, lying mostly untouched because I think poorly of the writing. I am a snob. I think, phhrbt, any ass can do better. And by that logic, but sometimes in spite of, that I can. It’s all a muddle. And then I beat myself up, splashing about in pools wondering what happened. Where did all the paragraphs go? The ones you’re supposed to be proud of? Was there not just an eight-word line here? Are you sure no one will mind? That’s ok to end like this... ?

13 comments:

Brown Girls said...

Do you get how self indulgent that is? And not like how a pedicure or good sex is self indulgent.

hehehhahah good one. I get, I do!

Going thru the post I felt like I was reading my own neurosis, this unrelenting monologue in my head (which I sometimes note down in my E-51 notepad) about writing and me, me and writing, me me me. Sometimes tiring, sometimes inspiring.

Good luck sweets. Like all my writing professors told me after listening to my confessions of self-doubt -- don't worry, great things will come out of it. It really is ok to end like this :)

Inayat said...

Dude I can't imagine how hard it must be but I think you gotta stop taking it so seriously. I'm you're blogging frequency is anything to go by, you WANT to write, it's all there but you're getting stage fright so instead you blog.

I would suggest STOP READING till atleast three fourth of your draft is done. The world is awesome and there's so much going on yada yada, but you don't need to partake in that awesomeness for the time being, you need only your voice in your head and to create your awesomeness.

Right now I guess you don't need people telling you "you can do it" becuase evidently lots of important people think you can and they're paying you for it. Infact it's good that you think you're 'falling short' because how much hubris would you have if you yhought you could just breeze through it?

Munro is the shit, and Cabot..er..but it's strande that you should mention these two writers because now that I think about it, I do think you'd come up with a cross between the two. Like on the Prep cover by Curtis Sittenfeld it says "Sweet Valley as written by TS Eliot"..just an example, so no pressure or anything : D but really try the monk routine, no external distractions for a bit..chuck it later if it doesn't work.

Keep going Pip. And blog if there's trouble!

Nimpipi said...

BG: behena, you know i love you na? and that e 51 toh long live! i love it i love it.

Ina: you wrote me a many-paragraphed comment. wow. i love you too. and i shall listen to what you say. no,no taking self seriously;)

pulkits said...

Trudge along, Lady! It'll all fall in place ONE DAY :) All the luck.

Nimpipi said...

@pulkit: helloo. Trudging, trudging... i don't know you, but i notice you have the frequency in posting thing down pat; admirable!:)

Hope said...

Oh that horrible delete button. I get you.

pulkits said...

Ha! We do the best we can of the time afforded to us for whiling ;)

Anonymous said...

Nice post, kind of drawn out though. Really good subject matter though.

Anonymous said...

Wow, that's crazy man. They should really try to do something to fix that.

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