Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Back after a long hiatus. Hopefully back for good

Writing is the hardest work in the world. It requires one to stare at a piece of paper until drops of blood form on your forehead, said a far wiser mind than mine.

When I just started on my freelance career, I would naively answer the question, "What do you do?" with one standard response — "I write." For my pains, I would be greeted with an incredulous stare once in a while, and derisive laughter more often. When the initial reaction subsided, which was very soon, I would be told, "Ha! I write too. Everybody writes. No big deal about it. It's the easiest thing in the world. Now what is it that you really do?"

So to rephrase the opening line, writing is the hardest work in the world. For a writer, that is. The others get along mighty fine, writing lists, notes, letters, emails, smses, accounts and a hundred other things without a care in the world. Only writers tear their hair out over what to write, which word to put first, which is the better word, struggling over the fumbling incompetence of the pen (or the keyboard) even as epics and magnum opuses inside our heads raise a noisy clamour, beating down upon the walls of our minds, shrieking to be let out.

If that isn't bad enough, one struggles with the mundaneness of life. Muses go underground and inspiration gently snores as we juggle the menace of writer's blocks with the need to cook meals, clean homes, nurture families and children, hold jobs, earn wages, commute in cattle-class conditions (this one especially if you live in Mumbai and need to take the train to get anywhere), keep up with friends, eat, sleep, pray.

Writing is a very fragile art. The creative spark will not stand and jostle with the rowdiness of the marketplace. Nor will it come with a flourish if you park yourself in front of a blank sheet of paper. It cannot be summoned. It comes unbidden, sometimes at odd hours and odd places. That is why they tell you to have a notebook handy. How many gems haven't I lost because I didn't write them down and trusted in my memory to retrieve them at will?

Great writers fight the ennui by giving in to their own individual quirks, to which they cling with pride. Edgar Allan Poe wrote with a cat on his shoulder. Virginia Woolf, Ernest Hemingway and Nabokov wrote standing up. Colette picked the fleas of her cat and then wrote. Friedrich Von Schiller kept rotten apples under the cover of his desk. Then when he needed inspiration, all he had to do was open the lid, take a deep breath and voila! Inspiration came with a rush.

What do I have to offer in comparison? Just the desire to write longhand even though I have the computer’s word processor at my disposal. Pretty tame, I think.

My laziness and desire to procrastinate have served me right. From now on, I shall discipline myself to the rigours of the writer's life. I will cook and clean and put excitable children to bed and even as I do that, I will watch with bated breath for inspiration to strike. And I shall be prepared.

If you've been with me so far, I'd appreciate it if you would drop by occasionally and say some cheery words to me in the Comments section. The writing life imposes a solitude of sorts. One can get so lost amid the characters and world that are of one's own creation that it is a pleasure to know that one is not ranting in a wilderness.


  1. Finally you have started writing, keep writing

  2. Hey Cyn,

    Great to read your blog.

    Did u know that you are the first writer I know personally? And I have always enjoyed your thoughts and views whether down on paper or verbal.
    I have enjoyed all your poems you used to compose when in college too.

    Infact, do you know that your help in composing my application letter when I wanted to come to SIngapore must have added so much value to my application that they took me in.

    And after allllll these years of knowing you , you are still the only writer I know peronally and still enjoy reading.

    Keep on doing what you do best .

    Angela Peter

  3. Angel, thank you for your kind words. They mean a lot to me. Speaking of college, it was your appreciative comments, as also those of Liz and Lo, that motivated and encouraged me to write my best.



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