Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Writing, editing, remembering

"Find out the reason that commands you to write; see whether it has spread its roots into the very depth of your heart; confess to yourself you would have to die if you were forbidden to write.”

~ Rilke

"Has she stopped writing?", asks a somewhat worried father to the husband, and before the latter could come up with a suitable answer for one who harbours strong hopes of seeing his daughter as a successful writer some day, the father concludes, "I can see her writing has deteriorated a great deal after your move back to India."
During this habitual weekend phone conversation, the daughter lurked conspicuously in the vicinity, trying to be a part of it while idling with a cup of tea and a fat, never-ending Barnes and Noble copy of Anna Karenina. But somehow the sharp din of the word 'deteriorated' reached her ears and stayed there for some time. It wasn't like she waited to be told about it, because she knew, deep down in that iffy corner of her heart, that there is some truth in her father's doubts. That these days, she cannot write.

For a myriad of reasons, both wrong and right in their own situation, it has been like this for the past couple of months. 
True, there's an absolute lack of inspiration in this coldhearted, perpetually shrouded by pollution city. Concrete cannot lead to creativity. Period. Then there's this recent job, where I sit, for the most part of the day, editing manuscripts of others' writings. When you have to pin, tuck and shape someone else's stories, it's a little difficult to find your way back to tales of your own. While being a part of their imaginary worlds, I often get wrung out of mine. 

And then, the autumn child remembers. With uncountable sighs. It must be autumn somewhere. The leaves must have turned somewhere. The trees must be spitting flames somewhere. It must be like this somewhere. Somewhere, but not here.


  1. “When I write a page that reads badly I know that it is myself who has written it. When it reads well it has come through from somewhere else.”
    Gerald Brenan

    Dear Suman, you and me both.

    However, I wonder if you feel like me, in that I am often finding excuses not to write, that writing silly things for a blog or perhaps a letter - or - dare I say it, comments on others' blogs - take up so much time that I have hardly any left for my own work.

    Sitting idling, dithering, another drink of tea, a quick walk, some household chore or other, a telephone call, a meal with a friend - you name it, it all mounds up.

    For the true writer none of these distractions would be a problem. The true writer sits down and works every spare (free from paid employment) minute. And every other minute available the true writer reads.

    I think this comment is far more aimed at my slothful self than you.
    Therefore, forgive me, please. I am sure you are not like me at all.

    1. Oh Friko, I couldn't have explained it any better, for the mere lack of words or perhaps for the lack of courage to admit to all of the reasons. Call them excuses or distractions, they rule my days now, and I agree, those are none of the things that a true writer does. But then I go along and kid myself, saying, it's all a part of the collective experience!
      And please don't apologize, since I am very much like you.

      PS. There couldn't have been a truer quote!

  2. Dear Suman

    I believe you are re-adjusting to your space. All artists have a dry period and I feel this is a necessary part of the process for creation.
    Some call it the incubation period and from this emerges the masterpiece.

    Your writing, and comments which I greatly appreciate, are always melodious and thought provoking.

    My mother had a Gaelic expression when translated said: "Nobody asks how look it took; they ask who did it"


    1. Dear Helen, thank you for your wise and so very encouraging words. Such support coming from you, a tremendously talented artist herself, is in itself a therapy.
      And what a lovely expression!

  3. Dear Suman
    Take time. Be patient. Be kind to yourself. You've been through so many changes!!
    Don’t forget: you have an international fan club !
    I think you miss a real autumn …

    1. Dearest Celine, sweet and understanding as ever. How you flatter me saying I've a 'fan club'! If anything, whatever little I have achieved till now, I owe it to you all. Thank you for being there.
      And yes, I miss autumn. Some things just can't be helped.

  4. If you are compelled to write, you will write, and fallow periods are normal. I know it sounds a little routine and regimented, but try setting aside a "writing time" each day, and stick to it, even if you don't feel like it. And as for lack of inspiration in the big city — are you sure this isn't an excuse? Sometimes it's best not to wait for inspiration but just to plod on, and you may be surprised at yourself. Often the best writing comes out of alienation, from a position of being where one does not ideally want to be. Concrete outside may lead to a rewarding interior retreat into the mind and imagination, into memory and recollection. Just a few thoughts... hope you don't think I'm being presumptuous!

    1. Not at all, Robert! Instead, this is a timely reminder for arranging certain dos and don'ts in my life.
      And you are right, even though I hate to admit it - I do use the city as an excuse most of the times, and at other times it's just me. You've said many helpful things here - the 'writing time' and the alienation, in particular. Thank you!

  5. I thought your current writing was as good as ever :) .. But if you feel you've lost your touch, hope you find it soon !

    And fall ! beautiful pic again as usual.. but I so echo your sentiment. Once you have been touched by it, the yearning just stays ..

    1. That is most kind of you, bhaiya!
      Regarding fall, I couldn't agree more with you. The colours hardly ever fade in your mind-scape...

  6. I call them dry spells. One just has to get through them. The words are still in you - enough to write and write - but the circumstances aren't yet what they need to be. I really believe this. While there's some truth to the idea that one just has to sit down and be disciplined about writing, it isn't the biggest part of the process.
    It's fall here. Misty, damp, colourful - I remember that it is your sort of weather.

    1. Ah, my sort of weather indeed, and there goes another sigh! Thank you for the weather update and the ever encouraging words.
      I'm taking my own good time to reach that place where I can sit, look back and just randomly scribble, even if it's something which I would shudder to read as 'mine' later.

  7. Dear Suman

    Your post is evidence of the fact that in the extreme situation where you might think you have somehow lost the zeal to write, you have produced another wonderful script that has reassured others that these feelings are normal and momentary. They come and pass by. But the art itself never deteriorates, It finds another reason to express itself.

  8. Dear Zahir, thank you so much for the most inspiring words. You are right, one just needs to retrieve that magic touch. It's there, it's there...


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