Monday, October 11, 2010

On Writing Fiction

‘Well, we’re all writers aren’t we? He is a writer who hasn’t been published, and I am a writer who hasn’t written anything yet!’
- Freddy, the bartender, in Picasso At The Lapin Agile

I have been writing ever since I can remember. And no I don’t mean in school notebooks and then notes in college (yes, I used to take notes in college. Get over it already). I mean writing to express oneself.

(I just had a revelation/realization/epiphany even as I write. This post was about my tryst with writing fiction and I just realized I wrote at least three works of fiction way back when I was 9 or 10 years old! This is going to be fun).

In view of the above realization, the whole post changes. I had intended to write about growing to be able to write fiction and now this will be about going back to writing fiction!

So I have been ever since I can remember. My earliest memory I have of writing is owning a 200-page notebook with a picture of Bambi on the cover and pouring out my angst onto the pages. Trust me I had angst way back then and I clearly remember this interaction where I had upset my mother with something I had written. 

And around the same time, I used to write what I suddenly remembered a few minutes ago – fictitious stories, even series. There were at least three of them. One was a single story about a girl who likes to collect nuts and bolts (this was inspired by my best friend who actually liked collecting nuts and bolts that would have fallen on the road). 

Another was a series called ‘Adventure Andromeda’ and I started from scratch by inventing planet-names, characters and then building a world and stories around them. 

The third was a series of stories based underground…in a world that you entered through the trunk of this massive tree. This series was accompanied by detailed drawings, almost blueprints, of houses and streets in that world. I had a separate diary where I used to design houses, which became a hobby in itself later. 

I still remember the names of some of the characters I wrote – Nutty, Catty, Grondor, Spidella (I was ten ok. Cut me some slack here). I used to spend a lot of time building these worlds and writing about them. And I used to dream about these stories being published someday.

It is hard to say when I buried that imagination (‘buried’ being used in light of the realization. I was going start writing as if I had never explored fiction before). I moved to writing human stories. When I think about it now, it could have been after reading Chicken Soup for the Soul stories and participating in too many debates (I love love that as well…I’m just saying). And I found myself writing memoirs, stories based on experience.

And soon I convinced myself that I couldn’t write fiction at all (which sounds stupid now considering that’s where I started). And that’s where one understands how easy it is to lose onself by doing the same thing over and over. By writing too much of one thing, I convinced myself that it was impossible to write anything else. By doing too much of one thing in life, I am certain I can convince myself that any other life is impossible!

I made few attempts at fiction and failed. Is that a surprise given that I had failed in my head already? I had told myself I could never write this and that’s exactly what happened. 

Mental Blocks. They’re such a pain. 

And somewhere in the last exact one month life changed. A door opened in my head and words just flowed. And I returned to where I had started. I completed a full length work of fiction this evening and I dare say I am even satisfied with the product. I had started this post with a sense of immense achievement, a win over the demons in my head that held me back. But after that realization in the second paragraph, I finish the post with a sense of going home. It feels familiar now. Writing fiction. And now there are no limitations, no limits. Only a feeling of amusement.

It is so easy to lose oneself. 
Forget. 
Who we were. 
Forego. 
The things that once gave us joy and occupied our time and imagination. 
Fool. 
Ourselves into thinking we are and have always been who we woke up as today morning.
Fail.
Just in notion at something that was second nature to us once.

But it’s equally easy to recover.
Free.
Our energies and ideas.
Form.
New ideas…that are, in fact, old.
Fool.
Ourselves again into thinking this is transformation.
Fail.
To realize that it is, in fact, return.

I go back in time to go forward and broaden my horizons. It is from my childhood that my future takes the lead. Life, that way, has come the proverbial full circle. 

Hello my new old life! I have missed you so : )


P.S.: Thought in the head 2 minutes after publishing the post...it is so ironic that a post titled 'On Writing Fiction' is a memoir : )

10 Thinkers Pondered:

Vandana said...

That's so cool!! Awaiting to read your fictitious creations :D)(have read one already.. and believe me, its awesome!)And how i wish, i get to read those first few stories of the 10 yr old Anu.. do u still have the notebook?? :)))

Sowmya said...

All the best to you. Look forward to your book.
Totally agree with the line about future taking lead from childhood.

Whenever we are confused, directionless and lost, we must look back to our childhood, ask ourselves what we wanted then, what we dreamt of .. and we usually find clues.

Priya Iyer said...

lovely post. can SO relate to it. I used to write notebooks of fiction in childhood, just like you. Even till last year, I used to write loads of short stories and poems on my blog. Then suddenly, it just stopped coming. I don't know, maybe I'm deluding myself, I feel I can't write fiction the way I used to. And that makes me sad, each time I go back to my old posts. :( This post of yours gives me hope. :)

That said, I'd love to read fiction from you. Do write a book sometime. :)

I am sorry for the rather long comment. :)

Sathej said...

Agree..its many a time in the mind. A mind cluttered with too many things refuses at times to take the leap of imagination for fiction writing. Sometimes, as it matures, it analyzes much and nips fictitious thoughts in the bud. Self criticism kicks in for fiction..memoirs give us solace..but as someone said, isn't every fiction a non-fiction in some sense (in that it may be inspired by some experience or the other!)..

Agree with Priya..would love to read fiction from you, and more so after the memoirs of the Chicken Soup series that highly touched me..Certainly do consider a book sometime..

Sathej

Arpana said...

nice reminiscing !

Eveline said...

You really should consider writing a book. Seriously! Let me know when you get it published.
And if you're thinking this is the first and the last time you're going to be hearing about this, think again.
We're totally going over this when we do that brunch date. :)

writerzblock said...

That was such a delightful read. Received this link as a fwd from Yuva, and am glad it happened :) Adding you to my reader, so I can catch up with your posts.

vijay said...

This is such a beautiful refreshing piece. I've met a few 'Kandans' myself and they have been auto drivers, bus conductors, co-passengers in the Mumbai local train, etc. It always leaves you doubting if it is correct on our part to 'negative tag' a group of people based on the acts of a few.

The best would be to be non-judgmental and presumptuous about people and greet everyone with an open heart and mind!

Anupama said...

Hey Vandu!!

I do have the notebook :) Will try and get it the next time I go to Nagpur...

Hey Sowmya,

That's a nice way to find direction in life and I have realized it works well. Will keep you posted as and when my book comes out!

Hey Priya!

The comment is your space, feel free to use it as you like :) And really cool to know that you used to write stories too! I am sure it will come back to you soon :)

Hey Sathej!

Thank you so much for the nice comment :) Will keep you posted about my writing...

Hey Aparna,

Thank you so much for stopping by :)

Hey Writerzblock,

Thank you so much for the kind words and for adding me to your reader :)

Hey Vijay!

Absolutely agree with your closing statement...an open heart is the key :)

Balli Works said...

I liked the poetry .. sums up well .. liked specially the form .. one is forced to read twice ;)