The printed word has a deceptive sense of finality. Once bound, it appears flawless, carved in stone, indelible. The crisp, bound sheets create the illusion of perfectly formed sentences that have transitioned magically from the author’s imagination to the page. In reality the writing process is steeped in imperfection. The journey of thought and expression is a fascinating Odyssey beset with challenges and hurdles, discovers Shilpi Madan
Ruminations on the written word instantly conjure up stunning success stories of the likes of Rowling, Rushdie and Desai. Of how wielding the pen has become not just a viable but even cushy career option. Of how penning blasphemous verses can fetch you international recognition. Of how young scribes can put down thinly-veiled memoirs to grab a million-dollar advance with overseas publishers. But look a little closer. Through the illusion of glamour, you catch the gritty reality of the author as he really is – chasing a chimera in the isolated maze of his or her own world, often stumbling over achingly frustrating mental blocks and grappling with commercial constraints to give birth to a work of pain, sweat and toil. A labour of love.
It takes more than meticulous character sketching, a startling wizardry with words and a manic hunger for creating plots to write a novel. It also takes immense discipline and an uncontrollable desire to write and pour the essence of your being into the creative crucible. “I wish I could spout rhetoric and say writing is as demanding as squeezing blood out of stone. Perhaps not. But for me writing is probably the loneliest pursuit in the world,” says Githa Hariharan, author of the award-winning novel, The Thousand Faces of Night. Nonetheless she wields the pen as it gives her the pleasure to simply write and race along with her thoughts. Of course, there are long hours – of reading, digesting, ruminating, more reading, writing and rewriting that go into the making of a novel. On a day-to-day basis, Hariharan spends a lot of time with people who have absolutely nothing to do with writing, which she finds truly restful.
Shilpi Madan for Verve
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