American author, poet, dancer, actress, and singer Maya Angelou once said “There’s no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” Maya had gone through sweet- sour moments before her creative works were recognised.
We all love stories or any literary art, oblivious of the agonising experiences to integrate and weave together words that will appease publishers and readers.
A story is told of a man who wanted to become a writer but words seemed far-fetched, eternally scattered in vastness, a void he meandered often in his dreams and illusions, eventually throwing himself in frustrations and hopelessness as publishers and editors rejected his efforts.
Any published or budding writer will tell you the bruising editorial journey. Stephen King, one of the greatest novelists with more than 40 books to his credit says he had numerous rejection letters from publishers which he pinned on walls, to remind himself that he owed the world a book–and he paid the debt.
Writing is about consistency; it is a conversation between the writer and editor before the final product is approved. It is within this relationship that writers are gradually moulded.
It may be more of passion, a misplaced conviction and an odd calling that pushes one to write. It is a trait that squeezes out words that are forever in motion, thoughts that play through the mind, regardless of a publisher’s expectations.
When the book is done, a writer wonders how he managed to capture the words that initially looked distant and elusive. Maybe writing is just an illusion, an obsession, an elusive dream with a maddening effect that makes one wander off to a world where words roam free.
It is for these reflections that I yearn to shut myself away from the world where an innate silence speaks clearly, to hide inside myself in a Utopian world or in an abandoned attic in the middle of nowhere or may be in an ancient monastery where old monks and nuns recite monotonous hymns at sunset; to gather the universe in the inside of a book, that book you and I have always promised to pen down.
The most unfortunate thing about a pursuit akin to this or any inclination to art is that no one understands what you do and why you do it. Often you will be asked: “Apart from writing, what else do you do for a living?”
I find this a sad attitude of how people still perceive art, widely taken as a passion that translates to nothing much. Maybe that is also true as one English poet humorously pointed out, “There’s no money in poetry, but then, there’s no poetry in money either.” Writing is not for the faint-hearted.
It takes less of who we are but gives more of who we are. It is a vacuum we lose ourselves in and spent years trying to remember who we were. It is the rigidness that melts in the world around us, to flow in our deeper essence.
More like in poetry, we heal and love. Even in our most desperate and broken selves, there is always a faint wrestle in putting down words.
“Being a writer isn’t the kind of career they tell you at a job affair; it doesn’t fit nearly into the check-off boxes of any occupational aptitude survey a guidance counsellor might give you. With writing, you make your own path; find your way, a prospect that is both frightening and exhilarating…”
These are the words of an author, adventurer and a teacher Jeff Reniche in a US-based e-journal, to describe his budding experience in the world of words. In other words, no one teaches you to become a writer. A number of parents will pay school fees for their children to become writers or poets, only to be frustrated when the minors take a different path, because of lack of skills and or passion.
While I struggle to find myself in unwritten words, I respect an author with a ‘complete’ book. It is never easy to put one together because of the hard work, frustrations and deviations involved. In the meantime, I am still dreaming about autographing a book, waiting beside a throbbing stream and letting the waters float down the words I have been reaching for all these years.
We all owe the world a book or so I love to think, I don’t really know if everyone will settle this debt. If these words can not ‘blurb’ a book, maybe I will rehash some of my newspaper articles and compile a thin prologue.
If it will, my patience will desperately hold for like they say, “Writing and the pursuit of a woman are never about immediate result, what they are about is telling the truth and hope against any figment of hope that one day, the eardrums of hell will hear you.”