Friday, October 9, 2009

On Not Writing

It has been quite a few weeks since I've written anything of significance, that is new. I've been tinkering a lot, but unfortunately for me, nothing surfaces that I care to talk about. This is the main problem with writing: so much happens that it all overwhelms me and I tend to crumple up the words and trash them like so much used tissue.

Whenever some substantial time passes before I write, I am fascinated to observe myself to see if my reaction to this not-writing is any different, any more or less intense; it never wavers, however. There is a whole cycle of emotions that regularly and dutifully cross my emotional landscape, like predictible monsoon clouds.

The gamut of guilt, chagrin, humility, frustration, and finally loss follow each other with such organized motions, as though I were a choreographer and these my students that I'd taught dance moves to aeons ago, and they go through them with precision and meticulousness that my ambitious daughter would envy.

The Rasa Theory tells us that if certain gestures, colors, musical notes, harmonies, and myths are enacted during specific times, this enactment inevitably results in evocation of a mood; the audience, historical & social settings, geographical locations, even languages may change, but like a chemistry formula, the resulting Bhava is always conjured.

I wonder if all our emotions are predictible and controllable like this. If I can put myself through the same cycle of emotions just by refraining from my writing for a span, does it not imply that ultimately, I have complete control over my emotional responses, irrespective of my age and circumstances?

This might seem like the perfect solution to all that is unmanageable and chaotic in my life. However, I know I am not in control, not really. Like the Universe of Greek mythology, my inner self is the one with all power, a self that is inaccessible to my conscious mind, which, like the Olympians, remains but a manager granted intermittent, limited control for purposes it doesn't always understand or realize.

After all, I cannot keep away from writing for too long, and the cycle of my feelings is not complete until I feel the cosmic relief that comes with seeing a word on a blank page, knowing I thought it up and put it there.

I tell my students that there is no magic greater than language; I feel renewed everytime I realize this after a span of being deprived of creating in it. After such a dry spell as I've just had, I feel so rewarded at being able to just write, that I need no other reward or acknowledgement.

My very good friend has a specific imagined audience: a future graduate student reading her work; I find I have a specific audience too: a future not-writing self reading her own words with thirsty eyes, a Wasteland dull and static behind her, the harsh, clear sky above devoid of clouds.


  1. No magic greater than language--I love, love, LOVE this.

  2. I Agree I feel like I'm in an endless wasteland where my writing is my only salvation.

  3. Yes, Anonymous! Words are our only real hope for immortality; even the stars blink out! Happy writing to all I know!


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