Thursday, February 20, 2014

A Little of All

I have been amiss in updating this blog and I could offer some really good excuses; but that's not what this space is for. I asked the universe, and the universe rained down gifts on me. I did get my book contract and I am working on my book more hours than can be contained in a day. It is rewarding work, even though I am still writing and not getting anything concrete in return. Just the writing feels cathartic.

I have been complaining about stories haunting me, itching me beneath my finger nails, fluttering beneath my closed eyelids, racing through my brain path ways, running along my veins, like plasma I cannot rid myself of. So every time I write a story or a section, I feel like I have been drained of all blood and must rest to fill myself up again, like I have poured out a part of myself. However, this pouring out is exhausting and leaves me unable for the rest of the week. Instead of these intense writing schedules, I'd love to be able to write a little each day, grade a bit, clean up the house regularly, and keep up with my reading, all as part of an unremarkable daily quotidian.

I wonder at all who write for the love of it. One of my best friends writes in the wee hours of the morning and is disciplined enough to command her pen. She, along with a lot of people whose writing habits I read about, can write for a couple of hours a day and not miss time. She can have normal appointments, meet people for lunch, attend and contribute meaningfully to meetings, and do the same thing the following day! She has amassed a formidable body of varied genres, all because she has the discipline to write a little everyday.

One of my favorite writers describes her writing routine: she tends to her family, takes a walk, meditates, and then settles down for the afternoon of writing. All that I have read about writing habits point out the importance of having a routine, the richness that comes from disciplined expression of one's passion. One should have a specific place to write, like a desk, Virginia Woolf's room of one's own to write most productively. This designated place and routine validate one's writing.

To that end, I have cleared a desk, arranged my work schedule, and given myself lots of pep-talks on the importance of establishing a writing time-table and following it through. After all, I reasoned with myself, I do submit my grades and manage the Learning Management System at work! My mortgage is never late and the cats are never hungry. So I must possess a modicum of self-discipline. Why not use that for the one thing that nourishes me the most?

Aye there's the rub! Writing is my nourishment and I have a writing-disorder!

 Last year, when my kidney disease suddenly plummeted my well-being, I began a diet that is stricter than a movie-star diet, and for the most part, have kept it up. I lost some weight and people around me exclaimed at my self-control. However, no matter how much I talk about it, I cannot fully express the ferociousness of the battles I fought to resist pizzas, to walk away from chhole-bhature, piping hot bhajias, the dhebras that used to be my staple, or the constant struggle to refuse cheese. The problem is, I can resist all that food, even get used to my salt deprived, lean bowl, mainly, I believe, because my body is more biddable than my writing habits.

I fear that my writing habits are sofa loungers that resist all discipline and refuse all commands to get up and get going. I have always felt guilty when I have given in to them: I should be cleaning up a bit, grading, updating, arranging my house, tending to the cats who share my living space. After all, I am really not the only person extraordinary enough to love writing! So on days when I give in to my unhealthy writing habits feel like wicked indulgences, though the aftermath is cathartic. I do not mean to say that the quality of writing is excellent; actually, quite the contrary. More than 90% needs to be re-written. But then there is a separate relief that comes with each draft.

The stories I am in the middle of inhabit me. I remember last week, I came home from work, got my dinner together and opened the story I had been working on. The television was on and the cats fed. I'd just meant to give the story a quick glance. When I looked up, it was 3:00 a.m. My dinner was untouched and my back hurt. I did finish that story but the next day at work was difficult, to put it mildly. I vowed and promised and threatened myself against such extravagant immoderation. I felt as though I had fallen off my diet and my stomach was paying the price of my intemperance.

I love that my stories have a purpose, a deadline, and a home. I am more than grateful for the close reading they receive; it has been  long time since anybody read anything I wrote this closely! Yes, I have problems with weaving plots, maintaining perspective, and ensuring tense consistency. However, it is a labor of love and I feel more meaningful, more like an active participant of a purposeful universe, more relevant than when I am doing anything else.

This entry is an exercise of discipline in itself. I am forcing myself to take a break from the story that owns me right now. Little by little, the gods willing, I shall tame my unruly habits. Perhaps, one day, I, too shall command a clean house and a body of writing I can show off, all because I finally will have trained myself to do a little of all everyday!


  1. To write everyday I commit myself to writing 1 sentence as soon as I wake up. I usually write more, but 1 sentence is my goal every day.

  2. You are too harsh on yourself. I am sure you will finish your book in good time and of excellent quality.

  3. From your fingers to the gods' ears!


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