Kristin tagged me to do this in a post. I cannot resist this tag, just as I cannot resist meeting Kristin over a bowl of coffee or soup as we read and comment on each others' stories. I remain grateful for her patience, as, of late, my stories have been woven around Indian mythology, a universe as alien to her as the world of the deep ocean is to me. She continues to inspire me to do better with every word I write. I also tag Marissa, a talented writer who shares our love of mythology and folklore.
What am I working on?
My book: An anthology for which I have a contract with a publisher takes up most of my waking hours when I am not working. These stories examine mythological characters Indian Mythology, who face issues and problems that are surprisingly contemporary. My hope is to enable today's readers to recognize themselves in these characters.
Assorted short stories: These are not based on mythology and they do not have a specific publisher or purpose that drives them. The immigrant identity fascinates me and I see shining vignettes or moments around me, around which I quilt and embroider a story. These stories feel like parts of my own psyche, detaching themselves, metamorphosing, and flying out of the window. I do send them out and some are picked up for publication; and so I lose them.
How does my work differ from others in its genre?
I think that my stories have a unique place, straddling as they do, continents, ages, and present a moment in the ever-changing ethos of the consciousness of an Indian American immigrant, operating from the particular canvas of experiences and responses that are personal and individual. My work is unique in narratology and treatment of the subject, yet it is informed by a rich heritage and it is not lonely. I have many writers (both, past and contemporary) whom I continue to enjoy and admire even as I resist emulating them and work on developing my own narrative voice.
Why do I write what I do?
I write because I don't have a choice. My stories, I sometimes fear, express some kind of a wild, untamed, un-tame-able wildness that is both within me as well as in the world around. At the same time, writing stories is my therapy, my cure against all manner of madness and chaos that are so much a part of one's every day life.
Usually, the story chooses the teller, so I suppose I don't really choose what I write much. The book I am writing is about Indian myths. I find epics, folklore, and mythology very easy to relate to. These stories provide a continuation of the human experience, at the same time, resonate with my internal realities. A lot of my work derives from these genres.
The stories in folklore and myths are ancient, yet I find that they are renewed within me. I try to tell them in their renewed form. For example, when my house burned and I could not go home for a while, I recognized my unwilling banishment in Sita's imprisonment. That is where my writing lives, between this world and the one of the myths.
I write because I have no other way of telling these stories that insist that they must be told.
I write because I know of no greater magic than that of the written word.
How does my writing process work?
I just blogged about this: I don't have a process, per say, or a part of my day or week I reserve for my writing. Sometimes, I get up in the night with an itch beneath my fingers and a slight nausea and the only way to get normal is to write it out; this usually is out in a few hours. But then, I have entire weeks when I don't do anything but write, weeks when I have planned to work on certain aspects of stories, aspects that need revision or re-writing.
I fear I might have a writing disorder. I do not particularly enjoy the writing, and it is really hard work.
It is frustrating because what I write is not brilliant, beautiful stuff; most of it needs to be revised, re-revised, and re-visited yet again in order to be just acceptable. It feels like a narcissistic indulgence, accompanied with guilt at indulging in it. But I love it so much that I cannot imagine doing anything else.
May the gods never visit such horrible fates on anyone I know!