Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Portrait of a Writer Who Bounces

Kiran has been hounding me for a while now. Aneela too. Parul mentioned it in her gentle(r) way years before either of them.

I always meant to write but I have not written much since college. My own writing didn't interest me as much as I wanted it to. Last year, for a lark, I started the Lake Gardens Tales. They floundered, mostly because I moved away from Lake Gardens and the atmosphere that those stories needed. That writing was uneven, occasionally rambling, more often too abrupt, but a couple of the episodes delighted me. I still read them and laugh, so they can't be that bad.

Last week Vicky, Rahul and I went to Darjeeling with Smitadi, Ashokda, Mama and Tuni. I turned on Vicky's Macbook one quiet evening and started to thrash out a story I had long had in my head. It was based on actual events, so it didn't need as much prep as it might have otherwise. It's not complete but it's mostly done and it's somewhat funny so perhaps my, um, mojo is returning. (I've never precisely been sure that I actually have a mojo but let us assume I do.)

We returned to Cal and since then I've been brimming over with ideas. Every time I try to get one down on screen though, I find it's my story. Fictionalised, slightly altered or even when changed unrecognisably, it's still always something that happened to me. And because these stories are all mine, I bounce from one to another with no boundaries, no limiting closures. None of them ever get finished although I sketch out some very interesting characters as I go. It would be difficult for me not to, because I do meet very interesting people. I used to think I fell in love with men who introduced me to interesting people but the truth is that I do it myself. Almost every month, I meet somebody somewhere who adds something to my thinking and enlarges my view of the world. Sometimes I feel like I'm crammed full of other peoples and that I'm letting their stories slip out of my fingers. Irrepressible people who live lives that fascinate me.

When I try to write these stories down, I end up writing about the effect they have on me. All these stories become about me or people who are something like the different shades in me and this narcissism is intensely exasperating.

I bounce from story to story, unable to choose which to finish, which to elaborate. I bounce from character to idea, remembering other events, unable to cut an episode off at an appropriate ending, remembering how many, many things each event influenced down the years. I used to think I was a kickass editor, so what happened to that?

I suppose I should just be glad I'm writing, at least. Maybe with time even the poetry with return.