Thursday, 1 November 2007

How indeed does one write!

Fascinating topic, and had always wanted to write my little bit! Just finished packing off my second novel, and this time the process of writing was far more selfconscious simply because I could imagine the people who were going to read it and say yes or no. Also I was aware of my foreign readership.
But one thing I simply cannot seem to do is write with concessions for people who have little to do with my culture. I cannot write a diasporic novel simply because I am totally home bred, and my only connection, and I agree it is deep rooted, is my reading and teaching of foreign literature. I stepped out of my country for the first time when I came to London for the book launch! But I am writing in a language that I have consciously learnt. And my novels require a lot of research. In Mystic Shore for instance, I am dealing with ashram life in Varanasi both far removed from my own life.
I begin with an opening sentence lodging itself in my head. The minute that happens I have to go on writing. My characters simply people my brain and clamour for expression. They do and say things that are unexpected and so I go on shaping my plot as I write. It is my research that involves copious note takings and I write asides that connects with my characters and what they are meant to do. The direction comes from my larger readings, and in the case of my second novel, since the background is political, with what is happening in the public domain.
My academic writing of non-fiction happens along with fiction writing, and strangely enough the two spaces are constantly inter-mingling. The angst I feel in one sphere simply spills over onto the other. The creative joy of completing chapters is shared between two different styles of writing. I have not yet tried my hand at genre writing, such as thrillers, mysteries or sci-fi. I write what is vaguely called literary fiction so I can hardly think in terms of sequels. Once I have finished with one novel I leave that world behind. I cannot even recall the magic of that world!
I will put aside fiction writing for 2008 because I have a commitment to fulfil. But who knows when a stray sentense will float in and lodge in my head...


Suroopa said...

It's stray 'sentence'. Sorry!

David Isaak said...

Nice post, Suroopa.

I agree that the idea of sequels in lit fiction seems a little odd at first, but people have done it: John Updike with his "Rabbit" novels, and Richard Ford with the Frank Bascombe novels. And, I'd argue that the characters in Across the Mystic Shore are rich enough--and some of them are young enough--that you could tell another story about them if you cared to. (Doesn't mean you ought to; I'm just noting that there was still plenty of depth and life left in the cast you put together.)

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