A meditation on my writing
*Wrote a while back
I work like an architect. When I see an empty piece of land I start constructing a building, on paper. The construction goes systematically, brick by brick, floor by floor, each step following rules laid down by my styles and my limitations, knowledge and understanding, until the building stands firmly in it's entirety... on paper. Then (and only then) the first brick is put, and engineering starts. Building's integrity is questioned here by the actual laws of physics, its feasibility tested by the properties of construction material and its beauty judged by minds other than mine. This is the part I dread.
I love architecting stories inside my head. They start with an idea, or a vague notion, or sometimes an unidentified feeling. I let them grow and gradually, the stories start taking shape as I pace up and down frantically inside a room, or on terrace in nights - places where I can be my weird self. Explicitly delineated characters emerge who interact with one another and their environment, gradually imparting that world a reality more convincing than that of the world outside my head. I admit I am a tyrant; their freedom is tightly constrained for they must act in accordance with the very purposes that had led to their coming into existence... yet it is this purposefulness that makes their world more ordered, more comprehensible and more convincing. They do come up with their suggestions sometimes, yes. They improvise. That is why it is recited numerous times - the story plays itself like a motion picture or a drama in rehearsal, edited and revised until every word and action appears to spring out naturally, one followed by another meticulously.
At this point I become ready to write. Unfortunately, at this very point I question the very motive behind writing.
Stories inside a head have only as much utility as buildings drawn on a paper. Yet it is not utility but creativity that inspires me - the joy of creating something out of nothing... the marvel of the power and watching it work.
At this point, when the story already unfolds in my mind in one perfect linear flow, picking up a pen to transcribe it becomes mechanical, laborious. It is like recounting details of an incident to investigators or telling a stale joke to an audience. Writing down becomes a process of creating an imagery, vivid and detailed, of the story that is now part of my memory. All the questions are already asked, all the answer explored for. All the possibilities already
considered and the most suitable of them already chosen. Why should a story already scripted be written down then? Does a drama, practiced to perfection by crew, necessarily needs to be played in front of an audience? Would an architect enjoy constructing the building he designed?
Oh no, I am not suggesting otherwise. These questions, ridiculously naive or stubbornly revolting though they may sound, are only surfacial. Nevertheless I have started my meditation on writing with these questions, for they will lead me to other, more urgent questions: should a story be written down when it's not perfectly scripted in head? Can and how much can the process of writing and creating be integrated? Should writing be done for the sake of
writing, at the cost of quality of script? What does one learn by habitual writing anyway? What is it's utility?
You see, I struggle writing 500 words a day, every day. It's not because English is a second language to me, it's because language is a second medium for me. My thoughts are abstract, shapeless, chaotic. To learn them, I have to greet them, calm them down and unravel. They reveal themselves to me through feelings and images; finding correct words for them is an effort. If I imagine a large building, for example, I wouldn't know if it's
big or huge or colossal or gargantuan or gigantic or monumental or, well, large. I will have to pick each word, look for it's precise definition and see if the terms conveys what I want to. As words form a sentence I have to check if the tone of the sentence is in sync with the tone of my narrator and as sentences make a paragraph, I have to
check if the paragraph maintains the course of the narrative. Precision takes priority over expression, plot over prose, a sense of order over aesthetic sense.
So how do I go about Writing-500-Words-Daily project? How do I make the best use of it and is it really the best way to exercise for me? How will my daily struggle with it end?
I am sure with a better command over language, the tussles with writing prose will become enjoyable. There are scores of areas that I am yet to explore, nuances so obvious that I oversee them and rules so intuitive that I don't even know I follow them. I know the more often I write, the more secrets I learn - about language, about the art of
story-telling, and perhaps most importantly about how I work, about how I am.