on the idea of writing a novel
to write a novel.
the idea came to me as i was struggling with my 20,000-word final masters project, which was a film (story, screenplay) for ram gopal varma*. i was fighting to reach it to the deadline, working from home full-time, and (with praveen to help), looking after then-six-month-old athri – who i was being repeatedly told by other have-been-mothers – was a remarkably manageable child.
as a first-time mom, the pressure was too much to handle no doubt, but an intense-three-week project-wrapping marathon, and less than a day after i handed in the 74 pages of my hard work at the university’s postgraduate centre, i was beginning to experience withdrawal symptoms. i was addicted to the research, the river of information, and the writing that gushed from it. i now wanted to write a novel.
there was a reason. somewhere in my head was something that remotely resembled a good story. i thought i’d let it rest for a while…perhaps it would pass? but a month later, an excited email from my teacher told me i had a distinction in my project, and a masters degree with merit. i was thrilled. perhaps it was not to pass, perhaps it was a sign!
i held on.
today, five months since, i wonder why it is still there.
am i again going through that clumsy phase, which, like most young girls stepping out of their sheltered lives and protective families, and into the wide world for the first time, leave them so naively attracted to the idea of love? now that i can sit back and laugh at how confused i had been, how almost-annoyingly innocent, i can’t help but suspect if the i-want-to-fall-in-love affectation has just been replaced by another syndrome. i-want-to-be-a-writer.
but i don’t have the time to be one. after my project submission in may, and my last post in august (which, between you and me, i wrote across two-and-a-half weeks), i have had visiting in-laws, house-moving, many sleepless nights thanks to a teething, charming boy (who turned one two days ago), viral infections that seemed to come and go in waves, fibromyalgia-pains, an application for a phd, work – and i haven’t written a single word.
i haven’t been reading either. the 40 minutes that i commute to work (on thursdays) lets me read about 25 to 50 pages of a book, depending on what i am reading. i had to return a dalrymple book that i renewed about five times already. i can’t wait to return to wodehouse (my first), who made me laugh aloud carelessly on the tube journey home, whose humour, like a sweet-smelling balm, instantly cheered all those rushed, sleep-deprived nerves.
there’s the sink – i call it the akshayapatra corner, that which never runs out of dishes to wash, there’s food to be cooked – new recipes to try, clothes to be washed, a husband and son who
demand attention i love to pay attention to. i like a clean home, the rooms need to be vacuum-cleaned, everyday, the toys need to be put away. there’s my office work, stories and websites to go through, blogs to browse…
and yet there is that adamant, that idea for a novel. in my mind, curtains of a story flap noiselessly in the breeze, restless. its characters stare at me (thankfully, not many right now), enquiring what their fate is going to be. some of them grow large at times, like balloons filling up with air, some lurk in the shadows, afraid to come out. others just shrink and lie there, emaciated, waiting.
me? i have already learnt my lessons in young love. i do everything possible, to avoid their path.
* anyone with any kind of contact with the director puhleeease get in touch with me…you won’t regret it, i promise :-)