Most days when I actually sit down to write, the words flow. And then there are days like today. I have not written a word the last few days… the weekend, a bout of cold and friends visiting from India. This is such a terribly familiar litany that I am cringing with shame as I jot it down. I am also writing down these tiny, inane details cause I have no clue what I should write about today in my 500 + words.
Ummm…. I think I will write about… gawd! Nothing! Blank. I had a few topics flit through my head – support, ennui, helplessness. But I don’t feel like writing about any of them. I don’t feel like writing today.
Since morning my self-talk has been littered with stuff like, “I am going to hit my 500 words today. Even if I have to sit and type out meaningless drivel.” “I think I am going to take a break and do this later.” “This is torture!” I can think of a hundred different things I want to do right now. Respond to some emails and comments. Clean my bedside draw. Cook. And I am not even that fond of cooking!
Aaaarrrgghhhh stuck again! Now what! Can I complete this later?
I have been a writer most of my life. I have written for newspapers, magazines, PR companies and as a favour for a few friends. I have even ghost written articles for a fitness expert! But these are the bread and butter kind of writing. When I am not doing that, in my spare time, I am working on two projects – my novel, and my script.
I am currently working on a novel and things are proceeding well. I have plotted my story outline finally and my first three chapters are almost done. The one-line break-up for my movie script is also ready and is now only going to be touched again in July, when I visit Mumbai and can hopefully sit with an old friend and go over it with a tooth comb.
I am over my first flush of youth, and am firmly ensconced in middle age – though my head and heart are in their 20s (statements like the 40s are the new 30s only add to the confusion.) Most days I tell myself it is never too late to chase a dream, but then once in a while there are days like today, when the words don’t trip and tumble over each other in their hurry to get set on paper. Days when the blank sheet is scary and blank. Expressionless. On those days, I ask myself, “Is it silly of me to hang on to a dream like this?”
I have spent most of my life being busy – but not really working towards my dream. And now that I have quit my job with the express aim of focussing on my dream, I continue to fill my days with busyness of the worst kind. The kind of busyness that lets me tell the world that I write. But I am not writing what I want to write, instead I take up projects that bring in some small change and a by-line in some magazine. But that is not what I want. I have seen my name too many times in a newspaper and magazine for that to hold any charm for me.
Since September last I have tried to cut down on that kind of writing. But I was still wasting time on stuff. Not on my writing. The last one month has however been good. I have actually got down to sharing my work on my novel with a few friends and getting their feedback and basically am working on the novel every single day. I realise that it is not laziness, but fear, that prevents me from working on my pet projects. Fear that it will not be good enough. Fear that I am fooling myself when I think that I have a story to tell. And every single day, I have to fight this particular demon, before I can even open my laptop and click on my story’s document and start typing away. Like a smoker trying to give up the habit, I have to take it one day at a time.
And now, a couple of paras down the line, I shrug and sit back and relax and let the words flow. The page is no longer blank. The gates have opened. Again. Thank God! Today, I have earned the right to call myself a writer, again.