A Writer’s Dilemma

A funny thing happened to me on the way to 2002. Just about every one I met, friends, kin, acquaintances, all barring complete strangers (the heavens be praised), would start conversations with mysterious references to ‘The Book.’  It took me a while to figure out they weren’t talking about the Bible, Quran or The Gita. They were all asking about the book I was going to write.

Except, there was and is, no such book. Time and again, I would tell people, with varying shades of apology, defensiveness, and truculence,  that I was not in the throes of producing a masterpiece. Their reaction never varied, though. They’d smile and say, “Yes, but when are you going to start on it?”

The last straw came in the form of a close friend who, upon the dawning of the New Year, has designated herself my Web Nag. She sends me a veritable barrage of e-mail all in order to get me kickstarted on The Book. Cajoling, persuading, coaxing, all has now given way to unveiled threats of bodily harm.  I’m contemplating going under the Witness Protection Act. Soon, others joined her. 

So, this goes out to you, LK, JK, GJ and all you so-called well-wishers out there: I am not about to write The Book. You want reasons? The first one, of course, is the obvious one: I do not have a story inside or outside of me, right now.

Two, I am not about to give up on my hard won place as the world’s laziest woman. Just the thought of all the discipline involved in getting a book out into the world makes me break out into a cold sweat. Getting up at 4:30 am is not conceivable for one who is loath to eyeball the rising sun. Deadlines of 2,000 words per day is tough for someone who writes 2,680 words one day, and the next day, cannot get out more then 34 words.
Then there is the polishing job. Who wants to go back over 200-300 pages of matter, pondering whether X’s character can be axed, Y’s foibles be cut short and A-B’s romance aborted?

After the writing comes the scouting- an- agent task, one  which involves the reading of your Booker-worthy book by many, er, frogs before the right prince/  agent comes along and picks it up … for a fat advance, of course.

Let’s fast forward to the book release function. There is the major decision of who will release your book; among the contenders are the savvy politician who will hog the limelight, the author you admire who will ask you to send him the ticket to the city of the function, the socialite with literary pretensions  who will use the platform to flog her next novella. Then there are the press promos, most of which will require you to dress like a wannabe model and talk Pupul Jayakar when media people ask you about the ‘subliminal text of alienation’ in the book.

Then, there are the reviews. Those you cut dead at the last Press do (alas, were there so many?) will trash you in a manner that has less to do with your literary output than your appearance and if your pinkie stood out while you held the brandy goblet  aloft.

You get the picture underlying the words, I’m sure. So, let’s have no more queries about The Book, shall we? Who knows, maybe I will still surprise you… in 2003. Or 2013.

(The writer did eventually bring out a short story collection titled Kith and Kin/ Chronicles of a Clan (Rupa Publications) in 2012.)

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