Castles in the air - they are so easy to take refuge in. And so easy to build, too.

आम्हां घरी धन शब्दांचीच रत्नें | शब्दांचीच शस्त्रें यत्न करुं ||
शब्द चि आमुच्या जीवांचे जीवन | शब्दें वांटूं धन जनलोकां ||
तुका म्हणे पाहा शब्द चि हा देव | शब्द चि गौरव पूजा करुं ||
- abhang of Tukaram Wolhoba Ambile of Dehu

There's No Freedom Like That of a Child's Imagination

கடலுக்கு உண்டு கற்பனைக்கு இல்லை கட்டுப்பாடு

Monday, December 28, 2009

The Humility of Creativity

Over four and a half years of writing all kinds of stuff, there's a lot I have learned, but none more than one great lesson - that there's always more to learn. This makes writing such a humbling experience, while at the same time one of the most satisfying and enriching ones. And somewhat paradoxically, I think good writing is a social exercise, utterly dependent on the constant feedback from fellow writers and readers, and not quite the romantic idea of slaving away on an antique table in a seaside cottage (though that has its appeal too).

Which is why I think it is so important to present one's first, raw draft up for feedback the moment it is done. Not for me the arrogance of presenting a piece as a fait accompli - to say that I have editied and revised and editied it to my satisfaction, now whether you read it and respond to it, or throw it away, I really don't care. I'd rather have my first draft up for review, and jot down all the responses it gets. Which might include the response that the first draft wasn't really resentable, that it was 'too raw'.

Becuase then one gets a direction. Sometimes one gets to know what the reader expects, and then either fulfil that expectation or lead him on till that entertaining ah-ha twist (if one can pull it off) Or even an idea whether it will have any kind of audience at all (generally, in my little experience, it does. For anything, however awkward, there seems to be a reader who likes it). And then that most valuable of all feedback - the specifics. The comments that tell one whether it's too long or too short, too action-packed or too boring. The criticism that actually works as the sharpener, rubber and scale hone your work.

And then there is the stage of reasonably finished work. Where one has run the mile, done what one could think, cooked it to a time when a decison has to made. What are the finsihing touches needed - a little more simmering, or scaling back the overdone bits, or as can happen sometimes, throw the whole thing out of thw window and get everyone to agree not to speak about it anymore.

And then finally, finally, it might get finished. And then that's the sad bit, for until it gets a publisher (which is a force majeure event in its own right), it has to get mothballed in the file marked 'finished pieces'. For then the process is over, the ink smudges are gone, the hot arguments silent, the white spaces covered. It can only be healed by a new, blank sheet.

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