The Rich Vegetarian

An Examined Life

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Tag: creativity

On Writerly Ambition (Or Lack Thereof)

I often get suggestions from many friends and well-wishers who ask me why I don’t submit writing pieces to magazines, websites, blogs, etc.

I think of a good response, then another… and because I am a good writer, I can give a nice-sounding explanation. I think they walk away convinced, believing that that I have a solid reason why I don’t submit my writing to other outlets.

Actually, here is how I think about this.

I am a lazy writer. I believe in inspiration. I believe in writing hard and fast, as rapidly as I can…. before the genius sprite flits away. I will do all that I can, give it my top best shot, write and edit, write and edit, be a willing servant to the creative spirit, put my fingers and words and typing to good use.

But something within me rebels at the idea of getting feedback. No, I am not terribly enthusiastic about placing my writing before an audience and getting their comments, and “improving my writing,” so to speak.

Does that make me an arrogant writer? Perhaps.

It’s just that I write for myself; I have always written for myself. I am positive that there are fabulous mentors out there who can help me, and who can guide my writing to a truer, clearer, more beautiful place.

But I have to find that one mentor. Or rather they have to find me. Because I am not looking, really.

For me, writing is life. In life, I have pretended to take guidance from others. Actually, I have taken guidance from others. But now, it has all come back to me. The inner voice is often timid and shaky, sometimes unclear… But it is there. She is there.

Similarly, I have always looked within to gain insights about my writing. Perhaps this makes it seem like I write in a vacuum of sorts, my own little cocoon or bubble.

Are all writers like me? (I am sure the answer is No.) Am I the only arrogant, so-called writer with an attitude problem?

I don’t know.

Do I need to “grow up,” mature as a writer… seriously think about improving my craft?

It is so darned difficult!

As I said, I am such a lazy writer. I answer to no one’s call except my own. I heed no other’s suggestion except mine. Does that make me arrogant? Or utterly and totally self-validated?

I don’t know!

Last year I attended a writers workshop, thinking that I could (or should) learn from fellow writers who, like me, traverse the path of part-time writing and a full-time job/other responsibilities, etc.

I came back uninspired.

(Really, what IS wrong with me?)

It feels like I am a solo player when it comes to writing. I will happily cheer for others but I am not particularly interested in playing with them.

I think it is simple. Writing is immensely soulful for me. I am not the least bit interested in anyone else’s critical feedback. For me, what comes naturally is referring back to my own voice, my unique creative process. This process is still a great mystery to me. So my endeavor has always been to seek and find my own voice, write it, then again, and again.

Emotions, Not Emotional

"Tere khushboo mein base khat main jalaatha kaise, Pyaar mein doobe hue khath main jalaatha kaise, Tere haathon se likhe khath main jalaatha kaise,
Tere khath aaj main Ganga mein bahaa aayaa hoon, Aag behte hue paani mein jalaa aaya hoon."

Such a romantic song, one that has echoed in my mind and heart through the years. It takes me back in time to a young Lakshmi, dreamy and idealistic, in love with love and coffee and books, in love with the idea of romance, in love with a guy who she wrote letters to, in love with the idea of a romantic life. Emotional, impulsive, afraid, terribly naive and hopelessly hopeful.

So much has changed. Not emotional but emotion-rich, not impulsive but spontaneous, not afraid but courageous, not naive but innocent, not hopeful but full of faith. It has been a lovely transition even if I say so.

A few years back, a song like 'Tere Khat' would have undoubtedly made me emotional. It would have made me go into a rumination of sorts. Dead relationships, painful regrets, moments of intense physical chemistry, sparks flying, unrequited love and deep longing. I would have been off the song in an instant and gone into a saga in my head. Making up sad stories, imagining what-if situations and consequences, feeling the dull ache in my heart.

Today, I have a different response to the song. Emotions arise (doesn't art always do that?), stir up the imagination, tears flow. I enjoy the pain entirely but I don't get into 'story' mode or ponder over what I have gained or lost or wonder about old relationships.

Emotions are vital to an artist. They are the very life blood of a creative person. Today I am a good writer (and not shy to say that either) because I am able to express my emotions without becoming emotional. It is a vital difference and one that cannot be emphasized enough. An emotional person experiences an emotion and takes off on its wings. Pretty soon, you have lost sight of the emotion and become fixated with its object. Stories are concocted, a flurry of other emotions are generated, and all beauty is lost.

This song triggered a post four years ago. It is a lovely bit of writing, really. Want to read something from the 'older' me? Here you go – Letters from an Earlier Time.

Emotions, Not Emotional

“Tere khushboo mein base khat main jalaatha kaise, Pyaar mein doobe hue khath main jalaatha kaise, Tere haathon se likhe khath main jalaatha kaise,
Tere khath aaj main Ganga mein bahaa aayaa hoon, Aag behte hue paani mein jalaa aaya hoon.”

Such a beautiful song. Laden with emotion, beautifully composed, full of meaning and poetry… A few years back, a song like this one would have undoubtedly made me emotional. It would have made me go into a rumination of sorts – old relationships, regrets, moments of intense chemistry, sparks flying, unrequited love and deep longing. I would have been off the song in an instant and gone into a saga in my head, making up stories, imagining what-if situations and consequences.

Today, I have a somewhat different response to the song. Emotions arise (doesn’t art always do that?), the imagination is stirred, and I enjoy the sensations wholeheartedly. I don’t get into ‘story’ mode or ponder over what I have gained or lost, or wonder about old relationships.

Emotions are an integral part of life. They provide richness to our experiences, allow us to connect with others, and enable us to drink in life with all its beauty, color and grandeur. Emotion is the life blood of an artist. Today I am a good writer (and not shy to say that either) because I am able to express my emotions without becoming emotional. It is a vital difference and one that cannot be emphasized enough. An emotional person experiences an emotion and takes off on its wings. Pretty soon, you have lost sight of the emotion and become fixated with its object. Stories are concocted, a flurry of other emotions are generated, and really, all beauty is lost.

This song triggered a post, a couple of years ago. I suppose that was a tad emotional… 🙂 Want to read something from the ‘older’ me? Here you go – Letters from an Earlier Time.