03/02/2015 by Siddiqui Fayesal
Firstly, if you have not read Em and the Big Hoom then please read it. If you don’t even intend to read the book, then please, start intending to do so. Now!
I’ve recently finished reading it and I have come to love it. It is a very simply written book that speaks about a depressed woman and how her family comes to deal with the collective ramifications due to her depression. It is about hospital visits, attempted suicides, fantasized euthanasia and lessons learnt without being taught.
Jerry Pinto was always in my peripheral vision before I had even heard of his book. I kept hearing from about him from my elder sister who told me, far too many times to account, that I should read his newspaper columns and that he was a gifted writer. Like all good advice, it was ignored to the very end. I finally decided to read it when I heard about it from my younger sister. Maybe it was ego that made me pick it up finally. How could she read a book that I haven’t yet read? I usually can live with the fact that I haven’t read all those books that my two older sisters have read but when the same equation was rewritten between my younger one and I, I simply couldn’t ignore it.
In simple words, Jerry Pinto is awesome. He uses words, few of which I hadn’t even come across, perfectly to light up the mind. The mind sees the action while the words roll off your tongue. He will describe the most complicated of ideas with such clarity that it runs like a movie. It gives instant graphic pleasure for someone who believes that the graphical pleasure is just an extension to the happiness and respect for the written word. I remember distinctly the way he has described Em’s son’s confusion in the book. It is a very beautiful paragraph, among many, resplendent with sunny gardens and birds chirping and the cool calm weather added to the pleasant surroundings. Mr. Pinto adds the proverbial wrench in the wheel of calm in the form of Em drowning and her son forced to walk away. It is a picture of perfection.
In my review that you can read here you will see that I have mentioned at the end that his work is like the first stepping stones, among others, for a wannabe writer from India who aims to be a good writer. It is common knowledge that a great writer will not necessarily sell like a well marketed writer. One might call this conjecture, but I speak of no unknown fact that there is a more populated stream of chaff readers when compared to the numbers who appreciate and thrive reading literary classics. Perhaps, it just seems that way to me. Yes, there is a sense of egotism involved when it comes to reading habits and I apologize for it, but there’s no way of getting around it.
Anyway, when I read Pinto’s novel it stirred deep inside like a monster that awakens every time I come across a prose of great quality. I mean, come on, Kiran Desai and Amitav Ghosh, both, have given their blessings to the writer!
Amitav Ghosh. Imagine!
I might as well end this post right here after mentioning him. If someone has the power to change my attitude and proselytize me completely it is Mr. Ghosh. I swear. No kidding.
As a guy who yearns for the tag of ‘writer’ to be legitimately associated with his name, I have a lot of confusion as to the ‘how to’s’ of the trade. The narrative, the plot, the research, the expressions, the voice, the tone, the pitch, the story and, finally, the execution are a collective burden that needs to be assigned clear answers to. The journey begins with the dawn of an idea and ends with someone reading it. Liking it is altogether another story and I really don’t want to be thinking of that just yet.
My point about this post is that there are a lot of things to have an answer to before I even begin to finish my draft. It is a never ending circle. All those writers who have won awards and accolades have one thing in common that they repeat over and over again.
If only they told me something simpler like doing 3 sets of head stands for every day of my life, it would’ve been so much simpler. But they tell me that I should trust myself. I also learnt that none of them wrote a book easily without breaking their everyday cycle, without getting up at 4 in the morning to correct a mistake, without living under the skin of their character for years at ends.
That is the battle that can be won by perseverance and rebuttals. What of the other aspects though? I know I should work hard and take time out of every possible moment to write and re-write. I get that part. But nobody has a sure shot formula, an A-B-C of how to research and incorporate the research in my story.
I believe that profiling your characters with utmost clarity is important. I need to know exactly how my character would react to a given situation. That will happen if I know my character inside out; blood and soul, both. The research will help shape the language and the story. But a character is largely dependent on my expertise. It will not come to me as I sleep. It will come to when I’m not sleeping.
Lethargy is my nemesis and I will have to fight it on an everyday basis.