03/11/2016 by Siddiqui Fayesal
I’ll take this by its horns. I usually don’t. I look for subterfuge to escape things so that I don’t have to make an assessment or a judgement call. At least till it’s not really imperative that I do.
My writing life has been the very definition of lackadaisical. These quotes that I work on? They were meant to be a part of the writing exercise, sort of like a voluntary prompt that would make me sit up and write like a madman. That was the plan initially. The first time I planned on working on these quotes was on 17.06.2014. I ACTUALLY began with Quote 1 on 03.08.2014.
You do the math. If you want to read it (Really!) you can do so, here.
I’ve been working on my book for as far back as I can remember. I had begun right when I realized that I love the idea of writing. I picked up a notebook and began writing. It was okay for the first few pages. I was writing!
The conflict began when I couldn’t think of what to say. I was writing dialogues, and it sounded juvenile that my characters mostly spoke and there wasn’t much of a narrator.
I destroyed those pages. I never destroy completely, though. They’re still there. The point is that I believed I could do better. That was an honest thought, because those pages stank. Hillbilly dialogues, name calling, bad jokes, insipid structure and puke worthy characterizations. I had it all in the dozen or so pages. But, in my defense, I knew I could do better, so I began again from scratch.
I began again with an honest belief that I can do better. And better I did. I did become something that I wasn’t in those days; someone who can write something halfway decent. I filled pages and pages with notes and character back stories, with multiple plot lines and arcs that crisscrossed over my chosen universe with back flips and over-the-shoulder overtures.
I loved my storyline and plot and characters.
The funny part, though, was that after a few notebooks (notebooks now, not pages) I felt that my plot was going haywire, my characters lacked depth and my dialogues needed anti-depressants. I changed my tact; wrote newer characters, infused more narrations and breathed in them a little humour.
After a few weeks and after more notebooks, I felt the similar clawing in the back of my head, that my plots seemed stretched and my characters were delivering dialogues instead of speaking, like in a Victorian play.
My head was trying to kill me.
It’s been almost 9 years since I began writing that book and, though there was a long gap of around 3 to 4 years that I barely wrote a couple of pages or a few hundred words, nobody can take away the strong stench of failure from me. Nobody can really make the pain of failure, self induced failure at that, to go away. I have used evasive tactics and pseudo-literal devices to justify my actions, but at the end of the day, I know that they were nothing but diversionary excuses to prevent myself from doing the Real work; writing.
I pride myself in the fact that I have identified the biggest stonewall in the writing process. And that is, the “writing” part. I know it. I have professed this knowledge, acquired after deep meditation in my man cave, to all my friends who ask me questions about writing. I throw it around like a punch line. I tell them casually, “You know what the most difficult part of writing is? It’s writing”, and proverbially pat myself on the back and bask in the glory of my wisdom.
But I knew all the time that I was nothing but a thug, a low life who spent his time pretending that he’s doing something worthwhile, and doing nothing. Instead of writing like a workman and slaving away with pen and paper, I simply changed the track of my story setting telling myself that it was for the better.
I was underselling myself like a coward. The worst kinds of men are the ones who convince themselves that they’re doing things right when they’re not.
Neglecting small things under the pretext of wanting to accomplish large ones is the excuse of a coward.