What I talk about when I talk about Writing


I am so mad about books that books fit into every little part of my routine. A book is a must for that morning constitutional to the loo. A must while cooking. A must while falling asleep. A must while enjoying the sunset from my balcony. A must while “doing nothing”. I read almost one book every 10 days, not that it matters. Sometimes some books stick much longer, for being either extraordinary or for being extraordinarily boring. All of Salman Rushdie’s belong to the first category, a lot of Indian writing in the second. However, books are a must.

I love to write too, as a result. When I say I love to write, I mean I love to struggle to write: since there is always something urgent, something more important than just sitting down, mulling things over and writing about them. Sometimes I wish I could cordon off my workstation and my room with a yellow tape that reads ‘crime scene’! to allow me the kind of focus writing demands – the kind of focus with which one makes kneads the dough, softly, diligently, deliberately, the feel of soft dough balling up and gushing into in between the knuckles, rising as you push and pummel and twist and cajole with your palms. It’s therapeutic, almost. That, and writing.

But, I realise that writing needs to be a little bit more. It needs to be like running. There, I am inspired to run and write, as if to discover the connect, going by Haruki Murakami’s ‘What I talk about when I talk about running’.

This is what he says, something I found almost magical in its simplicity and yes, truth for what have been going through:

“Right now I’m aiming at increasing the distance I run, so speed is less of an issue. As long as I can run a certain distance, that’s all I care about. Sometimes I run fast when I feel like it, but if I increase the pace I shorten the amount of time I run, the point being to let the exhilaration I feel at the end of each run carry over to the next day. This is the same sort of tack I find necessary when writing a novel. I stop every day right at the point where I feel I can write more. Do that, and the next day’s work goes surprisingly smoothly.

I think Ernest Hemingway did something like that. To keep on going, you have to keep up the rhythm. This is the important thing for long-term projects. Once you set the pace, the rest will follow. The problem is getting the flywheel to spin at a set speed – and to get to that point takes as much concentration and effort as you can manage.”

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