You see, I, a conventional person in various other matters, took to computers like fish to water. Ever since I laid my fingers on the keyboard for the first time in 1990-91, I took to writing...oops...keying in my writings directly onto the hard disk. (Consequently, my already-illegible handwriting became worse over the years.) I find it quite convenient and time-saving. With the on-line support – dictionaries, thesauruses, (re)search engines - that is available nowadays, I feel very comfortable keying in my documents directly onto the hard disk.
The preamble about computers is necessary, since I had to save my text under some file name, book title in this case.
I had already decided to begin my new avatar with an easy topic that did not entail serious research and that allowed me to test my alleged potential. I chose a love story as my subject. I even envisioned the key, crucial scene and began hammering away on the keyboard.
When it came to saving the text document, I was in a fix! I did not think about the title! My Bollywood-conditioned mind worked overtime and came up with the following brilliant (I thought so, at that time ) titles for my maiden novel:
- “Another Love Story” – I needed something to save it on my laptop. I knew I would eventually change it;
- “RASHI- Another Love Story” – RA from Radha, the heroine and SHI from Shashi, the hero made up for this variant. I thought I was damn innovative but I found it hackneyed and clichéd a la “What’s your RASHI”;
I preferred the former and saved my document under it. As I was nearing the end of the story, and used a phrase to describe a scene, a situation, it just popped up from the page and screamed, “I am here, the title for your book.” Without a second thought, I accepted it. “DANCE OF LIFE”, the story, the flow, the characters, and their feelings and sentiments gave me this final choice for the title. Only when you complete reading the story, you will understand why, how, when and where I got this choice.
The entire nagging exercise of searching for a suitable title taught me one very important aspect of writing a novel, which is etched in my mind indelibly. Now, even when I write a short story or a poem, if I am uncertain about the title I do not worry. I know, the story would offer it to me itself.
Psst, I shall let you in on a secret. I started with the last scene first!
Initially, I described and placed the crucial scene in the Epilogue and proceeded with creating the remaining story. I made good progress and reviewed my work. To my consternation I realised that the crucial scene was like a square peg in a round hole! It was not fitting in the section where I placed it! I read, re-read, and reviewed my story umpteen times and realised that I had committed a mistake and that the scene belonged in the prologue; so, I moved it to its appropriate position in the story and proceeded. Whether it will prove ominous to the sales of my first-ever book, time alone can tell.
The characters and characterisation did not cause much problem. They fell into place and I passionately etched them each with its own individuality rather than the writer peeping through every one of them.
The dialogues, the conversation was a little tricky. I tended to go overboard with long-winded dialogues but corrected my folly in the initial stages itself. I pruned them and kept them crisp, elaborating only when needed. I think my strong point is my capacity to describe things and situations, descriptive prose as I call it. Here, I unashamedly admit the indelible influence of the redoubtable Late Alistair MacLean, who was a master in this art, on me. (Except a couple of his later-year novels, I read all his works. I consider “The Last Frontier” his best for its content, form, crisp characterisation, informal and flippant conversation and, above all, its immaculate presentation. Well, that is by the way.)
I shall come to another crucial part of the story. It is a simple letter, which was my vehicle to convey many conflicting emotions - love, sadness, hope, regret, romanticism, and pragmatism – in fact, the very essence of the story! Let me admit it here that it was an extremely onerous task, given my emotional nature. I took nearly four days to create it. I broke down every time I resumed and attempted to write it, making my guardian angel regret and wonder whether she had committed a mistake in coaxing me into writing. I explained to her that God Almighty created me that way, emotional and sentimental. I went on to say that the conclusion of every story of mine was, for me, a very emotional and nerve-racking experience. It was like giving away my daughter in marriage.
Well, folks, that’s it; my first-ever book, “Dance of Life” was complete.