Three of my novels viz. “Dance of life”, “Intersections”, and “Soul Mate” have been published as one book under one title, “Dance of life”. The reception that the book had is quite another story.
What I am asking is …
Is it the end-all? Have I achieved it?
Has my much-trumpeted journey into the world of writing ended by that single accomplishment?
Knowledge-seeking and learning are endless processes.
In that sense, my journey has not ended but it has barely begun … and I still have three fully-ready novels to publish (heh … heh …)
The last one was in a lighter vein, folks (sigh … for a little more sense of humour).
I continue to write.
I continue to learn.
I write better.
I stated, ‘I continue to learn.’
What do I mean by ‘learn’? Do I learn the alphabets, the words, the sentence, the syntax, the grammar (oh, those sadists, Wren & Martin), the figures of speech, the paraphrasing, the writing of poetry, or the writing of stories?
The answer is, ‘Everything.’
The phrase “Writing (or some other creative form of expression) is my passion” is much bandied about, in a casual and nonchalant manner.
English lexicon says, passion means, inter alia,
- Boundless enthusiasm: e.g. His skills as a player don't quite match his passion for the game.
- The object of such enthusiasm: e.g. Soccer is her passion.
Mere wanting to write cannot be dubbed passion. Mere enthusiasm to write cannot be dubbed passion. There must exist, boundless enthusiasm for writing, boundless because any passion worth its salt is based upon endless learning.
Passion makes you hone your skills at writing, improve upon your vocabulary and expression, delve deep into the chosen topic, espouse uncharted subject matters, live alongside the dramatis personae laughing, crying, rejoicing, grieving with them. (To understand the emotions at play and my feelings at the conclusion of a story, read MY JOURNEY INTO THE WORLD OF WRITING – IV .)
Passion exposes you to the myriad writing stars bedecking the literature sky. It lets you enjoy and imbibe their skills. This is an essential and unavoidable aspect of the learning process. An aspiring writer would avoid this aspect at his or her own peril.
One who has taken to writing would be doing so in a language, which may or may not be one’s mother tongue. Let us take my example. I was always interested in learning languages and the thirst and thrust continued into and beyond my post-graduation. I’ll let you in on one of my secrets.
My mother tongue is Telugu. Despite being born and brought up in then Madras, my reading and writing abilities in the language were next to none, while my comprehension and speaking abilities were excellent. I was a movie lover and used to watch all the posters pasted on the walls enthusiastically. One poster intrigued me no end. The title of the Tamil movie had four characters in it, it seemed. However, the pronunciation of the title gave sound of only three letters! I was hell bent on unravelling the mystery of the title.
I pestered all those in my family who had some knowledge of Tamil language. An elder sister of mine educated me on the mystery.
The intriguing title was மாதவி, MADHAVI, मादवि:
In English - MADHAVI. This, divided into possible syllables would be MA-DHA-VI (only three although number of alphabets is seven.)
In Tamil – மாதவி. Again, divided into possible syllables, this would be மா-த-வி (only three although number of seeming alphabets is four, மா counted as two by innocent me, whereas it was one. The second half of the letter gives length to the sound ம.)
Thus began my peregrination into a beautiful Indian language, called Tamil, தமிழ். I began my journey through movie wall posters!
Now, don’t ask me why there are only three letters when written in Tamil, while there are five alphabets when written in English. If you are really interested, really have a passion, delve deep into it.
Phew … that was quite something, wasn’t it?
Let me go to secret #2!
My first job posting was at Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, in March 1974 (most of you weren’t even born then!) It was my first crossing of the Tropic of Cancer! Again, my knowledge of the spoken language, Hindi, was zero. Other than humming popular Hindi songs, most of the time not knowing the meaning of the lyrics, I had never spoken or written a single sentence outside of my compulsory school subject of Hindi. (Pssst … a secret within a secret! I failed in Hindi in my SSLC board examination, but passed in the board examination. You see, only the subject of Hindi was compulsory not passing in the exams!)
When I set foot on UP soil, I was completely unaware of the intricacies of the language and the chaos wreaked upon my unsuspecting mind by the missing neuter gender of the language!
Those days, there was a popular song, which goes thus, “गाडी बुला रही है…” from the film “दोस्त”, soulfully rendered by none other than the inimitable किशोर कुमार.
I understood that it meant, “The train beckons you…” My innovative spirit started working overtime and went into overdrive.
One day, when food was ready, I called my bachelor roommate to come and have lunch, thus.
“खाना बुला रही है.”
It does not require a PG degree in rocket science to imagine that I was skinned alive, well almost, that is.
Another of my gems was,
“क्या कर रही हो?”
There was nothing wrong with the sentence – the syntax, the punctuation, etc., if I had posed the question to a girl friend (by the way, I never had any). What was wrong was the context. I posed this question to my friend and roommate who was a ‘he’! (There wasn’t any skin left for him to peel away!)
I learnt the hard way that I should have asked, “क्या कर रहे हो?”
I had huge problem in understanding the अपना. It is used universally! मैं अपना, तुम अपना, आप अपना.
The essence of my verbal diarrhoea is that I knew next to nothing about genders in Hindi. However, within a year, the story was entirely different. I strove and struggled so hard to improve my Hindi prowess that my colleague in the office happily gave up and donated his Hind-English dictionary to me, even if only to escape my torture. (I used to bombard him with a deluge of linguistic and etymological doubts. I still cherish it, the dictionary I mean. Can’t say the same about the perceived torture.)
My passion made me progress rapidly and, within the next decade, a Hindi-speaking office colleague at Nagpur declared to other Hindi-speaking office colleagues that they should be ashamed that I, despite being a south Indian, was proficient enough to teach them intricacies of Hindi!
Well, so much for passion.
Most of us have opted for writing, seriously at that, in a language that is not our mother tongue. That makes it even more difficult to pursue our passion. It becomes important and imperative that we do it properly and correctly, well, as properly and as correctly as humanly possible.
If we were writing for our own journal, it would be all right, but when our target (pardon the unavoidable pun) is international, multi-culture, multi-lingual readers, we must be very careful in the whats and hows of our writings.
There is no gainsaying that the subject matter (be it a story, a news report, or a poem) is writer’s prerogative. So is the style of narration. One can choose the topic one wants to write about. One can create one’s own style of narration. There is no set of international or local rules binding these aspects.
However, one has to follow the rules of the language one has chosen to tell one’s story in - the grammar, the syntax, the figures of speech, etc. There is no escaping from it. A shoddy writing begets a bad response. Faulty language, with flawed grammar and syntax, incorrect spellings, erroneous expressions, will only elicit the disgust of the reader resulting in bad reviews and plummeting sales.
In conclusion, I would like to add that, with the support systems available on the Net – the dictionaries, the thesauruses, the translating software, the search and research engines – the writer’s task is rendered that much easy. Let us make full use of these facilities to produce better works.
I dedicate this sixth lap of my journey to all writers, aspiring or established, and to all readers, without whose appreciation my writings, nay, scribbling would be confined to my personal nocturnal journals that will never see the light of the day.
Adieu until the next lap …
Writer’s pitfalls …
Oops, I didn’t see that …
Et tu, Pit! Then fall, Shyam.