OPINION

Oiling The Writing Machine

March 09, 2008
Deepti Lamba

Writing requires rigor and discipline. It’s a machine that needs to be churned, kept lubricated and fresh. If the momentum is lost then much like sex it takes effort to get back in the mood to write, to get the characters back in their mood to be who they have to be and do what they have to do. And much like the dried up juices of a clitoris ignored, sometimes the pleasure of writing disappears but much like the fake sex and fake orgasm we go on writing.

The churning becomes mechanical, the enchantment dies and the characters are left in limbo- abandoned by the cruel god. It’s becomes a bleak duty performed but not loved.

The outside world beckons and love for the written word dims. A silent death happens and someone somewhere never gets to read what could have been the best read ever.

Sex and writing come easy to me; I was born that way but one is an act that lasts a few moments stretched to sensual eternity, the other a love harder than any other relationship I have yet experienced. It demands complete servitude, disownment of all that isn’t related to the world I create in my mind and on the laptop screen.

The passion of writing leaves me drained. It sucks me in like a subtle vampire, addicted to the drawing of blood, to the emotions and all that is me. Spilled on the paper – the hatred, the pity, the cruelty and violence that isn’t me.

I sit back and read all that is written. Chapter 1, Chapter 2 – oh! She is such a bitch. How could she be like this? How can he be such a victim?

I write ferociously, they act all nasty and their emotions become mine. The book in progress lives through my days and nights, haunts my dreams demanding answers, their needs driving me over the bend.

Write they tell me. Don’t stop, don’t raise your head, don’t look at that child demanding your attention. We need you and you need us. We are one, write and live through us, the real world is just an illusion.

Discipline and rigor become things of past. Like other writers I become a literary nymphomaniac wanting more than possible, the sickness eats from within, the anti social addicted monster raises its beastly head demanding more blood than ever before.

Insanity seems like a blessed relief however it is close but no cigar. The need for completion isn’t the mission but the need to stay in the moment of intense concentration, of heightened emotional being that keeps me spellbound and entrapped in those painful moments that may possibly stretch months to years.

Break the link and it is an addiction easily forgotten. Does that make me a fickle writer or just human being needing to recuperate before I once again lose myself in a passion that lives through others.

Deepti Lamba is a writer, an editor for Desicritics. She can be found at Things That Bang
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#1
temporal
URL
March 9, 2008
03:13 PM

it certainly is rhythmic - when smooth it is like a well oiled wheel...when not it moves in jerks

and then there is the muse factor to be added

yes, it can be an endless high at times (but with its attendant lows)


#2
Ms. Anona
March 9, 2008
06:15 PM

Wow, that was very eloquent....... summed up a lot.

I didn't really understand the connection to sex so much, kinda seemed like a cheap plug, if I can dare say such a thing since I do it all the time.

I can understand that part about 'don't look at the child demanding your attention'. These stories in my head just eat me alive when I cannot write them. (GOD, I"M PISSED!!!) It may take weeks until I will be able to sit down and write my next story, the characters can get dry, but never die, only I will KILL the next one.

#3
Aditi Nadkarni
March 9, 2008
06:50 PM

Deepti, nice piece. My experience however has been very different. Sometimes I just need to walk away from the story, from the words to dislodge the writers' block; at times even for days together. I do something else. Live a different life for a few days and suddenly one day the characters all return. They have changed, their stories have taken new meaning, their lives are suddenly more interesting and the story continues. I could be doing something completely uncreative, mundane, innocuous and within a few minutes the people are all there in my head, their dialogues and the scenes, crystal clear. It leaves even me awestruck.

I have had the most obstinate of writers' blocks when it comes to both creative pieces and the scientific manuscripts and these blocks just won't budge until I give in and move away. It is like a relationship between the writer in me and the rest of me. They each need their space before either one wants to see the other again :)

#4
commonsense
March 9, 2008
07:27 PM

Thanks for sharing this with us Deepti!

When it comes to writing what I "have" to write, ie. work-related, i have "attention deficit disorder". whatever i HAVE to write is what I'm least motivated to tackle. Especially when there's a deadline. I try to deal with this problem by writing multiple papers at the same time. I get tired of one, skip to the next one, get tired of it too, then move on to the other one for which I don't have a deadline etc. Sooner or later, all of them get done! Of course, what I write, has nothing to do with "creative writing", so there are no "characters" screaming inside my head, possessing me etc. Just editors desperately emailing me about the over-due review or piece I'd promised...

#5
Deepti Lamba
URL
March 9, 2008
10:10 PM

Thanks for commenting guys.

t, its the lows that irritate me, they can last for days on end.

Ms Anona, like sex writing is a pleasure and absorbing. One lasts minutes and the other becomes a lifetime addiction. Its a subjective analogy:)

Aditi, I agree its different for everyone. If a story is put on a back burner chances are that I may never finish it.

And maybe the rest of you ain't quite the loner that most of us writers tend to become when we are in the 'mode';)

CS, mind blowing multi-tasking!!

#6
kerty
March 10, 2008
12:36 AM

Deepti..

I am no writer, but when I read a good book, I feel like I am transported to a different world where only me and my book exists, I get reminded of the real world only when I have take a short break from reading for whatever worldly reasons, but only too anxious to resume my journey thru that virtual world created by the book. I assume that the writer too has to mentally live in the world hs/she is trying to create in a book, play out the scenarios, characters, settings in his/her mind while still remaining immersed in the real world. Kind of living in two parallel worlds, mentally moving in and out of both at will. Most authors would prefer to retreat to some solitude to deal with it. Doing it while dealing with domesticity of family life would be most challenging, to say the least and if one can still do justice to the book, well, one must have to be a almost superman, in your case, a supermom. Good luck to your writing endeavors.

#7
Deepti Lamba
URL
March 10, 2008
12:53 AM

Kerty, I suffer from constant sleep deprivation- with family during the waking hours and with my writing during the night, its kind of tough.

Thanks for reading :)

#8
Amrita
URL
March 10, 2008
11:09 AM

Hey Dee - very nice. somebody once said that writing is kind of like a muscle: the more you exercise it, the easier it is to keep it in shape. It's certainly true for me. :)

#9
Deepti Lamba
URL
March 10, 2008
12:15 PM

Amrita, I agree which is why I want to see you shaping up more than ever on DC;) hehee

#10
PH
URL
March 10, 2008
01:16 PM

Deepti,

Excellent piece! I read this and went, this is what you write whn you think you're hitting the block?:) FSM help us when you're prolific!

#11
Deepti Lamba
URL
March 10, 2008
01:39 PM

Whoa!! thats some compliment. Thank you I am tickled pink;)

#12
temporal
URL
March 10, 2008
02:20 PM

dee #9...badmash! (did ams say ouch!?)

adi:

Sometimes I just need to walk away from the story..... leaves even me awestruck.

two comments:

one, you never really walk away:)...thinking and mulling is not tap water!...your subconscious keeps on churning about the story, characters, plot even when you are not thinking consciously about them...

the process can take its own time

a day, a week or years

and then viola! you wake up as if possessed and key in words in frenzy and end up with a finished piece that surprises you

the best creative pieces write themselves...speaking from my experience

two, cs has mentioned an interesting way to go around the block (in #4)...to continue multi tasking...

there is only one downside to this...as i have discovered

you could end up with hundreds of unfinished poems;)


#13
Deepti Lamba
URL
March 10, 2008
02:23 PM

Hundreds? Lol!

Thats some legacy to leave behind t;)

#14
PH
URL
March 10, 2008
02:23 PM

temp,

Poems are abt stuff thats unfinished, in a way:)

#15
temporal
URL
March 10, 2008
02:46 PM

PH:

"gestating" is the word

and agree: they grow and in that sense remain "unfinished"

digression:

even when reading old poems, i cannot resist tinkering - replacing a comma or a word here, deleting a line or two there

it is a never ending chore;)

#16
PH
URL
March 10, 2008
02:53 PM

chakkii kii mashaqqat hai :)

I know, it's the same with me.

#17
Temple Stark
URL
March 10, 2008
04:08 PM

Is this another anti-Hillary screed?

.
.
.
.
:-)

Is Fired Up? appropriate here.

I think electric typewriters do it for me more than the PC.
TMI?

Great article.

#18
Deepti Lamba
URL
March 11, 2008
02:29 AM

Oh you democrats!;)

#20
Temple Stark
URL
March 11, 2008
04:30 PM

I get excited and psyched and energized about writing, trying to mentally put my whole being into other beings and creations. I've never thought of it in quite the same way as sex, though there are similarities.

Writing is much more difficult to do well, for a start.

- Temple

#21
Deepti Lamba
URL
March 12, 2008
12:35 AM

temporal, which is why they say - best to start with poetry then go on to writing,the rambling is less; good pointers

Temple, agreed, but whats even more difficult is to make it look effortless;)

#22
kerty
March 12, 2008
01:16 AM

Deepti..

The best part about writing poetry is that one can ramble thru it - writer does not have to make sense - let readers scratch their heads to figure it out and look for deeper hidden meanings if they are not so obvious and what readers might uncover could be entirely from within rather then intended in the poetry. Lots of people write poetry only for themselves - because they know their poetry would not make sense to most people - worst humiliation of poet is when they or somebody else have to explain what those poetry actually means. oouch. Luckly for poets, audiences are conditioned to exclaim 'wow', "kya khub Kahi" etc when poetry or couplets are thrown at them, even when listers don't really mean it. Poets got it very easy.

#23
temporal
URL
March 12, 2008
01:25 AM

"he who knows not and knows not...."

;)


sorry could not resist!

#24
Ms. Anona
March 12, 2008
04:51 AM

I'm confused kerty and cs

If poetry's so easy, kerty, where is yours? actually, where are your postings, I haven't seen that you have posted a single blog to be commented on this site. Same for cs, you have like a million comments, but you posted your first story??? and you are a phenomenal multi-tasker??? The two of you are great at hot air and sure are good at adding a bunch of pretentiousness around here. :)

Personally, I'm tentative to try poetry especially on this site with ppl like temporal lurking around who would take some certain pleasure out of trimming my blooming bud..... certainly if I call myself a writer, I will have to try someday. All I know is that there seem to be a lot more structured rules on syntax and number of syllables that I would have an unending desire to break.

#25
kerty
March 12, 2008
06:13 AM

Anona..

I was comparing writing a book vs writing poetry. I have no patience for writing either. While I appreciate reading a well-written book, I can't bring myself to read or appreciate any kind of poetry or any kind of word play. I don't think highly of poetry, nor who write them. Even in school, that was one thing I hated it the most. But when it comes to books, I can be a voracious reader.

The reason you won't ever see my posting or blog is because I don't. That is not my passion. Not even commenting is my passion which comes and goes like seasons. I do it for few months and than disappear for many months. I have got half a dozen businesses spread out over several states to take care of, though run thru management and staff, they periodically take me out for months. Too much of kerty would get repeatitive and not very good any way.

#26
commonsense
March 12, 2008
11:59 AM

Ms. A:

"" Same for cs, you have like a million comments, but you posted your first story??? ""

it's on somewhere! you mean you have ignored it??? what's it called? "the thekedaars of culture" or some such thing...look for it and rip it apart!

#27
commonsense
March 12, 2008
12:00 PM

Ms. A:

""The two of you are great at hot air and sure are good at adding a bunch of pretentiousness around here. :)""

Glad you enjoy it! I do what I can!

#28
commonsense
March 12, 2008
04:24 PM

Ms A:

""The two of you are great at hot air and sure are good at adding a bunch of PRETENTIOUSNESS around here. :)"

Wendy Doniger, a prof. at U Chicago and a writer on issues desi, has a great book on the above topic! The title is as nice as the book: _The Woman Who Pretended to be Who She Was_ (Oxford U Press, 2005)

Blurb: Many cultures have myths about self-imitation, stories about people who pretend to be someone else pretending to be them, in effect masquerading as themselves. This great theme, in literature and in life, tells us that people put on masks to discover who they really are under the masks theyusually wear, so that the mask reveals rather than conceals the self beneath the self.In this book, noted scholar of Hinduism and mythology Wendy Doniger offers a cross-cultural exploration of the theme of self-impersonation, whose widespread occurrence argues for both its literary power and its human value. The stories she considers range from ancient Indian literature through medieval European courtly literature and Shakespeare to Hollywood and Bollywood.Few of us actually put on masks that replicate our faces, but it is not uncommon for us to become travesties of ourselves, particularly as we age and change. We often slip carelessly across the permeable boundarybetween the un-self-conscious self-indulgence of our most idiosyncratic mannerisms and the conscious attempt to give the people who know us, personally or publicly, the version of ourselves that they expect. Myths of self-imitation open up for us the possibility of multiple selves and the infiniteregress of self-discovery. Drawing on a dizzying array of tales-some fact, some fiction-The Woman Who Pretended to Be Who She Was is a fascinating and learned trip through centuries of culture, guided by a scholar of incomparable wit and erudition.

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