A WRITER IN TRANSITION BLOG # 6.

THE EVOLUTION OF CHARACTERS IN A NOVEL.

        In my previous blog, I had discussed my problems with selecting a protagonist for my next novel. In this blog, I would discuss my problems with depicting the growth of characters in a novel with the passage of time. Normally, a novelist employs two methods . A novelist either can use some external markers like changes in the surroundings of the characters or can use some internal markers like thoughts of the characters to denote the passage of time. These, in conjunction with the emotional changes in the characters, can give a perception that these characters has evolved during the unfolding of the novel. Therefore, it is always a challenge for a novelist to bring out this perception indirectly through the creation of  details of  a novel as it unfolds.

        While writing my first novel, I realized that, both these techniques require different skills. While using external markers to depict the changes in the characters, I had to depend on my memory of the city of Mumbai  to differentiate between the old and new surroundings. The depiction of changed internal markers, on the other hand, required me to think and feel like the characters of that novel. Therefore, I  chose in my first  novel to restrict the geography of the plot to the one I am familiar with. Similarly, I  tried to flesh out characters with the emotions and thinking of the individuals of whom I had read about or whom I had met.

        However, in my second novel which would be published shortly, I have tried to be more adventurous. I chose to write about places I was not familiar with. Similarly, I have tried to flesh out characters  whom I have never met. This turned out to be a creative challenge because I had to rely on my imagination to create details of these entities. Of course, in the days of Google search, it is easy to find details of the places one has never visited. However, one needs to recreate the ambience of these places. I hope I have done it well. Similarly, if one were to create a character whom one has never met, one runs a risk of falling back to stereotypes. I have tried to invest new behavioural details in such characters to make them authentic. I hope that this detailing makes these characters believable.

     These might appear to be restrictive techniques. However, the key insight that I have gained is that beneath these limitations, there is something more fundamental and universal about the  human existence that would come through in spite of a novelist’s limited repertoire of locales and characters. There is something in each one of us that transcends these mundane details. It is novelist’s prime objective and in fact, a moral obligation, to tease out this transcendental aspect of otherwise ordinary characters. Fortunately, I could do it reasonably well in both these novels. Of course, the readers are the final arbiters of whether I have managed to do it or not. However, I personally think that I have done a decent job of extracting   the human angst from the lives of  otherwise nondescript characters.

       Let me now tell you how I am going to depict the  evolution of  characters in my third novel. As I have mentioned earlier, this novel is going to be a third person narrative. Therefore, there is no narrator. As a result, sense of continuity, both emotional and temporal, must come from the plot itself. Therefore, I have decided to describe the life of the  protagonist in a narrow time span of three years from 2014 to 2017. The events in the protagonist’s life prior to this time span would find oblique references in the narrative. This is necessary because it allows me to minimise the depiction of external markers. I would be able to focus on the details of the plot unfolding.

         Moreover, since the past events would surface in the plot indirectly, this would give a new complexity to the plot itself. This resurfacing of events in the protagonist’s mind, by oblique reference, would provide a tool to depict the changes in the protagonist’s mindset. Similarly, all the other characters would connect to their past indirectly by connecting to the events unfolding during these three years. Since this novel is a third person narrative, the protagonist is not really a protagonist in the conventional sense. He is a protagonist because the plot revolves around him and not because his version of the narrative is articulated. In fact, it would be proper to think of life or the plot itself being a real protagonist in which the conventional protagonist occupies a central place. The protagonist is in the centre of the plot but he is not in the centre of the novel. The centre of the novel is the human angst in the contemporary life in Mumbai.

         As a result, each of these characters would evolve only marginally during the unfolding of the plot which spans three years, but it is their ability to connect to their individual pasts that would give an indication of their own perception of their personal evolution. Thus, the evolution of individual characters would be indirectly perceptible by their own reminiscences of their pasts, while the events of these years unfold. It is as if each of these characters lives these three years, but they live in the context of their individual pasts. Thus, the events are same, but how these characters interpret and react would tell readers about the evolution of each of these characters. Admittedly, this can only be done when a handful of these characters are developed in details. Therefore, there are two kinds of characters in the novel. There are characters whose lives are woven into the narrative and these are only a handful. Then, there are characters who are mere instruments to carry the plot further.

            The beauty of fiction writing is that sometimes, these characters surprise the  novelist. I found about this in my second novel. When I introduced a character called ‘Pakyabhai ‘ , he was merely an instrument to carry forward the plot. However, to my chagrin, he kept on reappearing in the novel without my knowledge and approval. In that sense, I can confess that this is my present intention of how this novel ought to be shaped. However, it is possible that any of the planned characters might hijack the narrative. Sometimes, the evolution of a character in a novel may overshadow the evolution of a novelist. This is true in life as well. Our own progeny sometimes overshadows us. Unlike novel, life is not a single narrative but a collection of narratives, each valid in itself and yet each being divergent from the remaining narratives. I only hope to capture this quintessence by using the third person narrative in my next novel.

         In my next blog, I would discuss how complex structure of the narrative becomes when one writes a novel spanning three years but the  history of thirty years.

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A WRITER IN TRANSITION. BLOG # 5.

          IN SEARCH OF A PROTAGONIST.

          In my previous blog, I had discussed the moral ambiguity and our vague awareness of that ambiguity. I had suggested that my next novel would deal with a protagonist who would transgress what he considers as a thin line between morality and immorality. His dilemma is that he is forced to cross that line even while knowing that he shouldn’t. The novel deals with how he copes with this dilemma and how he finds his deliverance.

         In this blog, I would discuss my problems with selecting the protagonist. In my earlier two novels, I had used certain yardsticks in deciding who should the protagonist be. Let me begin with those yardsticks and tell you what these yardsticks indicate about my third novel. In my first novel, the protagonist, Manas Desai, was an entrepreneur. When I began writing that novel, I wanted to focus on how an idealism of a young man degenerates into amoral ego trip. Therefore, I wanted the protagonist to be emotionally naive. I wanted him to experience trauma and drift into business. Therefore, that character turned out to be an entrepreneur.  His descent into an amoral existence  could only be achieved if he were to be self employed. Had that protagonist been shown as a careerist , it would have been unconvincing to make him amoral egotist. Therefore, the character of Manas Desai was shaped by my need to transform naive idealism into amoral egoism.

         In my second novel, the protagonist, Gautum Parikh, is a chartered accountant. Once again, it was my own compulsion that had shaped the profile of the protagonist. In my second novel, I was keen to demonstrate that even rational individuals end up in believing in irrational and blind beliefs. Therefore, I wanted the protagonist to be a professional. Of course, I could have made the protagonist either a lawyer or a doctor or even a technocrat. However, since the protagonist had to be old enough to experience the rebirth of his girlfriend, he had to be a man in his fifties. This eliminated the technocrat because the paradigm shift in technology is so dramatic that to create credible details of young and old protagonist would have been very difficult. Even the choice of medical profession for the protagonist was ruled out because it would require too much of a technical jargon. I want my protagonists to be easily identifiable by lay readers. Therefore, I had option of having a lawyer or a chartered accountant as my protagonist . I opted for a chartered accountant by default because there are several references to a court trial in the novel. Therefore, having a lawyer as a protagonist would have  turned the narrative into a monochromatic narrative. In this novel, the protagonist being a chartered accountant helped me to balance the narrative with different background milieus  of a chartered accountancy firm as well as a criminal trial. Once again, the profile of the protagonist was decided by the novel itself.

        Now, let me turn to my next novel and tell you about the protagonist. As I have already mentioned, the protagonist experiences a sense of guilt of having transgressed his own sense of morality. Though, he knows that he had valid reasons for transgressing, he still blames himself. What he doesn’t know is that his own subconscious mind had a powerful reason to force him to commit something that he considered to be wrong. Therefore, my main concern is what kind of professional background the protagonist should have. That profession must put him in a situation where he is forced to do something that he considers to be wrong.

     When I began this blog, I had thought of few options about his profession. I wanted the protagonist to be either a programmer or a college lecturer or even a government officer.  Admittedly, these are rather non glamorous occupations. However, my choice is based on several reasons. I think that I am comfortable with the protagonist who belongs to middle class. Moreover, his sense of guilt and his eventual deliverance needs to be spread over ten to fifteen years. Therefore, the protagonist ought to be a middle class and a middle aged individual. Such an individual  can’t have any fancy professional background.

       At the same time, his sense of having transgressed his own sense of morality must arise from his act of sufficient magnitude and dramatic consequences,  otherwise he would never have an opportunity to redeem himself. Therefore, I am going to make him a computer programmer of the  seventies who becomes a software consultant in the present times. His personal growth would reflect the shift in information technology. However, I would not focus on the technology per se, but on the protagonist as an individual. This will minimise the risk of being too technical and help the readers to identify with the protagonist.

          In my next blog , I would discuss my problems with evolution of the characters in the novel.

A WRITER IN TRANSITION. BLOG #4.

                 THE MORAL AMBIGUITY.

           In my previous blog, I had discussed my attempts to find a theme for my next novel. Having decided to write a novel in the third person narrative, I had suggested that I would like a narrative where the protagonist would be driven by two strong emotions of guilt and sacrifice. The core of this novel would be that the protagonist would never realise that he is driven by these two emotions and still he would find his redemption. In this blog, I would discuss what happens to us when we are not aware of our own subconscious emotions and how this ignorance leads us to moral ambiguity.

           As we grow up, we realise that our notions of ‘good’ and ‘bad ‘ are not clear cut. We normally define these notions in the context of what we are required to do. In other words, there are no perfect definitions of good and bad. We decide what is good and what is bad depending on the circumstances that we face. Every time, when we face such a dilemma, we make a choice of what is good and what is bad depending on our own understanding of life. More often than not, we arrive at our choice based on what our intuition tells us about the choice. Of course, once we have made the decision, we always conjure up very good arguments to justify our choice. Rarely, if ever, we realise that our arguments in support of our choices are justifications of our choice and not the reasons for our choices.

            The trouble with growing up is that, as we grow older,  we become  more and more aware of this gap between the arguments as a justification and arguments as a reason behind our choices. As a child, each one of us lives in a blithe ignorance and believe that our desires are synonymous with what is good and therefore we pursue our desires and wishes with an endearing naivete. However, as we grow old, our moral sense tells us that life is not as simple as that. There is something more to life than the endless pursuit of wish fulfillment. The real problem with growing up is not that our moral sense tells us about what not to do, but rather that it doesn’t tell us what to do. Our sense of morality is, in some sense, negative. It reduces the number of choices that we can think of  what we ought to do. However, it never suggests any choices, on its own,  of what we ought to do. Therefore, sometimes we never know the morally correct choice until it is too late. This is the origin of our moral ambiguity. More importantly, it defines the human angst of modern times.

           I am tempted to believe that this story of individual development from naivete to ambiguity is also reflected in our collective history of our culture. In the ancient times, the societies  (and even religions) were founded on the simplistic notions of good and bad. With the passage of time, due to social and cultural evolution, we have evolved very intricate rules of justice and equity. However, somewhere deep within, we know that our laws also tell us what not to do and rarely tell us what to do.

            My focus however, is not really on this moral sense per se. My interest, as a novelist, is in the consequences of such a muted moral sense. If human beings are driven by their subconscious emotions  ( of which they are not aware of ) and if they are handicapped by this muted moral sense, every human being would be facing angst that arises from this moral ambiguity. Most of us have experienced situations wherein we know that what we want to do is not exactly right thing to do and still we want to do it because that gives us an emotional satisfaction. The tragedy of human life is that vague awareness of having transgressed and yet experiencing emotional deliverance. I think human being are not good or bad. They are good and bad at the same time.

            I think that Nature, in her infinite wisdom, has deliberately endowed us with this muted moral sense. Had she given us a complete morality, we , human beings, would be reduced to machines following Nature’s instructions. The value of human life lies in the fact that she/he has a freedom to pursue what she/he thinks is good and make mistakes. This freedom to commit mistakes also gives human beings a chance to redeem themselves. Our subconscious need to experience catharsis is actually a substitute for our destiny to experience our redemption. The true moral ambiguity lies in our need to experience this catharsis and redemption. I think there is no way to explain why we need to experience the subconscious emotional drives, the subsequent sense of transgression, it’s catharsis and finally a sense of redemption. I believe we don’t need to undergo these emotional cycles. We would be happy to be always correct and always satisfied. . However, I am convinced that in that case , we would not be human beings,  but some automatons. To quote a famous saying, to err is human. I am tempted to modify that saying and assert that to err is human destiny.

            I am planning to write my next novel where the protagonist is acutely conscious of his own moral ambiguity but he is driven by his subconscious mind to transgress. Of course, in the light of what I have written, the protagonist would have to find his own redemption.

           In my next blog, I would discuss what kind of protagonist I would want. This is because his profile would decide what  form of transgression the protagonist would be forced to commit by his own subconscious mind and how he would find his redemption. 

A WRITER IN TRANSITION. BLOG # 3.

                   IN SEARCH OF A THEME.

                  In my previous blog , I had discussed my transition from a first person narrative to a third person narrative. One of the necessities for such a third person narrative is that it looks at the story from outside. Therefore , by definition , it eliminates an individual perspective of the story. The conflict , therefore, doesn’t exist in the narrator’s mind , but it exists in the story itself. Therefore , the story told in such a novel becomes more important than the mindset of any of the characters. It is in this context , I would discuss my problems with selecting a theme of my next novel.

                 In my both the previous novels , I had sought to describe the mindsets of a  protagonist by depicting the distortion in his perception of reality. In such an approach , the plot of a novel plays a secondary role because no matter what happens in the story , what is illuminating is the protagonist’s perception of it. The distorted perception of the protagonist is a tool for depicting the human angst. However , in a novel based on a third person narrative , the plot itself becomes the tool for depicting the human angst. Therefore , the selection of the theme of a novel becomes critical for a novelist.

               As a novelist , I am averse to pick up a theme which is socially and politically sensitive. It is not that I do not have such views , but these views are my personal views and they are outside the public domain. Moreover , there is an inherent risk for a novelist while choosing such a theme. The factors that are extraneous to the literature , dominate appreciation of such a novel. It is not that I don’t believe in social equity and the need to reform our society to achieve such a social equity. It is just that I don’t think it is a novelist’s job to do it. I think that a novelist’s primary concern should be to make readers more introspective. If such an introspection leads to social equity,  it would be ideal. However , a novelist can not write a novel to bring about social equity. A novelist can only write to force readers to reflect on their own value system. I am not saying that a novelist can not be or should not be a social reformer. All I am  saying is that to become a social reformer , one doesn’t need to write a novel.

                 Returning to my search for a theme of my next novel , after finishing both these novels , I realized that I was more concerned with the nature of reality and our perception of it. I was convinced , more so after writing these novels , that our perception of reality is distorted by our subconscious emotional state. In that sense , both these novels tried to depict this distorted perceptions to highlight the underlying emotional state of the protagonists. However , during the process of writing these novels , I have found another aspect of this distorted perception. Our biggest problem arises not from the fact that our perception of reality is distorted , but it arises from the fact that we act in accordance with our distorted perception of reality. More importantly , our actions seem to crystallise our subconscious emotions. Therefore , our actions must be seen as expressions of our subconscious mind. It is as if our subconscious mind forces our conscious mind to express itself through our actions. Let me add that , in this context , our conscious thoughts too must be considered as our actions. In other words , our conscious mind is nothing but awareness of what is crystallised out from our subconscious mind. These include our conscious thoughts and our deeds. In fact , that is the reason why our religions equate bad thoughts with sins. In the Indian context , an evil thought is considered as bad karma.

                I am convinced that if this is a correct picture of how a human mind works , it is possible to simplify our moral values to two simple concepts. Firstly  , there is a sense of guilt that we experience and seek to compensate with atonement. Secondly , there is a sense of sacrifice and our need to feel nobility that arises from such a sacrifice. In fact , in literature , the notion of catharsis embodies both these senses. Therefore , I have decided to write my next novel based on the plot that embodies these senses of guilt and sacrifice. Surprisingly , some of the most memorable literary characters are personifications of simultaneous senses of guilt and sacrifice. However , I would not deal with the emotions that a protagonist would experience while undergoing the catharsis , but I would focus on the circumstances which force the protagonist to experience the catharsis. Therefore , I need a third person narrative which would tell readers what happened in the protagonist’s life. As to what the protagonist feels and how he achieves his redemption via catharsis , I would want readers to experience it themselves through identification.

                  I would end this blog with a hint that the protagonist would be forced to commit what he consciously knows to be wrong.  In  spite of his belief , he is forced by his subconscious mind to commit something wrong. The novel deals with how the protagonist achieves his redemption without being aware of what brought about this redemption. It is only in the climax that he would find the explanation of his guilt , his catharsis and therefore his deliverance.

             In my next blog , I would discuss we cope with our ambiguous moral sense.

                

A WRITER IN TRANSITION. BLOG#2.

THE NARRATIVE FROM OUTSIDE.

                     In my previous blog, I discussed the emotions that I, as a novelist, felt while finishing my second novel. In this blog, I would discuss my problems with the literary style of writing a novel in a third person narrative. This is important because my both previous novels were first person narratives.

                     Traditionally, it is easier for a new novelist to adopt a first person narrative while writing a novel. There are two reasons for this preference. Firstly, it is easier for a novelist to express her /his thoughts and feelings through the narrator. This is because there is a sense of identification for a novelist with the narrator. Therefore, without being aware of it, a novelist finds her /his own expressions being expressed by the narrator as a proxy. However, as a novelist becomes more adept in writing novels, she /he learns to become detached from all the characters of her /his novels. Therefore, she /he doesn’t require such a proxy. Instead, a novelist is more interested in observing the evolution of the characters from outside. Therefore, the first person narrative which was necessary for the proxy, is no longer a prerequisite. Thus , in most cases , the shift from a first person narrative to a third person narrative is a mark of evolution of a novelist. I was aware of this aspect of writing a novel when I began my first novel. After having finished two novels, I agree with this rationale.

                  The second reason why this approach works is that it is always easier for a new novelist to create a subjective world view of the story being told through a narrator. While telling a story through the subjective view of a narrator, a novelist is required to make sure that the story remains internally consistent. In other words, a novelist just has to  ensure that  whatever the drama or the conflict that the story contains, must appear to be consistent with the narrator’s understanding of the story. While this task offers a challenge to a novelist’s creativity, it ignores one essential feature of real life. In real life, every individual has her /his own understanding of life and these understandings are in conflict with one another. Therefore, in real life , there is a constant conflict. We, each one of us, live parallel lives. Sometimes, our views converge and sometimes, our views diverge. However, most of us live our lives by pretending that our own narrative of life is a real narrative while the narratives of others are faulty. Our belief in our own understanding of life is inevitable in some sense. This is because such a pretense enables us to retain our sanity and a sense of well being. Just imagine a situation where you know that you beliefs are wrong and you are still forced to believe them !! Though, we know, somewhere deep within, that there could be other ways of understanding of life, our conscious mind does not allow that deeper understanding to surface. This is  because such a realization would increase the workload of our conscious mind to keep reminding itself about what is its own belief and what are other’s belief . A good novel enables us to experience these different understandings of life without creating any additional burden.  Therefore, a great novelist is required to give us a perspective that enables us to understand why different understandings of life are equally valid. This is best  exemplified  in our epics like Ramayana and Mahabharata.

                   Therefore, when a novelist makes a transition from a first person narrative to a third person narrative, she/he develops an objective view of life. It must be kept in mind that not every third person narrative is an epic , but every epic is a third person narrative. Ever since  I finished my second novel, I have felt an urge to opt for such a third person narrative. Of course, it doesn’t necessarily mean that my next novel could be an epic, but at least it would be broad enough to accommodate different narratives together. These two reasons why a new novelist prefers to write a first person narrative, are generally known and even I was aware of them. Therefore, in some sense, my own journey as a novelist has so far followed a predictable path.

                 However, there is a third reason why a novelist prefers to write a first person narrative. Frankly speaking, this is one reason which I was not aware of. I have discovered this reason while writing these two novels. Therefore, I would end this blog with this new perspective.

                  When I began my first novel, I I was strongly influenced by my own favourite writers. There were two genres which I admired greatly. They are literature of the absurd and magical realism. Therefore, these influences are plainly visible in both my novels. Since I was determined not to imitate any of my favourite writers, I have ensured that my novels are rooted in Indian sensibility. However, it never occurred to me till I finished my second novels that I chose to write in first person narrative because it allowed me to hide my own shortcomings. I always thought that magical realism was a good literary device to incorporate parallel narratives into a novel. For instance, in my first novel, I have used three different time frames of a protagonist’s life in a single frame of narrative and show how self contradictory the protagonist’s life has been. Similarly , in my second novel, I have used a device of reincarnation to show cognitive dissonance in the protagonist’s mind.

               It is only now, after finishing both these novels, that I have realised that great works of fiction don’t need such devices to describe deeper insights into the nature of human beings. In other words, realism, at least literary realism, is more magical than the magical realism. It is also more absurd than the theatre of absurd.This is because literary realism is capable of making us experience  the depth of human mind without resorting to any such artifices. The name of Premchand comes to my mind. He didn’t need any such artifice to make us aware of fundamental angst of human existence. The literary realism achieves this enlightenment by simply placing before us the stark inequities of life in front of the readers. It believes that an average reader has an ample innate wisdom and an emotional depth to grasp this angst. It occurred to me that it is possible to be a realist, in a literary sense, only if one were to employ a third person narrative.

                Therefore , I have decided to employ a third person narrative in my next novel. I aim to bring out the inequities of life by depicting the parallel narratives without a narrator. More importantly, I hope to restrict myself to the traditions of literary realism in my next novel .

               In my next blog , I would discuss the theme of my next novel. 

A WRITER IN TRANSITION. BLOG #1.

                       ON FINISHING A NOVEL.

                        With this blog , I am starting a new series of blogs. This series would continue till I start my next novel. I closed my last series of blogs titled MY SECOND NOVEL on 2nd  June 2017. It has been three and a half months since then. I took little longer to finish my novel THE HUMAN PILGRIMAGE due to my professional commitments and my own predilection towards the thematic continuity in constructing the climax. I took more time in devising the climax which was consistent with the protagonist’s own evolution during the novel. Therefore , I could not start this series of blogs. In this blog , I would discuss how a novelist feels while finishing a novel.

                          In one of my earlier blogs , I had mentioned about emotional closure that a novelist experiences on finishing a novel. I would delve deeper into this aspect in this blog. It is just couple of days since I have finished THE HUMAN PILGRIMAGE.  Therefore  , I would narrate my immediate state of mind and try to understand my own feelings. I have experienced a melangè of emotions in last couple of days. Of these  , there are three emotions that I would try to deconstruct here. Firstly , I have experienced a sense of emotional closure which I have referred to earlier. This feeling arises from the fact that novelist’s own creations , the characters of the novel , have experienced catharsis and their own emotional closures. The climax of the novel provides a sense of justification and a sense of self fulfillment to the main characters of the novel. Therefore , to the extent these characters are personifications of the novelist’s own emotions , a novelist too achieves  an emotional closure through proxy. I have to admit that I indeed experienced such a proxy while completing the novel.

                          My second manifest emotional experience is that of creative satisfaction. Normally , a novel is evaluated by two yardsticks. It is possible to evaluate a novel in the  context of some literary template of a good fiction. While this template is not universal and it is subjective in nature , it is possible to evaluate on the basis of such a template as articulated by well known critics. Similarly , it is possible evaluate a novel on the basis of its popularity. This is measured by number of copies it manages to sell. Admittedly  , both these perspectives are important to a novelist and she /he would definitely experience a sense of satisfaction when the novel is appreciated on either of these yardsticks. However , I want to discuss an internal perspective of the satisfaction that a novelist experiences while finishing a novel. This internal sense of satisfaction ,  which is essentially a creative satisfaction , does not depend on either of the two perspectives mentioned above. Therefore , it is legitimate that I should discuss it here because no one else has seen the novel THE HUMAN PILGRIMAGE.  

                  This creative satisfaction arises because a novelist , when she /he begins a novel , has certain objective in mind. At least in my case  , I had one such objective. I wanted to understand  the nature of irrational beliefs that we adhere to , even when we know that these beliefs are irrational. A psychologist or a psychiatrist can afford to take a clinical view and treat these irrational beliefs as symptoms of some underlying psychological problems. However , as a novelist , my concern was the relevance of such irrational beliefs in our minds. A novelist can not be judgemental and therefore dismissive of such irrational beliefs. As a novelist  , I wanted to understand what roles these irrational beliefs play in helping an individual to cope with her /his life and its inequities. Therefore , I was more interested in finding out why these irrational beliefs arise in the protagonist’s mind and how they help him to come to terms with his own life. As a novelist , I was more concerned about how these irrational beliefs distort the everyday reality in the protagonist’s mind to help him achieve his own emotional closure. It is in  this sense ,  that I think I am satisfied. I believe that I have been able to narrate the distorted version of reality in fairly consistent and non judgemental manner. When I look back at the journey of last eighteen months of writing this novel , I feel satisfied that this narrative is that of the protagonist and not that of Vaachakmitra. An ability to view reality from the perspective of the characters of a novel , gives a creative satisfaction to a novelist. I have experienced that satisfaction on the completion of this novel.

                The third emotion that is predominant in my mind , at this juncture , is that of curiosity. Having looked at the relevance of irrational beliefs in our lives , I am simply curious about other such incongruities of a human mind. I have come to conclusion that a novelist is , by nature , a curious creature. A novelist is an explorer who likes to visit and then narrate , uncharted territories of human lives. In my first novel, I had tried to explore the absurdity of human existence in the context of an amoral universe. In my second novel, I have explored the need for irrational beliefs in maintaining our sanity. Therefore , I am still driven by that curiosity after finishing this novel. Therefore , I am planning to start once again another journey into the exploration of human mind. Since I would require few months to facilitate the publication of THE HUMAN PILGRIMAGE  , I would begin the new book only at the beginning on next year.

               Till then  , I would continue blogging about this process of narrowing down to the theme of my next novel. In my next blog  , I would discuss my need to move away from first person narrative to a third person narrative and its literary context. 

MY SECOND NOVEL BLOG #33.

  THE HUMAN PILGRIMAGE : A TALE OF TRANSFORMATION.

     This is the last blog in this series of MY SECOND NOVEL. I would give a brief outline line of the novel. The problem for a novelist trying to give a summary of a novel is not what to include and what to leave out. Rather , the problem is to tell  maximum while saying minimum. For obvious reasons , a novelist can not give too many details of an unpublished novel because , in days of speed reading , the readers would fill in the blanks and avoid buying the book. Similarly , if the summary is devoid of relevant details , the potential reader would have no rational basis to decide whether to buy the book or not. Therefore , I would stick to the middle ground. I would rather focus on emotional canvas of the novel and describe the core principle behind the novel.

            Let me begin with some of the main characters that span this novel. The protagonist of the novel is Mr. Gautum Parikh a fifty-seven year old chartered accountant in private practice. He loses his girlfriend even before  he could propose to her. His girlfriend , Anuradha Rathod ,  is a daughter of a police officer. Years later , Gautum Parikh meets a girl Ms. Anamika Patel , who wants to join his firm as his junior. There are series of coincidences which makes Gautum to suspect that  Anuradha is indeed  born again as Anamika. However , he has no means to verify this suspicion.

    The novel revolves around series of events that unfold after Anamika joins his firm. At every turn of events , Gautum finds his suspicion being strengthened. However , he knows , somewhere deep within , that his mind could be playing tricks by interpreting these events to conveniently conclude that Anamika is a reincarnation of Anuradha. The novel his journey from doubt to superstition and from superstition to wisdom. His transformation from a rational self centred young man to a wise old man is the theme of this novel. The question is whether this transformation turns to be a pilgrimage or not ?  To find the answer , the readers would have to read the novel.

         As a novelist , my main concern was the emotional continuity of the three characters viz. Gautum , Anuradha and Anamika as the novel progressed. It is my belief we experience the transition of emotions and even our values without being conscious of  changes in ourselves. When we experience these transitions , we think of ourselves as a constant entity and we think that our emotions have changed. However , in reality , it is other way around. The human emotions are absolutes and we are changing. It is we who identify ourselves with different  emotions at different times as our life changes. Therefore , what we think of ourselves , our self image ,  is not really absolute but a continuously changing  projection of ourselves based on our temporary emotional state. Therefore , the true pilgrimage consists of finding our true selves which is beyond these emotional transitions.

     Therefore , I wanted to describe emotional continuity of these characters to achieve narrative continuity. However , I was hoping that these continuous emotional transitions would also enable Gautum , and therefore the readers , to see his own true self. The events in Gautum’s life are not karmic devices to help him to meet Anuradha again , but the events are instruments to help Gautum to know his true self. The question is whether I have managed to do it  ? or whether Gautum meets Anuradha in the form of Anamika ? To find answers to these questions , the readers will have to read the novel.

     This brings me to the end of this series of blogs. I can only hope that the topics discussed in these blogs have managed to prod the readers to question the values of life. My novel never offers a word of wisdom. Rather , it asks questions which the readers can answer only by reflecting on their own lives. In other words , the readers would have to undertake their own private pilgrimage to find their own true selves. My novel is simply a fellow traveller’s guide to that journey.

     I am going to take a break from blogging for few weeks. After that , I would resume. Of course , I would keep in touch with the readers about the progress of my second novel during the new blogs.