ON STARTING A NEW BOOK.
It is now couple of months since my first novel was published. The realization of this fact is just sinking in. In last few weeks , I have experienced the whole gamut of emotions. From ecstasy to apprehension , from contentment to catharsis and from wish fulfillment to vacuity , I have experienced all these emotions. Till I published my novel , I was emotionally attached to this novel. It was part and parcel of my own identity. Now , after having published the novel , I have realized that the novel has its own independent existence. Like the characters in the book , the novel itself has taken over its course of destiny. It is a bittersweet separation.
Once I realized that this novel and I , myself , have separated forever , I felt a vacuum inside. William Shakespeare has observed somewhere that Nature abhors vacuum. I am not sure about Nature , but I am sure human mind does abhor vacuum. At least my mind does. So , without my knowledge and without my consent , my subconscious mind has started weaving another story. In fact , forced by such inner compulsions , I have written a preface of my next novel on 21st February 2016. However , before going into the details of this still unwritten book , i would like to discuss about my own inner compulsions which force me to venture into writing a novel once again .
The question that bothers me is that is creative writing some kind of compulsion ? Or more to put it more strongly , is the creative writing some kind of addiction ? I can think of at least two literary giants Rilke and Beckett who have admitted to such fundamentally irresistible compulsion to write. Rilke , for instance , was once asked by a young poet about process of writing. He suggested that one should write poems only when one feels that one can not live without writing poems. To Rilke , writing was not an optional activity. To him , it was synonymous with living. Similarly Becket has admitted that a true writer is the one who knows that she/ he has no caliber to write , no skills in writing and still she/he knows in her/his heart that she/ he is condemned to write. Here also , there is an admission of certain compulsion , certain inevitability about need to write. Thus , when I began my second novel , I was apprehensive about my own mental frame. Was I too governed by such compulsions ?
On little reflection , I realized that my compulsions are of different types. I think I write because writing ,to me , is an act of self exploration. It , in some sense , ennobles and enlightens me. Therefore ,writing , for me , is an act of volition. I aspire to be a better human being and therefore I write. Admittedly , there is a compulsion , but it is a compulsion comparable to that of an explorer bitten by wanderlust.
I also realized that this urge to write could also be self referential. Is it that my writings are full of myself ? The answer to this question is a partial yes. I think my writing began on a self referential note. However , as I enter into my second novel , I can confess that my writing is getting more and more focused on human angst. I am more concerned about relevance of human life in the background of our universe. The Nature , it appears sometimes , is indifferent to human existence and human values. I remember Camus has rightly said that mankind just needs to answer only one question. Whether a life is worth living or not ? I also agree that unless one discovers why we struggle to pursue our human values in an otherwise amoral universe , everything else is trivial. The question is whether a writer , that too a novelist , is equipped to answer this question or not ? It is my belief that she/he is. For me , writing is raison d’être.
In my first novel , I had tried to unravel inner contradictions in a person’s mind. I had attempted to show that in trying to achieve internal consistency, an individual would end up creating delusions. Our emotional drives are so powerful that they distort our perception of reality. What bothered me at that time was the fact that two faculties of human beings , our ability to experience the emotions and our ability to use reason for understanding reality , were working at cross purposes. There is no explanation for the coexistence of this mutually incompatible abilities in each of us. In my opinion , human being is fragmented into several dimensions. The only way for any individual to make sense of her/ his existence is to distort either one’s emotions or to distort the reality. This is precisely what happened to Manas. He chose to distort the reality so that his emotional health remains good.
However , after finishing the novel , I realized that that the pathos of his life is only at a personal level. As a writer , now I want to look at inner contradictions that manifest at a collective level. Every individual imports or imbibes the values prevalent in the society. If any individual is fragmented , , the roots of this fragmentation must lie in our society at large. Every society , every civilization is beset with inherent contradictions. These contradictions are transmitted to the individuals who live in that society. However , for any writer , it is important to have two qualities before she/he ventures into commenting about these cultural contradictions. Firstly she/ he must be non judgemental and secondly she/he must be full of empathy.
My second novel would try to be both , non judgmental and empathetic. It is my belief that our culture has enormous depth and it is necessary to respect that depth. Therefore , I have decided to select a set of beliefs that are very widely held and still they are irrational. This refers to our beliefs in reincarnation. My novel would try to observe the conflicting tendencies of an individual when he is faced with his own irrational belief in reincarnation. One part of his mind is convinced that he is witnessing an instance of reincarnation, while another part of his mind tells him that it is his emotional inadequacies that forces him to believe in reincarnation. The novel unfolds the inner contradictions between his rationalism and his own growing conviction that there is indeed something like reincarnation. In the process , the protagonist discovers his own self. Here neither belief nor his scepticism wins in the end ,however he realizes that he is sum total of many parts and all of them do not add up.