MY SECOND NOVEL BLOG #32.

             WHAT IS IN THE NAME OF A NOVEL ?

              In my previous blogs , I have discussed several aspects of creative writing and what I have felt about them. Though , these blogs were written in the context of my forthcoming novel , they were generic in nature. I have tried to describe my own writing experience and what were the issues that I was aware of. I have almost finished my second novel. Therefore , in this blog and the few following blogs , I would discuss the details of my second novel. I have yet to write last two chapters of my second novel , therefore I would like to describe some the details of my second novel without disclosing the core of the novel. Since there is a gap of few months between completion of writing a novel and its publication , I would take a break from writing of this series of blogs after I have released the details of my second novel in the remaining few blogs.

                Let me begin with the title of a novel. I am not sure how other novelists arrive at the name of their novels. However , in my case , in both my novels , their names came up in different ways and at different stages of writing these novels. When I was writing my first novel “ The Multitudes of Ripples  – Valayvividha.” , I had not thought of any particular name. I was simply eager to explore my own hidden emotions and nothing else mattered. The name of that novel appeared , all by itself , when the protagonist in a self referential moment finds his own autobiographical novel in the library. While this literary construction of discovery of one’s own future was satisfying , I was struck at that point in the narration. This was because , for all his literary creativity apart  , the novelist has to conjure up a name and I simply couldn’t do it.

         The sensible thing to be done was to leave a blank space and go ahead. However , I don’t plan my novels therefore , I write my novels just as they appear to you. Sometimes , I am as surprised by the twists and turns of the plot as the readers are. Therefore , I had to wait for a couple days for the name to suggest itself and only then I could resume the novel. It was at that time , that I realized that  unlike us , human beings , each novel has its name foretold. Novelists don’t invent the  names of  their novels , they merely discover them. In retrospect , I can tell you that my first novel couldn’t have any other name. I didn’t name that novel , rather  the novel named itself.

        This brings me to my second novel. I would like to confess that my second novel also has named itself. The only difference is that while writing my second novel , its name came up even before I began writing this novel. This is because  when I decided to start my second novel , I had a clear idea of what the theme of this novel would be. Unlike my first novel , where I was focused on exploring my hidden emotions , in my second novel , I was more concerned with relevance of human lives. I was searching for a meaning of human life. Since this novel is less inward looking than my first novel , the outline of the novel was already present in my conscious self. Therefore , the name of my second novel surfaced in my mind even before I began writing the novel. Therefore , I can say with certain degree of confidence that each novel carries its name within itself. This is because the name of a novel captures the soul of that novel.

            Since  I had decided to write a novel on the theme of reincarnation , I had a vague idea that the novel must describe a journey of an individual through several , or at least two , incarnations. During that journey , that individual would experience a life as a metaphor for a journey. Since in this novel , the narrator , the protagonist of the novel , is a witness to a reincarnation of his girlfriend , he too would undergo an emotional journey. At the end of this novel  ( though I have yet to write this particular chapter ) , both these characters, the protagonist and his girlfriend ,  experience catharsis and sublimation. Therefore , it  was going to be an ennobling journey. Thus , there is a confluence of three journeys , biographical , literal and metaphorical. Therefore it occurred to me that , in our Indian culture , this is precisely what  a pilgrimage is. In a true sense , pilgrimage is not a physical journey. It is a spiritual and an  emotional   transformation that happens while an individual is physically travelling. In that sense , we don’t paradrop ourselves on the holy places. We undertake an arduous journey to these places. The difficulties that the pilgrims face while trekking to these holy places , is a metaphor for their inner struggles. It is in this sense  that this novel describes the pilgrimage of these two central characters of the novel. Therefore , this novel is called “THE HUMAN PILGRIMAGE. “

           In my next blog  , I would share some details of central characters of this novel. 

MY SECOND NOVEL BLOG # 31.

WHY DOESN’T A NOVELIST EVER STOP WRITING ?

               In my previous blog , I had discussed the difficulties that a novelist experiences in achieving an emotional closure while completing a novel. In this blog , I would discuss what prompts a novelist to start all over again. This question is closely related with the question why does someone write a novel begin with ? I can tell you from my own experience that when a novelist begins her /his first novel , there is an inarticulate urge to write. However , after having written and having finished one’s first novel , this urge is somewhat clearly defined and it is therefore more articulate. Therefore , when a novelist starts writing her /his second novel , she /he has a clearer picture of what prompts her /his creativity. It is this clarity that I would like to explore in this blog. Of course , now that I am about to finish my second novel , I am experiencing that bittersweet pangs of transition. Therefore , I think I am qualified to write about it.

                   I had mentioned in my previous blog that a novelist never really achieves an emotional closure even after a novel is complete. This results in two types of emotions in a novelist’s mind. Firstly , a novelist is tempted to refine and reinterpret her /his own emotions which were expressed in the completed novel. However , the trouble with this tendency is that the novel and characters created in that novel are no longer in the novelist’s control because they have acquired a life of their own. The only solution , and perhaps a profitable one in these days of franchise , is to write a sequel. However , my own feelings are ambivalent about writing a sequel. While it is easy to write a sequel because the universe of the prequel is already carved out and therefore it is easier and more productive for a novelist to enrich the emotional ecosystem of that fictional universe. However , there is a clear danger for a novelist of being stagnant. I think the core of fiction writing is not just  weaving of diverse emotions into a tapestry of narrative. The core also consists of narrative structure of novel. This narrative structure , if repeated , tends to lose its impact. Moreover , I think the city where the novel unfolds and the social milieu of the principle characters are equally important. In fact , I believe that they are separate characters of a novel. Therefore , when one writes a sequel , one needs to repeat these elements as well. This also leads to creative stagnancy.

                Incidentally , in my second novel , I was faced with a similar problem. My second novel is also based in Mumbai and also involves middle class Gujarati family. However , I have changed the geographical details and professional backgrounds of the principal characters. More importantly , the protagonist and his girlfriend  are required to travel to a different town in search of her reincarnation roots. Therefore , I could introduce a second city in the narrative.

        The second emotion that a novelist feels during the transition between novels is that of absence of reaffirmation of her / his self image. When a novel is being written , a novelist gets an opportunity to reflect on her/his self image because as the novel progresses , it reflects novelist’s internal thought processes which a novelist can observe from outside. Thus , during the writing of a novel , a novelist can constantly create her/his self image. Incidentally , I have developed a habit of writing daily. So, I can confirm that this continuous self cognition is beneficial. However , when a novel is complete , a novelist is prevented from this exercise. Therefore , it is natural for a novelist to pick up a pen and begin again. Of course , this process is not fixed. It depends on individual details of a novelist when she /he begins again. I began my second novel within a month of the publication of my first novel.

           This brings me to the last point of this blog. Does a novelist anytime feel that she /he can not write any more novels ? I am not sure about it. There are references to writer’s block in the literature. However  , that is only a temporary phenomenon. Most of the novelists that I have read and liked , wrote till their deaths. Of course , Hemingway is an exception. Ironically , he too wrote till he died , but he committed suicide because he felt that he could no longer write. Writing , to Hemingway , was not a profession but a reason to live. Therefore , his logic was simple , if he could not write , he had no right to live.

         Mercifully , it least from my selfish perspective , I have not reached that stage. I already have a vague outline of a plot for my next novel. However , the beginning of that novel is still some months away because I have yet to finish this novel and carry it tenderly through the stages of publication.

          In my next blog , I would unveil some details of my second novel.