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. 

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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. 

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.