MY SECOND NOVEL BLOG #27.

HOW FAST OUR LIVES ARE IN COMPARISON TO OUR PARENT’S LIVES ?

          It is universally accepted that we live relatively faster life than that of previous generation. When we think of our parents , we conjure up an idyllic picture of easy paced life when we were growing up. Our belief in our comparatively faster life is further strengthened by our belief that modern technology has offered more options than those available in our parent’s life time. This is , by and large , true. However , we make mistake in thinking that earlier life was slow and therefore it was more tranquil. It is true that there were less options available to people in earlier generations. It is also true that people were less mobile in earlier times. However , it would be a category mistake to think that life earlier was less frenetic or less stressful. This mistake arises from the fact that we overlook how our mind works.

           It is not number of options available that decides the pace of life. It is our indecision to make choices that sets the pace of our lives. The human nature is such that it is equally burdened with decision making whether we are dealing with few options or hundreds of options. This may sound strange , but it is true. When we have large number of options , our mind picks up only the top few options while making a choice. Therefore , mind spends quite some time in making a choice and it doesn’t really matter how many options are available. Our mind is involved in constant conflict of making choices. Therefore, our sense of living a fast life mainly arises from this constant dilemma of making choices. It does not really matter technologically how advanced we are. What matters is how fast our choice making processes are. In that sense , every generation feels that it is living a fast life. We may find such assertions from our parents rather comic but from there mental perspective , this is a valid perception. It is more than certain that our children would find that we have lived in a slow paced life. Therefore , our external yardstick of measuring fast paced life is not in harmony with our internal perception of pace of life.

      In this blog , I would pick up this aspect of our perception. There are two aspects that I would discuss here. Firstly , I would discuss whether our personalities have altered because of fast pace of life or not. Secondly , I would describe my own difficulties in creating a plot that appears as a slow paced to the readers even when the characters feel that there is a constant rush in their lives. The beauty of fiction writing is that it allows a novelist  (and therefore readers ) to stretch a brief moment into eternity and a life long experience into a flitting moment. I would describe in this blog , how I sought to achieve a balance between the different paces of life say thirty years ago and our contemporary life.

          Let me tell you how difficult it was to have the protagonist of this novel to interact with two women in different phases of his life. His trouble is that he suspects that both women are in fact the same individual in two different births. The first woman was his girlfriend when he himself was young. The second woman is also a young but he is , by now , a sixty year old man. Therefore , he finds it difficult to adjust. Part of his mind tells him that he is an old man , whereas part of his mind tells him that this young woman is his girlfriend from the past. At some point in the novel  , he realises that it is his own mind that is playing tricks with him. What he remembered as his tranquil past of his girlfriend turns out to be a selective amnesia. The new woman makes him confront the reality and his own true self. At that point the protagonist realises that the life is always complex and fast. It is because we selectively remember the past that it appears to be smooth and slow.

           As a novelist  , I found it difficult to portray this deception in the protagonist’s mind. However , I accidentally found the answer to this difficulty. When I began narrating the protagonist’s younger days , I spent quite a few pages in creating the details of his background. However , as the plot developed , these very details became instruments of pushing the story further. The plot quickened on its own momentum. Since the novel is in a part flashback and part now frame of reference , this matched very well with the present fast paced life. However , the bottom line is this. The life is even paced. It is how our mind chooses and selectively remembers that gives us a false impression that our present life is faster than the  life a generation ago.

         Since my novel is nearing it’s climax , I would discuss in my next blog what kind of problems a novelist faces while creating a climax. I would also discuss whether and why should a novel have a climax. 

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MY SECOND NOVEL BLOG #26.

MODERNITY AND IDIOMATIC EXPRESSIONS.

        In my previous blog , I had discussed the the role of emotions in shaping our beliefs. I had focused on the situation wherein a novelist could have different set of beliefs than that of one of the characters of created by that novelist. In this blog , I would discuss another problem faced by novelists. It has something to do with the kind of language employed by characters having diverse background. This problem is particularly important in case where the linguistic backgrounds of a character and a novelist who created character are totally different.

            In my second novel , I found this difficulty when I wanted to create a comparatively younger character. In my case , the problem is further compounded by the fact that this younger character is suspected to be a reincarnation of a character who has been described in great details in the first half of the novel. Therefore , my problem is how to keep emotions unchanged during reincarnation while creating a distinctively different persona. My initial idea was to use different idiomatic English to highlight these different incarnations. That is when I realised how deeply our personae and our expressions are connected to one another. Therefore , in this blog , I would discuss the relationship between the language and characterization. The focus would be on the changing idiomatic expressions with increasing modernity.

         In my first novel , I was more concerned about the distortion that our emotions cause in our understanding of the reality. In my second novel , the focus is on the characters as personifications of complex emotions. Therefore , the details of the characters in my second novel assume more significance. For a novelist , the challenge lies in creating characters whose behaviours are reflection on the emotions embedded in them. In addition , each character would have an identifiable manner of expressions that would be in harmony with her/his emotions, social background and the time in which that character is supposed to have existed. In this case , I was trying to create a younger character with the behaviour patterns and the idiomatic language that reflected the generation which went to college in last fifteen years. I realised that my own background could hardly provide any help. I had to , therefore , fall back to my own interactions with younger individuals , both within the family and within my social circle.

         When I did that , I realized that I was using their facial expressions  , hand gestures to understand what these individuals meant. Moreover , there usage of English was markedly different than the one I am comfortable with. Of course , I don’t speak as formally as I write. Still , I tend to use language with high vocabulary. I also tend speak complete sentences. This is totally missing from the younger individuals with whom I normally interact. These individuals use half sentences, phrases and very often , monosyllabic grunts to convey their views. I am not trying to look down upon their linguistic skills. On the contrary , they are very effective in communicating what they wish to. My problem , as a novelist  , is how does one portray such communication skills in the novel.

       My next strategy was to pick up idioms so popular with the youngsters and see whether that would help me to create a convincing characterization. While creating the earlier avatar of the character suspected to have been reborn , I had used one such idiom ‘ spot on ‘. It was used to imply that that person was absolutely right. I believe nobody uses that idiom anymore. In fact , there are large number of idioms and phrases which were in vogue  earlier and we don’t hear them these days. This is , in some sense , inevitable and even desirable. Our languages have resilience and flexibility to transform with changing times. However , a novelist is required to capture these nuances as she /he is duty bound to capture the social context in which the characters of her /his novel.

           Returning to my second novel , I have tried to use the idiomatic expressions of a girl who had graduated in the times of Internet. I have sought to employ different colloquial language for this girl. For instance  , that character , in her earlier avatar , would speak rather bookish English. This is because she was studied in a vernacular medium school. The same character , in her later avatar , is shown to be a convent educated. Therefore , her expressions are essentially half completed sentences or phrases and even monosyllabic expressions. Surprisingly , the situation is reversed when it comes to written English.That girl , in her earlier avatar  , would end up writing improper syntax. The same character , in her later avatar , would write flawless text. This is because the students from the vernacular medium pick up spoken language but rarely write the same. Therefore their spoken language is as formal as  spoken by their parents who have studied Victorian English taught a generation earlier. The character , her later avatar, has studied in a convent school . Therefore , she writes proper text , but speaks contemporary college lingo.

     I found it challenging to use two idioms while expressing same emotions. The readers , hopefully , would notice it. In my next blog , I would discuss how the pace of life has changed during a single  generation. The protagonist describes his past in slow paced narrative. However , the pace of narration picks up after the character supposed to have been reborn enters his life. I would describe how the narrative changes from one generation to the next. 

MY SECOND NOVEL BLOG #25.

THE ROLE OF BELIEF IN WRITING FICTION.

      In my previous blog , I had discussed the difficulty in creating two different avatars of a character being reborn. I had suggested that changes in the society in the interim would shape these different avatars differently. While some of the emotions would remain unchanged , some emotions , or at least their expressions , would change with the passage of time. The most visible source of these changes would be the technological advances. I had described in my previous blog how the current incarnation would have a different way of expressing her emotions. In this blog , I would focus on different aspects of emotions. Our emotional universe  defines the kind of beliefs that we have. This is the basic premise of characterization in fiction writing. However , in this blog , I would invert this paradigm and look at the role of a novelist’s own  beliefs in creating characters. If it is true that our emotions decide and define the kind of beliefs we have , then it must be true in case of a novelist also. The problem with this reasoning is that if the characters created by a novelist were to have different kinds of beliefs , then the novelist can not herself /himself have mutually contradictory beliefs of these characters. More importantly, what if the novelist’s own beliefs were to be contradictory to the beliefs of one of the characters present in the novel. This is the  point that I want to delve on in this blog. The question  is whether a novelist ought to share same set of beliefs that the characters in her/his novel have ?

     Let me begin with my own experience while writing my second novel. I am basically a rationalist leaning towards agnosticism. For instance , I don’t insist that science and logic can explain everything in this world. At the same time , I do not believe that the things that logic can’t explain are proof of divinity. I think that we , collectively as a species ,  are still learning about what the universe is really like. Therefore , when I decided to write a novel based on the theme of reincarnation , I was doubtful whether I would be able to do justice to the idea of reincarnation. I was afraid that my own rationalist upbringing would not allow me to appreciate the reasons why we believe in the idea of reincarnation. I was afraid that the intellectual arrogance that comes so easily to us , the educated Indians , would make me dismissive of this idea. I was torn between my own rationality and my respect for the collective wisdom of our culture. However , I knew in my heart that the correct approach is to use fiction as a way deconstructing not only our cultural ethos , but also my own internal contradictions. That is why I created a protagonist who at some level believes in the idea of reincarnation and yet , somewhere deep within himself , doubts this idea of reincarnation.

       Actually , I thought that this was very clever strategy. However, as the novel progressed , I realized the reason why everyone believes in reincarnation is not based on logic but on their emotions. The belief in the idea of reincarnation arises because our emotions dictate that we do. At the same time , I realized that just because we believe in the idea of reincarnation due to our emotional compulsions, does not imply that the idea of reincarnation is wrong. At that point , I rediscovered the fundamental nature of ourselves that has been known to some of our greatest novelists. It is fundamentally true that we , human beings , live our lives in trying to make sense of our own emotions. We don’t live for or live by reason. We live for and live by our emotions. Just because our emotions influence our reasoning and just because our emotions are hidden from our conscious self  that we make a mistake of looking for reasons of our beliefs rather than understanding the emotions that give rise to our beliefs.

       Therefore , a novelist’s job is not to justify beliefs, either her/his own or those of the characters in the novel. A novelist’s primary role is to describe the journey of the characters present in her/his novel from the emotional turmoil to the emotional resolution. It is possible that the characters in some cases would reach wrong conclusions in their lives and that too by a wrong reasoning. A novelist is not required to justify her/his  characters. A novelist is responsible for portraying the emotional journey of the characters as faithfully as possible. If , in the process , the contradictions were to surface in these characters , then it is inherently tragic. But then again, the life is tragic whether we like it or not. The tragedy of life is not because we eventually realize our own emotional contradictions , but it is tragic because we conjure up some convenient explanations for these contradictions

    The question that I have not resolved , so far in my novel , is how would the protagonist eventually reconcile his own belief and disbelief in the possibility that his girlfriend has come back to him in her next incarnation. Of course , I would write about it, when I finish my novel.

         In my next blog , I would discuss another aspect of my second novel. I would describe my own difficulties in trying to understand and give expressions to the mentality of younger generation. I have mentioned earlier that the protagonist suspects that his dead girl friend has come back in his life in her next birth. As a novelist, my main concern was how to create contemporary expressions for that character. In my next blog , I would describe my problems with idiomatic expressions of modern life. 

MY SECOND NOVEL BLOG #24

REINCARNATION AND EMOTIONAL CONTINUITY.

           In my previous blog , I had discussed the role of technological changes in shaping our emotional universe. I had suggested that though human emotions are absolute in some sense , their nuances would be different and be influenced by societal changes including technological changes. I had cited instant gratifications provided by communication technologies as a prime example of this type of changes. I had suggested that delayed gratification enriches our emotional development which is missing in the post Internet era.

          Purely from a novelist’s point of view , these different emotional stages are important because every character in a novel must have particular emotional depth depending on each character’s societal background , including the sophistication of technologies available in the society. While  this is a routine requirement for writing a novel , it needs to be fine tuned depending on the social backgrounds of the main characters of a novel. Normally , a novelist tries to differentiate between characters belonging to different age groups by detailing different emotional stages of these characters. While doing that , sometimes a novelist also incorporates the technological influences on these characters. In this blog , I would discuss my own experience in dealing with this aspect of characterization. In my second novel , this problem is slightly different because the character is supposed to be a reincarnation of a character present in the first half of the novel. Therefore , the reincarnated character has to be similar and dissimilar at the same time.  Moreover , since there is a time gap of around twenty five years between these two avatars , the emotional stages are different in each of these avatars. As the novel depicts the year 2016 , the present avatar had to be a tech savvy unlike her previous avatar. Therefore , I would discuss this aspect in this blog.

          As I have mentioned in earlier blogs , the key appeal of the theme of reincarnation in fiction lies in the emotional continuity of the character being born again. If the reincarnated character were not to have any memories of its past lives and emotions experienced earlier , the whole purpose of this literary device of reincarnation would be lost. Therefore  , it is vital that a reincarnated character must have such memories of the past lives and that these memories must guide the behaviour of this reincarnated character. However , I found that the problem with this reasoning is what should be carried forward from the previous birth and what should be new in this birth. On one hand , I wanted her to have identical emotions and morality , but on the other hand , she had to have different sensibility in tune with the modern times. This is where I became aware that how technology changes our emotional experiences.

        I realized while writing these different avatars , that beneath the notion of reincarnation , there lies a deeper understanding of what constitutes an individual person. I think  that when we refer to soul , we are actually referring to some aspects of an individual that do not change with each incarnation. In reincarnation , these immutable aspects of an individual must be taken as a soul of that individual which are transferred unchanged. As a novelist , I find it tempting to think that these immutable aspects are nothing but our emotions in their absolute form. In that case , the purpose of individual’s life ought to be to experience these absolute forms of emotions in their purest states. The fiction , therefore , plays an important role in enabling the readers to experience this emotional bliss.

       At present , I am detailing the second birth of the reincarnated character. This character happens to be a reincarnation of the girl friend of the protagonist. Or this is what the protagonist suspects. My problem is how to differentiate between these two avatars. It is important that these two avatars must have something in common and still be distinctly different. I am trying to use Internet access , and the information overload that comes with it , to create more forthright and open minded character which , at a deeper level , is the same woman with  whom the protagonist was in love. The novel is about whether the protagonist’s belief turns out to be true or not. More importantly , as a novelist , I am more concerned about how these changed , but still unchanged , emotions help the protagonist to find out the truth.

           In my next blog , I would discuss why a novelist should not prove or disprove any belief. A novelist’s task is to portray an emotional journey of the fictional characters that helps these characters to find their own versions of truth. A novelist can hope that this emotional journey would inspire the readers to undertake their own pilgrimage to find their own versions of truth. In my second novel , my focus is not on whether the notion of reincarnation is true or not. I am more concerned about how the protagonist travels through his various emotions to arrive at his version of truth of reincarnation. 

MY SECOND NOVEL BLOG #23

DO OUR EMOTIONS CHANGE WITH THE  TECHNOLOGICAL CHANGES ?

         In my previous two blogs , I had discussed the idea of generation gap and its relevance to fiction. I had suggested that it is not just the age difference but the different emotional stages of human beings that appears to us as a generation gap. However , the question of what influences our emotional development still remains to be answered. Our collective perception on this topic is that it is the social and family backgrounds that shape and control our emotional growth. By and large ,  this is also corroborated by the academic research. Though , there are different nuances of this perception between the popular belief and academic opinion , it seems reasonable to assume that this perception is valid. However , there is one aspect of our emotional development that has been missing from public perception. This aspect is increasingly being studied by psychologists but has yet to percolate down to our collective psyche. This is the aspect of the role of technology in influencing our emotional development.

        It seems intuitive to lay persons that due to technological advances ,  our way of thinking has changed. For instance , it is common for people from older generation to complain about lack of arithmetic skills in younger generation. With the advent of calculators and computers, the younger generation does not need to remember the tables by heart. Therefore , there is no denying the fact that mnemonic tricks of remembering large number of tables and tricks of fast calculations are altogether missing in the generations growing up in the days of these calculating devices. While this inability to calculate numbers mentally does not produce any handicap in the cognitive development of young children , the fact remains that the technology has deprived these children of certain mental agility. While this influence of technology on our thinking appears to be self evident , the question is whether similar influence of technology on our emotions happens or not ?

       In this blog , I would look at this aspect of technology. More importantly , I would discuss this aspect from a novelist’s point of view. It is one thing to say that our emotions are shaped by the technology and it is quite different thing to create characters personifying two different types of emotional responses. I became aware of this aspect of our emotional universe when creating a character who was supposed to have been reborn. The literary context of reincarnation is to show that basic emotional content of the reborn individual  remains unchanged.  However  , the fact that the technologies would change in the intervening period, would obviously mean that the emotional development in two generations would also be different. It was while trying to keep balance between the emotions carried forward to the next birth and the emotions that were new in the next birth ,  that I came across this realization.

        Therefore , let us see how the technology influences our emotional universe. At the outset , I would admit that I personally subscribe to the notion that human emotions are absolute in the sense that they do not change amongst different cultures and different times. I believe this to be true because we have all been able to enjoy great literary pieces irrespective of their vintage and their cultural origins. While reading Shakespeare  , we are able to identify with the characters and experience catharsis simply because the emotions brought out by Shakespeare are universal. Similarly, which reading Kalidasa , we experience same catharsis even though the characters belong to the distant past. Therefore , it seems reasonable to me that there is something absolute about human emotions that transcends the cultures and history. In fact , this absoluteness of human emotions justifies the appeal of reincarnation in popular literature.

        If this is true , then the problem is how could anything , let alone a technology , alter such universal nature of emotions. The answer lies in the fact that while our basic emotions are absolute , its nuances are not. What Shakespeare said about love being a many splendored thing , is true for all emotions. We experience same set of basic emotions in our lives again and again. However,  every time there is a different nuance of that basic emotional content. It is here that changes in emotions manifest. In that context , let me discuss the role of technology.

        I am sure most of you would agree that the most important change , that new technologies have brought about , is the way we communicate. The change consists of not only in the speed with which we can communicate but also of the content of our messages. Sometimes , our inability to communicate with persons close to us would result in a sense of restlessness and anxiety. This aspect of being separated from loved ones is universal and has  found its expressions in some of the greatest works of art. However , in the days Skype and instant messaging  , the sense of being separated from the loved ones doesn’t manifest. Obviously, the contemporary literature doesn’t have any such master pieces depicting the angst of separation.

        In fact , this is true of not just the deprivation the sensuous company of our beloved , but it is true of all sensory gratifications. The inherent merits of delayed gratification and its role in enriching our emotional universe are lost in modern times. The on demand supply of pleasures has atrophied our sensibilities. Therefore it would be fair to say that the technology ,  in its abstract sense ,  has blunted our emotions even while increasing our sensory pleasures. The technology has disconnected our emotions from our sensory pleasures. To that extent , the technology is indeed dehumanising. It deprives us of individual sensibilities and therefore of our individualities.

        In my next blog , I would discuss this aspect of changing technology in creating a changed sensibility of a person who was supposed to have been reborn. My focus would be on the problem of creating such characterizations rather than on validity of the concept of reincarnation. 

MY SECOND NOVEL BLOG #22.

IS THERE A GENERATION GAP ? PART II.

        

         In my last blog , I had discussed the psychological perspective of generation gap. I had suggested that it is the difference in emotional development between the two individuals of different ages that appears to us as a generation gap. In this blog , I would discuss the literary context of the notion of generation gap.  There are two aspects to this literary context. Firstly , does our choice of fiction depend on our age ? In other words , do we change our choice of novels as we grow old ?  The second aspect of this literary context of generation gap  is about  novelists.  Should novelists try to write fiction keeping in mind the age group of their potential readers ? I would try to deconstruct both these aspects in this blog.

        Let me begin with our choice of fiction and how it changes with time.  I am sure most of you would agree that each one of us has a set of favourite childhood books that we still remember and cherish. We also know , in our hearts , that we don’t remember and cherish these stories because they are literary master pieces. This is not to suggest that these stories are not literary master pieces.  Rather , we remember and cherish them, not because of their literary merits, but because they have left deep impression on our minds. In our formative years , when our emotional universe was being created , these stories were first to enter our sensibilities and have left indelible marks on our sensibility. In fact , it happens sometimes that these stories become benchmark for us to define what a great fiction should be . We evaluate all the other fiction that we read later in our lives in the context of this benchmark. However , this benchmark is not permanent.  As we grow old and read more and more fiction  , this benchmark also changes. However this refinement of benchmark is not universal. There would be individuals who stop reading fiction and their benchmark remains unchanged.  It is common to find grown up individuals who still keep reading juvenile literature. In fact , it is possible to classify people based on their literary preferences. This is not being judgemental, even I have stopped reading fiction some years ago. That fact , by itself , does not make me less perceptive. The key insight is that each one of us read only some kind of fiction and our likes and dislikes of fiction would be shaped by that repertoire.

            This brings us to the question of generation gap in case of readers. If what I have written above is true , then it is obvious that our sensibilities are shaped by the kind of fiction that we read. More importantly, what we read during our childhood leaves a lasting impression on our sensibilities. However, the tragedy is that , at some point in our lives , we stop growing emotionally. We become less receptive to new emotional experiences , including the ones that a good fiction may offer. From that point onwards , our emotional universe is frozen in time. This is also reflected in our perception of what is a good fiction. Thus  , there are no generation gaps amongst the readers but we have readers frozen in different sensibilities representing different emotional stages of human mind.

       I came across this realization while writing my novels.  In my first novel  , the protagonist was a bibliophile. He was obsessed with books.  While creating that character, I realized that I could correlate his subpersonalities with different types of fiction that I had shown him to be liking. The emotional conflicts within his mind were mirrored in the different types of fiction. Even in my second novel , which I am writing now , I have similar experience.  Here the protagonist doesn’t like reading fiction. However, under the influence of his girlfriend , he starts reading detective fiction. However , due to  circumstances , he stops reading fiction and therefore, his sensibility is still struck in his earlier reading of detective fiction.

       Now , let me turn to the novelist’s perspective of generation gap. There are two aspects to this perspective. Firstly , it is apparent from the discussion that a novelist would be in a particular emotional developmental stage while writing a novel, thereby representing particular age group. Moreover  , over a period of time , a novelist would evolve from one emotional stage to another.  These transitions would naturally reflect in the novelist’s fiction. It is standard practice in literary criticism to evaluate the novelists in the context of their lives.

         However , I am not concerned here about natural changes in a novelist’s sensibility and its reflection in that novelist’s creative outputs. This relationship is at the heart of creative writing and therefore sacred to me.  I am concerned about whether a novelist ought to consciously fashion the fiction with particular age group of readers in mind. In present times  , when the emphasis is on targeting the specific audience has become a major concern due to high cost of publishing and marketing books ,  this is an ethical dilemma. I am willing to accept a possibility that even a novelist wants to focus on particular age group of her /his readership simply because the novelist feels that the theme of the novel would appeal to narrow segment of readers. The key question is whether a novelist can do so without compromising  literary merits of the fiction ?

       I  think the answer is no.  A novelist can not fashion a novel , for any external considerations ,without compromising the literary merits of the novel.  However , it may happen that due to emotional resonance between the sensibility depicted in the novel and the prevalent sensibilities of a particular age group of readers, a novel may find a niche readership.  The point is a novelist can not consciously tailor a novel for the target audience. If such a targeting happens due to emotional resonance, it is always welcome ,but it can’t be manufactured.

        I am not asserting this view from any high moral ground . Rather, I think it is not possible for a novelist to do such a thing because a novelist is driven by her/his creative processes which are  , in some sense , not in novelist’s control. To think of a novelist as a master of creative processes is wrong. A novelist is a prisoner of her /his creativity. A novelist may be able to filter and refine the outputs of her/his creativity but can never manufacture a made to order fiction. Therefore my rejection of targeting a particular generation by novelists is not based on any idealism but it is based on limits of literary autonomy in creative writing. I can say this from my own experience. My first novel was written from the perspective of a middle aged protagonist. Therefore , I was determined to make use of different age groups of characters in my second novel. However , halfway through,  I realized that it is the characters , themselves , who have their own sensibilities. I , as a novelist , did not have much of a choice in deciding the sensibilities of the characters of my novel. I could only observe them just as any worried but an indulgent parent would do. There are times when I think that the characters of my novels conspire against me and make me dance to their whims and fancies. There may be or may not be a generation gap in real life , but I can tell you that there exists a definitive generation gap between a novelist and her /his characters.  This is because a novelist , being in loco parentis , is forced to understand and appreciate the travails and tribulations of her /his characters ,but the characters , being   enfante terrible, are oblivious to a novelist’s plight.

        In my next blog ,  I would discuss how  changing technologies have influenced our own sensibilities. This is important from literary point of view because not just our idiom of expression but also our way of thinking has undergone a change due to change in technologies. I found it difficult to create a different sensibility for a young girl who appears in the second half of the novel. 

MY SECOND NOVEL BLOG #21.

     IS THERE A GENERATION GAP  ?

             In my previous two blogs , I had discussed the relationship between the gender and emotions. In the next two blogs , I would discuss the notion of generation gap. Although , this notion has several sociological and psychological  connotations , I would focus only on two aspects of the notion of generation gap.  In this blog , I would discuss whether our emotions really change from one generation to the next ? In the following blog ,  I would discuss whether a novelist ought to write a novel with a view of appealing to one particular generation ? In both these blogs , my focus would be on the creative process of writing a fiction.  In other words , I would not be discussing the sociological  aspects of the generation gap but I would only discuss how this notion influences the the content and the context of a novel.  Of course , I would talk about my own experience of writing novels and particularly my second novel.

            Admittedly , most of us feel that there is a marked difference between the likes , dislikes , attitudes and opinions between us and our children. This is , ironically , also true between us and our parents. This universal feeling has prompted us to believe in the idea of generation gap. The question , however , is how valid this idea of the generation gap is ? To the extent this term refers to social norms and attitudes , this is obviously true.  However , beyond this , at the level of our mental make up , this term is not really valid. In fact  , purely from the psychological point of view  , there is no such thing as the generation gap. There are only different perceptions of reality. What actually happens is that the differences between any two generations arise due to different developmental stages of mind. Two individuals , belonging to two different age groups , have different cognitive abilities. In addition , these indivuals have different emotional dispositions. Therefore , what appears to be a generation gap is , in fact , ever shifting posturing between the two members of a family.  These differences in attitudes and opinions are as much contextual as they are transient. The proof of this reasoning lies in the fact that with the passage of time the roles  change. The youngster who may have been rebellious would , after passage of time , become a staunch conformist. The individual changes her /his side but the arguments remain constant. Of course  , this scenario is broadly true and in every individual case , the details would vary.

        In the present context  , what is relevant is the fact that beneath this shifting attitudes there lies an emotional anchor.  Therefore the correct question is whether there is any thing like  emotional generation gap ? The answer , once again , is no. We undergo emotional changes as we grow old. Just as our emotions change , our attitudes and opinions change in accordance with our changed emotional landscape. In other words , our attitudes and opinions are faithful indicators of our emotional status.  As and when our emotions change  , there is corresponding change in our attitudes and opinions. In fact  , our emotions are in a state of flux. This is visible in our nuanced attitudes and opinions. Every time we experience the same emotions in different context ,  our attitudes and opinions become more nuanced. Therefore the generation gap is an artifact created out of our ever changing emotions.

        However , there is another factor that gives an appearance of permanence to this generation gap . As we grow old , our ability to experience emotions gets atrophied. Since our sensibility gets benumbed with aging , our attitudes and opinions harden.  As we grow old , we tend to become rigid . It is this age induced inflexibility that ensures that the generation gap is more pronounced. If parents were to have emotional flexibility , there would be a generation gap ,but it would be more of difference of opinions than a generation gap.

    In summary  , one can say that the notion of generation gap is a reflection of divergent emotions that different generations experience.  However  , it is not permanent and it is not inevitable. The most important insight into this notion of generation gap is that it derives itself from the human emotions which are universal.  Thus beneath this gap there exists a continuity of human emotions. Human emotions are same ,only our sensitivity to experience them changes.  This universality of human emotions allows all of us  , including individuals belonging to different generations ,  to form meaningful relationship with other individuals. Thus parents can form meaningful relationship with their children and vice versa.  This may not eliminate the generation gap but it would provide  a good bridge for mutual understanding.

        I have found this perspective while writing my second novel. In my second novel , the protagonist ages during the narrative. Along with aging ,  the protagonist’s views changes from rationality to faith in the  supernatural. The most surprising thing that I found was that his change from one extreme of rationality to the another extreme of irrational belief did not require any abrupt changes in his reasoning.  The transition was marked with smooth and almost logical changes in his mindset. More importantly  , this was brought about by the emotional underpinning of his unrequited love. While detailing his character, I realized that it is our emotions that alter our reasoning. We tend to justify our beliefs by putting out some logical arguments , whereas , in reality , our beliefs are  shaped by our emotions. The generation gap may or may not be real but there exists a definitive gap between what we think and what we feel. Our beliefs bridge this gap between our  emotions and our reasoning.

           In my next blog , .I would discuss how this notion of generation gap affects the choice of fiction that we like.  I would also discuss how can a novelist overcome this generation gap to reach wider readership.