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.

                

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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.

               

MY SECOND NOVEL BLOG #30.

DOES AN END OF A NOVEL ALSO GIVE A NOVELIST AN EMOTIONAL CLOSURE ?

        In my previous blog , I had discussed the process of ending a novel. I had suggested that a climax and a twist in that climax are necessities. I had suggested that a novelist is bound to attempt to create a climax even when she/he knows that it is a difficult , if not an impossible task. In my last few blogs , I had described the structural and thematic compulsions for creating a climax in the narrative. While ending a novel is something that is preordained , it does not imply that a novelist is comfortable ending   a novel. Therefore , in this blog , I would discuss emotional problems that a novelist may feel while completing a novel.

        From a novelist point of view , this situation is poignant because she/he is torn between two conflicting emotions. On one hand , a novelist wants to end the novel because she/he wants to experience an emotional closure. On the other hand , a novelist doesn’t want to end a novel because , over a period of time , she /he has found a sense of identity with that novel and therefore would like the novel to go on. Therefore , in this blog , I would discuss my own experience while closing my two novels.

           The conflicting emotions that I mentioned above arises from the ambivalence that a novelist experiences towards the novel under preparation. On one hand , a novelist is observing the characters from outside. On the other hand , part of her/his own self gets indirectly reflected in these characters. It is this duality of frames of being an observer and a participant that gives rise to the conflicting emotions mentioned above. I recollect that when I began writing my first novel , I was hopeful of analysing my own creative instinct while writing that novel. As that novel progressed , I realized that the process of creative writing is far more complex than I had anticipated. Finding myself unequal to the task , I decided to focus on writing the novel. However , insights into my own creativity would surface in my mind now and again.

      As my first novel approached its climax , I experienced this duality of the frames for the first time. I was determined that I would not experience emotional closure as a novelist through the emotional closure of the protagonist. I wanted to arrive at my emotional closure through the plot itself. Since my first novel had two climaxes , one structural and one thematic  , it was easier for me to experience my emotional closure when the plot ended with the nervous breakdown of the protagonist. As a novelist , I felt satisfied that three different threads in the narrative converged into the climax. This convergence of three different threads required a creativity which I didn’t know I had. Therefore , when I could manage to bring about the convergence , I felt cathartic and cleansed as a novelist. Later on , when the protagonist found his own emotional closure by finding a new meaning of his life , I achieved my own emotional closure.

       In my second novel , I am nearing the end of the narrative. This time , I am trying to have a single climax having a structural momentum and a thematic depth. As I have mentioned in my previous blog , I wish to achieve this by introducing a twist in the climax. Therefore , my challenge is to make sure that the twist is already present in the backdrop of the novel but in a different context. Moreover , I want to surprise the protagonist and the readers as well. Therefore , I want to achieve my emotional closure as a novelist through the fine tuning of the twist in  such a way that it brings out tragedy of human life. This tragedy consists of our ability to delude ourselves with convenient explanations. The human mind is clever, but not clever enough to see through its own deception. The tragedy of human life is that our mind uses deception to make our life bearable , but in the process , our mind is itself deceived.

           There is another aspect of closure from the novelist’s point of view. It refers to the novelist’s own transformation during and after the writing of a novel. While ending a novel , a novelist may achieve an emotional closure , but that novel remains embedded in the novelist’s psyche. The true closure for a novelist happens when the plot , the characters and the theme of the completed novel are dissolved into the novelist’s subconscious mind. This process of dissolution takes a very long time. For instance , the details of my first novel and its narrative construction is very much present in my psyche. Of course , it helps me because every time I find an echo of my first novel in the second novel , I stop and make a conscious effort of not repeating myself. However , it does indicate that I have not achieved a complete closure in case of my first novel. While I make conscious effort of not repeating myself , I realize that , at a fundamental level , there is continuity between my two novels. This perhaps represent my inner self. In that sense , I don’t think a novelist can ever achieve complete emotional closure while ending a novel. That novel remains in the novelist’s sensibility forever. This continuity is inevitable because life itself goes on forever without achieving any such closure.

            In my next blog  , I would discuss why a novelist is inclined to continue writing novels. The question that bothers me is that is there any point in a novelist’s life , when She /he feels that she/he has nothing new to offer and therefore must stop writing novels ? Frankly speaking , I can’t think of myself ever reaching that saturation point. However , I want explore the motives and motivations of a novelist that prompts her/him to begin again. I would discuss these issues in my next blog. 

MY SECOND NOVEL BLOG #29.

               IS TWIST NECESSARY IN CLIMAX ?

       In my previous blogs , I had discussed relevance and importance of climax in a novel. I had suggested that there are two types of climax. I had suggested that every plot has its own momentum and that momentum  culminates into the climax of a novel. On the other hand , every novel has some specific theme which gives rise to the thematic climax. Ideally , in a good novel , both these climaxes occur simultaneously. In this blog , I would discuss the need and significance of a twist in the climax. Of course , everyone loves novelists like O. Henry who invariably introduce twists in the climax to allow readers to experience catharsis. Honestly , I  don’t think anyone else can come close to that exceptional calibre. The real problem with a novelist is that , in spite of being aware of one’s limitations , a novelist is still required to construct a climax in her /his novel.  Therefore , I would restrict myself to the idea of a twist in the climax from a novelist’s perspective and describe what problems a novelist faces while introducing a twist. I would try to describe my own experience while writing a climax and why I find it difficult to introduce a twist.

              Let me begin with the kind of twists that a novelist can introduce in the climax. There could be a twist that obviously results in the climax which is exactly opposite to what a reader is led to expect. This is de rigueur for crime and detective novels. However , there is another type of twist that is employed in a lesser number of novels. This type of twist consists of arriving at the anticipated climax but in a manner that is totally unexpected. This type of twist is rarer because it demands greater skills from a novelist. Just think of Alfred Hitchcock’s movies. In some of his  famous movies , the audience is told about the climax right in the beginning. However , a viewer is kept in suspense till the end about how the climax is brought about.

     The distinction between these two types of twists is based on two premises. The first type of twist , where a reader is misled into expecting particular climax , depends on the momentum of several subplots culminating into the climax. The description of these subplots is such that a reader starts expecting a certain climax. However, when there is a twist in the plot , an unexpected end occurs. This build up of expectations and its subsequent denouement brings about the desired catharsis. This kind of climax is essentially a structural in nature.

     In the second type of twist , the premise is not structural in nature because the climax results in accordance with the demands of the several subplots and is in tune with a reader’s expectations. However , the twist arises because of subtle changes in themes of the subplots. Since the climax is as anticipated , it brings about a sense of emotional  release. However ,  since the climax comes due to the unexpected reasons from the known details of the subplots , it results in different emotional experience. This leads to enlightenment and emotional closure.

            Thus there are two types of twists , structural and thematic. This requires different types skills from a novelist. Therefore , let me describe my own experiences while writing two novels. As I have mentioned in my previous blog that in my first novel , I was forced to employ two types of climaxes separately. This was because the novel is written by the protagonist in the form of recollections of his life in hospital. Therefore , the structural climax of the plot occurs before he is admitted to hospital after his nervous breakdown. However , the thematic climax , in the form of emotional closure , occurs when the protagonist achieves while reconstructing his past and narrating his nervous breakdown. 

        In the second novel  , which I am about to finish , I am trying to blend both , the thematic and the structural , climaxes into a single event. However , I am facing a different kind of problem. This is a problem of being faithful to readers as well as characters of my novel. Since this novel is in the first person narrative , the protagonist narrates his innermost thoughts to the readers. This results in the readers forming a very intimate view of the protagonist. Therefore , whatever the climax maybe , it has to arise naturally from the perception of the protagonist that a reader might form. However , this perception by the readers need not be same as the self perception of the protagonist himself. Therefore , I am trying to create a scenario wherein the climax would be a natural culmination of the expectations of the readers based on their perception of the protagonist. However , this natural culmination must come as a surprising twist from the protagonist’s perspective. This is because , there is a mismatch between the self perception of the protagonist and the perception of the protagonist by the readers. The readers already know how the protagonist is deceived by his own subconscious mind. However  , the protagonist is never aware of this deception. Therefore , what readers could anticipate clearly , becomes a surprising twist to the protagonist. His subconscious mind prevents him from detecting this deception. Though , I have not actually written this part , I am very clear about it.

             However , the real challenge , according to me , is to create a climax which not only surprises the protagonist but also surprises the readers. This would be possible only  when readers experience thematic twist. This is because readers would have clear idea of the momentum of the plot as well as a clear theme of the protagonist’s mind. Therefore , they can not be surprised by either structural or thematic twist. So , I am planning to introduce a thematic twist that would thematically surprise both ,the protagonist and the readers. If I can achieve this , then it would enable readers to realize that their own subconscious minds too had set up a deception. Therefore , the readers would experience catharsis from two sources, one by identifying themselves with the protagonist and the other by realising that they too were deceived by their own minds. Frankly speaking  , I have just a vague idea how to do that. In next few weeks , I hope to finish the novel.

        In my next blog , I would discuss how a novelist copes with the emotions  that she /he experiences while closing the novel. 

MY SECOND NOVEL BLOG #28.

               WHY IS CLIMAX IMPORTANT  ?

              In my last blog , I had suggested that a climax in a novel is necessary because the novel is essentially a stylised abstraction of some perspective of real life.  Since this abstraction has certain narrative structure , it is an inherent requirement of the narrative to lead to the climax. In my last blog , I had pointed out that the tempo of the narrative and emotional surge characterize a climax.It must be kept in mind that it is possible to believe that a climax is necessary , but it does not explain why a climax is important. In this blog , I would discuss what is the importance of climax in a novel. It is the reasons for this importance of a climax  that tells us why some problems of creating a climax in any given novel are common to all novels and why some problems are specific to each novel. I would illustrate these reasons by citing my own experience while writing two novels.

           As I have mentioned , apart from the narrative requirements for a climax , there has to be an inherent need to have a climax. This need must be based on the content of the novel. In other words , each novel has its own thematic content which would decide what kind of climax can that novel end in. Therefore , now we have two factors that contribute to the nature of climax. Firstly , there is a narrative requirement of tempo and several subplots culminating into a climax. This is a generic feature because it would shape the climax, irrespective of the content of a novel. This essentially depends on the craftsmanship of a novelist.  Secondly  , there is a theme of a novel which provides a type of climax that such a novel can have. However, this is specific for each novel and therefore depends on the sensibility of a novelist.

              First , I would describe my own experience in writing the climax of my first novel. In that novel , the protagonist recollects his past. Therefore , I was forced to use climax arising from inherent tempo of the narrative as a separate climax and a thematic climax in terms of emotional closure separately. This was because the protagonist narrates his life including the his last moment before experiencing a nervous breakdown from the hospital bed. Therefore, the protagonist narrates that climactic moment of his nervous breakdown several weeks after it happened. However , it is while narrating that climactic moment that he achieves his emotional closure and therefore his thematic climax occurs in the final pages of his narrative. Thus my first novel had two different climaxes , one determined by the plot and another determined by the theme of the novel.

       When I began my second novel , I wanted to avoid this separate climaxes. However , as the novel progressed , I realized that it is not easy to do that. This difficulty arises because a novelist must learn to blend the protagonist’s thoughts with the episodes of the novel. A novelist can describe a character’s thought without any restrictions. However , the construction of episodes of the novel would have their own inherent logic. A novelist can control the thoughts of characters , but she /he has little  control over the plot because , as I have discussed in my previous blogs , the plot has its own momentum and structure. It is not possible to alter it to suit the protagonist’s thoughts. The irony is that the way a plot unfolds in a novel surprises not only the characters but also the novelist. A novelist , in that sense , is a passenger in this vehicle of her/his  novel , just as we all are in this vehicle of life. The only difference  is that the vehicles in both these cases , unlike the real vehicles , have minds of their own. The life , like a novel’s plot , has its own logic which is beyond our comprehension.  

     In my second novel , my problem is how to create episodes that appear as natural progression and  at the same time , they lead the protagonist to emotional closure. In addition , I have some problems with what kind of emotional closure should the protagonist have ? I am not sure , at least not yet , whether he would be convinced that his girlfriend has indeed reincarnated or whether it was his superstition that misled him. My problem is not really whether a reincarnation happened or not. My main concern is how the protagonist decides. This is because I think there are questions  in life which can not give us  yes or no answers. More importantly , these questions are not answerable. We , as mere mortals  , conjure up answers that comfort us. These answers are neither right nor wrong. They merely help us to live meaningfully. So, I am trying to conceive a climax that gives meaning to the protagonist’s life. Moreover , I am hoping to have a culmination of plot and emotional closure of the protagonist to be one and same. For that to happen , I would be required to invent a series of events which are metaphoric in content and yet inbuilt into the the plot itself. This is exactly what life is , it is natural and metaphoric at the same time. Nature , in its wisdom , can blend plot and the metaphor so seamlessly , a novelist has to struggle to get that blend correctly. At least I am.  

      In my next blog , I would discuss the importance of a twist in the climax.

   

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.