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. 

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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 #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. 

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 #19.

CAN MALE WRITERS CREATE AUTHENTIC  FEMALE CHARACTERS IN FICTION  ?

              In all my previous blogs ,  I have tried to discuss the details of creative processes that are responsible for producing a work of fiction. I have tried to analyze subconscious compulsions that drive a novelist in chiselling out a final version of a novel. I have also discussed how these subconscious compulsions of a novelist are the products of the society that a novelist lives in. Thus , any novel provides a window to understand what is happening inside the mind of a novelist and therefore inside the collective psyche of the society to which that novelist belongs. However , in all these previous blogs there was an impersonal frame of reference.  It is true that , in all these blogs , I did refer to my own creative compulsions and the ethos of the society that I am living in.  However, in all these blogs , Vaachakmitra as a writer was being analysed. Today  , I am going to discuss a topic wherein I would try to analyze Vaachakmitra as an individual. In that sense  , this blog is more personal than all my previous blogs. However , I would like to keep the tone of the discussion at the academic level.  Of course , I would discuss this aspect of my personal side in the context of my forthcoming novel.

            Today , I would discuss a gender aspect of creative writing. Admittedly  , the gender issue is a very sensitive issue. I would try to keep in mind the strong emotions that this issue normally evokes.  Therefore , I would try to be transparent without being offensive. The topic of this blog is ‘ Can male novelists create authentic  female characters ? ‘  Of course  , it is possible to invert the framework and ask ‘ Can a female novelist create authentic  male characters ? ‘ However , I doubt whether I am qualified to answer this inverse question.  Therefore , I would restrict myself to the original question about men’s ability to understand and depict women in fiction.

        I would begin by analyzing my own creative processes. When I wrote my first novel , I was not very self observant. I was more focused on articulating my innermost feelings. Therefore , I could not analyze myself while writing that novel. However , when I had to read that novel again while editing , I realized that the women in that novel were created to fulfill emotional requirements of the protagonist. Therefore , I started wondering whether this was necessary  ? Of course  , as I have discussed in some of my previous blogs , every character  ( whether male or female ) can be understood as a personification of one or more emotions of novelist’s subconscious mind.  However  , the question is whether the gender of a novelist would obscure such a personification ? Admittedly , it is possible to argue that all such personifications are subject to personal bias of the novelist, so why single out female characters created by male novelists. However , I believe that this singling out is necessary because it reflects on far more fundamental aspect of psychology and therefore that of psychoanalytical fiction.

           Before I express my views on that topic  , I would like to discuss how writing of my second novel has helped me to arrive at my present view.  As mentioned above , when I realised that I was not self observant enough during the writing of my first novel , I made a conscious choice of being self observant while writing my second novel. I realized , while writing my second novel , that it is not easy to think like a woman.  For a man , it is far easier to create a fancy dressed as woman than create a real woman in his fancy. In the novel that I am writing , the central character is a woman. However, the protagonist of the novel is a man. Therefore , the novel is a narrative of reminiscences of the  protagonist in which the central character of a woman predominates. Since the novel about the reminiscences of the protagonist  , it was always tempting to describe that woman as part fantasy and part reality.  However , I felt that that would be unfair to the central character of a woman. So , I have tried to create a literary device wherein she describes herself. This was the point of narration where I realized the importance of gender. Of course , the readers would have to decide whether I have been successful in depicting a female character without gender bias.

          I will now answer the question I have posed in the title of this blog. I am going to answer this question from the scientific and literary perspectives because I happen to be both , a scientist and a novelist. Genetics tells us that men and women share the same genes except for those present on X and Y  chromosomes. Since we do not exactly know how each chromosome contributes in creating our mind , it would be difficult decide whether men can think like women or women can think like men. However, it is most likely that our ability to think is decided by all our chromosomes.  It is only to the extent  where genes present on either X or Y chromosome influences creating our mind , that men and women would differ in their thinking. Therefore  , to that extent , it would indeed be difficult  for men to think like women and vice versa. However , as a novelist ,  I have a slightly different view. Men may not be able to think like women , but men can always understand the way women think and vice versa.  This is because  we understand things by not just by thinking but by empathising. Empathising is a process wherein we put ourselves in other person’s shoes and then try to perceive reality from that person’s perspective.  This ability to empathise elevates us to our humanity. Therefore , to answer the question , I can say that no , male novelists can not think from women’s perspective  but  , yes,  they can create a genuine female characters by empathy.

           It must be kept in mind that , in a broader sense , every character , whether male or female ,  created by novelist , whether male or female , is created by similar processes of empathising and internalisation. Therefore , the conception of fictional character , irrespective of its gender , is always through internalisation which is subjective anyway. Therefore every fictional character is blend of the subjective sensibility of novelist and the objective reality of our society. The process of personification extracts parts of reality and blends them with the novelist’s sensibility. Therefore fiction has a luxury of being inventive which is not available to sociology.

          In my next blog , I would discuss one more aspect of gender difference.  I would discuss whether the kind of emotions that we experience are derived from our gender. In other words , do men and women have different types of emotions ?