Why is it that I bother to write on topics ranging from Ra.One to Blackberry phones, knowing fully well that only a handful will be interested in these subjects?
Why do I bother to religiously paste the links to my latest post on Facebook and Twitter aware that only 15 percent of my Facebook friends and 1 percent of my Twitter followers will bother to click on the links?
And no one, absolutely no one will ‘like’ them, unless they are feeling particularly generous, or of course, the finger slips.
Why do I spend time writing short stories (or for that matter, blog posts) even when I know that my odds of getting published are slimmer than the chances of Mithun Chakraborty’s onscreen sister surviving the length of a movie, or Nirupa Roy not getting widowed within the first half an hour of an Amitabh Bachchan film, or Shahrukh Khan not getting the girl, or an auto driver giving you the change for 2000 bucks?
Okay, you get the drift.
As with all of life's questions, there's a short answer and a long answer.
The short one:
Because I need to matter, goddamnit. I need appreciation and recognition - be it for my writing, my work, or for my still intact hostel record for the longest number of days passed without having taken a shower – recognition which obviously I am yet to find.
The long and more specific answer….well, there is no one single answer.
I write because I need to collect all the pent up anger, disgust, humour, regret, sadness, happiness, and other assorted feelings; and then mix them all up and smash it against a wall, watch the green, gooey stuff splatter and feel somewhat better....but that feeling is short lived.
Then with the audacity of a three-year-old who has been drawing his masterpiece on the interior walls, (or perhaps been collecting dog poo from the streets) I feel the need to show it off.
"Look what I did, Ma.”
And that’s what writing does for me.
Because, like that old saying about a tree falling in the forest with no one to hear it, the writing only makes sense if it’s out there, available for people to read.
I honestly don’t really care for the facebook likes (okay, maybe a little), any cat picture or a post on politics could do that, but as long as you are clicking the link and reading what I have written, I am happy.
I am a big fan of Christopher Nolan’s earlier movies, and my favourite is ‘The Prestige’.
There’s a line in the movie, and I seek your permission to cite it, well not really, I am the one who’s writing, so buzz off or stay with me as I quote from the movie.
‘Every great magic trick consists of three parts or acts.
The first part is called "The Pledge". The magician shows you something ordinary: a deck of cards, a bird or a man. He shows you this object. Perhaps he asks you to inspect it to see if it is indeed real, unaltered, normal. But of course...it probably isn't.
The second act is called "The Turn". The magician takes the ordinary something and makes it do something extraordinary. Now you're looking for the secret... but you won't find it, because of course you're not really looking. You don't really want to know. You want to be fooled. But you wouldn't clap yet. Because making something disappear isn't enough; you have to bring it back.
That's why every magic trick has a third act, the hardest part, the part we call "The Prestige".’
What a great line! And I think that the quote is appropriate not just for magic, but for all things creative. Be it a piece of music, a movie, or a story.
The quintessential story has a beginning, a middle, and an end.
The beginning is where you show your deck of cards, something ordinary, something or someone that you and I could probably identify with.
And then, enter the conflict - an event, a person or even a decision, who or which comes in and turns the mundane into the unexpected.
But life seeks balance, a kind of resolution, and we follow the story to find out what will happen, how will it all end – because everything that has a beginning must have an end.
But of course, not all stories end with a clear outcome, some leave the reader wondering about what actually happened, they aim to confuse, or leave the ending to the interpretation of the reader, think ‘Inception’, or the ‘Lady, or the Tiger?’.
The ending is important because this is what will stay on with the reader, this is what the story culminates to, and no matter how exciting your premise is, how real your characters are, or how pacy your writing is, if the ending doesn’t satisfy your reader, it will all come down to nothing.
Now I have been blabbering on for a while now, and while I had started off with why I write, I have gone on to discuss the elements of a short story, anyway, coming back to the reasons.
The motive for writing will, of course, be subjective, there are people who write and the nature and content of their writing are too personal to share, or they simply don’t feel like sharing. There are noble and talented beings who write because they simply love writing and it comes naturally to them.
Unfortunately, I don’t belong to this category.
Words don’t come easily to me, I am not one of those people who can form coherent plots from one line of prompt, grammar remains a concern, and I have a limited vocabulary and resort to right clicking a word and choosing ‘synonyms’ more often than I would like to admit.
It is a painful, frustrating process that more often than not leaves me wondering, why am I doing this, what’s the point of it all?
But when I do manage to finish a piece, the effort seems to have been worth it, not only because I have expressed myself, but because I have managed to create something out of nothing.
Dance, puppets, dance!
There is no one single answer to why I write, but unlike the other things which take up my time, be it games, movies, television, combing my hair etc. – I have never, ever, regretted the time I have spent in writing.
And, that’s a good enough reason for me.
P.S. In case you are wondering, the record for consecutive days spent without having a shower:- 50. What can I say, it was a really cold Delhi winter.
Image taken from here.