Curated Writings: On writing sentences

From the little I have written on the Web, I can relate to a writer's travails. The excruciating pains of labour in constructing a sentence that stammers to sound right. The inconsolable pain at staring the blank white screen endlessly. Vikram Chandra, in his part non-fiction, part memoir, "Mirrored Mind", captures the essence beautifully.   

"Writing sentences felt like construction, and, also, simultaneously, a steady, slow excavation. You put each word in place, brick upon brick, with a shimmery sense of what the whole edifice would look like, the shape of the final thing. But each phrase was also a digging inward, an uncovering. You tunneled, dug, dug, On good days, you emerged from your labours tired but happy. On bad days you were left quivery, stupefied. There was risk and danger involved in this work. You always got strung out, ground down, strained thin. Ended up a little sad, maybe a little mad. Not a way to spend life."

1 comment:

Emeri Gent [Em] said...

The ultimate tragedy of authorship is in the discriminate cultural factor of who is remembered for their writing and who is forgotten. For any given writer, a glimmer for immortality is not a good way to spend a life, but a writer who is in flow - it is a most splendid practice.

I have not heard of Vikram Chandra, but I have browsed through a book of his called Geek Sublime

Geek Sublime - Vikram Chandra

Ernest Hemingway definitely fits the Chandra passage, and Hemingway was one of a kind - so was Jorge Luis Borges another kind, and both of these giants of literature shaped their authorship to the essence of their being. Jack Kerouac was yet another type of writer, and again the essence of who this man was came out in his writing.

These are the writers who will be remembered but they are in small in number in the vast majority of writers who are lost to history. Loss is the standard accompanied aspect of a writer, even great novels consist of the novel that got published and the two thrown away that gave rise to the novel. Great writers always do more pruning of their work than the one given birth through the act of publishing.

In a global sense we don't just lose writers, we lose languages and whole cultures, extinction is an evolutionary part of culture as well. What I have seen of Chandra's writing he is an interesting fellow. Far more interesting than his namesake who is the CEO of NDTV - pity then that he does not utilize Twitter unlike his namesake VC.

Love is a good starting point for any writer. Unrequited love is a painful form of love, but any author who becomes agape in their writing, then that is the life. This turns writing into a flow experience rather than an immortalizing one. When any writer is immortalized that is when her or his life has become a property of the masses. For the rest of us, the good news is that flow does exist - and writing can become a part of that very thing we refer to as life.