This week: The First Step. And the Journey.Edited by: Thankful Sonali fa-la-la-la!
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It's fascinating, how an idea sparks, and how a tale grows ...
Here are two authors from the Bangalore Literature festival, on the journey they took from idea to manuscript.
I attended the Bangalore Literature Festival recently, and gained some new insights into the writing process.
Here are a couple of snippets that I found particularly interesting, in the words of the authors themselves.
KESHAVA: A MAGNIFICENT OBSESSION - BHAWANA SOMAAYA
"Keshava is one of the many names of Lord Krishna. Actually, I was wanting to do a book on Tulsi*, but when I finished it, it had only 15,000 words, and no publisher would accept such a low word count. Years went by. I was on my walk one day when I told myself - I love Tulsi, I can't let this book go because of a low word count. What could I do, to make the word count higher? An idea came to me. Tulsi is obsessed with Lord Krishna. She is from nature. What are the other things that are associated with Lord Krishna, that breathe, that are from nature but not human? Then I thought of these seven other wonders.
"Let me give you an example. Lord Krishna is such an alluring, attractive deity that He consumes anyone who comes into contact with Him. He is associated with the peacock feather, which he wears on the head. The story behind that goes that He was in the forest and He was playing the flute. It was so mesmerizing, slowly all the cowherds came to listen. And then one ... two ... three ... five ... a whole hoard of peacocks came to listen. And the peacocks were so happy that they danced and danced. And the forest floor was filled with their feathers. Finally, the king of the peacocks bowed to Lord Kirshna and told Him that peacocks only dance in the rain, but His flute was so mesmerizing, that all the peacocks danced together. The peacock king asked Lord Krishna 'How can we thank you?' And Lord Krishna picked up a feather and said, 'I will wear you forever.'
What about His relationship with His flute? Everyone else envies the flute because she gets to be so close to Lord Krishna all the time. But nobody wants to be reborn as the flute, because of the pain she undergoes. The story goes that Lord Krishna walked in to the woods, went to the tree, and asked forgiveness for the pain He was going to cause. Then, He cut it, mended it, oiled the wood, bored the holes, created a flute, and began to play, and everyone was intoxicated. "
*Tulsi or Tulasi (Holy basil) or Vrinda is a sacred plant in Hindu belief. Hindus regard it as an earthly manifestation of the goddess Tulsi/Vrinda
TALES FROM RAJASTHAN - ANUKRTI UPADHYAY
"I grew up in Jaipur, saw Rajasthan all around me, though I didn't travel into the farther reaches of the desert. But the desert was all around -- in fact, as well as in my imagination. The nomads were quite a frequent sight in Jaipur itself, while I was growing up. However, I left Jaipur more years ago than I care to remember now. I have lived away from there -- all over the world. But these memories, the things I saw, the things I imagined, embroidering over the things that were there -- they have a hold on the subconscious mind. These come out when you write. It seems like the desert was the biggest influence in my subconscious, though I didn't realise that at once. I think that's how the stories were located in the desert. They emerged at a certain time from my memory, I didn't do research for the book. There was a memory and an imagination just lying dormant.
"One of my stories started with the image of this beautiful, flourishing tree in the middle of the desert. I had an inkling that there was a story, somewhere around that tree. The District Collector came about because I was not creative enough to write a story just about the tree. There had to be people to take the story forward. But I feel it is the story of that tree, and of nature. When we strike at the heart of nature, things fall apart ... like the unseasonal showers in Bangalore, or the cyclones in Mumbai.
"When I set out with the District Collector, he seemed like a very good person to me -- all light. But obviously that's impossible. So somewhere along the line he turned into this selfish person who doesn't mind hurting other people as long as his central obsession is getting fulfilled. How did it happen? I think that's life. We all start out hoping to be good, to be the best versions of ourselves that we can be, we'll always do what is right. But at some point, our interests are hurt, our hearts are touched, circumstances happen. We take a turn. I think that's what happened with my characters.
"I would like to mention the father-in-law in one of my stories.I started out writing him as a bad man. He was a rogue. He had a roving eye, he had no scruples. But he turned out to be okay!"
These two writers gave me insights about going with the flow, about adding substance ... about so many aspects of writing! I hope you enjoyed reading their words.
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