August 29, 2003

Mid-Week Break

To wake up at 3 am and to sit and write in the only light of the computer screen has to be, arguably, one of my most favourite bits of time that I get to spend in a week. After a prolonged stretch of time in the dumps, I am finally beginning to find something that remotely resembles strength that would help me pick myself up and get back on the same old struggle, this time with a little less whining and the odd stroke of silver lining making a rare appearance for a refreshing change.

It has always bothered me why is it that most things that I do, do not have any particular reason behind it. I keep doing the stupidest of things over and over again, even when I ask people close to me to refrain from doing it. I think I have come around to the reasoning that, it is more like a message in a bottle. It is a little favour that does not cost you much. If it comes back at you, it would be wonderful, even if it does not, it would have made a little change in someone's life.

Began writing again on paper this week, it is not really a diary, just notes, observations and so on. It feels nice to write to amuse just yourself, but my handwriting is a nightmare, looks more like an ECG machine itself suffering a serious stroke or something. Last time I kept a diary was from 1997 to 1999, it contains some of my most psychotic crap. That along with the very few actual fictional bits that I have ever written remains now with someone as a parting gift.

I still have small bundle of letters I received from that time, written on sheets torn off notebooks, in cheap ballpoint ink. Have not read them in years now, nor do I intend to. They are not a painful experience, on the contrary, they are the only bits of relief from fast fading memories of times of past. When the grey ones finally give up on me, at least I would have those yellowing torn sheets to age with, to read and have something to fondly smile about.

An author must take risks. I cannot know what millions of readers over the world will think about what they are reading. I write for the one person whom I know reasonably well - myself. Every creative undertaking is an adventure which is at once painful and fascinating: on the one hand, there is the fear of discovering our own ghosts; on the other, the excitement of knowing we are more interesting than we thought we were.

— The soul's harvest by Paulo Coelho.

I have never read Coelho, but cannot agree more with him. Maybe not the whole extract, but most of it, minus the last bit. I honestly do not think we are that interesting. In fact, I believe most of life is about coming to terms with how ordinary you are. Take away one redeeming factor about a person and what is left is mostly quite ordinary, nothing fascinating about it. Somehow the presentation is where writing matters, after all the sun can actually set in only one way.

Screen narrative is not about writing dialogue and writing action descriptions. It is about events, and the order in which they take place. The outline stage presents you with an opportunity to prototype the story until you get it right. It ensures that everyone in the film-making chain knows what to expect. And it forces you, as the writer, to nail your vision of the film in a simple, declarative form.

— Who's afraid of Sylvia Plath? by John Brownlow.

I guess the same holds for every act of creativity and not just for writing a screenplay. It is the reason why, other than a sheer lack of discipline, I would never write anything substantial in my whole life. It would mean putting yourself out for judgement by all and sundry and then what is most scary is that I might not even be half as good as what I thought I was. Or even scarier, it is like having a total brain fade during the two hours when it matters the most, an examination.