Sometimes I wonder about how much of what I write is my own. Sure, the thoughts are mine (are they? See this and this), but the diction usually depends on whether or not I have been reading, and often on what I have been reading.
If I’m reading Hemingway then my sentences are likely to be shorter and tighter. Bukowski makes them self indulgent, while reading Palahniuk will give it an edge and a didactical tone. Reading Saki makes me write longer sentences and add a touch of humour. Reading Douglas Adams makes me personify inanimate things in the story. Even if I’m not reading, the more I talk to the literary type, the greater the fluency with which I use ‘certain’ words.
Unlike some people, I don’t read much. A few pages into a book, I feel this overwhelming need to write. If I get beyond 20 pages of reading, which is my threshhold, then I usually finish the book. But getting to 20 pages is tough since I read slowly and take it in, word by word. It’s something like sipping tea: a quick gulp never does it for me.
I guess those who write and read often don’t really notice this. They get their regular dose that gives their writing that fluency that mine lacks. So, since I don’t read often, my writing gets messed up and thus I don’t write as much as I’d like to write. You only have to read this blog to see how varied my writing style can be, and how I tend to mess up the important things like tenses and punctuation, which puts me off writing.
Which brings me to the other point that I’d wanted to make. When Jai and I had gone shopping for books in Darya Ganj (related posts here and here), we discussed, among other things, a particular novel. I felt that while the plot was interesting, the execution lacked finesse; that it was surprising that the publisher had okay-ed it when it obviously could have been improved upon. I mean, if I could spot mistakes, did anyone edit the book? Jai said that this is where the editor comes in, and if a larger publisher had published the book, it would probably have been a much better read. So, how much of a writers novel is his own?
When I brought this up at a Caferati readmeet, last month, Anita added that most writers are terrible critics of their own work. She also said something on the lines of – because writing is an act of creation, the creator tends to ignore his own mistakes. Not everyone is like Hemingway, I guess. The editor, according to her, is critical to every novel.
I’ve read the first two pages of the second draft of a friends novel (whose name I won’t mention unless permitted), and quite frankly, this draft could knock out the above mentioned published novel with a single jab. And a third draft has just been started. Crazy, I tell you.
Most writers ask for critique, and at the same time hate it when someone points out things that they didn’t like. What good do positive reviews do, except feed ones ego? I must confess, though, that I continued writing after The Awakening, only because HDHD said he liked my writing. If it wasn’t for encouragement from the Rhymebawd or AJ, I would have stopped trying to write long ago.
“And by the way, everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise. The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.” – Sylvia Plath (Quote courtesy Mungo Jerrie)
What does it take to read and write, everyday, or even every other day?
And what does it take to get a book published? If the author of this novel is to be believed, it’s a helluva task. So, kudos to whoever’s been published. Marketing is another story, and we’ll take that up later.