I dabbled into literature almost since, well, forever. I would read thick books and doodle on the last pages of my engineering notebooks as a college boy and in the last pages math notebooks with neat blocks printed over the pages. Some felt it was poetry, but to my young mind which I always refer to a troubled soul which knew little and felt much, it was the only relief which my troubled soul could find. When I dig deeper into my soul and look at myself twenty year younger, searching for answers in written words, my own and of the greats whom I read with great sense of admiration and hope, I tend to believe my early reading could have sowed the seeds of my own discomfort with the world around me. Literature made me believe in the possibility of ideals. I guess that is a danger that every serious reader carries. That, and the possibility of eventually turning into a writer himself.
I went through both, belief in the possibility of a life which we read that it has a possibility of becoming and turning into a struggling writer myself, struggling not to earn the bread by writing, rather struggling to write. I would not vouch for others but for me, writing has always been a very private affair. I have always found it rather embarrassing to admit in public that I write. I wonder if I would ever be able to do a reading session of my writing in public, even as small as constituting two people, one of them being me. I wrote, I published, I told people about what I wrote with shy hesitation and difficulty. Writing it out was such a relief. Writing would wipe out tears, and lend a smile on grayest of the dawns. But the biggest and most satisfying thing was that it put me in the know of amazing people, fellow writers and poets. I came to know amazing people who would pat on my shoulders on foggiest nights and urge me to keep writing.
The general bonhomie and generosity which I found in writers and artisans is so different from any of the people in any walks of profession. That could be because all writers and artisans are essentially child from inside. We believe in hope and we live in the innocence of hope. Even the writers who wrote dark stories believe in a world which doesn't hesitate in taking sides. Don’t get me wrong, it is not that all writers work in perfect consonance with each other, forming a mutual admiration club. There are not-very-nice remarks which Hemingway made about Fitzgerald, but that never kept him away from holding the other in appreciation of talent of the other. That is the innocence of child and that is the courage of a learned man which allows him to treat conflicting views with dignity. Writing is talking to oneself put on paper. Writing is a writer’s private search for answers for he is dissatisfied with the idea of living the life in a way, merely because that is the way it has always been done. This capacity to self-analyze, to deliberate, to argue with one’s own intellect and to devote oneself to a life of perpetual suffering and eternal liberation is what a writer work on. That makes a writer kinder soul. In fact, without a kind, forgiving soul one cannot be a good writer. One may argue that there are many writings which are written in anger. But I would then contest that in anger one can do many things, shout, scold, bad-mouth, fight and kill (if one has the courage), what for the life of me would prompt a man to pick a piece of paper or a ream, if one is really very, very mad and start writing with bad writing in furious strokes. It is an attempt to understand the anger and the source of it, an attempt to thereby forgive. It is bad for a bad person to be a writer and vice-versa. The purpose of art is to help us be kinder from inside.
There ought to be a sense of inner decency which should rise when you step into the realm of art, even if you want to become a loner like Salinger because you want to devote time to your craft or even because you feel that kindness you find growing on you, makes you vulnerable to the harsher world around you. I feel privileged to have found my calling in Arts, because it makes me a better person (well, my daughter is another reason, but I’ll let writing share the credit), and more than that I feel so happy to have found people so kind in this common calling. If you tend to write, do write even if it feels killing on some days for you discover your potential for grace and decency, your real station in life through art. If you do not write, and read, do find time for it. Kurt Vonnegut wrote,” Don’t give up on books. They feel so good- their friendly heft. ..Any Brain worth a nickel knows books are good for us.” Writing makes us a better man, helping us discover old values which we long thought dead like courage and grace.
PS. What prompted this post was a rather undeserved act of friendship by Marta who has always been kind to my literary pursuit and recently sent across two wonderful children’s book for my daughter, Innocence and Wonder and Dinky's Quest- The Journey Begins. Both the books are amazing gift for little kids with brilliant poetry and simple yet forward looking language, engaging any child. But for me it was the gesture which set me thinking and therefore, this post. It was sudden, it was extraordinary and it was overwhelming. I wish Marta best for her writing and sincere gratitude.