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The Tyranny of Unwritten Word


Let me put it on record- Writing is not fun. There is no happiness in writing. There is immense satisfaction in having written. When one is too overwhelmed by the world around, and one cannot quite fathom how one should react to it, One writes. Writing is the outcome of inadequacy of action. 


No, this does not mean that writers are not men of action. Writers, more often than not, want so much action that their physical world fails to sustain. Thus, the imagination, the fiction, the fantasy and the words. Words- that exquisite conjoining of alphabets obtained in the excavation of the soul. 


The written word nourishes, the unwritten is a constant turmoil. What does the writer do when he is not writing? He is either cursing, belittling, downgrading himself in his own mind. His pen gets heavier with every wordless day. There is a reason that writers and poets are mostly sympathetic and friendly to one another. They know and can identify with one another's pain. They are almost like to soldiers on the front, both hit by the bullet in the leg, holding on to their pain and putting forth a brave face with clinched fists and tightened jaws. Each book tells how the inadequacy of person resulted in the unavoidable foray into the cruel and lonely world of art. 

While the book is written, the whole process- of shutting out the world, of getting up from the bed with the world asleep around you, of staring at the unfeeling, stone-hearted, sleepy-eyed blank white piece of paper staring back at you, feeling the heavy feeling of the agony of unwritten words. One might say - why write at all? Because you cannot not write. When you have- as they say- a way with words, you have no way out of words. Graham Greene writes in his essay "Books in General" - 

' The novelist is a victim of passion.

He shall write in hiding if the world mocks him; she shall write in darkness if the bright lights tend to blind her. She will run, escape, plunge a knife in her soul, and twist it till such time a word escapes-A word and then a sentence- that Hemingway called - One true sentence, and another after that. He says with a great sense of irony that-

'There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a type-writer and bleed.'

Greene in the essay mentioned above, mentions the unhappy cohabitation of Flaubert with his creation, Madame Bovary, quoting Flaubert, who wrote about the trauma of  litterateur living with an unfinished work of literature, hounding his days and darkening his night to the depths of blackness. We would believe the greatest novelist of modern times to be totally in control of his literary world he created. But no, Flaubert writes- 

'My accursed Bovary torments and confounds me....I am utterly weary, utterly discouraged. You call me master- what a sorry master I am. There are moments when it all makes me want to die like a dog.'

Some would think that the money, the pecuniary consideration would make it worthwhile. But multi-million dollar contracts are few and far-between. Most successes are accidental. Money, if at all, makes it worse when it starts guiding your pen. Then your pen wilts, your words are charred and the soul of the blank, white page in front of you dies. The relation between the pen and the coin must be established and re-established often. The money must come because of Pen and must come as a visitor not as a conqueror to the land of soul. Joseph Conrad had his son lying in high fever while writing The Secret Agent. He writes-

'I seem to move, talk, write in a sort of quiet nightmare.' 

He then mentions his boy waking up in pain and while he mentions it, he says, almost like explaining and justifying to himself-

'I won't go to him. It is of no use. ....shall than go on to elaborate a little more the conversation of Mr. Verloc with his wife. It is very important that the conversation of Mr. Verloc with his wife be elaborated.'  

He tells this matter-of-factly fashion but it is so heart-wrenching. No one wants him to write, no one is telling him to. But his being a writer is an unwritten curse of fate that he cannot escape. The conversation of Mr. Verloc with his wife has to be elaborated. He, the great Joseph Conrad, is as helpless as any other writer, stretched between his duty as a father to his ailing son and Mr. Velroc in his book waiting for him to come and expand a conversation. 

One does not chose writing. One is chosen to be a writer. It is not a happy thing to discover that you are the chosen one. It is not something you write to your relatives about, like a new house, new job. It is a discovery which is often embarrassing, even tragic. But it is responsibility which is inescapable. So the best you can do, when the words come calling, to write quickly and get out of the muddle. A writer's job and fate is to write, and when he is not writing, he is preparing to write. Do not be beguiled by a writer's appearance of passivity. When is appears to be not doing anything, he is preparing to write, he has a conspiracy at hand. He will write, eventually. For he cannot escape his fate. He can see the truth that others cannot, which hounds him. He has no choice but to share with the world that rare vision. All he needs to do is the hit the dagger deeper in the heart and find that truest of the word, and then another word. Writing is difficult, thankless and painful, but nothing compares to the agony of unwritten word.  So write, he must. 

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