So I finally decided to get my act together and do something about the writing (see this for more context). Apart the renewed push I've had to give Bacon Bits (the book I've written, for those who don't know), I've also enrolled myself in a cool course online. Ya, ya, no need to giggle at the mention of online certification, because, a) I'm not in it for the certification I actually just want to learning anything it'll teach me to better my writing b) It's a pretty cool course that's being taught by faculty from Ohio Uni and the website offers a whole host of cool courses by some pretty rad universities and faculty (coursera.com if I've managed to intrigue you).
So, anyhoo, since all this writing is coming out anyway, I figured I might as well post it out here. Here's the first of the assignments that asked us to describe ourselves as writers. Enjoy, and for those of you that are more proactive and cooler than the rest, leave me some comments :)
The three times I met the writer in me.
It was the summer of 1994. It was hot. It was so hot that the adults in the house insisted the children wear nothing but flimsy, white petticoats, so that they didn’t have cranky kids on their hands. It was my favourite place in the world. We were spending the summer at my grandparents’ house in Udupi- a small, south-west, coastal town in India, which almost kissed the Arabian Sea.
My story begins here. I was nine that summer, and like most summers, my parents, tired of having to deal with two kids all year, had shipped my sister and me off to my grandparents’ house. To my nine year-old mind, there was no place more beautiful than their house. It was constructed badly (or so I kept hearing the big people say), with no running water (only a well), hardly any room for natural ventilation (although it was a humungous house), and almost no natural light entering it. But I loved the darkness of it. Actually, more than the darkness, I loved it for the little shafts of light that came from small glass planes in the otherwise tiled roof. The dust mites would catch the light and dance all around it; I could almost hear the music that they were making with the light.
It was by one of these shafts of light that I remember writing for the first time. It was a fake newspaper. Why, you ask? Well, because I was nine, I had nothing to do for ninety days of summer, I read a lot of books, and I suppose my curious mind wanted to see if I could replicate something, and a fake newspaper seemed like a stellar idea.
I remember my father reading this paper, and I remember a grin on his face- growing from a tiny change of lip shape, to a really big smile that reached his eyes and becoming pride.
“You wrote this?” he asked, with disbelief in his eyes.
When I nodded, he hugged me. This is probably when I knew that maybe, just maybe, this was something cool I could do. That maybe, just maybe, I have this other cool person living in me- my writer.
Sixteen years later, in the summer of 2010, I was sitting in a café in Bratislava, Slovakia. I was on an all-expense-paid trip to Europe (yes, you read that right- it was a real free trip that I had actually won through a contest). And this was when I had the pleasure of meeting the writer in me again.
So, here I was, at The Café (apparently the Slovaks weren’t too innovative with names), taking a breather from the wild euro-trippin’, sitting by myself with my journal. I was trying to encapsulate the last week of being in Europe (Prague, Munich, Budapest); telling the story of the amazing people I had met so far, when suddenly, I had the inexplicable and the irresistible urge to abandon what I was writing, and write another story- one that had been in my head for a long time.
To set you a quick context to this- Post that summer of discovering the writer in me, I had continued writing, with starry-eyed dreams about becoming a novelist. But as I grew older, my writing dream became smaller and smaller. Making money and having a stable life became the priority. You see, my father was an artist, and my mother a designer, and although they had lead creatively fulfilled lives, the regular monthly paycheck was missing. Over the years, I realized I wanted a more stable life than theirs, and urged the practical part of my brain to take over. I finished university and promptly started working in a space that would bring me a great paycheck, although it had not a thing to do with the thing I was actually cool at. My writer must’ve have been rolling her eyes.
However, that day in Slovakia, armed with the journal in my hand and that idea in my head, the Writer in me re-emerged, and hijacked me. I don’t know what inspired her to make the grand comeback- it could have been the place, it could have been the starry sky above; hell, it could’ve been that she was just tired of being ignored. All I know is that she jumped at me with a force and a precision that hardly left me a minute to recognize or acknowledge her.
I wrote like a person possessed that evening. I began on a new page of what was an almost empty book, and wrote, wrote, wrote. About thirty pages in, I remember my hand aching, and wishing I had had the foresight to bring my laptop- a word processor would’ve been a great solution to beat the angry marks that were developing between my thumb and my index finger. But she (my writer) couldn’t give a damn about the physical stress she was causing. She just partied on.
Fast forward to a year and something later. The year is now (end of) 2011, I am in New York- the city of dreams, where I have come to spend the two month break I have taken from my life, to write the beautiful novel I started that day in Slovakia. Where, in fact, what actually did happen, is that I’ve ended up with a big, fat, broken heart.
I had quit my job, and invested all my savings to go to New York to finish my book (I’d realized that travel inspired me like nothing else). I was on a roll. In the first three weeks, I had worked laboriously, punching out an average of 4000 words a day. I only had the last leg to finish.
One chilly morning, my boyfriend (who I lived with in India), called me to tell me, very abruptly, that he needed to leave. Both me, and our life together. I could hardly process the words rushing at me across the phone from India. It was almost as if the physical distance between us made me not fully comprehend what he was saying. I spent the next three weeks wandering, lost, and unable to understand what was happening around me. I was in a new world, with new people, and a new situation that I could not comprehend. I was that girl sitting on a bench in a park in the rain, whose tears and the rain on her face looked the same.
My world felt torn in the middle. I was lost. And my book, my words, my story were lost with me.
My last day in New York I met Gina. If my writer could have a face, it would be her.
I met Gina at a coffee shop, sitting by herself, painting little nothings on a piece of cloth. We started talking across tables. She was from the city, and wanted to show me around. As we walked across Upper Manhattan that day, we talked about nothing in specific and everything that mattered- we talked about how the November light was fading so quickly across the yellow and crimson trees. We talked about the tall, never-ending columns of a church we were passing by. We talked about a squirrel that was running through a patch of grass in a park.
Without meaning to, I started thinking about how I would describe this. I started imagining what all of this would look like as words swimming on a sheet of white, white paper. My writer came back to me that day, to rescue me from myself. I realized that day, that my writer and me, we’re one.