The Epiphany Writer
Epiphany (from the ancient Greek ἐπιφάνεια, epiphaneia, “manifestation, striking appearance”) means an experience of sudden and striking realization. I start this article by explaining the dictionary meaning of the subject, even at the cost of being cliché and passé, because it is a part of the epiphany which struck me, leading me to write. The realization — that I’m an ‘Epiphany Writer’.
First thing first, I consider the expanse of the word ‘writer’ to be atrociously colossal when I use it to describe myself. As someone who registered on Wordpress more than 5 years ago and has managed to do only 43 posts till date, it becomes clear to me that I’m being linguistically generous to myself. Not that the quantum of writing is the criteria to become a writer, for example, Harper Lee, who, barring a few odd articles has only written one novel (with the second one just being published), is most certainly a writer. But when I compare her (slim) body of work — ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’, with my article ‘Gaseous People’ (where I prove that people in Indian Local Trains attain the properties of gases), they just don’t seem to fall in the same league.
So, what’s an Epiphany Writer?
F. Scott Fitzgerald based the character of Jay Gatsby on a friend. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle didn’t completely dream up Sherlock Holmes, the detective’s eccentric behavior was based on the author’s medical professor from college. Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn was practically a replica of Twain’s childhood friend, Tom Blankenship.
What I’m trying to point out here is that these great authors, were great observers as well, who took real life characters and drew them on paper with their words. This is one method of writing.
Then there is Gabriel Garcia Marquez, who was heading off on a family vacation when the first sentence of 100 Years of Solitude hit him. He was struck with an idea. He was struck by epiphany. He was an ‘Epiphany Writer’.
Again, I’m making observations and comments upon literary giants and their inspirations and methods for, arguably, their greatest pieces of work — without actually having any proper knowledge on the subject. But this is the internet, so what can you really do.
It is worthy of being noted that, epiphanies are not like relatives — they don’t come unannounced. Wikipedia points me out to the book ‘The Myths of Innovation’ by Scott Berkun, which explains that ‘epiphany is the result of significant work on the part of the discoverer, and is only the satisfying result of a long process’. So, I may or may not notice, but even ‘this’ had some contemplation in the past before it dawned upon me.
The Actual Point
Now that I’m done with being a loudmouth, I would come to my actual point — my method of writing, which, I’m extremely sure; no one would be interested in.
So, my method of writing is actually a phenomenon that is initiated itself at considerably irregular intervals. It generally involves sitting ideally, almost in the state of oblivion, and staring in a particular direction as long as another direction becomes more enchanting. As you may be aware, in an urban landscape, such a state is generally attained while sitting in the window seat of a public transport or on the toilet seat.
Alas! The advent of technology has ruined that as well. The state of oblivion is now characterized by staring into the abyss of a cell phone screen. And the former ‘blank’ state is only achieved when the distraction is eliminated, that is, either when the battery has drained out or when I’ve forgotten the phone on my bed before going to the loo. Considering that I use the public transport and the toilet seat daily, sometimes even twice, the fact that there have only been 43 posts which equals 43 instances of achieving the ‘blank’ state, point to the derivation that technology is hindering my writing abilities.
Now, for the ease of explanation of the phenomenon, let’s consider that the distraction has been eliminated and it has been 23 minutes since I’ve been gazing at the world go by or the green colored, tiled wall in front of me, depending upon the location of my seat. Then, I see a bright light in the distance; it starts to grow larger and brighter and out of it comes the idea, the realization — NOT. No, nothing of that sort happens. What actually happens is that one minute I have nothing; I am in the ‘blank’ state and then, a moment later — BAM! — ‘I can write about writing’. This is followed by a slight tilt of the head and squinted eyes. The fingers touch the chin and then start moving towards the side, and then, words begin to flow. There’s a barrage of phrases and sentences that follows it, giving the idea a shape — a blobby one at first — because these phrases and sentences don’t come in order. The earliest sentence could be about how to end it, actually there could be more than one ending sentence — all coming in and settling at the bottom. Then the mind drifts here and there pouring in words after words. Sadly, however, all is not exactly translated on paper — the speed at which these words come in is nothing as compared to the ‘warp speed’ at which they are forgotten. The retention percentage is low, very low. And, an idea that seems so fantastic and has an engrossing title, comes out like this (points both hands towards the screen).