Every week, a lot of stories pop into my head. I should probably say story-lines, or plot points. Every time a scene from ordinary life catches my eye, or I meet someone interesting, I feel that this incident or person would make, or be part of, a great story. Some of these ideas get penned into my little book — the one that has now become the black hole where plots go to die.
I have wanted to be a ‘writer’ for over a decade now, and it amazes me that all I have to show for it are a few poems and articles published in magazines, 7 short stories, one draft of a novella, and 3 different novels which never went beyond page 20, and of course my little book of ideas.
I want to write short stories because I like the feeling of having written, more than I like the actual writing process (I read somewhere that Dorothy Parker felt the same way), and therefore working on short stories is very gratifying. But then, finishing a book has been my dream for a very long time now. However, I spend a lot of time writing in my journal and random blog posts, and I love this the best of all perhaps because I do not require any specific validation from a reader when I write these. The result of this confusion is half written stories, and abandoned novels.
I know that at the heart of all this procrastination are two reasons (apart from laziness, of course). First is that I can’t stick to writing one story. Every time I start writing, something else catches my fancy. I start writing a simple story set in rural India, but after a week, another story full of dark, complicated characters demands my attention, and while writing that I take a break, and another full blown novel begins in my head. The second reason is that I read too much. Is there a thing like too much reading? Almost all the authors I love have said that you can’t write if you don’t read. While that is absolutely true, I find that I spend almost all my free time reading, and I do not make enough time to sit down with my writing tools. Some books do inspire me to write, but most of them tie me down to my chair or couch until I have finished reading.
From time to time, I find myself hovering over my incomplete works, trying to figure out which one to start writing, and then I wonder why I have to choose. With all the free time I have, I can actually write them all. I come across interviews of writers like Stephen King and Nora Roberts who talk about how important discipline is, to a writer. All the writers who have made it big, spend hours every day writing, blocking out everything else because writing is a serious business. Without commitment and effort, it will only remain a cute hobby. All important things are hard, yet absolutely worth the effort.
One day, all those story-lines will be brought out of that little book, and come alive as completed stories.
The process starts today.