I’m a ‘Repeater’: The Art of Re-Reading in the Writing Trade
I’m a repeater. No, not the telecom kind. Ergo, yes, I made it up.
Basically, if I’m into something — a movie, a book, a delicacy — I invest myself into it completely. Many people look for adventure and new experiences. I get that, and I totally appreciate it. In some parts of my life I, too, am keen to explore the unfamiliar. But if its something I really love I will go back to it. Again. And again. I will learn it inside out until I’m either sick of it or I just need to take a break before the next frenzy hits.
It’s not a new concept at all. Familiar equals comfort, we all know that. The morning routine of bread and ablutions, firing up the laptop and labouring away till midday, lunch, work, snacks, work, rest, work, and so on. Retiring to our room at the end of the day and spreadeagling on the bed is so familiar we don’t give it a second thought. We love to get away sometimes but home is still home.
Now think of it like this. You have been with your family or friends or a group of people all your life. Essentially, they are the same people. How is it that you never get bored (aside from the usual amount) of making conversation with them, or hanging out with them? That’s because they are familiar and new at the same time. They live and breathe and though their core remains the same the experiences around them changes them, shapes them.
I like to think of books as a living thing.
(And no, I’m not thinking The Monster Book of Monsters.)
Take classics, for instance. They are named that for a reason. They are timeless pieces of art that tell a different story the same way every time you have a go at it. What I mean by that is every time you re-read a book it uncovers a new aspect of itself. Something new to admire, appreciate, maybe even hate on. And even though nothing has changed in it since the time you read it first, you have.
Now, my mother ends up reading most of the books I have on my wishlist because I recommend them to her and never really get around to it myself since I’m already swamped with what I’ve finished once.
Just a couple days ago I was animatedly describing to her a scene from this world-famous movie released in India a few years back. I loved the plot and the work that had gone into it. I totally dug the BTS. My mind had gotten its claws into it and was happily feasting away at different snippets every day.
She was baffled by how I didn’t prefer going for new works and instead preferred ruminating over the same old stuff. I explained to her how different it was for me when I saw creativity in any form.
As writers, I believe that our clan has that 7th sense of deep observation. We see things completely differently because we look at them completely differently.
My grandfather had something really wonderful to say about a play he had seen based on PL Deshpande’s work. According to him, people enjoyed the play not just because the author had made many minute observations about every-day life but because the audience themselves made those observations daily. And when they saw those observations manifested in an author’s work they got amazed and comforted at the same time. Amazed that it was indeed possible to look at the world a certain way and comforted because they were not alone.
That’s where being a repeater helps. If you are a writer, you are a bona fide observer. And for you to write well, you should be able to observe the crap out of things. And to do that, you need to drill down to the bottom of something you admire and find the source. That takes some repeating, however prodigious a writer you are.
For me, I find myself in awe of a wayward hand movement in a play or a quirky play of words or the simplicity of everyday food. I want to appreciate the minute things in life because before stories are anthills, they are just fine soil.
If you have to know the little things by going over them with a microscopic eye over and over… Good deal, since as a writer you are definitely born with it.
To all the repeaters.