Saturday, September 8, 2007

Virtual-paperback-writer

This website is for and about writing; creativity from the inside and outside.

I write as a woman and as an Indian; also as an androgynous exile.

Writing, as I experience it, is not a profession from which one can occasionally take a vacation. It is an identity or identities – a flow of selves and subjectivities. My virtual identity on the net is a confluence where some of me meet, interject, compound.

In this website I put extracts from my published work, some observations on them to provide a perspective; and portions of lectures from the creative writing classes and workshops I teach.

Literature and politics! Are they inextricably intertwined? Should there be a point to creative writing?

My writings have a ‘point’, often a discernible politics. However, I have been and am firmly at the outermost periphery of groups whose causes I have allegedly espoused – leftist, feminist, or Indian nationalist. Their problems with my creative formulations far outnumber the rare affirmation of my work that blows my way. As I write about issues that concern gender, caste, and community; as I delve into small-town life – a territory usually avoided – in my fictions; how can I afford to fall into politically correct clich├ęs.

It bothers me at times that I stir more hornets’ nests than cash registers. Outspoken! Imprudent! Tone it down! These are some of the editorial comments my MS routinely gather like burrs all down the trouser-legs through their long sojourn through jungles of publishing. Till some pioneer editor rescues them and puts them out for a select reading public.

It has happened with my three novels – the first time in 1993 with The Higher Education of Geetika Mehendiratta when the refined gasped and paled at the taboo M-word in the opening paragraph; the second time with Idol Love when I was told that to satirize Hindu fundamentalism in 1999 – the period of Hindu ascendance - is to go against the popular tide; the third time, a few months ago in 2007, with Dirty Picture when a publisher-friend advised “Don’t publish it now; at this point in time.” I suppose she was thinking of my reputation. My latest novel has sex, violence, and communal politics, perhaps beyond acceptable dosages. And I am a single mother with a live-in relationship in a middle-class milieu in Delhi.

I am going ahead with its publication because I don’t feel vulnerable. Deep down I know that I have been true to my creativity and ultimately that’s all I can do. Writers have agency in the sense that they may choose to write about certain things and not about others; but creativity also has a mysterious component to it – what some call ‘inspiration’ – that makes some of us obsessed with difficult and potentially explosive ideas. There’s precious little we can do but write to put them down.

However, I also feel that the time has come for me to write about writing. I have been at it long enough and I seem to be on a path ‘less traveled by’.

Thus ‘virtual paperback writer.com’.

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