As a writer you need to be a recluse

As a writer you need to be a recluse
I am working on a novel. A book about Parkinson’s and weaving through the traumatic effects of the disease and how it turns perfectly normal people into shadows of themselves. But I am not a writer that follows a pattern of writing. I don’t make a table of contents and write according to a preconceived notion of preconceived chapters. Stringent to detail and only that many words per chapter.

I dont get up at 2am in the morning and write till 7am like a British writer whose work I edited as a younger woman in Berkeley California did. Tom Bates wrote British history and so I guess he needed the regimen of disciplined work hours. “ I need the silence,” said Tom, “ for my creative juices to flow.” When his enormous 8 bedroom house was asleep. A house populated by PhD students from the University of Berkeley, CA, brilliant young men who worked on Quantum Physics and a lot more that I could not understand.

Then Tom crept down to his office room , avoiding the fourth step that creaked,a lovely story he loved to tell, and worked on a fixed number of 1500 to 2000 words per day and then went to sleep at 7am in the morning.I am not disciplined or need to be disciplined to write. I love to write and can write for several magazines and newspapers all at once. Several websites too and different genres and styles. And spend hours on writing my book as well.

I have a brilliant writer friend who lives in the Blue Mountains in the Nilgiris, who has run away to be a recluse there. She loves to bake and she loves to write, nothing in between! That too after spending most of her youth in Paris studying at the Sorbonne. She listens to the streams and breathes in the pure air and writes her sublime poetry.

Then I hear about a writer’s block and how hard it is to suddenly go beyond 150 words for a kid who has to write 500 words for an article to go onto the page in a newspaper. Writer’s block? What’s that? Honestly, I have not faced that ever, but I do take my time to submit. I was taught by the best, that if you put your byline to anything, you must make sure its the best you can submit. No half laughs.

My day begins with a run. I run in the cold morning air and think, think about how to turn the chapter around that I wrote the previous day. Get out early before the crowd comes out I tell myself and distract me. And my mind goes back and forth as I jog for an exhilarating two kilometres.

Am I reclusive, ofcourse I am. I just go to college, lecture for three hours at a stretch and then get into my comfy clothes and write. I don’t need all the silly club shows or parties or any of that stuff, I just need to write and just focus. Not that I don’t enjoy an odd party or two still, but been there, done that.

And so I type away, fingers flying, churning out a chapter a day on my book, about Parkinson’s. About two little girls and their lives woven around the disease which strikes their parents. I need to research, so I get tied down to the computer for days and days, researching and ensuring I bring out whatever I can share on the disease.

Like an author who I am hosting shortly at one of my book clubs named Book Bound says, “ I am a recluse, I just spend my time writing and cant get distracted. So I bought a house in Yelahanka and write all day. And I love it”

Then, once I write, I have a sounding board. My sister far away in Australia is my sounding board after Tom died. She reads each chapter and does a really fine job of editing every line for me.I write and write as my thoughts keep pouring out. I forget to eat, or if I do I just make a smoothie and quickly swallow it, getting back to writing. I don’t really need to eat, cups of tea do just fine. But Pushpa the help gets upset and brings me a plate with a fresh chapattie and some veg or chicken and then the guilt washes over when I see her face.That makes me get off the computer and I read the newspaper as I eat.

Or Johnny my sisters gorgeous tenant who brings me a freshly baked pound of his Danish Rye bread with goose pate he has flown in from Copenhagen with and says eat! I love Danish rye bread which I learned to eat while living in Denmark.

If I was not such a scardey, I would live on my own, a total recluse in Goa and write till I die. Like our reclusive ancestor poet Joseph Furtado. But I can’t live in the big old ancestral house in a village alone. So I am doing the next best thing. Buying an apartment in my beloved Pilerne, in a gated community and then all the books in my head will pour out onto my computer and I can populate Google Docs with my manuscripts, all saved and hidden in the Cloud.

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