Anushka Ravishankar, author of more than twenty-five books, on the intense and at times very difficult process which underlies the seemingly effortless creation of the Moin books.
‘Write a piece for the blog,’ said Sayoni.
‘I don’t know what to write about!’ I exclaimed in my usual agonised way. ‘Give me some ideas.’
‘Monsters? Bananas? Monsters eating bananas?’ she suggested. ‘Or write about anything – about writing,’ she said kindly, noting my pained experssion.
Well, people do keep asking me how and when I write – it seems to be one of the stock questions of interviewers and kids in the schools I go to (though I’ve always suspected that their teachers put them up to it).
So I thought I’d take this opportunity to enlighten the world at large about the profoundly gruelling life of a writer.
I keep the alarm for 6 am. Morning is the best time to write. Everyone’s asleep, the birds are chirping, the dew’s on the grass and there’s a coolness and stillness in the air, as if the world is waiting breathlessly for the arrival of a fresh new day.
That’s what I’m told.
I wouldn’t know. I usually switch off the alarm and go back to sleep and wake to the clamour of people making breakfast and other people (you notice I diplomatically name no names) yelling that I was supposed to have woken them up an hour ago.
But I don’t let these things bother me. I make a cup of coffee and sit down at my laptop to do an honest day’s work.
The bell rings. It’s the man who does the ironing. I spend the next ten minutes trying to keep the cat from jumping on the laundry and the ironing man from leaping down the stairs (the poor chap is allergic to cats).
Once the man has gone, the cat has run after him and all the other people in the house have left, my writing day begins in earnest. The house is quiet, the morning chores are done, I’m showered and brushed.
With a sigh, I sit at the table.
When I wake up, it’s lunch time and I have keyboard marks on my cheek. No matter. A quick lunch, a cup of green tea, and I’ll be ready to roll again.
That’s when I hear the cat screeching. I run down the stairs. The cat is in a face-off with the local bully – a white and brown tomcat with heavy jowls.
‘Eecha!’ I cry. (Yes, that’s his name. ) ‘I’m here! Shoo, big heavy-jowled tomcat, shoo!’
The fat cat goes away. ‘Eecha, you poor thing, come home!’ I coo.
Eecha gives me a baleful look and gallops off after the fat cat. Defeated, I get back and decide to watch TV. Ten minutes of watching some pointless programme, and I’ll be ready to write.
Late in the evening, google-eyed and wrung out from following the lives of several tearful characters whose names I didn’t quite catch, I wrap up for the day.
It’s all right – writing isn’t always about putting pen to paper (or finger to keyboard). It’s about living and experiencing and observing and dreaming. Mostly dreaming.
So I’ve had a good writng day, I tell myself, as I set the alarm for 6 am.