Revathi Suresh: Being JCR

Our guest blogger is the rather jobless Revathi Suresh. If you want to read more by Revathi, you can follow her blog http://wingedwallaby.blogspot.in.

I started writing JCR in response to this burning question that friends and acquaintances were hurling at me at the time: “What do you do, what do you do?” they clamoured. I worried and fretted about what to say because the truth was that I’d…er…retired from whatever little I’d been ‘doing’ and decided to be one of those stay-at-home people. I believe they’re called homemakers. But I gather that if you live in these times it isn’t ok to be home-bound and do a million and one chores. You must also go to an office and do a million and one chores there or else, damn, well-meaning friends and relatives get flustered. So though I’d decided that this career woman thing wasn’t for me, that burning question remained till it singed scorched seared the hell out of me. I had to do something, and do it fast.

Jobless I already was, and pretty damn clueless. And so, one fine day, feeling a little reckless I set out to write a book. I mean, how hard could it be. Everyone seemed to be doing it. The newspapers were full of pictures of grinning first time authors who all looked so smug and thrilled with life because they had churned out their first novels like that. Clicks fingers. What’s more, they had done it while holding day jobs. You got to hate them just a little bit.

But very soon, almost as soon as I sat down to type, in fact, I figured I didn’t have the magic formula. I didn’t have an IT background. Nor had I ever been part of any other kind of set up that allowed me to lean heavily on my job or my life for inspiration. Depressing. Life sucked because it was good.

In fact, when inspiration finally snuck in I almost didn’t notice because it made a back-door entry. My daughter happened to be writing a story that summer and as I read it a small glimmer of an idea took shape in my head and I thought I could start there. Except my grand plans to be an adult narrator and write a book for grown-ups went right out the window because what did emerge from me was the voice of a teen who wanted to tell a different story. I fought it for a bit by trying to focus on the mom character. And that came out so sickeningly sweet I wanted to send her on a quick whirl by way of the Death Railway so that she could barf up all the sugar. And luckily for me Kavya, my young protagonist, wasn’t about to let me block and stall her either. She back answered and rebelled at every turn till I finally let her be and speak for herself.

I did not write the book in one month flat. Or even six months. I struggled with it. A lot. Sometimes Kavya would disappear for weeks together taking her thoughts and voice with her, leaving me floundering, unable to string even two sentences together. Then there was the problem with her age. I fiddled around with that a bit. Younger? Older? Something in between? I decided finally but it brought me no relief. Back to the start I went. Scratch delete do-over. Also, somewhere down the line I kind of figured it’s hard to move a book forward when you don’t have that all-important, highly recommended storytelling essential called plot. JCR went through a million drafts revisions versions and several tight slaps before I finally had it where it is now. And the amazing thing is, I actually managed to get to 150 very odd Word pages without having to resort to the old plot and storyline gimmick afterall. Highly overrated. So when people ask me what my book is about I smile vaguely and go “Uh.” There’s no summing it up and no synopsising it. I think my editors will agree.

And now, friends, family and well-wishers permitting, I will retire gracefully because I think “I once wrote a small book” is good enough to hold for some time to come. Just FYI? I must confess that nothing gives me greater pleasure than getting to display my grinning smug mug on the website for the whole world to hate.

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