Whew. It’s done, the last chapter of the first draft of Arassa is posted on Goodreads. I feel so light and floaty!
Writing is like this: the first word on the first page is a single pebble that was so shiny you had to pick it up and put it in your pocket. But with every word, every pebble that followed, your load got heavier and heavier, until all your pockets were filled and you were staggering. You carried this story around with you all the time, not only when you were actually writing. Those characters, those images, those words, those stones; they’re always with you, and they are an actual, physical weight. So when you get throw that off, it feels giddy. Suddenly you’re not touched by gravity, and you could do anything, be anyone. Feelings like this must be why other people do illegal drugs.
121,000 words, and that’s just the first draft. It’ll get longer in the second, because I have an entirely new viewpoint character to add. Revision though, is anxiety-free fun. All of the stress of connecting with your characters, of learning to listen to them so deeply that you can feel your way through the story as it needs to be, not necessarily the way you wished you could write it is gone. Both of you are free. You can finger-paint with words now, you can dance in mud puddles, you can throw back your head and drink the rain, because, whatever you do or don’t do, the Story is already there, tied into paper and words with the substance and weight of 121,000 pieces of stone. Now you can look on it in wonder and delight, and realize that it isn’t yours, and it never was; it possesses a soul of its own.
But however good it feels to lay down that weight, I know it won’t be long until I’m eager to pick up the first pebble of something new. I need to write, and revision, like I said, isn’t really writing. Soon I’ll start feeling irritable and a little blue, and I’ll wander around the house in a glowering funk for a few days wondering how it is that I don’t seem to want to do anything. And then I’ll think: Ah. It’s been weeks. An it’s time.
I pick up the pen, and an hour later, I’m back to being me. It’s not because it’s my ‘creative outlet’ – I have dozens of those. My costuming, my doll-making – all of those I do because I can. Writing is what I do because I have to, because it’s a physical requirement, like eating or sleeping. I might be able to survive without it, like I’d be able to survive if I ate only cabbage and rice, but you could hardly say I’d be living.
And huh. Who knew? I googled “cabbage rice” to see if I’d come up with a good image to end this with, and I discovered there’s an actual recipe for “Cabbage Rice”.
2 cups cooked rice
1/2 cup finely cut cabbage
Salt to taste
2 tsp oil
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
1/2 tsp bengalgram dal
1/2 tsp blackgram dal
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
Bit of asafoetida
1 tsp vangi bath powder
Few roasted cashews
Finely cut coriander leaves
In a microwave safe bowl, add the oil, mustard seeds, bengalgram dal and blackgram dal. Micro high for a minute. Now add the cabbage, mix well and micro high for a minute. Add a little water to it and cook covered on high for 3 to 4 minutes. Check if the cabbage is cooked well or else cook for another minute or so.
Now add turmeric powder, salt and vangi bath powder and micro high for 1 minute. See to it that it becomes dry.
Now add the cooked rice, roasted cashews, coriander leaves and mix well.
It calls for “Vangi Bath Powder”. Hmmm. They probably meant “Bhath Powder”, but I think I’ll still stick to writing!