Tuesday, November 22, 2005

I am my own reader

Writing seems an entirely self-contained activity, work pursued for its own sake. Actually, the writer sets out on a very personal and solitary quest, involving, at least in its intentions, no one else. I am my own reader. In fact, when writing, I am telling myself things. What the writer is trying to do rather is to make sense of life — for herself and incidentally for the reader. It is a kind of self-communing, of which the reader becomes a part. What is ultimately communicated is a picture of the world as the writer sees it, a picture that comes out of somewhere deep within, often taking even her by surprise. It is almost like hypnosis: things one didn't know were there, things one wouldn't have expressed in ordinary life, emerge. It is also a little frightening, being almost like an emotional and intellectual strip tease; there is a sense of standing exposed and bare under the spotlight.
For a writer, as I said, writing is the thing. But in exploring ideas, in teasing and stretching them, the writer helps readers to see what they have not been able to glimpse on their own. It is the writer's imagination that opens out new worlds to the reader. The imagination is a very powerful tool, it has both muscle and strength. I would compare it, not to the butterfly's flitting, but to the eagle's swoop and soar in flight. There is something daring about the way imagination can go into the dark, leap over a yawning abyss and make connections. It is imagination that allows the artist to get to the inner truth, going beyond the facts, behind the presumed reality. "Poetry is something more philosophical and of graver import than history": Aristotle's words. It is the writer's imagination that makes it possible for creative writing to have these qualities. SHASHI DESHPANDE The Hindu Literary Review Sunday, Jul 06, 2003

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