A wordsmith’s treasure trove

It might be fashionable to upcycle these days, but this is something fundamental you learn when you start out as a writer.

Published: 28th August 2022 05:00 AM  |   Last Updated: 27th August 2022 04:18 PM   |  A+A-

Image used for representational purposes only (Photo | Pexels)

Image used for representational purposes only (Photo | Pexels)

It might be fashionable to upcycle these days, but this is something fundamental you learn when you start out as a writer. Rather when you take to writing with unparalleled passion. If you are born to revel in compulsive wordsmithery, nothing in your life will ever go to waste. That is a selfish admission. From surreal moments experienced in solitude to rabid fights with the nosy neighbour to being singled out for demonisation during school and college days to a leaf pulled out from your atlas of sojourns to eavesdropped conversations to study of pickled faces that speak volumes in every fine line.

Every little feeling, flicker of emotion, cloudy thought, running image, reaction to situations, body language mapping, and prattle… will be tucked away carefully in your neurons for easy replay later, at some point in your life. Choose the moment. You can dip easily into this super-sanctuary, memory atlas, anytime, anywhere, at free will. It is an irreplaceable treasure that never lets you down, even in the face of 
a fashionable writer’s block.

As writers, we perceive aplenty. Rarely reacting, but always noticing, absorbing, reading in between lines, soaking up sights and sounds, nuances, tonal inflections. Forget the wisdom-laden pearls of how every experience is enriching (the positivity talk throttles me), you can tease emotions out of carefully chronicled memories, dating decades back. 

I remember my visual ode to the jewelled blue of the Arabian Sea when I landed at Kavaratti for the first time. It knocked the breath out of my lungs. The first taste of the Alphonso (overrated, due to first seasonal-starter tag), as I had grown up on a diet of Dasheri (the real king that arrives royally late). My clobbered first impression of Mumbai as the aircraft circled and cruised past the slums to land at the swish airport of the city of dreams. Or my toady eyes when I sat through my first Tamil thriller. There is never any dearth of emotional twangs to borrow from, whether I am penning my epic journal or celebrating travel memories, if lonely.

Writing then becomes the art of being able to hold the interest of readers, a la textual busking. Memories then perform the gueridon service at the desk as you hammer away on your laptop, greedily and garrulous. Conversations and experiences then flow in to romance the words, pirouette through magical reruns and land delicately in intricate shapes and digital scrawls with great finesse.

Of course, there is a world of truth in Mark Twain’s words: “When I was younger I could remember anything, whether it happened or not.” Are you a part of the imaginative gambit?

Shilpi Madan
Mumbai-based journalist and editor

India Matters


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