The writing itch

What is it that goes into the making of a writer? Having talent alone will not do.
During the customary morning walks along the famed Kukkerahalli lake in this our heritage city of Mysore, a literary-minded friend one day suddenly popped the question “What is it that goes into the making of a writer”? That set me thinking.

Is it having a story inside one that needs to be told or ideas worth sharing with others, along with the necessary command over language to be able to give adequate expression to these? Obviously, a writer needs to have a special talent, for every one cannot be a good story teller.

But when you consider the question further, it would appear that having talent alone will not do. You need also to have a strong inner urge to write. 

It is not unusual for a writer to tell his friends how the story kept building up in his mind over a period of years till a point was reached when it simply compelled him to sit down and start writing. In a way, the story writes itself.

We have read of Dr Shivaram Karanth, when the mood seized him, sitting down and writing at a stretch, finishing a full novel sometimes within a month. It is doubtful whether he ever revised any of his works. Such writing may perhaps be called inspired writing.

But writing methods do differ from writer to writer. Dr S LBhyrappa, the prolific novelist, is known for his meticulous research and when the full material for his novel is collected, he is known to shut himself up somewhere for a few months where he can write undisturbed.

We have also read of professional writers doing their writing like any other job, having a regular schedule and imposed self-discipline of churning out a certain minimum number of words every day. Such writing may even turn out be good but can never equal inspired writing.

One of the stories related in Samuel Smiles’ ‘Self Help’ is that of Sir Walter Scott, who had to get up early in the mornings even in winter in his native Scotland and plod on with the writing of his historical novels, just because he had to make the money needed to pay off his debts (failure to repay debt would result in imprisonment in Britain those days!) When one savours the delight of reading ‘ ‘Ivanhoe’ or ‘ Kenilworth’ now, who can guess that they were produced under such painful drudgery?

In recent times, who does not know of J.K.Rowling, who started off writing in order to earn a bare living but ended up producing the Harry Potter series, which sold in astronomical numbers, making her a millionaire many times over!

As an inspired piece of writing I can do no better than citing A.G. Gardiner’s essay on the famous cricketer Ranjitsinghji, the Jamsaheb of Nawanagar, when he retired from the game. Who can forget sentences such as “ The Jamsaheb is forty, alas the Jamsaheb is fat”; “ He was the prince of a small state but the king of a great game” and “ He combined the stillness of the panther with the suddenness of its spring.”  Hats off to all great writers down the centuries who have created works that we can still delight in.

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