Inner Voice

I said, “I listen to you every time 
Yet you sound anew on each occasion.”
“Someday, I’d sit back and listen to you,” it said.
Or, perhaps, it was my assumption.

Ever since I’ve yearned for
That participating audience.
With whom I can discuss
All problems and their solutions.

The wait, how I wish, to soon be over.
The wait, which has been rather long and clever.
I can hardly wait. Actually, no longer.
Here I am to you, my muse; in full submission.

Be my thoughts, words, and voice.
Lend me the pleasure.
Here I am to speak and to listen.
Give me thy affirmation.

©Suyog Ketkar
Composed in March, 2021

How to Write

A lot of writing is an outcome of introspection and self-analysis. We look at ourselves, sometimes as an outsider and oftentimes as an insider, with the expectation that we either see what the world sees in us or we see in the world that no one else sees in it. This is a lot of topical overthinking—both unidirectional and multi-directional. Amongst the questions on writing that bombard, clutter, and occupy one’s mind, many involve finding answers that lead to further bewilderments. Let us delve few of such questions.

On what must I write?

As easy as it might sound, selecting a topic is anything but simple: you bang your head against a wall and I guarantee it will bring results. There are days when you can spot yourself staring at the blinking cursor or the blank page with mixed feelings of admiration and frustration. And such days usually occur more frequently for some than others.

Topics lend the capability to set the perimeter for your writing.

A question that nests within this question is how critical is research in writing. Well, the easy answer to it lies in what you wish your readers to do after they go through your work. Do you want them to do something, like a task? Do you want them to read and react? Do you want them to follow the suit and continue their research on your lines of thoughts? Do you want them to feel what you are feeling? Or, do you want to enlighten them with deep insights? Set a perimeter to the range of topics and then let the topic set the perimeter for your writing.

A topic helps put barbed wires, sort of, so that you can fence out the territories where your imagination isn’t supposed to wander. Such self-contradicting is this counter-thought that you must first set a perimeter to the topic before it sets the perimeter for your writing. So, more than the topic, it is the subject of your study that determines what you must write.

In what format must I write?

It reminds me of a masterful chef who curates a platter of intricately cooked, composed, and crafted dishes. Remember, they don’t cook food: they create a course of meal for you. The format of writing is similar.

Masterful writers incrementally build their readers’ experience throughout the passage of their work.

And even if this means some rules govern the structure or format in which to serve the course of the meal, no rules limit your creative license to bring in colorful variations in tastes and textures.

Is there a pattern?

There are time-tested, subjective patterns: in some, you hold onto your readers; in others, the reader holds on to your work.

The pyramid is applicable wherever you build the context before you unveil the core content. All novels and short stories use this approach where they first build the old world before they bring their protagonists on the cliffhanger that changes everything. They introduce the core learning for the protagonist who then must set their world anew.

And then there is the inverse pyramid approach. The print media follows it. We follow a similar approach in technical writing, where we communicate the most important things first and then supplement the details.

The choice of the pyramid for creative and inverse-pyramid for non-creative isn’t always easy, for it depends on a lot of parameters the values for some of which aren’t even known. Take a calculated guess of how your average readers might wish to read your work.

Is there something that’s never discussed enough?

Yes, a couple of things, actually.

Grammar

There isn’t any formula, a strict pattern, process, language, structure, or way of reaching your readers’ hearts and minds. Yet, there is a way you can map your intentions with their emotions and understanding. This is where grammar can help. The sticklers for grammar call it the mortar for the bricks. Words are bricks that build your work. And grammar, as the mortar, holds the bricks together in place so that your work appears and appeals to the readers with the same intensity and purpose.

Rewriting

There must be a few works—often from select authors—that you find are effortless reads. Even when you read their work for the first time, within an instant you connect to their work. And then there are other authors whose work builds itself on you over time. It matures like a wine where the more you age with it the more you appreciate what it brings to you. Each time you open it, you stumble upon a new message wrapped in the same old words.

The act of writing, I reckon, must be the second-last step in the process of writing itself. The last step must be rewriting.

Once you finish creating your first draft, let it sit and age. If over time you think it reads the same, your work will achieve its purpose. But if—and it usually is the case—it doesn’t quite read what it must, then rewrite it.

Continue to chisel out the words, phrases, sentences, and paragraphs if they don’t serve their purpose.

Conclusion

After we have said (and done) what all we must, there still remains so much more than we can say and do. Writing is such an easy skill that it reminds me of life itself.

Only after you’ve lived your life that you learn how to live it.

Each experience is new in its own way. Every single day brings forth new learning. All experiences, good or bad, make up life what it is. This is why life is sometimes greater than the sum of its parts. And you, as a writer, are responsible for helping people read and, thereby, live through your words. How effectively they do that depends on how efficiently you can map your ability to think like them and the skill to write like your true self.

Writing and Everything Else

The theory that the fictional characters draw parallels with life events is as much true as the thought that the writing impacts and inspires us. And I say this because, on umpteen occasions, I’ve gulped down the bitterness and dryness of words before they began to moisten my mouth and eyes with their truest selves. Yet, in the list of everything that ever has quenched my thirst and kept me alive as I have crawled through my deserted nothingness, writing is at the top. My writing has drawn a lot of inspiration from my life and experiences, and in return has equally blessed me with awe.

Good writing, I have always believed and found to be true, is the next step of despair. And yet, with each passing year, I see more and more aspiring writers stopping at despair. They, somehow, don’t have the energy to follow their dreams, if they have had any. In my case, the only thing that has stood by me ever since my introverted self has begun to surface more often, it is writing. All I do is return its favor. Writing, thus, is both a cause and a consequence for me. People keep asking me random questions. I answer those random questions with nonrandom answers.

Someone asked me the other day, for instance, “what makes you write?” I replied, “the same thing that makes you breathe, go to bed, wake up again the next morning, and go to (or sit down to) work.” I said, “We all are machines running on some fuel. Writing is my fuel. You have your own version of it.”

“But how do you do that,” someone else had asked. I said that writing was akin to sitting by the lake and watching the ripples as you throw stones in the lake. What you get as you unsettle the lake bed and its cozy arrangement of quietude is the ripples that bring up what lays buried underneath. Those are some precious thoughts. I only take a closer look at those, while most fail to acknowledge their presence. This process of acknowledging, churning, observing, and translating those ripples of thoughts into words is both encouraging and enchanting. Writing is quite like learning to live. The most important thing is to take the first step. The second most important is to follow along with your senses, for they are never wrong.

The part of my answer that I skipped deliberately was that they didn’t continue to follow along. A lot of aspiring—and sometimes inspiring—individuals do not remain loyal to writing. I attribute most of my writing to the allegiance I have shown toward this experience. Even before people had begun formally introducing me as a writer, I had taken the pains of going through the labor of birthing ideas. This umbilical connection that I have with some of the posts I wrote more than a decade ago makes me a possessive parent. My sweat-soaked pillows are a testimony of how and when the right ideas were born. I’ve taken the trouble of noting it down, sometimes in my sleep.

“But I don’t have the time and the skills.” Well, I don’t doubt that you have a packed schedule and that writing requires quietude. But when you can’t let your mind astray, is that not the best time for you to focus on moments within the moments of your life? Then how can you deceive your mind to pay attention to only quantifiable, tangible activities, while you must focus on enjoying this transformation? It’s as much a matter of choice: you choose results, I adhere to the process. Yet it comes down to what efforts you put in to make it an effortless read. The beauty, cleverness, logic, or wits are only the devices with which you decorate your writing. The tricks are easy to know about but difficult to put into practice. So, what you as a novice might find hard to install might come to my stolid soul with spontaneity.

It all comes to two things: compassion and emotions. For the human within you to leap over that stile and walk the then lush green lands in soothing gleams of rays, you must have compassion. You have to live life before living it. You have to live life without ever living it. Only then you embark on this journey.

Just the Way of Life

From when the life sprouted
When coziness wrapped its fingers around yours
And opened your vision to its ‘me-ness’,
It is what it is.

From when mistakes could be erased
When errors didn’t scar us for ever
And the time was full,
It is what it is.

From when ignorance was blissful
When choices still weren’t that costly
And confessing to all piffle cames effortlessly,
It is what it is.

Until when thee acknowledges
When the build-up will reach its zenith
And celebrate the short-lived festivities.
It is what it is.

Until when days pass slowly,
When the fall arrives,
And leaves carpet trails of thee,
It will be what it must—the way of life.

©Suyog Ketkar

First Sentence Down

It is time. That time when I must
Either stand tall, perch by,
Or, at the least, crawl toward
What I might call a ‘find.’

The rest then is still there
Lingering somewhere in my mind
Laughing at me from those cozy corners
Where meet my mind’s heart and heart’s mind.

I mustn’t cry out loud,
Shout, complaint, quiver
Abuse, mewl, or be wilted.
I must go through this grind.

Attempts are harder than perfection.
Yet with every attempt
I must work it up better—
Make it more refined.

Weave thoughts. Streamlined.
Stitch together the purpose and prose.
Compose the music that runs
Effortlessly across; Intertwined.

Of all that by then is done
Is that I am the first sentence down.
That’s all it takes for me.
Thereafter, I never look behind.

©Suyog Ketkar

That’s Who I Am

Of all that I did that day,
Were things rather in plenty.
Breaking with the dawn, for once
Had I had this idea, if any…

Where my vigilant brain had caught this
Wonderful signal through my mental antennae,
And, the day had arrived where
I could turn stories into pure honey.

“Do not confine,” I’d told myself,
“If you ever must reach the uncanny.”
“You can visualize anything,” I said
“Without stepping into the mahogany.”

This was some strange business.
Or wasn’t it? For it was quite funny.
Limitless thoughts, I wondered how—
Could fit within those little crannies!

Thoughts led to thoughts,
And words popped too many.
Stories after stories, I played
Characters after characters, aplenty.

In some, I was a teacher,
In the others, I studied botany.
In some, I was a preacher,
I the others, I was involved in a felony.

Just as you have companions, my friend,
I have stories to keep me company.
The cat has only nine lives, remember.
As a writer, I realized, I’ve rather one too many.

©Suyog Ketkar

Twenty Words Tuesday: Week 29 Post (Prompt: Bride)

Thank you, Bulbul’s Bubble, for this week’s writing prompt.

So, here’s my entry for #TwentyWordsTuesday, a 20-words-story-prompt. which for this week is Bride.


Bride

His ballads adore her lips,
His thoughts occupied her mind.
Without being his bride,
Meera was one with the divine.


Sunday, that is yesterday, was the World Poetry Day. So to celebrate one, I tried conveying my thoughts via a poetry instead of a 20-words sentence. I hope that you like my humble attempt.

Twenty Words Tuesday: Week 28 Post (Prompt: Fantasy)

Thank you, Bulbul’s Bubble, for this week’s writing prompt. I really hope you like my attempt for this week’s prompt.

So, here’s my entry for #TwentyWordsTuesday, a 20-words-story-prompt. which for this week is Fantasy.


Fantasy

Her thoughts reached him. How? ‘How could he listen and perfectly respond,’ she implored and reckoned, ‘I must be dreaming.’


While it is true that women think (know?) men don’t listen to them, there are those who really do. In most cases what, therefore, is fantasy, in a few others, it is stranger than fiction. I don’t know what people might call it. I call it love. 🙂

Twenty Words Tuesday: Week 26 Post (Prompt: Spring)

Thank you, Bulbul’s Bubble, for this week’s writing prompt. I am honored on my inclusion into your mention-worthy list.

So, here’s my entry for #TwentyWordsTuesday, a 20-words-story-prompt. which for this week is Spring.


Spring

“Let’s give up the bitterness and begin this year afresh,” he’d demanded. “We’ve never looked back ever since,” she reflected.


I hope you all like my humble attempt.

The Confessions of Her Pillow

I’m jealous of my own existence. Whatever I have today, it’s because of her; it’s for her. Nothing belongs to me, yet I’m proud of what I have. To this day, and happily counting, I’m her sole counselor. I’ve consoled her on countless occasions. I’ve seen, shared every single dream she’s ever had. I’ve been inspiring her, supporting her in her every endeavor. I’ve told, “It’s as important to stop and rest as it is to stand up to a cause.” I’ve been the only support of hers for years, and she’s relied on me equally. She knows the importance of my existence. Even if she doesn’t value my presence, or so I think, she registers and acknowledges my absence. Day in and day out, she needs me. She wants me. We’ve numerous memories together. She cuddles me, caresses me, irritates me, embraces me. More so, she dreams with me, imagines with me, rests and wakes up with me, attests me, uses and at times abuses me. She loves me, hates me, but the best part is, she shares her tears with me. I’m her companion when she detests everyone else. I’ve lived through those sleepless nights when she has reached me with her tears. When she tears me down, it just tears me down. Her comfort, her confidence, and her victory, what else do I want? After all, I’m her pillow. And her story is my story. I think I’m jealous of my existence. Very jealous.