Over the past few days I ended up reading Neil Gaiman’s ‘Smoke and Mirrors’ through Anush‘s reco from his blog. A fairly large collection of short stories, poems, stories written in verse etc – mostly stuff he’s written for different anthologies, magazines etc. What amazed me, more than the amazing stories, is the range at which he could operate! Like Satyajit Ray’s ‘Twenty stories’ this one is fairly super-natural. But Gaiman is the one who wrote ‘Stardust’, so it’s not a new genre for him to operate in. What’s amazing is the RK Narayan-ish simplicity he brings to the stories.
The key thing about RKN is that he makes you believe writing is easy, the characters are set in such everyday settings. ‘Smoke and mirrors’ starts off with an introduction where he says he wanted to give a story as a wedding gift and writes a story about a story being a wedding gift and how every time the couple read it, after significant passages of time in their almost perfect marriage, the story seems to grow with time, but along different lines. It is almost as if all the bad things happen to them in the story absorbing them, keeping their real marriage happy.
Paradoxically Gaiman and RKN also reinforce the idea that writing is not that easy either. The setting could be simple, but eventually the plot and the something interesting set up in that setting that keeps things going. Even otherwise, simplicity is very under-rated. Keeping things simple is not as simple as it seems!
There was a time when I wanted to write short stories, when ideas and settings used to float around non-stop. Somehow all that seems to be a thing of the past. Strangely, there were stories I wrote on BMTC travel, werewolves on Bangalore roads while in Seattle. But sustaining something is not as easy as starting an idea. I learnt that much really fast. Also, I find myself leading a steadily boring life with a normal routine. Even catching up with friends over breakfast or for a drink or two is becoming a routine. In a way that is good, I might finally be coming to terms with life in Bangalore – part II.
But I do need to unlock any creativity I might have killed over the past 2 years. Maybe do what I started doing with this blog – write for myself, which somehow got lost somewhere making me more defensive in what I write. I guess just some offline txt files might be a good place to start. But I will write, even if it is nonsense. Sense can come later out of it.