In the Mood

The weather is amazing today in Hyderabad. Usually, the days are dry and the nights are sweaty and humid here. But today, I was blessed with “inspiration weather”. It’s my favorite kind of weather. If you go out into the open, a pleasant chill will surround you, raising goosebumps on your arms, but it is not so cold that you need to bundle up in wool. The air is slightly weighed down with dampness, hinting at the possibility of rain. I absolutely adore this weather. To me, it seems to be full of hope and anticipation.

Whenever I get to experience this inspiration weather, I write. Because it is the best time for me to write. Inspiration weather fills me with, well, inspiration. It makes me believe in myself. My head brims with ideas. Energy floods my veins until I can’t stand still. Until I sit in front of a computer and empty my thoughts into it.

But today, I decided not to write.

I’ve never been the most disciplined of writers. I can’t start writing whenever I want to. Getting into the writing mood is a veritable struggle for me. I need silence, the right mental state and of course, the always elusive motivation. I write only when I absolutely have to. I write only when I can’t stand not to write.

But I’ve decided to put a stop to my old writing habits. Hereafter, I won’t write when inspiration weather strikes. I will write everyday at a specific time. No matter how “not in the mood” I am, I am going to write. I came close to giving up writing for good, but I can’t. It is too important to me. I will keep writing.

How Can I Be Vulnerable?

For some time now, I have been thinking of myself as a failure as a writer. It was unconscious at first. I would tell my family and friends about wanting to be a writer even as a thread of guilt wound itself around my neck, choking the words inside of me. But nowadays, I don’t talk to anyone about my dreams because I have all but given up on them. I try not to let it bother me, but deep inside, I know I am a failure.

There are days when I chalk this up to my inability, nay, unwillingness to expose myself to others. I am THE most closed off person I know in this world. Hell will freeze over before I let anyone into my heart. The sun will rise in the west before I start trusting someone enough to share my thoughts with them. My friend “Daenerys” (That is not her real name obviously, but that is the first ‘D’ name that came to my mind) is the exact opposite. She wears her heart on her sleeve. I have gotten so used to hiding my true emotions from others that it comes naturally to me. When people ask my opinion on something very close to my heart, my first instinct is to lie. It is a natural defense mechanism. If people don’t know the truth about me, their words and barbs won’t hurt me. The flipside is that the truth and lies have gotten so entangled I can hardly distinguish them anymore. My mind is a convoluted tangle of thoughts.

This character trait of mine, I believe, is not something an artist should have. For example, take Fiona Apple. I don’t know if you have heard of her, but she is one of my favorite singer-songwriters of all time. She is an amazing artist whose songs are raw and full of emotion and passion. She has been in the music industry since 1997 or 1998 and it is a testament to her astounding talent that every single record of hers has been critically lauded. When I listen to her songs, I feel like she has taken what is going through my mind and illustrated it in a way more beautiful than anything my mind could ever create. Take her song “Every Single Night” for instance where she sings of how her mind works ‘every single night’.

Every single night
I endure the flight
Of little wings of white-flamed
Butterflies in my brain
These ideas of mine
Percolate the mind
Trickle down the spine
Swarm the belly, swelling to a blaze
That’s when the pain comes in
Like a second skeleton
Trying to fit beneath the skin
I can’t fit the feelings in
Every single night’s alight with my brain

I am at my creative best only at night when the world is quiet and peaceful. And the above lines perfectly illustrate how I feel when I am creating something – whether it be a chapter in my never-to-be-published book or a pencil portrait of someone. The emotions which the art brings up inside me threatens to fill me and burst out of me in a wave and when I am done creating, I feel spent as if I physically exerted myself.

I hope one day I will allow myself to feel things like Fiona Apple does. But this begs the question – are those who have suffered deeply the only ones capable of feeling so deeply? Fiona Apple was raped when she was a teenager and she also suffered from anorexia. Having been brought up in an upper middle class family with overprotective parents, I can’t say I have ever suffered deeply. Does this mean it’s simply impossible for me to feel things so acutely?

Passion

I have known passion. Passion that claws you from the inside, dragging its sharp nails through your innards, shredding your soul into bits and pieces; passion that makes your blood boil and makes you feel giddy with excitement all at the same time; passion which seeps through every living cell in your body, the only thing driving you forward in life.

I knew this kind of passion when I was fifteen, sixteen years old. I would long to come home form school just so I could read more books. I felt most alive when I was writing, building characters and stories in my head.

Now… Well, now, my passion has mellowed out. My life is no longer a simple equation like “dreams + free time = realization of dreams”. The variables have increased. My life equation now is more like “dreams + unavailable free time + working my ass off at the office + exhaustion + washing + cleaning + cooking + worrying about my future + listening to my parents worry about my future + maintaining good relationships with my school, college and work friends = realization of my dreams after a decade (maybe)”.

The sad truth is that even though I’m not chasing my dream (of becoming a writer) right now, even though I’m, as I mentioned before, working my ass off at the office, I don’t hate working in an IT company. It’s really not so bad. The people I work with are amazing and I actually have fun at work. Which scares me. I am afraid that I would soon become too complacent about my lot in life and not even attempt to attain something more. I have been feeling more and more guilty about this for the past few days.

And guilt, my friend, can be a powerful motivator. Guilt made me boot up my laptop and start a fresh draft of a story that has been building in my mind for some time. Guilt made me pick up my pencils and start sketching again. I wouldn’t say my creative juices are a-flowing like the River Nile, but they are definitely starting to trickle.

After the one hour writing sesh and another one hour of sketching, I felt spent like I had just had the most amazing sex of my life (I’m only guessing that’s what the most amazing sex of my life would feel like because, psst, I’m a v-v-virgin). I feel good. I feel light and happy.

P.S.: When I was writing this post, “Adam’s Song” by Blink-182 started playing in my head. Especially the following verses:

I never conquered, rarely came
16 just held such better days
Days when I still felt alive
We couldn’t wait to get outside
The world was wide, too late to try
The tour was over we’d survived
I couldn’t wait till I got home
To pass the time in my room alone

Bangalore Withdrawal

It’s hard to believe that just a few years ago, I was a young, starry-eyed, idealistic girl who wanted to change the world with her written word. Fast-forward to the present and here I am, a cynical, unapologetically selfish, twenty one year old woman who cannot muster up enough energy to give a damn about anything. And when I say I don’t give a damn about anything, I don’t mean it in the cool, rock-star kinda way, where I look like I don’t give a damn but in reality, my hard exterior shell is hiding a sweet and sensitive nature. No. I am not sweet, neither am I sensitive. I have become a bitter husk of the person I used to be. I literally can’t get myself to care about anything or anyone.

Okay, maybe that’s wrong. I do care about one person. That’s me. Sometimes I think the reason I am not able to write nowadays is because I’m so selfish. Emotions that are so natural to normal people like love, anger, shame, grief, mourning and heartbreak seem elusive to me. I understand the hows, but not the whys of these feelings. As a writer, I am supposed to make every character believable, every thought and action of his/hers realistic. As a writer, I’m supposed to feel what these characters are feeling. But I am unable to. Therefore, every word I write rings false in my ears.

But I digress. My un-write-ablility is a story for another day. I wanted to talk about my Bangalore withdrawal.

I have never cared for the IT industry (yes, one of the many things I don’t care for). The thought of staring at a computer screen all day used to scare me to death when I was in high school. Then, ironically, a twist of fate landed me in an engineering college where I completed my B.Tech in IT. After four mind-numbing years, I got myself a job in an IT company (it doesn’t matter which company it is; they are all the same). For the sake of simplicity, this company will henceforth be referred to as XYZ India Ltd. XYZ decided that I had to complete one and a half months of training in Bangalore before I was assigned to a project. I, a Tamil girl who had never lived in a non-Tamil speaking city, packed my suitcases and moved to Bangalore.

And instantly fell in love. Bangalore was beautiful, modern and most of all, a far cry from the blistering heat of Tamil Nadu. There were people who spoke all sorts of languages in Bangalore – Tamil, Telegu, Malayalam, Kannada, Hindi. I never wanted to leave the city. Who cared if I was stuck in a stare-at-the-computer-all-day job? I was in heaven. What’s more, I even kinda, sorta developed a crush on one of my colleagues. I mean, sure, he was taken, but my bitter, bitter heart was overjoyed at the fact that it was still capable of having these kind of feelings. Then, XYZ gave me a project in Hyderabad.

I bid Bangalore a reluctant goodbye and moved to Hyderabad. Hot, hot Hyderabad which reminded me every minute of how much I missed the Bangalore weather. Walking to work in Bangalore was a cake. Here in Hyderabad, my ten minute walk to work feels like an hour and every day, when I reach my office, I am sweating so much I feel like I’ve run a marathon.

Today’s my 11th day in Hyderabad. In the past 10 days, in a bid to get rid of my Bangalore blues, or at least to lessen the intensity of it, I jumped head-first into a Veronica Mars marathon. I have to say, Veronica Mars has done me good. She kept my mind blissfully occupied and I only pined about Bangalore a couple of times. The Veronica Mars movie is getting downloaded as I write. Hopefully, that and the two seasons of Dead Like Me on my hard disk will get me through this weekend.