Monday, September 8

Coe-ism and the Goodness of Gloating 

Luckily, in my case, I have managed, by writing, to do the one thing that I always wanted to do.

Jonathan Coe

It’s not often that you come upon a writer better known for a particular kind of writing attempting something different, like Coe with his first stand-alone novel, “The Rain Before it Falls;” and managing, with those words, to simply take your breath away. The more the writing offers you a vista to reflect on its impact, or in some minuscule way, a repercussion of its impact, on your own life, the more you tend to delve into the writer’s mind, the structure of his thoughts, the flow and pattern of his words - until you reach a point where you begin to comprehend in all that the grimmest of semblances with the workings of your own mind and the manner in which you choose and place your words in a sentence. I do that more often than not. I have started, in fact, cataloguing the words that affect me in the most profound manner and one of my pastimes, when I’m quite simply out of ideas or have inopportunely sold my Muse to the Devil for some indolence, is to go over these words and see if they can inspire me to take a cue, or at the least, motivate me for a while.

For instance, Coe’s words, “…All she could see, in fact, was the formlessness of jumbled buildings, trees, skyline…” have left me completely besotted. Not only do I see myself think like that, and rake over the thoughts in my head to express their import that way, but I also see his brilliance for what it is. About saying little about something immense, for Gill, the character he was alluding to with those words, goes on to realize she couldn’t possibly describe the fogginess of her vision to Imogen that way, but would have to begin afresh, with “the haze that blurred the line of transition from rooftops to sky,” perhaps, or the “sky’s barely perceptible gradations of color, from the deepest to the palest of blues.” Coe’s attention to details, to the little intricacies that form characters and their thoughts, their stories, is brilliant.

If only we could all retain the merits of our writing through a novel, or any piece of work embarked upon with a ragingly high interest level, and fold in to the pitfalls of low will power or self-assurance half way along. It may be said, of course, that these detrimental qualities bleed into other parts of our lives too, and we may be more pathetic than we think; for we cannot write with the kind of sustained brilliance or even tolerability we are thought to possess, nor can we keep a hobby for longer than a week, a day, or a few hours. Patience, as they say, is key. Of course it’s another matter that motherhood leaves you with little of it. But to stay focused as writers, I do believe, as incongruous as it may sound, we need the power of words. So for all that talk about detaching oneself from the rest of the household, or civilization, in whichever order, to sit at a desk and type away everyday, here comes the new mantra: READ. And allow yourself to be so immersed in the process that you begin to imagine you’re not a molecule less cooler than the writer who is making you go weak in the knees, and you begin to produce reams of fantastic text.

If your ego needs a boost, read a mesmerizing writer and imagine you’re them. Nothing gets to your gut like a little gloating does.

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