Recently, my seven year old son told me “Amma, why do you call yourself a writer when you never write?”
I asked him ‘Why do you think that I am not a writer?’
He said, “I never see you write, Amma.”
After this dialogue with my son, I have increasingly thought about my secretiveness in the writing process. For instance, I cannot write in a public place. I cannot bring myself to bleed on paper with a hundred people or their voices hovering around me. I need to be completely alone to write, to unwind and to bleed on paper. I have wondered if this secretiveness has done me any good and whether there was something not ‘normal’ about my writing process.
The seven year old’s question stemmed from curiosity and I began to contemplate seriously on my writing process and thought of sharing it with you, dear reader. Perhaps you can help me gain clarity on my writing process. Or perhaps you can simply listen and be with me now at this moment.
When I first began to write about my Guru, I was in Class 6. I used to hide my scribblings from my friends because they would mock me for writing about Guru and Bhakti. They found it hilarious that I am writing such ‘junk’ at my age. To them, God was real junk and they thought I must be hallucinating or ‘stoned’ to be writing about God. That one doesn’t have to be in a state of intoxication to contemplate about God seemed an alien concept to them.
My friends, if you could call them that, would try hard to divert my attention to joining their groups after class instead or hanging out with a bunch of the school’s laziest groups. Somehow I didn’t feel that it did me any good to do what suited them and I would opt out to sit in a corner and write.
The more I wrote about God and spirituality, the happier I became and the more others made fun of my writings, it made me more determined to keep writing. Yet, the habit of being secretive about what I write began to take root early.
As a result, whenever I write about spirituality, I don’t like to show it to anyone and if I eventually do, it is usually with those very few people whom I intuitively trust.
Sometimes you can trust a stranger
Nearly two decades ago, I completed a manuscript on a spiritual Master, a Guru who is worshipped worldwide. While writing the book, I got visions of the very same Guru who corrected several aspects of what I was writing and these constant divine revelations from the Guru prompted me to seek constructive criticism from some one whom I had read was a close devotee.
I took the manuscript directly to a Minister of State though he was a complete stranger to me. Yet he showed surprise that I, a college going student and not a devotee of the Guru, had written a book on the same Guru. He bowed his head to me and said, “We need more youngsters like you.” The humility with which he said this brought tears to my eyes. No one had ever said that to me before. Then he added, “But writing about spirituality means you have a greater responsibility to adhere to Truth than others. Let me try and find time to read. I won’t make any promises though.”
That dashed my hopes. Why would a busy Minister read my raw manuscript? But he did.
The very same minister studied my book thoroughly, met me about three months later and told me “On my flights and whenever I am travelling, I read your manuscript. It recharged me. I have noted down some suggestions if you would care to take a look.”
To my surprise, the Minister had detailed suggestions that gave me a clearer sense of direction with regard to the book. No one had ever studied my manuscript as closely as this Minister. I promised him, “Your suggestions have been valuable. I will incorporate them.”
This is perhaps one of the rarest of the rare instances when I have shown my manuscript to a total stranger.
If you are passionate about something, you have every right to create your comfort zone that will help you strive for happiness and excellence. And those whom you trust with that ‘gut feel,’ they are the ones to help you chart your growth path proactively.