Thursday, 29 May 2014

Musings on a fifth Thursday

I’m trying to take my writing beyond newspaper reports and blog posts. I’m working on a collection of short stories set in my city. The stories are in the making and I’m still playing around with a few ideas one of which includes an Indian version of an American cowboy, a gunslinger or a marshal, on horseback and in full western gear. He’ll carry six-guns and he'll be fast on the draw. I don't know if I can lasso the character, the story, and the setting the way I imagine but there’s no harm in trying. I want each of the stories to be as outlandish as possible.

I'm also working on a book on self-help that has a huge market in India. Everyone seems to be writing one these days. The problem with writing self-help is that you tend to get preachy and the last thing I want to produce is another cure for insomnia. I'm rewriting the three chapters I've written so far and I’m fighting to keep my eyes open. I'm thinking of consulting other self-help books.


Four decades ago, my late father wrote nearly a dozen short stories, mostly family dramas. He was a fine journalist and a gifted writer. I envied him his language but I was also proud of it. He wrote them with a fountain pen in long hand and typed them out neatly on foolscap paper, on his dull blue Smith Corona typewriter (not the one in the picture). I'd been sitting on this little treasure of tattered and yellowed pages all this while. A couple of months ago, a dim bulb lit up over my head and I decided to transfer them onto the computer, and try and publish them as a book or an ebook. I owe it to him.

I've also been writing something else off the top of my head. I think it could turn into some kind of a story, maybe flash fiction. It begins like this…

I woke up Tuesday morning and finally cleared my bowels. What a relief it was. It’s not the best opening, pun or no pun, but it’s certainly the best way to start the day. I rejoiced in that single act of self-gratification. It beats Christmas morning. If only my ritual the previous day had been as productive, I'd have top-scored at the interview. I was squirming in my seat and my inquisitors, a grim-faced restaurant manager and a mean-looking head chef, took my discomfort for a nervous attack. They looked at each other and telepathised, “This guy is shitting in his pants.” I wish. They said they'd call me before sundown. They never did. That was yesterday.
A paragraph somewhere in the middle of the story goes like this…
I took a bus that dropped me outside the restaurant. I stood there and looked at the place. I didn’t like it. It looked shady and it smelled of vice. It was a bar and restaurant and not the other way around, which meant nice families didn’t go in; only inconsiderate men did, the kind who drank and gambled and thought they deserved a break from their wives and mistresses four times a week. The food was an inducement to drink more booze and blow up more money, and then take an advance on next month’s pay.
By the time I reached 900-odd words, I was in my element…
As we neared the door it was opened by Quasimodo’s twin. We entered the room and the door banged shut behind us. I wheeled around and saw the hunchback in front of the door, his broad twisted frame blocking my escape, a hideous grin pasted on his freaky face. I was trapped and I was very afraid. My mind pressed a dozen panic buttons. I was going to be framed for a crime and spend the rest of my life in prison. Worse, I was going to be sodomised, tortured, and murdered. 
I have no idea where this is going, if it is in fact going anywhere at all.

16 comments:

  1. sounds like you can have some fun exploring it. Good ideas here.

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    1. Charles, I'm having fun writing the stuff except I need to be more organised than I'm.

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  2. Prashant, interesting so far, I hope it goes somewhere

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    1. Thanks, Col, I'm hopeful that all this is going somewhere. I have to keep writing even if writing is a struggle.

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  3. Like the idea of the Indian cowboy! Very cool.

    Self-help has always been a huge market in the States, too. If you *do* happen on a cure for insomnia, please let me know. :)

    Great start to a potential flash fiction story!

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    1. Elizabeth, thank you. I can picture the Indian cowboy in my head though I'll have to see how well I can transfer him onto a page. I could send you my manuscript as a cure for insomnia and there won't be any side effects! I hope the flash fiction does not amount to a flash in the pan.

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  4. I too like the idea of an Indian cowboy. I'm not sure how it would work, but what the heck - do it. Write it and see what happens? As for the darker grittier paragraphs you posted, I have no comment since they seem very dark to me and I don't go there. :) I also like the idea of trying to publish your father's stories. Very much good luck to you, Prashant. :)

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    1. Yvette, I'm not sure how it'd work out either. Guess I won't know until I write it. The standalone short story is influenced by my reading of hardboiled fiction. It requires considerable rewriting. I'm focusing on my father's stories more than on my as-yet non-existent ones. Thank you for the best wishes, Yvette.

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  5. Good luck, Prashant. My early writing was helped by readers who gave me very good feedback. Do get your writing 'out there' as soon as possible as it really does help. Always happy to read...

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    1. Sarah, thank you very much. I've wasted enough time procrastinating over my writing and it's time I moved ahead from the starting line.

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  6. Your cowboy story sounds really exciting—there's certainly nothing else like it. Good luck to you as you complete your projects.

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    1. Kelly, thank you for the encouragement. I hope to finish at least a couple of them by the end of this year. I'll post about it from time to time.

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  7. I like those paragraphs, Prashant. First person narrative always draws me in. All of your ventures sound good.

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    1. Tracy, thank you very much. I also prefer reading (and writing) in first person although, I think, third-person narrative allows one to write with a certain detachment. I'll have to see where my ventures are at this time next year.

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  8. As I read your post, I found myself making a connection between writing and that satisfying bowel movement you started with.

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    1. Ron, I'll go as far as saying there is a connection between a "satisfying bowel movement" and how one's day goes. One can blame a bad day on one's constitution.

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