I’m writing a book. And what, you might ask kindly, is the earthshaking bit about that? Wasn’t that what you plan on doing as your day job now? This time, the writing is a bit different. As is the writing process. In fact, it is completely different from what I’ve ever written. But, like I’ve always believed, a book writes itself. The author is just the medium. This book too, is just writing itself. I’m trying to think through plot, and theme and character but no, it is in such a hurry that it is giving me no time to think these through.
I’ve always been a furtive, secretive writer, dashing off things in a hurry, submitting in to my editor and not daring to open my eyes again or reread what I’ve written even once it’s all done and ready for print. I’m terrified I’d want to rework it completely, I’ll hate it and all the assorted insecurities that no doubt plague every creative person. And this time, was no different until I mailed the first chapter to the spouse. For me, this was a first. A first that anyone read what I was writing before I was even sure of what I was writing and where it was headed. And a first for the spouse because he only read my first book when the author copies arrived, printed and glossy. The spouse is a non reader. In the sense, he reads no fiction. He reads books on investing, self help books, Osho, Robin Sharma, Stephen Covey, Og Mandino, Albert Morris, Deepak Chopra, ah well, you get my drift.
The first day we met at a college festival, I was sitting on a bench outside the classroom where the event was going on, my nose buried deep into a feminist author’s work. I think it was Backlash by Susan Faludi. I could be wrong. I was at that phase when I was reading a lot of feminist writing. Faludi, Steinem, Greer. These were unfamiliar names to him. He sat down beside me on that bench the entire day, till it was time to leave and escorted me home. It was the first day we had met. He learnt that my happiest dates were those spent on the footpath outside Fountain where I scrounged for second hand and cheap books and no, I didn’t want diamonds or luxury brands (even though he was to give me both later), I was most delighted by books, any books.
That Why You Must Date A Girl Who Reads post that has been going around? I forwarded it to him recently, he read it and smiled. I’m sure he thought to himself, that’s not half of it. Nope, that isn’t. It is days of eating burnt food because the wife had her nose buried in a book, it is nights of wondering what you did to make her miserable when all it was was a story that got her morose.
I’m sure the spouse didn’t know the reasons why he was dating a girl who read. I’d like to think he found me attractive despite the fact that I was, err, am a nerd. I’m hoping he dated me despite the fact that I was a reader, that I built up impossible ideals of romance in my head, that I sought in him a combination of Mr Darcy, Mr Rochester and Heathcliff, and that was a tough act to live upto. That I wanted to be pursued and wooed and longed for and I wanted the highs and lows of living a life which all the multi hued drama that only a book could give me, and a man with a day job where he went in and clocked his hours could not.
It must have been difficult dating a reader like me, but he persisted. And of course, we got married. Eventually. He continued reading his non fiction. Me, I stuck to my cosy world of stories. And now he is reading. Chapter by chapter, this book as I write it out. For me, this is a complete first. It is scary to have a spouse read a book as it is being written. I’m not asking him for any feedback. He’s not offering any. He knows, I think, this is just me, needing him to hold my hand, metaphorically speaking, through the writing of this one. Like he’s held my hand through all of my adult life.