Day 3 on the New Writing Course

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Knowing that I didn’t have a hope in hell in of writing the sort of comprehensive yet entertaining blog that Nurinder wrote yesterday I have decided to make this account a sort of confessional instead. So please bear with my self indulgence.

I did not come here to learn how to write a play. Or at least I thought I didn’t. I came here to learn how to write my new novel. How to access the voice that is going to narrate my new novel. I’m afraid of this new novel. For in writing it I will be wandering into territories into which I have never ventured before. I don’t know if I have the tools to navigate my way through this new territory. I am scared of falling into pits, of getting hopelessly lost and losing my bearing altogether. I’ve been reading books that will teach me how to write this book. A Hundred Years of Solitude. The Punjabi Century. The Visitation. But after each reading I get more not less overwhelmed at the enormity of the task that faces me. So when over a cup of tea a couple of months ago, Sudha mentioned this course, I leapt at it thinking maybe this will help me access the voice that I’m looking for and approach the material in a new way.

The first two days of the course were interesting but if I am truthful I was a little disengaged. I found the exercise difficult and my own inability to respond enthusiastically dispiriting. I was also overwhelmed by the spontaniety of all the others. But then yesterday came my Eureka moment. It was when Sudha spoke out that account of the stabbing and when we discussed our bodies. I found those accounts electrifying. How quickly and unknowingly we revealed our histories, our families, our wounds. (Of course this would never have worked on the first day when we were probably too wary of, too self conscious with each other.) But on the third day we all spoke of our calloused feet, our flabby upper arms, our post baby bellies freely and each account was starkly individual, steeped in the consciousness of each person. So much itself. And it made me think about what we’d heard earlier about letting go of some things that are fundamental to our beliefs about ourselves and not being able to let go of things that also define us. And so much fell into place.

It unblocked me, that exercise. It excited me and energised me and enabled me. Last night I wrote a monologue. It is clunky and flawed and awkward but in it are sown the seeds of my new novel. Or maybe it won’t be a novel. Maybe it will be a play. A monologue even. I’ll see.

Moni Mohsin – writer

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