Saturday, April 24, 2010

Moments of Madness

There are Moments of Madness in every one’s life. It’s at these moments that we do things that we may end up regretting, or, applauding ourselves for the rest of our lives. Things that can make or mar us. Strange forces silently and subtly  push us towards these Moments of Madness. Perhaps guided by higher forces unknown to us.

These mysterious forces are largely responsible for bursts of literary genius. Or for books that are hastily pulped. It’s during these moments that we are tempted to chose themes for our WIP. Themes that can range from the completely bizarre to the weird, from the wild and wacky to the strange and quirky. What starts off with an initial burst of promise sometimes takes just moments to fizzle out, and, sometimes after several pages have been filled.

Few chapters down the line, doubts creep in, about the commercial and literary potential of what we considered our future masterpiece. Is it worth seeing it till the end? Will what started of as Awesome, remain so till the last line. Has Awesome somewhere along the line turned into a Big Bore?

What if the Manuscript finds no takers? Will the editor approve of it, or, will it be relegated to the slush pile? A writer’s life is filled with insecurities. From the word go. Its easier to believe the criticism than the praise. I have as many unpublished manuscripts as published ones! The unpublished ones were undertaken during those mad moments, but, after a couple of drafts, they remained at the bottom of my drawer, as my amateurish attempts at writing. Will I ever go back to them? I am not sure. Maybe, at some point in my life when I feel I am more than ready to tackle them, even do them justice.

I have realized that there are ways I can tackle my Moments of Madness, so that I don’t have piles after piles of Manuscripts that may not see the light at the end of the publishing tunnel. So that I have not wasted time on commercially unviable projects that are a definite hardsell. Nowadays only after I am certain that the theme/topic is worth pursuing, do I invest my time and effort in the manuscript. It’s pretty heartbreaking to be stuck with manuscripts that just won’t make the shift to the book form. Not every super idea can translate into a great book.

For every mad moment I have, I try to balance it with plenty of reasoning: practical, sensible and sound thinking.

1. Is the theme suitable for that age group?

2. Will the topic appeal to the target readers?

3. Will my treatment and writing style match the theme?

4. Will the reader follow the Main Character page after page?

5. Does it have a conflict worth getting involved in for the readers? And for me too, as the writer?

If the answers to all the questions turns out to be in the affirmative, only then do I plunge into the process of writing.

How do you tackle your mad moments? Do you rush to put everything down on paper, invest weeks maybe months in a project only to shelve it halfway through, or, do you weigh the merit of the theme, stack up the odds against the evens, before undertaking a project ?


  1. Hmm, great question. When I first started to write, I madly wrote a story very quickly. I thought it was the greatest story ever written. Now? I still have it, and it is probably the stinkiest thing ever written. But I was naive. And inexperienced.

    Because now I know. There are many drafts to a story. Even a picture book. So my mad moments have changed. Now I know to take my time. Now I know I have to revise and revise again. But that has its own mad moments.

    But I NEVER completely shelve a project. Because never say never. I may need it later or parts of it. So it goes in its own folder which I keep under lock and key. *grin* And I write what I want to write. I never weigh anything. Especially myself. =)

    Thought provoking post Rachna. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it.

  2. I do try and get all my thoughts down before I forget them. I have a file where I keep all sorts of odd idea's. ;)

  3. I really try to plan my character motivations before I start writing. I want to give them real problems that by the end of the story they can learn something from. Maybe they won't make the problems go away. But I want them to have grown. I think if we're able to do that, then hopefully readers can relate.