Monday, March 31, 2014

My warm, lively friend Guilie—who I first “met” on Practice group at IWW where all good things happen-- well, Guilie tagged me on her blog. 

These are questions re my writing process, and I’m being as honest as I can.  To begin with, the word “process” makes me squirm…I don’t think I have a process per se. Writing for me is like whittling away at the words, revision after revision, a chip there, a  bit of sandpapering there…

What are you working on?

Two things, actually.  Or maybe three. I put writing in two boxes—translation and “own”

Box One currently has the longer term stuff, the translation of an important memoir, a tome in two parts, where I’ve finished the rough, handwritten word by word draft of HALF the book. I need to finish this as quickly as I can, but typing it out, making changes as I go along, is going to take what it takes. Meticulous, laborious WORK—but it chronicles an important decade in my country’s history AND I quite enjoy the challenge of a personal narrative as versus the fiction I’ve translated before. Plus this is a paid assignment, and cash appeals to the Gujarati in me. I also need to revisit Bharat Trivedi’s verse and translate the ones left out from the book—Since that’s the only way we can reach poetry journals.

Box Two, labeled OWN, has three things primarily. One is the PRACTICE group stubs.  This is something I MUST do, maybe two times a year I allow myself a pass. Most of these are “inspired” from the newspaper. The second is working and reworking (after rejections) longer stories built from these practice stubs. The third, which I should do more of, is writing poems and CNF.
As you can guess, I’m  perpetually trying to balance out Box ONE and Box TWO.  That I write Indian English, that I write sentence fragments and have the attention span of a frisky sparrow, doesn’t really help.

How does your work differ from others of its genre?

Box One: Not too many people work on translations from Gujarati. For translations I prefer to work on one author, one poet … instead of flitting about from one masterpiece to another. This gives me a certain comfort with style and nuances, a sixth sense of sorts that lets me go beyond the printed word.

Box Two is mostly newspaper-inspired and Mumbai-inspired. Not sure how it is too different, other than the form—mine are short stories, even the murders are crisp and elegant.

Why do I write what I do?

Box One: Because I can. Also because the next generation cannot or will not read Gujarati, perhaps this is the only way to preserve our heritage.  Most of this work has been gratis—only now bits of it are paying off.

Box Two: I don’t know. Sometimes stories nag you, itch till they’re out in B&W. Also, because as I invest time in BOX ONE, this tiny voice prods me—so what did you do for YOU?

How does my writing process work?

Box One: Translate by hand, word by word.  Type out, changing, whittling as you go. Print and revise. Incorporate Author comments and revise. For a book, send final version to ALICE, get her comments, revise.

Box Two: Read newspapers, keep a radar scan watch for anything that seems unusual. Cut pages that seem interesting. Save news from online city papers. WRITE a PRACTICE stub with suitable story. Extend stub. Polish, sub, rework, sub… endless cycle.


PQ said...

Wow, Austy!

Anonymous said...

Number two is seemingly a slip box, a Zettelkasten - the tool for Wortweltenerbauer ... Schmidt, Luhmann, Kempowski,Blumenberg, my household deities, all worked with Zettelkästen.

mark drago said...

very interesting