"You could write a book" they all told him.
And "they" all seemed genuine and sincere when they said it. They figured he was being modest and bashful when he said he couldn't. They didn't understand him like he did, which was obvious really as they weren't in his head, listening to the voices.
He devoured the written word like a fat white tourist at a five star hotel buffet on the first night of his holiday, one with a yellow all inclusive wrist band and as much alcoholic drinks, though locally brewed only, as he could manage.
The more he read, the more he realised how hard it is to write. Paradoxically, the more he realised how hard it is, the more he thought he might someday be able to do it. He knew he had a hat, a funny one, not like a clown's one either. It was the hat he wore to look at life; quite shallow and with a tendency to make him laugh at the most inappropriate times.
He was never the sort of person who could see the funny side to a serious situation and then maintain an earnest and solemn face on the exterior while cracking up with laughter on the inside. Over the years he'd developed a half smirk, half lip biting, half I don't know much about fractions faraway look that only succeeded in convincing strangers that he was in deepest thought and fighting off a sneeze and the second coming of his lunch at the same time.
Everyone else, the people who knew him, would see that look and know there was a joke, sometimes even a funny one, on its way. Overall, was a bummer. He'd never make it as a spy, a drug smuggler, a conman or a politician.
He had friends who could write. The ex soldier friend could take a picture and paint it with words to make it more vivid and more poignant. The Gypsy could write with language so deep and full of feeling that the reader felt like they're swimming in a pool of words, immersed, bathing and splashing about in them, never drowning but often swallowing a mouthful or two of the delicious and refreshing water.
All writers are rich with inspiration and he had that by the bucketload. The passions were clear; his kids, Sri Lanka and music. He had C, who made him feel as though he could do anything. He'd be happy to spend all of his time with them, talking about them, talking to them, just being, just doing. Yet there was a problem, that spark of creativity, the one that all real writers had, was missing.
He knew he could take an average story from yesterday and turn it into something humorous, not because of any great talent, just because he always saw things in that light. The thing he couldn't do was to look at tomorrow and create a story out of nothing. Imagination, they called it.
After all the years of reading, admiring, envying and wishing it hit him, like a sledgehammer flying out of a cave in the dead of the night.
Those authors he admired so much, the writers with the imagination and creativity. Well all they did was to write about themselves, their own experiences and the things they'd seen in their day to day lives. They invented characters, plots and adventures, heroes and villains but really they were the things and people they'd seen and lived through.
All he had to do was write about his own life, ideally in the third person.
Hmmm...... perhaps it just might work. Maybe he could try a short story as a start.
But what would he come up with, how would it begin and where would it go?
How about a little thing about what he was thinking, what the voices were saying?
No, that wouldn't work. Would it?
In Conversation: SURESH DE SILVA
5 days ago