Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home

 

The Writer

WHAT is the writer? Who is he? What does he do? Is he just a label? A sufferer? An unseen entity that tries to influence our thoughts, how we see things? An artist? A person who wonders if he should continue to speak in the masculine 'he' while referring to every writer so as not to sound sexist at the cost of losing dramatic effect? Or does he think he's asking too many questions to begin with? Or does he just think? A simple wordsmith, perhaps?

The journey embarked upon by the writer is a quiet one, one of things unsaid and unseen and unsung. There is just what he feels and, simply put, how many words he can think of to portray those feelings. What makes the writer? What makes the writer tick? He is a powerless being, an individual who can just show you what he is thinking; he carries no tangible force.

The writer is borne of misery and pain and anger and the need to speak out when he finds himself too weak to speak to anyone else in person, when he finds that his social skills lack the very backbone that is so required to partake in the ever popular concept of 'sharing.' And when he does speak, tries to convey what he feels so vehemently erupting inside him, he feels like everything he says is being constantly misconstrued to mean something else, and the words never come out the in the exact way he feels. So what does he do? He writes, of course.

Nothing drives an artist more than misunderstood pain and anger, and for the writer, it is no different. When he first sits down, his core blazes with passion, an intensity that deludes him into believing that what he will write will mirror his soul so completely that everyone will, at once, recognize his existence, and how he exists.

But what is this, he finds? Obstacles? Incompetence? Quite simply, a lack of vocabulary? In the simplest of terms, he struggles. He struggles to find the right words, the right sequence, the right syntax, something that will resonate what he truly feels. See the writer, like all artists and everyone else, is a feeler. He feels. That is all he has ever done, and all he will probably ever do. But his feelings are far more intense, and, he self-servingly realizes, far more important.

Yes, the art of writing is a narcissistic endeavour; though the writer is loathe to admit it. In the end, it's all about him, himself. What other purpose does it serve except to feed a bruised ego? An ego he deems worthy of deserving more appreciation, more recognition that it already has? But the writer is in denial, almost always. And hence, he continues.

O, the massiveness of his exertion! The vastness of his effort! He strives through the obstacles nonetheless; a shattered self-image goes a long way. Tapping at keyboards, scribbling in notebooks: there is the need for perfection. The feeler, he feels, and therefore, he writes. He writes what he feels. And at last, after a gruelling lapse of time spent constructing sentences, research, looking up thesauruses, fighting against his inner voice which yells at him at the top of its lungs of his incompetence as a writer, he finishes what he started out.

But alas! Hope has mocked him 'til the end. That wretched, toying beast. There are rereads and corrections, but what he sees, what he reads, is not what he feels. How could this be, he wonders. He was bursting with the zeal, the hunger of perfect portrayal; nothing could've gone wrong.

But everything has.
The writer, he is never satisfied. And he always, almost as a necessity, thinks too much. Ponders over every minute detail, mulls over every little speck of his existence, and hence, of what he has spewed out. Filth! Garbage! Dung! A disgrace! That's what he is. That's what he has written. His ardour remains no more; he has lost.

Too little credit has been given to the cruelty of Hope. It's playful burning flame which resides within the writer, in fact, it is the one of the fundamentals of his existence, still glows a faint yellow. Maybe he is being too hard on himself. After all, we are not fit to judge ourselves, our own work. Right?

Bytes are transferred, e-mails are sent. Sometimes, there are prints. Copies handed out to friends. This is when the writer feels the vaguest hint of self-worth. Bravo, they tell him. You are brilliant! Wish I could write as well as you. But this is merely a fleeting moment of elation. The writer realises that his friends aren't fit to judge him either, they are biased. The societal implications, which make politeness mandatory, get in the way. And even if he chooses to ignore their partiality, he finds that he is right back where he had started. He is misunderstood. After all this effort, the realization comes that, with all the narcissism and self-serving writing is made up of, what he has written is as individualistic as one can get. It's just him and no one can come close to identifying themselves with it. He has failed.

So, what is the writer? He is nothing, and then again, he is everything. But mostly, he is a screamer. Not just a screamer, he is a dumb screamer. Of course, people can hear him, but they can barely understand what he so passionately screams about. No matter how hard he screams, he can never scream loud enough. In the end, the writer surmises, quite fearfully, he might not be a writer at all.

By S. N. Rasul


Book Review

Percy Jackson and the Sea of Monsters

LAST week we met Percy Jackson, a troubled tween living with his mother and stepdad in New York, struggling with twin problems of dyslexia and ADHD. If he thought his life then was weird enough, he was quickly disabused of that notion shortly after he turned twelve, when his math teacher sprouted wings and tried to kill him, and a Minotaur made toast out of his mother, and he ended up at this place called Half-Blood Camp where he discovered he was the son of Poseidon, the sea god of Greek mythology.

The Sea of Monsters takes off a few weeks after the point where the Lightning Thief left off, and we find Percy's attempt at fitting in at a new school spoiled by the arrival of a new dodgeball team that is composed of Laistrygonians, or cannibalistic giants. Even with his celestial bronze sword Riptide, he's pretty much a goner, until he is saved by his friend Annabeth, and his schoolmate Tyson, who seems to be immune to fireballs.

Since this just about signals the end of his career at that school, the three hightail it back to Camp Half-blood, where Tyson's unexpected aid suddenly doesn't seem so serendipitous anymore, seeing as how he is a Cyclops, and for those who know their Greek myths, you'd guess immediately that these one-eyed monsters are also sons of Poseidon, which means that Percy now has a half-brother.

The adventure in this book, however, relives two famous undertakings in Greek mythology; Jason's quest for the Golden Fleece, and Odysseus' encounter with the Cyclops. We have Percy's best friend trapped in the cave of the very same Cyclops that was bested in ancient Greece by Odysseus, thereby giving Percy a rescue mission. We have the camp's magical protections being neutralized by the poisoning of the tree that housed the spirit of Thalia, Zeus's demigod daughter, who had once sacrificed her life to save her friends. Only the Golden Fleece only heal her, and this quest is entrusted to Ares' daughter Clarisse by the stand-in assistant camp director, Tantalus.

As with the previous book, this one is light reading, meant for young readers. The theme of prejudice is a strong one, and the moral, if one has to go digging for one, is about setting aside minor differences to cooperate for a common cause. The story is fast-paced, the characters quirky and easy to relate to, and the comic elements will have you grinning throughout. If you're looking to brush up on your Greek myths, but can't be bothered with heavy texts, this is definitely a must-read.

By Sabrina F Ahmad
sabrina.ahmad@thedailystar.net


Brushes ready?

GOOD news for all kids and teenagers who're interested in art and painting. Masuma Khan, former partner of Alliance Francaise de Dhaka, is going to conduct a prolonged three month long workshop in children's painting.

The workshop will start from April 2010, at South Breeze School. Only children from age 7 to 18 years are allowed to participate in this workshop. Participants are required to pass an admission test, which will be held on Fridays (2nd and 9th April) at 10:30 am.

For those who do not know the address, South Breeze School's exact location is House 62, Road 2/A, Dhanmondi, Dhaka.

If anyone wishes for more information they're free to contact Masuma Khan at 01711678483!

 

 
 

home | Issues | The Daily Star Home

2010 The Daily Star