I’m always struggling to write. Not because I lack ideas – ah me, no! No! A thousand times, no!
The reason is precisely the opposite, as any writer worth two rejection slips will tell you.
I struggle to write because there are always too many ideas jostling for attention in my head, all the time, swirling around like plasma in the Sun’s core… and every idea seems as good as or better than the earlier one till the next one comes along, and all the ideas are incredibly short-lived, with new ideas popping up all the time and old ideas fading and vanishing into the Great Realm of Forgetfulness just as fast as light travels in a vacuum, and as inexorably as the Heat Death of the Universe.
I know, I sound insane.
“You don’t just sound insane; you are insane,” murmurs a voice behind me. It is a green lizard on the wall; a house-guest since the Covid-19 lockdown began.
“But then, all writers are insane,” it adds cheerfully, flicking its tongue in an absent-minded kind of way at a passing beetle and missing. “That’s why so many writers commit suicide, you know.”
I wave a fist at the beast. With a hurt look it scuttles behind a dusty portrait of a solemn-looking cat. Only its tail remains visible—I mean the lizard’s tail, not the cat’s—curved into a sardonic grin like the Cheshire cat’s.
I stare at the tail, wondering if the lizard’s right.
I have contemplated suicide on a number of occasions; usually when I’ve sat down to write an article or short story or whatever, only to discover that the brilliant idea I’d just had for the piece has vanished without trace in the cerebellum, leaving only a near-vacuum between the ears that’s as bereft of inspiration as intergalactic space is of matter.
I shake my head violently, dislocating the C1 and C2 cervical vertebra, and seek further information on writers and suicide from the Almighty Lord of Information, Google Deva.
Ha! In less than 10 seconds I find a 2012 study which clearly establishes that writers are almost twice as likely to commit suicide as the general population.
I am elated.
Now I have a perfectly sound, scientifically established reason to be insane and occasionally suicidal.
I turn to compliment the lizard for its erudition. But now even its tail has vanished behind the portrait. Only the cat stares at me in a moody way.
Well…I’ll catch up with the lizard later. Right now, I’ve suddenly had this absolutely brilliant idea. It’s an idea for the first chapter of a full-length novel. About an ageing writer who, after decades of driving himself nuts trying to sort out the ideas buzzing around in his head and figuring out which one to start writing on, is inspired by the words of a resident lizard during an unexpected three-month-long incarceration at home due to a global virus pandemic…
I’ve got to put down a few points about this idea before I forget!
I yank the keyboard closer and raise my fingers to type. A soft chuckle interrupts my thoughts. I turn around irritably—it’s that damned lizard again. Now its tail has disappeared behind the portrait; instead its head peeps out, beady eyes fixed on me. I scowl at it and turn back to the screen.
But now my mind is completely blank; as utterly erased of ideas, originality and creativity as a Congressman’s head is after an AICC meeting.
I mutter curses in Tamil, Malayalam, Hindi and Punjabi as I stare at the blank screen.
A soft crooning fills my ears.
It’s the lizard, singing the blues.
The lizard is in good voice…doubtless because it’s been snacking heartily on the pre-monsoon crickets that have started invading the premises.
Its song reminds me of ‘Spider in my Web’ by Ten Years After – but the lyrics are weirdly different.
Oh these ideas in my head
How they shimmer, blue, green and red
Oh these ideas in my head, babe
In my ageing brain that’s dense as lead
Driftin’, ever-changin’ shapes and hues
Like netas alterin’ their parties and views…
I fling the mouse, two pens and a small notebook at the lizard.
The lizard breaks into a short guitar riff.
Disgusted, I rise and head for the kitchen to fix a mug of healing coffee. The song follows me:
Oh yeah, these ideas in my head
They’re wild: they come ‘n go as they please
Oh help me hold these ideas in my head, honey
They’re like plankton, roamin’ all Earth’s seas
They’re hard to grasp; they tantalize, they tease
Catchin’ ‘em is like clutching a breeze
Oh how can I save these ideas in my head?
Oh how can I recall ideas that’ve fled?