Monday, 24 May 2010

Moving on...

It is with a heavy heart (and an over-stimulated mind) that I prepare to bid farewell to this blog. My PhD project, the starting point of this creative laboratory, is all done and dusted. The endless thesis corrections and revisions are out of the way, and the documentary is set for a couple more public screenings. My life too, has moved on from first gear. I'm happy to be be able to drive under better visibility conditions.

Since submitting, I realised I didn't need a break from writing. Academic writing, maybe, but not all writing. It also dawned on me that as my path became more visible, I wanted to be more visible too. Without hazard lights on that is. So I began contributing to independent publications, online and offline. Here is a sample of what I wrote:

And I want to continue contributing to portals such as Kill Your Darlings and On Line Opinion, to add to the diversity of voices that often get submerged in the ratings rat-race of mainstream media. There is so much I still want to learn and express, experience and ascertain. There is not an iota of doubt that I will be using my pen, or key strokes, or even iPad-esque key touch in the future to inscribe and prescribe.

There is another matter that is becoming more visible. And that is the potential for another major writing project. One that is unapologetic and sarcastic, serious and funny, yours and mine. I am adding layers of detail to its bare bones as I type, and hence cannot bare its fledgling self to the world yet. But you will be the first to know and read. Rest assured, I will treasure this over-exposed image as long as I live and write, and use its deep hues and abundant light to etch another story.

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Roles, Models and Role Models

I accidentally saw one of my favourite authors, Chilean-born Isabel Allende, being interviewed by Andrew Denton on the ABC tonight. It reminded me of another time - two years ago, on the last day of my Indian holiday, I spotted author-activist Arundhati Roy at a restaurant in New Delhi. 

It was a time when I was wondering about the intersection of life and career choices, about the entangling of emotional and creative selves. What have I been sent on this earth to do? There was no better cliche to frame my dilemma. In the lead up to this day, I was also beginning to realise I could not live without imagining, without writing, without capturing the essence of life in the poetics of word and image. However, having completed umpteen courses in film and literature, researched numerous literary geniuses and arrived at the mid-point of my own PhD in a state of spiritual melancholy, I feared that the creative path was lined with bricks that were carved out of a beautiful stone, albeit so finely that they became sharp and painful. Roy's appearance therefore seemed like a sign - I could be a writer (not one living in an ivory tower, but politically and socially engaged), and yet be able to enjoy a plate of dosa with loved ones. 

Now that my doctoral project is making a line for the printers, similar questions about the creative impulse and its place in a potentially academic future are arising. Other thoughts surface and my soon-to-be-postdoctoral self dismisses them. They concern aesthetics, and crossovers. Can I wear purple nail paint to class? What if I pen a memoir about my love life? Will the academy still take me seriously? As I ponder over these questions, 67-year old Allende, wearing make-up, gold and a devil-may-care attitude, flashes on the television screen. She is a woman who has seen wars, military coups, the death of her young daughter, and countess other personal and social upheavals. She says when her daughter died, she lost her fear of death; and when her granddaughter was born, she lost her fear of life. Allende is often criticised by Chilean intellectuals for being too prolific a writer, and being adored by the masses. 

Who would mind such criticism? Not the writer in me who is trying to be an academic. Not the academic in me who wants to cross over to the mainstream. Whichever role I choose, or life chooses for me, I know that it will be modelled on a love of engaged and engaging writing. It will be its own role model.