“Do you write on cocaine?” asked a fellow attendee in my writer’s group. He was referring to an early episode of The Many Lives of Ruby Iyer: when I first started writing the book as a serialised story. I had just read one of these stories to the group.
He did not mean it as a compliment, but I definitely took it as one. I write just as the scenes unfold in my mind’s eye. The story moves at a fast pace: I’d like to think it matches the speed of social media; that it reflects the ADD generation of today, those who we writers need to appeal to. It’s certainly how I think, and how many of us live: as one part of a big connected organism. A fabric into the waft and weft of which, we are all intertwined.
No wonder a tweet can cause a revolution, for our timelines have been reduced to 140 characters. Stickier than a spider’s web, we can easily lose ourselves in the surrealism of the moment.
Reality, and the introspection needed to sustain it, are restricted to a few purple patches in the daily routine of our lives. We seek them out then—these special simple moments—indeed most of us treasure them. Yet, even in that sacred space, we reach for our phones, to check the latest Facebook update.
But I digress. The point here is that I have often been pulled up for my fast paced style of writing. I am told, I need to slow down: to take the time to unfurl the layers of the onion. I am the first to admit there is truth in this, and that I need to reflect more on the roses among the thorns in my prose.
Yet, despite trying to do so, to hold back: I keep coming back to my inherent style of writing. One, such that when I read back my words, I can viscerally feel the adrenaline pumping, the passion erupting, love sparking and deception bringing the characters crashing down.
The reason I believe is that sadly, for an author, I am hugely ADD. I am guilty of multi-social-networking when I write. So, the only way to fill the page is to ensure my words are exciting enough: far more riveting than that last tweet or FB update from a friend. It’s gotta be compelling enough for my own minds-eye to be fastened to the page: and I have often struggled to describe exactly what this style is.
The answer came to me yesterday, sparked by a comment from fellow author @anna_cn founder of book technology startups +ValoBox and +CompletelyNovel at the London Author Fair. She confessed to reading a lot — that is, till the advent of Netflix. I have no doubt that she was referring to the addictive, brilliant, House of Cards. You can’t stop till you have watched all the episodes back-to-back, and guess what? You can download them all in one go from Netflix! Anna called it Eyeball Heroin, and wondered if this was the future for us writers? To, write in a similar style?
Well my answer is, yes! This is the future: it’s exactly what I am attempting to do with Ruby Iyer. Fast, white-knuckled-pace chapters, each ending on a cliffhanger to keep them coming back for more. And for the sequel too.
I suppose I will never be able to write onions; but I do hope to write apples. Bright, red, luscious, juicy, shiny ones. No need to peel it. Just bite into one, and your taste buds explode. Feel the juice as it spurts out and onto the floor of your mouth, dripping down your chin. Irresistible!