Upon ‘turning writer’- the hook that got the crook

These past few years have gone by in a mist of some sort, where I have floated in interminable zones of uncertainty about who I am. I am a musician, I kept telling myself, who has also become a researcher and is interested in mental health and counseling people towards recovery solutions. So there is a bit of this and that. The reality is that I am all of them, and it all is me.

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My sister’s painting

But, when a few days ago, I got a commission from a publisher, I was so surprised, that I am still having that expression of disbelief- mostly due to the fact as to how anyone could go and even sniff me out from the layers of invisibility I am cloaked in. Anyhow, when I finally spoke with the commissioning editor, on Wednesday, she told me about doing a google search and identifying me from an article written about me, some three years back! I thought, “Really, can this also happen?! How unlikely, and yet it has happened.” Perhaps the magazine that carried the article had a lot of weight. When I just glanced through the article, it is such a poor poor piece of writing, that I feel ashamed even to be associated with it! But then this poor piece of writing, brought this new connection!

Anyhow,  now the funny thing. After approaching me herself the commissioning or acquisition editor told me that I would have to write a proposal and then she would have to run it through the sales teams, to check for its sale-ability and if it meets with their approval we are on.

So while I am writing the proposal, having received the nudge from her, I am really surprised with the turn of events because just a few weeks ago, I had planned another book in the area of the health effects of music education, and inviting people from any part of the subcontinent (including Pakistan of course) to contribute self narratives or narratives. That call is still open, and I am hoping that at least a few people will have stories to tell me about their health and how they benefited positively from long term music education. There is someone with a stammering experience, someone with a cleft palate and another with asthma who I am expecting contributions from. I may have to write myself about a girl I know who has used music education in autism spectrum disorders. So worst comes to worst, even if nobody is writing for the book, I will be able to make narratives of these experiences. I mean, I am visualizing the worst case scenario in any case- the way I like to at the outset of any new thing. Of course I also have my own recovery from bipolar to report on the subject, though I do not want to keep writing about myself on diverse pretexts. I may write a small part in the introduction about how my inspiration to edit the book emerged in the first place, because I had myself experienced the salubrious effects of musical engagement and education.

The worst case scenario is unfolding on a very different level, with my first book- so while I had found a publisher, which I wrote about so ecstatically many weeks ago, the publisher is quite noncommittal about publishing and is offering newer insights (which I also somewhat agree with). But then, the worst case scenario, as I mention above- the book is asking for a change!! Can you believe that? The book is telling me to re-write it!

It so happened that in the first couple of days of this month, I was brooding over the process of the book, the uncertainty due to it and in general whether something could be different. Then I had a sudden idea about why in the world am I trying to write the book in the context of a research book? Why should it not be just a simple book, with no pretensions at all about being a book by a researcher. Okay I am a small time researcher, but not really someone who knows the language and method of research by training. I have taught myself to whatever extent a lay person can or I as a lay person could. But do I have the method, language and other skills of a researcher? I don’t. So for what reason am I trying to get into their space and wrestle with them? These thoughts gave me the shift in perspective, and the rebirth of the book!

Suddenly all the pretension of the scholar and academic dropped, I became lighter. I felt no need to write a social representation oriented research, but a narrative of people’s mental health stories. So while the paradigm shifted in my mind and the oppression got over, my back took a turn for the worse and I was laid in bed for many days. Despite having a whole lot of ideas floating, I could not write about them or make a post. I only scribbled what I could, in a supine posture, writing by leaning on one side, with my hand. (Currently I am undergoing some oil based ayurvedic– massage therapies)

The first book which I started writing in 2012 (no less), exactly three years ago, same month, will be going through a renewed effort at writing. I am changing the very style and voice of the book. The second book appeared on the horizon in terms of the call for contributions I sent out and let us see what else is appearing, out of the unknown horizons- mysteries of life continue to pep and plunge the spirits.

It seems without planning or intending to be one, I am turning into a writer. Isn’t it surprising? Then I might as well be good at it, because fiction is something I am not going to try my hand at, and to find readers for other forms of writing, calls for a different sort of writing ability, which I still have to nurture, by practice, persistence and labour. No shortcuts for anyone. Oh and that reminds me that with so many books potentially in the pipeline, at least some will get published, and possibly I will become a writer, no matter where I started from! The allure of writing ideas that I love to dabble in will bring out the writer in me. So this is the hook, that got me the crook to think of a life of writing, in addition to singing, creating a research institute, and of course working on a method of music therapy!!!

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