When I tell people that I’m a writer, they inevitably ask if I am published and where they can read my work. Until very recently, I had not been published, but had been actively calling myself a writer for about 11 years. Neither my college degrees not my profession have anything to do with writing or literature. Yet I call myself a writer simply because I pursue writing.
So why do I write?
I first forayed into writing at the tender age of 13. As a small framed minority girl growing up in the American South, my physical voice was small and my views and beliefs were often at odds with the people who outnumbered me. Also, as a South Asian, I am from a culture that values deferring to older and/or wiser people out of respect. To be clear, I don’t consider that a bad thing, as long as it is balanced with enough encouragement to speak up. In my case, it helped me listen to the wise words of others without barging in with my still malleable and incomplete ideas. In other words, making my voice heard was not something I was used to.
When I began writing my thoughts down, it helped liberate me from those constraints. I could express and explore my thoughts or I could become someone else and traverse space and time even if I was bound by physical and geographical obstacles in real life.
Writing helped me consider, ponder, explore, reflect, travel, and transform. It gave me peace and joy. It empowered me to speak up and tell my tale. To create characters and situations and explore the manipulations of them within manipulations of the alphabet is fascinating and liberating. It is what drives me. I yearn for it.
As I grew up, writing became my sadhana, the Sanskrit word for spiritual pursuit or a practical meditation. It is my practice of self discovery. The medium through which I seek the truth of my life and the Universe.
To quote myself from a conversation with a fellow writer friend, “each time you write, you are laying down one more brick on a road to somewhere. You may not know the destination and may not have a map, but you do this as a sadhana with the hope that it will bring you closer to your goal.” I considered it a pretty good metaphor back then, but it’s not perfect. Neither is the metaphor later in this piece, but each imperfect metaphor gave me something to mull over. Maybe in the future, I’ll lay another brick or pluck another fruit to make a mixed metaphor cocktail. Each had to exist in its own context in its own time for me to get closer to a clearer understanding of my relationship with writing.
Sadhana has to happen at its own pace. This piece started as a jumble of feelings channeled into a rant of words that took a few rewrites to get right. Like most creatives, I get ideas at inconvenient times like while driving, bathing, washing dishes, or as I’m about to go to sleep. When we’re alone with our thoughts, our brains turn on.
To date, I’ve only finished a handful of short stories and have nearly 50 other ideas hanging in my cranium on an idea tree. I get to pick one idea or character to guide me through some issue on a particular day until next time. Each unfinished or unpublished piece adds up to something. It is a brick on a road. It is a pursuit. A practice of meditation. A sadhana.
By: Sravani Hotha