My June story is about the quintessential tortured hero who hurts the love of his life.
Are you surprised? Me too! Never knew I had it in me to write for adults ;).
FUGLY (no relation to the movie) was born from two things:
1. This article that talks about subverting the fairy tale.
2. My own questions about art, commitment and love.
Fiction (at least the kind of fiction that I write) does have a few elements of truth. It is extremely difficult to create a world out of nothing. A writer needs to have a repertoire of observations and general knowledge, from which she can occasionally pull out a much-needed rabbit when the story is not going anywhere. I have never met any artist-in-residence, but I have planned writing retreats and taught a course on applying for writing residencies, so it was easy to borrow some of the homework. The hero, Anand, is a figment of my imagination, but based on a typical fast-talking, commitment-phobic artist. There are so many books out there with this stereotype, that I had to jump in the same pool.
There! I just confessed that I had drafted a character based on a character written by another author. Is this plagiarism? I hope not. Anand was born from my perceptions about art and creativity and relationships and human fallible. Those impressions are mine alone.
When the spark came to me to subvert the Beauty and the Beast tale, Beauty became a Plain Jane with Money and Beast was turned into a handsome and poor artist. Initial reactions to the story (from my critique group) were encouraging, though a few were shocked about the immoral theme. Well, as they say, truth is stranger than fiction. And it did help that I personally know of quite a few men (and women) in the creative field, who in the name of art and immortality, would sacrifice almost everything.
See? You need people. Talking from a very cold-blooded point of view, you need them if you want to write anything interesting. They are the ones who will replenish the well of creativity that exists in you. If you are a writer, you need people. Period. The ‘reclusive genius writer’ is a myth. The fodder comes from people. You have to form opinions and perspectives about the people in your life and those you met at work or play or whatever.
So, next time you see some one, don’t just look at them. See. See into their soul, see through their eyes, beyond that sheet of skin that’s the best mask of all.
FUGLY ends with Beauty hurt by the Beast, and I would like to develop it in a bigger canvas, perhaps a NA novella, or, god willing, a novel. Meanwhile, here is an excerpt:
I am no monogamist. You can’t demand that from an artist, from a creator. I need a lot of chalices, a lot of palettes, a lot of source material. And no innocents please. From purity, you can’t do shit.
But creation is flawed. I accept that. Everything I create, I deliberately make one flaw, so that nature does not make one on behalf of me. My mentor, Rana Malhotra who heads ArtSutra Foundation, says that it will be my trademark.
Biggest mistake in my creation? Born in the wrong time, in the wrong family, hell, in the wrong century too. As my mother was fond of saying, I was the Boy Who Lived (But Killed Her Husband). She was a fat bitch too.
Funnily, apart from girth, there is nothing that Nina and my mother share. When I met her first, I exhibited all the contempt I feel for my fleshier counterparts in the world. Yes, I judge people on appearance, so, sue me – how else are you going to judge someone then, if not on their inability to maintain their body?
I am an artist. I abhor people who do not maintain beauty and proportion. Still I hit on Nina. I was a bit cautious – at least in the beginning. She was from ArtSura, so perhaps I shouldn’t have shat where I ate. But… hindsight is always perfect and useless.
How would I know she was Malhotra’s niece? Actually, it was Malhotra himself who had sent her to transcribe my art into some blog for the Foundation’s records. “Let her help you,” he had written in his email. “It’s time you had your own website, and ArtSutra needs some PR stuff to secure more funding.”
I had made all the right noises. I am old school easel and paint so I just couldn’t get this social media shit. “It’s only a few more months for your debut show, and I want the marketing to start their work early,” he had said. “Nina is a bright girl; she will do a great job. Just co-operate, okay?”
Put like that, I could not refuse. He was a kindred spirit as well, he understood artists, their temperaments, their fragile equilibrium. He had saved me from a dismal existence as a day worker in some hole in the wall outfit, given me a once-in-a-million opportunity… I would have said yes if he had sent a pair of snot-nosed devils to do the deed.
I should have known, though. Malhotra was an old dog, the crafty brain behind a number of businesses in India and abroad. Everything he did had an ulterior motive. The reason he was paying my rent and living expenses was because he saw something in my art that even I haven’t seen so far. So perhaps, I should have looked closer.
But really, how was I to know?
*This is primarily a children’s/YA writer’s blog, but from now on, I will also post excerpts and news about my foray into new adult genre, as long as it about the art/craft of writing fiction.