If you have been reading my blog since the beginning, you have my thanks. This week I will finally talk a little about the book I’m writing and how the idea was conceived.
But first things first. I started this blog with the hope of making it a professional blog someday, and maybe even my own website if things go well. I feel extremely happy sharing that I have successfully bought my own domain (www.thatwriterfromdelhi.com) after some advice validated with pertinent points given by my colleague. I will buy the hosting in the next 2-3 months and slowly move there, but till then, yours truly will stay here. So, if you have any suggestions on what sort of hosting I should go for or how I should go about the website, my social links (Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram) are available at the bottom of the page, or you can select Contact in the menu and fill the form.
Getting to the central topic of the blog, today I will talk about how the idea of this story was conceived and what is my driving force to continue with this story.
As an aspiring writer, I watched writing blogs on how to write a novel and read tips by bestselling authors. Most of them said, ‘I let the character drive the story, they have a life of their own, they make me do things I can’t even imagine.’ This, as a reader, I found slightly flawed since all these characters are coming out of the writer’s mind, the character is doing what the writer is saying. So how does a character have will of its own? This idea soon faded with time and I began thinking about the story I wanted to write.
After weeks of thinking, I found that one thing I really like: stand-up comedy. I absolutely love it and I have always wondered what the backstage life of a stand-up comedian is like. At times they have to get on stage when they are not feeling confident or they have something going on in their personal life because of which they would not want to perform that night, yet they take the stage and make people laugh.
That was the foundation stone of my story: the backstage life of a stand-up comedian, something on the lines of the classic movie Mera Naam Joker.
The next thing was creating the character. Since I’m very bad with coming up with names, I asked a couple of friends and decided on the name Shishir Kant (Don’t even try to be funny with the surname. I kept the name just so I can make Cunt-Kant jokes).
I created a good backstory (took me days), his family and friends, and I saw Shishir slowly taking control of his own life. I know he was coming out of my mind, but slowly he developed habits that I never intended him to have and they were there right in front of me. I could have eliminated them, even did some, but he wasn’t him without them.
It was then that I understood what authors meant when they said characters have a life of their own, because the Shishir that I had in front of me was a 35 year old man who had a dark past and a secret hobby of painting with blood to keep certain impulses under control. It took me about a month trying to find out how he painted with blood. First, he wanted to steal corpses but I soon had to feed in his mind that blood begins coagulating immediately after death, and there was no way he could steal corpses discreetly without compromising his identity. Several ideas popped up and all of them were discarded because none of them was plausible.
Then, it was around the time I had jaundice (exactly two years ago) when I was in a pathology lab for tests. I was laying back against the seat, a tourniquet around my arm, when a needle was inserted in my vein. I had my eyes closed at that moment; there was almost like a heartbeat that I felt in my vein. The blood went out of my body with a small pull and into the container. It clicked in the fraction of a second that Shishir has to paint with his own blood. He isn’t a bad guy and would never steal a corpse even if it was plausible.
I read on about blood donation, asked my friends who had donated blood in the past about how they felt during the process, watched videos, found out about an artist named Vincent Castiglia from USA who paints with his own blood and urine. I read his interviews and what his process was of extracting blood, at what frequency and the quantity he draws, and how much he can paint with it.
After perhaps close to four months of research with books, articles, interviews, and extrapolation of the ideas, I finally had Shishir Kant in front of me. I could almost see him. He is a good guy with his own limitations and flaws. Although, I made no attempt to make him ‘relatable’, I only made him human.
Few months later I was discussing Shishir with a friend when he pointed out that Shishir and I have the same initials. Consequently, I had to change his name from Shishir to Antarman (which now I’m thinking of changing to Aman solely because it’s lighter on the tongue) to create a distinction, because people have the tendency to draw out similarities between the author and the characters.
This is how I laid the foundation stone of the story by developing the protagonist. Before I leave, I will leave you with one fun fact: Antarman Kant is not my favourite character in the story.
More next week. Thank you for reading.
I will see you next Sunday.
P.S. – If any of you need some writing tips or motivation, send over a message. I’ll be glad to reply.