The title of this post comes from a novel written by Nikolai Chernyshevky, a Russian philosopher who idealistically proposed in the 1860’s that educational reforms in Russia driven by the new-fangled intellectual ideas of the Western Europe, which emphasized science and secularism, would help to alleviate the mainly agricultural and Orthodox country’s economic and social problems. Obviously this triggered the reactions of many conservative Russians, including Dostoyevsky, whose outstanding work Notes fron the Underground, can be seen as a retort to Chernyshevsky. I love the fact that I know this and I miss being in a classroom or even social environment where I could learn more about this.
There is this dark dejection brewing inside of me. I am not sure what caused it, but its effects are not pretty. Being around people annoys me, and yet I have nothing to do in my room. There’s nothing to study and I’ll go blind if I watch any more tv shows or movies on my laptop. I am not being intellectually stimulated at all nowadays, I feel like after the last semester there’s been a lull not only in my mind but in life in general over here. It is summer after all, and the heat evokes lethargy and disinterest but that’s hardly a good enough excuse for not wanting to do ANYTHING.
I want to write, but nothing is really coming to me. Before starting this post, I thought I might discuss Samuel Huntington’s ‘Clash of Civilizations’ and how his theory is really applicable to expats, specifically Pakistanis living abroad in the States or Europe. I also thought I might talk about the shortstory I wrote last year and brainstorm on how to develop more characters and subplots so as to expand it into a novella. I even started Googling stuff related to all this but I just can’t see the point.
I wish I could take a Creative Writing workshop or something, but unfortunately, this city doesn’t have anything to offer in that department. It’s a sad state of affairs that I hardly know anyone here who has any interest in creative writing, and it’s sadder still that the university hasn’t bothered yet to pay any attention towards increasing its Literature faculty beyond one or two members so far.
There are a couple of books I could read but when I open to a page, the words get all muddled up in my head and I become resentful. The sentences are well-crafted and the plot is intriguinging and it all just reinforces this nagging idea in my head that I will never be able to create something like this. I have become insecure about my fiction writing, mostly because I haven’t worked on it in almost a year, and this doubt just makes me less inclined towards doing anything to solve this dilemma of mine. I feel like writing because I miss the adrenaline rush that I would get after typing out page after page of something that had the potential to be something really great but at the same time, I also feel like I don’t have it in me anymore, that all I can produce now is mediocrity. Such a paradox.
I’m kinda disappointed in myself. I’ve realised I kinda suck at finishing things I start.
For example, in the month-long winter break I just had, I had planned to continue the story I am writing or perhaps start another one. I ended up doing neither and instead bummed around like a proper college kid with no agenda.
Also, I started a baby book for my niece when she was 3 months old. She’s nine months ol now and I still havent added any new pages or pictures. What a horrible aunt I am. I’ll try to make it up to her by helping her sneak out of teh house when she’s 15 and grounded.
There are a myriad more things on the list of things I haven’t finished. I come with all these little projects in my head, but then I get too lazy or can’t be bothered enough to actually carry them out. That little push I’m always waiting for just doesn’t come.
It’s like I’m always stuck at 0. We’ve always been taught that the number 0 stands for nothing. It’s death, empty hollow, filled with nothingness. Whereas the number 1, well, it stands for EVERYTHING, everything that the 0 is not.
But lately, I learnt that 0 ain’t so bad. Even thought it’s typically thought to signify nothing, it, in fact, stands for a whole lot more. The 0 may be empty, but it contains the POTENTIAL for everything. The 0 has within it the Potential to become the 1. So in actuality, 0 is the beginning of life, the beginning of everything that the 1 is.
I have been avoiding my laptop lately. Because everytime I flip it open, I feel obliged to write, and the last thing I have been wanting to do is write.
My days drift slowly by, each one starting off drowsily as I lie in bed long after waking up, squinting my eyes up at the ceiling, wishing away the dull, throbbing ache that tap-dances across my forehead. I blink repeatedly, trying to clear away the sleep in my eyes, before languidly rising from bed. It takes a Herculean effort to separate my body from the plush comfort of the mattress, which draws my spine towards itself with an almost magnetic force. I make my sluggish way downstairs, only alert enough to make sure I don’t miss a step and stumble. It is only after my first sip of chai -strong, South Asian style tea that is brewed with cardamom, milk and sugar – that I start to feel remotely human. A few minutes on the phone here and there, a handful of pages read out of the book I am currently reading, a cursory look through the newspaper – it’s the stuff my afternoons are made of. All I need is a tub of lasagna and I could give Garfield competition.
Lazy, lazy summer days
It would seem likely that after a dose of caffeine I would feel perked up and active enough to get some writing done, but alas, such is not the case! I go about the day in an almost lackadaisical manner, hardly aware of the hours that atrophy away,or the clock that ticks by as lazily as my own actions. The highlight of my day turns out to be going to the gym, that too after the sun has set, and not during the daytime when I should be most active. It is after midnight that I finally feel awake, my mind whirs as thoughts collide, ideas converge only to disperse, and conversations, fictional and otherwise, replay out in my head. The night is when I reign, I feel sharp, psyched up and ready to do something. But what is there for me to do at a time when the majority of the rest of the city sleeps?
I haven’t been wanting to write. But perhaps it’s time I finally get down to it, eh?