Monday, July 9, 2018

Shriram Sivaramakrishnan : my (small press) writing day

My writing day begins with a mug of warm tea. I sit cross-legged on the floor stare at the tea take the first sip let the blandness soak in my tongue; in one go, in that precise order. I generally restrain myself from doing anything until I finish my tea; anything but switching my desktop.

By the time I finish my tea, my computer will be up and running. I then open a blank document and type.

I type. This activity has been called the ‘auto-writing,’ a term that I do not totally agree. It is, meaning the agency is still with the author; the one who writes, or types; types something. The author typing something, but here I differ. To type is not the same as to type something. The verb is intransitive in my head during the wee hours of the morn.

It does not take an object. And that, I believe, is the objective of auto-typing. So let me go back and correct my statement, ‘I type’. I allow myself – my hands – to disengage, provide it a semblance of free will. The blank page fills. The blank page fills with the blankness of my thoughts.

When I have written enough, which is to say, when my critical-self wakes up, or when my bladder shouts at the tip of my pen, is that not enough for the day? I am asked. I close my doc and attend to my nature’s call. Then again, if and when my auto-writing goes well, the nature’s call becomes nature’s missed call.

As I write this, I have the entire day to myself. I have taken an extensive sabbatical of sorts, to pursue my masters in poetry. I finished mine two years ago and yet have not found the need to look for a full-time job. I do freelance but that is another story. Apart from this I also work with a local theatre group as a playwright.

I thus dabble in poems and plays during the day. But I am running ahead. After bathing and breaking the fast, I read poems. I have subscribed to a dozen online literary magazines. I have made it a point to set my eyes on at least one good poem a day. A poem a day will keep the apple away. I do share what I read, through my Twitter handle.

After I read poetry, I read about poetry; this could take the form of essays (I am reading articles about the poetry of Claude Royet-Journoud and Jorie Graham at the moment). Reading essays helped me appreciate the nuances of poetry; place the work I read in the proper context.

Interspersed here is what you may call as ‘writing’. I re/write the poems I am working on at any moment, read them aloud to myself, much to the annoyance of my father, see if I could hear something out of its place. I have anywhere between 60 to 70 drafts at this moment; drafts that I believe are good first versions but need more refinement.

I have recently developed this habit of listening to poetry podcasts, though I must say I still have to push myself to listen. But listening to audio casts have made, or in the process of making, my ears sensitive to the demands of a poem, namely, how to approach a poem?

And when a work becomes too demanding for my eyes, I call it a day. I call the day an ‘it’; the ‘it’ being a timeline of alternating, if not strictly, writing and reading activities, one overflowing into another, influencing another – despite my best intention – in ways that cannot be explained or defended.

Shriram Sivaramakrishnan is a proud alumnus of Seamus Heaney Centre for Poetry. His poems have recently appeared in Allegro, Coast to Coast to Coast, among others. His debut pamphlet, Let the Light In, was published by Ghost City Press in June 2018. He tweets at @shriiram.

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