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Letter 6: Allow your ideas to metamorphose into books

Shweta Taneja
Shweta Taneja
Welcome! Dear Penpal is a monthly newsletter by me, Shweta Taneja, to support you in your creative journey with tips, opportunities and a few laughs. THANK YOU for being here.
In my 6th letter, I talk about how ideas metamorphose into books and how it remains the most fascinating experience of my life.

Dear Penpal
Earlier this month, I had two conversations – one in person and one over email with people who wanted to write something. They wanted to write very different genres and came to me with quite different questions about the process of writing. Their questions varied across the gamut of how to write a book, how to publish a book, and how to market it and who will read it. However, both of them had approached me at the same stage.
Both brimmed with ideas but had not got their hands dirty and written the books they wanted to write.
It made me think of the innocent beauty of an idea. Oh that lovely creature that forms, fresh like a blossom in spring, in your mind. It’s one of life’s most lovely stages. Ideas are so alluring when they rush at you, like true love or true lust perhaps, giving you their all, giving you this lovely canvas which brims with endless bounties. It’s one of the most joyous things that happens to you. When you’re blessed with an idea, swim in it, bask in it’s glory for it’s such a beautiful seed that has come to you.
But don’t mull over it too long. Move into getting your hands dirty and transforming the idea into a form.
This process of transforming the idea into a novel, or a drawing, or a song, verse or voice note – is completely different from the amorphous beauty of the idea itself. There’s something about the process of writing (typing in my case, as one helpful gentleman who loved his own joke put it, insisting that I’m a typist and not a writer as I use a keyboard), the way sentences are built from your unique vocabulary and life, the way you put one word after another, that dramatically reduce that idealized idea into grunge.
That initial thought changes, transforms into a different beast all together. And that is required.
Much like metamorphoses, a biological process, the process of writing changes the egg of an idea to a butterfly. (Or quite the opposite too, when the idea is the breathtaking butterfly and you can only but turn it into a caterpillar.)
It’s sometimes disappointing, something exhilarating, but you have to go through this process. You cannot think of all aspects of a story in the idea stage itself. Don’t let it mull in you for too long. For ideas can also wither if they don’t change form.
I’ve had too many ideas die in me as I didn’t have the courage to let them blossom and change.
Take the idea in your hand and plant it through your creative process, let it grow, let it take shape, become completely different from what it was when it came to you. Writing (and any other creative process) is all about constantly transforming thoughts and ideas and letting them shape into things like books, drawings and stories.
They will never be exactly like what they were when they were in your head, much like children perhaps – but thanks to that sweat you put in, they will be their own creatures: majestic, magnificent and alive.
Creating something remains the most beautiful, most painful experience for me. It’s hard, oh so hard, and it’s so giving and fruitful too. I’m addicted to it while I continue to curse it. How’s it for you, dear penpal?
Sundry Sunday
What’s the future of storytelling? As someone who writes science fiction, I’m interested in the future, especially now that the pandemic has shaken the world we knew. I’m pondering on joining this collective to start.
Help out folks in need. The worse might be behind us, but covid-19 has left a lot of people in financial and emotional distress. Keep donating and helping folks. You can choose to help out a cause on building infrastructure or medical facilities on Rural India or buy a
Don't overshare
Writing updates
Gleeing on book success. My book, They Made What? They Found What? has received 154 organic reviews on Amazon. And most folks seem to like it. Isn’t that amazing?
Bablu’s back. A friend visited me while I was writing the other day. A gorgeous Brahminy Kite I’ve nicknamed Bablu.
Monsoon and love in Goa. I love being in Goa during monsoons. It’s raining hard, it’s green, it’s pleasant and the skies over the beaches are overwhelmingly gorgeous. It was for this season that I wrote about Dona Paula who looks over the Arabian Sea and her many lovers. Read the story here.
I’m signing off by wishing you a Happy Onam and Rakhi and Muharram! Aren’t we lucky we have so many festivals to celebrate?
P.S. If you like this newsletter and want to support it, you can:
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Shweta Taneja
Shweta Taneja @shwetawrites

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Shweta Taneja, Bangalore, Karnataka, India