Tuesday, August 16, 2011

My First Writing Grant!

Yet another announcement – with some musings on the side.

Am delighted to share that I have been awarded a grant by the National Arts Council, Singapore, to work on a new manuscript - a collection of interlinked short stories that come together to form an eclectic novel of sorts. The collection is an attempt to go into the hearts and minds of a city’s diverse (read: multi-national) migrant population, in a search for the meaning of socio-cultural identity.

What does this have to do with the Chronicles? Can I even write contemporary fiction after having drowned (and left still floundering) in the amazingly vast and complex historical past? The kind of things I learnt from shaking myself out of the comfort zone with just thinking about this new endeavour, have been huge.

My first response was, and is, that the Chronicles are as contemporary as it gets. They are stories of human nature and human action – based on a modern understanding of human beings. The story is set in an ancient time and context yes, but its characters are ascribed personality, elements of rationality and decisions-making processes that we of today’s world can totally relate to.

Somehow, I find that thought both illuminating and humbling at once – Humbling especially since it fills me with renewed respect for many of the men and women in the Chronicles, and illuminating because it brought me to understand one of the key things I love about writing.

Which brings me to my second response: Over these months, I’ve realised that my passion lies in searching for the alternative perspective that inevitably underlies every narrative. Just as the Aryavarta Chronicles draw strongly on the subaltern explanations behind what we consider established ancient lore, my new foray into contemporary fiction is an attempt to explore the psychological intricacies that underlie routines of modern life.

And on that note, I’ve just had yet another realisation. Perhaps, no matter what I write, my fascination with humanity, my faith that borders on reverence shall always remain.

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