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  • Writer's pictureIshfaaq Peerally

I have been writing a book for a year

"Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing." - Benjamin Franklin

First draft

I got the idea to write a book about a year ago, to be precise, on the 19th of April 2016. When I woke up at 5.45 am, I read an article on Entrepreneur about how the best business card that one can have is a book. The first question that came to my mind was "Do I have an idea for a book?" And I had plenty of ideas. I always knew that someday I will be writing a book, some day when I grow old and boring. But that was the problem. When I grow old and conservative(I hope that never happens), why would I write a book then? In order to put down my ideas on paper like some sort of scripture. But now that I am still young with conflicting ideas, I can write something that is intended at changing myself, my readers and the world. I had to come up with an idea for a book that could change the world. As I was commuting, the subject of my book started growing in my head. It was going to be fictional. I knew that I didn't really have the artistic brain but I figured out that if I had a good story, I could manage with the language and the prose later. There was nothing that could stop me, it was a challenge for me. The next day, I started outlining the story, I thought of a title and after a week I wrote the first lines. I thought of the title "The millennial revolution" first but then changed it to "The I persona" as it better fits the story.

The goal of any work of fiction is to make the readers relate to the characters. If I wanted to make my protagonist relatable to the majority of the readers I had to make the protagonist as neutral as possible. I ignored the name, the gender and the nationality of my protagonist but rather went deeper into human emotions. It turns out that human beings do not differ much to each other in terms of feelings and experiences. Each one of us has one's own story to tell and some of us have more interesting stories. But at the deeper level, don't we all feel joy, grief, love, hate... And I worked my story based on that. I adopted a first person point of view. But that was not enough for me. I wanted to go even deeper into the human brain. Deeper into consciousness. And I began writing using the stream of consciousness. Our thoughts are all related to each other and most of the time we are unable to concentrate and think of only one thing. I cannot ignore all those little thoughts because they are what makes us who we are. So the whole story will take place in the head of my protagonist. My protagonist happens to be very smart so they will be thinking not only about their personal lives but about "How can governments be made better?" "How to improve capitalism?" "Does God exist?" "Should we be polyamorous?" These are questions which seems to be outside our control. But I am writing about inner feelings too and it turns out that most of them are beyond of our grip. You don't choose the person that you're going to love or the person that you are going to feel sexually attracted to. You don't choose your parents and how the success or failure of their marriage is going to affect your life. My protagonist happens to be in that same situation as all of us. They are human and they suffer from the human condition. With flashbacks into the past and possible flashforwards into the future, along with numerous alternative reality thoughts, my protagonist is going to find their place in the universe. And will eventually give meaning to a life without meaning.

I won't be able to tell about the plot of a story that is still being written but I can write an overview. The story happens in 2015-2016 in a first-world country. The protagonist is a university student in their early twenties. Their parents are divorced and they live with their mother. They are in love with someone but don't feel committed to be in the relationship at the moment. They have sexual fantasies which are still considered taboo. And they are unsure about the future. That's the initial conditions. Along the way, more problems will come, and the protagonist is going to evolve through their life. And they will be trying to give meaning to that life. Like we all do...

Right now, I have written 20 000 words out of the 120 000 that I am aiming as a minimum. I am still at the first draft level, so most of these words are going to change later. I'll have to think of a better prose and fluidity(in the flow of consciousness). The amount I write depends greatly on my school timetable. For instance, right now I am writing for four hours per week but during the holidays I could easily quadruple this amount. I look forward to publishing it in 2019(That's another difficulty). All of that is just in theory. In practice, it is harder than that. They are some days when I can't think of anything to write. Some chapters are easy to write, others involve dialogues which at the time being still look unrealistic. It is hard to write a sex scene without specifying the gender of the protagonist. It is the hardest project that I have ever undertaken. It is not just a story anymore, it is an experiment with language, words and consciousness. It is not just a business card anymore, it is a part of me.

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