Writing about an Year-end Holiday in Kuching, Sarawak

2009 has not been an easy year for me. But the way it is ending, peaceful, slow-paced, bodes well for the coming year.

Sarawak River, Kuching, by Day

Sarawak River, Kuching, by Day

Kuching is the capital of the Malaysian state of Sarawak, and though the internet is full of information about Kuching’s history, its places to see, and its inhabitants, what none of them tell you is the story of its soul.

Sarawak River, Kuching, by Evening

Sarawak River, Kuching, by Evening

This city has a quiet soul, its people model the slow-flowing Sarawak River in their lives, and despite malls like Spring which seek to make Kuching a more “happening” place, it sticks to its old ways and hushed charm.

Sarawak Cultural Village Long House

Sarawak Cultural Village Long House

All the cab drivers asked where we were from, what we did, how long we were here, how long we planned to stay, reminding me of my grandmother’s village in hinterland India where your business is everybody’s business.

We went to the Sarawak Cultural Village, and though it left me a little sad about another way of life losing ground, I couldn’t deny I felt grateful to be allowed a glimpse into it.

There were the usual farms and sanctuaries to visit, the museums to see, but the best part of the city, to me, remains its ability to slow down time. Which is a great thing when you’re on holiday.

We took a lot of pictures, and I plan to share one every day throughout the month of January and February. I’ll add a little text depending on what is going on my life then, and knowing me, I’ll probably miss a few days.

But I want the spirit of Kuching, this ability to prolong the moment, to seep into my New Year and fill it with a tranquil silence of the soul.

A very Happy New Year to all my blog friends and anyone who stumbles on this blog.

Signing off on my last post for the year, see you all in 2010!

The Argument for Writing as Therapy

“Writing is a form of therapy; sometimes I wonder how all those, who do not write, compose, or paint can manage to escape the madness, the melancholia, the panic fear, which is inherent in a human condition”

Graham Greene: The Argument for Writing as Therapy

Graham Greene: The Argument for Writing as Therapy

So says Graham Greene. He should know, because his biography bears witness to how writing became therapeutic in his own life.

“The recurring themes of treachery and betrayal in Greene’s writing stem from his troubled school years where he was often tormented for being the headmaster’s son. After several suicide attempts, Greene left school one day and wrote to his parents that he did not wish to return. This culminated in his being sent to a therapist in London at age fifteen. His analyst, Kenneth Richmond, encouraged him to write and introduced him to his circle of literary friends which included the poet Walter de la Mare.”

There is no denying that most writers use their personal experience to base their fiction, but somehow, I find that I do my worst writing when I try writing as therapy. It is always the unselfconscious writing exercise that gives birth to an interesting character, or a particular voice.

It is this character that takes over in later drafts, and the story forms of itself. In fact, in my writing, I feel like my only credit lies in editing and /or re-writing.

Writing for me is less therapy and more entertainment, a sort of interesting time-suck that leads to stories, more or less involuntarily.

I have tried writing on the basis of an idea, a place, an experience. But it always seems forced. Only when they go somewhere deep into my unconscious and surface much later that they resonate with me, and I hope, would do so with my eventual audience.

Daily writing exercise, here I come.