Two days ago, we paid homage to the goddess of creativity to mark the ninth day of Navratri. From an early age, Hindu families teach their young to not just respect but revere knowledge and wisdom. The symbols in Hinduism are vivid – Ganga (the River Ganges) escaping the dreadlocks of Shiva to gush forth freely is still the most wonderful image of the woman as a free flowing creative spirit.
In some cases, creativity is channelled most effectively with Malcolm Gladwell’s famous formula of ten thousand hours of practice. I’m thinking of Mandolin U Shrinivas, for example, the child prodigy who died a few weeks ago (my tribute has been published in today’s The Hindu) whose music always seemed to come from a well-spring that was fresh and crystal clear. His was a short life, intensely filled with supremely sublime music.
Writers have to spend years processing their lives and presenting them in fictionalised ways to amazing effect like Colm Toibin does. His stories of provincial, conservative Ireland has evoked many Indian parallels for me. But when women writers talk of their creativity, it is still shrouded in a fragile shell. Two women writers whose works I’m not familiar with (Sophie Kinsella and Gillian Flynn, author of the novel turned film, Gone Girl) have given interviews where they say how private they are with their writing and only ask the opinion of their husbands if stuck.
This made me wonder about how women writers carry their creative talent – by baring all, they are left exposed and weak. By being outspoken – they are perceived as strident and ‘tricky’. Women have tricky lives – it is important to be as honest as we possibly can to reflect that!