Smitten with the written word is he. But this is not entirely an innocent love that shuns all thoughts of material gains.
Omar’s love for the written word has a smattering of worldly motives. More than a smattering in fact.
It all began when Omar decided to copy every book in the world. “I want to build my own library,” he told me.”
“Why don’t you buy them?” simpleton that I am, I always fail to decipher Omar’s deeper motives.
“I want to write my own books. And it will save money.”
“But this is not writing, this is copying somebody’s work.” I have already admitted to not being very sharp.
“I am writing. This is my handwriting.” Considering the finality in Omar’s tone, I decide not to wax eloquent on plagiarism.
Thus a couple of stories are written. And here ends the first phase of the writer’s life.
It is with swarming thoughts and plans of getting rich and famous that the second phase starts.
Now Omar wants the world us to see what he is seeing, imagining. And he wants to become rich.
“How much money do you need to get a book published? I will get it published with my pocket money and then sell it in shops,” he outlines his writerly plans.
“If some publisher likes your book, she will pay you for writing it, “I tell him about the rosy side of writers’ life.
“Really!” he is excited and tells me about the book that he is writing.
“It is really good. It is about an astronaut who lives in Australia and has a rocket. One day he lands in Japan and meets children there. Do you think some publishers would like to publish it?”
“Yes, it sounds interesting. Keep writing.”
For a couple of days, Omar is excited and is seen writing at all times and in all positions: lying down in the lounge, cuddled in bed, sitting on a sofa.
“Mr.Robert is now in Pakistan and he is writing books with children. They have set up a small book shop, they are going to sell books and become rich,” Omar tells me one day.
“The astronaut in my book! He is now in Pakistan.” Robert is now Omar’s alter ego. Omar is excited. He believes he is writing a best seller, and he is vicariously living the life he wants to live. The best phase of a writer’s life.
Now starts the next phase.
One day, the writer seems cranky and in not so good a mood.
“I think my book is not good enough. Nobody would want to publish it.”
“It is good. Just keep writing, write what you want to write about, don’t care about getting published,” I pass on the classic advice given to all wanna-be writers.
This works for a few days, and then:
“Robert built a gold castle with children and has gone back to Japan. I don’t know what to write next. Can’t think of anything,” the writer sounds frustrated.
The little writer is suffering from a massive writer’s block.
For the next few days, Omar is in the worst possible mood. And then he decides to settle for an ordinary life:
“Keep this with you. I don’t think I can finish it. Maybe, I am too young,” Omar hands me his unfinished manuscript.
I am keeping the manuscript safe. I know he is going to ask for it one day. I know once you fall prey to the scourge of writing, you remain a captive. Publishers or no publishers.