Brandishing a knife that glittered in the moonlight, my anti-muse chased me through the narrow dusty lanes of the village. Suddenly, he materialized in front of me, the sharp point of his knife at my throat. Then, without warning, he plunged the knife into his own chest.
“You win,” he gasped, “but I’ll be back.”
The ringing of the phone awoke me. It was from Tushar, friend and fellow writer.
“Hey, have you seen the Times today?”
“No.” I said, still a little disoriented.
“See the third page of the Sunday supplement. Your article’s been published. Congratulations.”
I grabbed the newspaper lying outside the door and frantically leafed through it. My article on meditation, “Path to Happiness” was in the middle of page three, and below the title, wonder of wonder, was my byline.
My body turned hot, then cold. My head dissolved into a mass of exquisite vibrations. My novice writer self, survivor of a thousand defeats against my anti-muse, died and was reborn as a published writer.
There were more calls: from friends, acquaintances, and finally, the sweetest call of all, from my father. His words, warm with affection and appreciation, melted the bitterness sheathing my heart these past few months.
After his call, I went to my room and lay down. And I had this silent conversation with my anti-muse:
“You have lost, anti-muse. You have tormented me these past twenty months and defeated me every single time. So far you were too powerful and my despair at my failures was your strongest ally.
“Now for the first time, I have tasted victory. I know now what it means to be published, the infinite sweetness of it. I have felt what writers feel when they see their byline in print. Today’s success has healed all the heartbreaks of these past months.
“I know this is not going to make writing any easier. You will continue to attack me with doubts, distractions, anxiety, panic, and the countless other ills in your devilish toolbox. No doubt, you will be there the next time I write, looking over my shoulder and jeering at every word I write. And you will certainly taunt me and call today’s victory a fluke.
“But this success, small though it may seem to you, is the most important milestone in my life. Like the footballer who scores his first international goal or the cricketer who scores his first run, it has given me a confidence that is irreplaceable. Nothing can match this; not all the riches in the world.”
Then I went to my table and started writing. For the first time, in the past twenty months, the words flowed without any pause from my pen onto paper, line after line, page after page.
1 June 2011
Rohi Shetty is a medical doctor, Vipassana meditator, writer, editor, translator and blogger. His short stories and articles have been published online and in print.