“There are two reasons for one to become a writer – one is to change the world and the other is to become popular. What was your reason?” – A question posed to me at Narmad Library, Surat, where I was invited to speak on my book, ‘Baker’s Dozen – A brew of 13 short stories’ and interact with the library members and youngsters on the process of creative writing, left me pondering over one more question: Why does one become a writer?
It took a long time to realize why – there are ideas that I wish to share with the world. I weave stories around these ideas, devise a plot, and convert them into characters and stories. Sometimes these ideas take form of poetry, article, movie review, or short film, but as a medium of creativity. Like Prasoon Joshi aptly puts in his book, ‘Sunshine Lanes’, where he states that artists are like ‘live wires’ making things work but are merely mediums, and not electricity. So as an artist, one must aspire to become a good wire i.e. a good medium of electricity, but never think oneself as electricity.
The host of the event questioned, “Have you ever faced rejections as a writer?” My instant response was, “As far as Baker’s Dozen is concerned, I have been lucky enough not to face any rejections, but when it comes to professional writing, rejection is all in a day’s work.” “So you live two lives?” asked a guy among the audience. “Yes, two writers breathe inside me – one is a professional and the other personal and hence I schedule my day in such manner that both get equal attention.” For few seconds, the question took me back to my past.
An author was being interviewed at Barista Crossword Vadodara, where I used to work as a Barista (means someone who brews coffee). I still fail to recall the author’s name, but this soft-spoken man was talking about his book and how it took shape. While brewing cappuccinos, I found imagining myself doing the same someday. Back then, I was writing a book called, ‘In search of God’ during that time and had done an extensive research on all major religions, reading up the entire reams of Bible, Qur’an and Bhagwad Gita. A Kolkata-based publisher was keen to publish it but with some ‘alterations’ in the end – a compromise that I never made.
I was tempted to ask the author how he managed to get his book published and wondered whether he made any compromises in doing so. Well, I couldn’t muster up the courage to articulate questions haunting me. “Surely you have penned down stories and few poems scattered in your diary and have a rejected manuscript ready, but that doesn’t mean you have it in you!” I said to myself and resumed brewing a coffee for the author (Decaff Cappuccino with Tiramisu). Eventually, a poem written by me (and framed at Barista Vadodara) opened avenues for me as a professional writer.
Coming back to the event at Narmad Library, Surat (pardon the digression), I interacted with a writer-in-closet who wanted to know when is the right time to share one’s work with the world. The answer was simple – Now. I asked him to utilize the social media for sharing his creativity and read up as much as he can. For any writer worth his/her salt, such pursuit of being a good ‘live wire’ i.e. medium of creativity can only take place with books.
It is indeed quite commendable that Narmad Library has invested not only money and space, but also time in books. Niket Shastri is an Engineering Professor with passion for arts and literature, who ensures such events take place on a regular basis. The moment I entered their edifice, I was in complete awe of this ‘Multiplex of books’. Throughout the entire session at Narmad, I reiterated the fact, “The more you read, the better you shall write.” As a rule I seldom break (unless something urgent at home/office), I read for two hours and write for an hour – the ratio has always been such where reading has always been a priority.
“I buy books but am not able to read them, why is it so?” asked a lady from the audience at Narmad Library. This might happen only because we end up buying more than one book or perhaps buying books just because we found it on the ‘New Arrival’ section and are curious to know what the book is all about. Someone even asked how to choose a book before buying it?
A word of advice: Read book reviews in leading news or lifestyle magazines (Magazines aren’t just about gossips and scandals) or try reading the first chapter to get the hang of the book you intend to buy/rent for reading. “You needn’t read just the bestsellers to be part of the ‘me too’ group among your peers, for there are many hidden gems out there in the shelves, away from the media glare”, I suggested to a lady after the session. She interrupted me asking, “Just like Bakers’ Dozen, isn’t it?”