Hello Kirthi, welcome to Incredible Women Of India, Thank you for being a part of Incredible Women Writers of India, Monsoon Edition, 2015 and sharing your journey as a writer with us.
First of all tell us something about your growing up years, your school and college days, and your family.
I was born in Bangalore and brought up between Bangalore and Chennai – between vacations and school, respectively. My family consists of my mum, dad and brother. I studied in a school in Chennai called Sishya, and then went on to joining Law School, in Chennai again. I followed that up with working as a part of the UN Volunteer system, and in the development sector, before I went onto doing my Masters in Sustainable Peace at the University of Peace, Costa Rica. I was a simple child – I was talkative with everyone I was comfortable with, and incredibly quiet with everyone else. I enjoyed reading, and finished my first book when I was three, all by myself. I used to enjoy testing gravity while secretly hoping that things could fly – so I wound up throwing my toys out of the window from my flat on the second floor. Needless to say, they flew out of my life, but in a very different way.
What makes you, You?
I guess, well, me. I am the same as, and as different from, everyone else.
How did your journey as a writer/poet begin?
I remember that my journey as a writer began when I was in class three. My English teacher, Mrs Shree Padmanabhan, (who I am still in touch with and love very dearly) set us homework to write out an essay titled “My Dream”. I wrote a vivid little story of sorts, where I was walking down a dark alleyway and a rather angry giant had followed me, ready to eat me up, when I turned around and asked the giant if he could spare the little children and eat all the mean people who kill other people up instead. I remember Shree Ma’am, as I still address her, reading out the story before the whole class. She then submitted the piece to the school magazine. That was such a happy moment for me! My tryst with writing on conflict began with reading on conflict, and that had its roots in the suggestions by Mrs. Rani Abraham, another lovely teacher, who gave me The Diary of Anne Frank to read, when I was 10, because I was bored of all the children’s fiction I’d read. After that, the very quintessence of why man would fight man has always held me in intrigue.
What are your inspirations? Who is your muse, if any at all?
My inspiration is humanity in its extremities. The compassionate, selfless and emotional side, on the one hand; and the astute depravity it is capable of. My muse would be Wordsworth’s words: “And much it grieved my heart to think, what man hath made of man.”
Why do you write?
I don’t know! I’d also like to keep it that way – for the day I begin to look for reasons, I would lose sight of the value of writing.
What made you decide to sit down and actually start something?
The urgent need to seek catharsis in one way or another, and to give back from something I have only always taken from.
Do you write full-time or part-time? Do you have a special time to write or how is your day structured? Do you write every day, 5 days a week or as and when?
I am a content writer and a freelance journalist, so I write every day in one way or the other. As for the fiction that I write, it’s mostly when the story finds its roots in my hands and heart.
What is the hardest thing about writing? What is the easiest thing about writing? Any writing rituals?
I’d say that the hardest thing about writing is to live up to the expectations of the editor in you. Any writer worth his salt will seldom consider his work as having arrived at the ideal.
Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just see where an idea takes you? Have you ever hated something you wrote?
I don’t always outline or plot in advance, and at the same time, I don’t always see where the narrative runs. I suppose I oscillate between the two. As a rule, I look at everything I write as one would look at their own children as: seeing the flaws as they exist, finding routes to make sure that those flaws are NOT dispensed with – for perfection is an illusion – while nurturing all that is good about them, to rise and grow.
Do you ever get writer’s Block? And how do you get over it?
Of course, yes! I treat it as the Universe’s way of telling me to look at the world beyond writing!
How do you think you’ve evolved creatively?
I think we evolve creatively everyday – it’s perhaps a given that we’re not the same person we were a second ago. As for how I’ve evolved creatively, I’d say that it’s incredibly tough to answer. I say that because one often looks at one’s creativity as something that comes from within – and seldom something extrinsic: that it is a response to inspiration that flows from outside is a given.
What are you working on at the minute?
I’m working on two academic projects and trying to come to terms with an idea that has knocked on my mind.
Do you read much and if so who are your favourite authors and poets / what are your favourite books?
I read a lot of books. My favourite authors are one too many to name, but I’d include the likes of Jodi Picoult, Khaled Hosseini, Lloyd Jones, Margaret Atwood, Susan Abulhawa, Preethi Nair, Ashay Abbhi, Deepti Menon and Judy Balan.
What do you think is the future of reading/writing in India?
The same as it was in the past: a passionate choice out of interest of a select few, an aspiration-driven pastime for a few that seek to impress, a tonic for insomnia for still few, and an impossible task for many others.
What are your other passions apart from writing?
I love Zendoodling, an art form that uses pen and ink, and no rules!
What is your message for the readers of our blogazine?
Thank you. For being you. For I am who I am because of who we are together.
Please follow the links to know more about this INCREDIBLE WOMAN
Kirthi’s Blog: www.kirthijayakumar.blogspot.com
This is an excerpt from a story called “Genocide”, from Kirthi’s recent book, The Dove’s Lament.
“When I was born, I never knew that I would live to see war all the time. I never knew that war could, and would, define me, or dictate the way my life would be. I never knew that war would be the demon that would single-handedly make a whole community of people but a mere memory. War would relegate humanity into the annals of history of the nation as mere nameless faces couched behind a number that would depict a death toll. They would remain silver filaments in the labyrinthine depths of the survivor’s mind. I never knew that war would leave a grotesque tattoo etched in indelible ink on my mind, like a scar on one’s skin.”
Please note that this interview was conducted online, via emails.
Interview conducted for Incredible Women of India : Rhiti Bose