Hello Kanchana, 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.
Tell us all about yourself, your writing, your passions, your writing rituals, your muses, your addictions….. well simply about you.
I’ve had a very normal childhood. The only child of my parents, there wasn’t anything unusual or extraordinary about my childhood. Friends, schools, exams, pimples and crushes on neighbourhood boys. The only thing extraordinary was the fact that as far as I can remember, I knew what I wanted to do in life. I wanted to write. There was never any doubt or hesitation or alternative to the goal. While most of my friends juggled with ideas of modelling, TV news reader, medical, engineering and etc; I knew that English would be the subject to study in college and writing my profession. Graduation followed by Masters in the subject in Kolkata’s Jadavpur University.
Truth be told I’m extremely structured about my work. Very forgetful about domestic things; innumerable burnt toasts, lost keys and etc bear testimony to my forgetful nature but when it comes to my work I’m painfully disciplined and organized. So after class 12 board exams while my friends were sleeping till 10, and watching TV having fun; I worked in The Telegraph newspaper office morning shift. I sat outside the editor’s office door for six hours before he finally saw me. I think he hired me out of pity. I spent three months learning how a newspaper is made, how editing is done.
Next year, whilst in first year of my UG, in the holidays I worked for HTA, a leading ad agency, which it today JTW. And the following year, I interned at a publishing house. I basically wanted to experience first-hand the different kinds of writing jobs. I wanted to be sure what kind of writing suited me the most, what I enjoyed the most. I chose writing for publications.
I worked for The Statesman, Kolkata and then The Times of India, Hyderabad as a features writer. After my son’s birth, I began freelancing for numerous publications across the country. Then I graduated to writing for companies and PR firms because as a freelance writer I felt the need to expand my portfolio of work, dabble in different kinds of writing. While I’m boringly structured in my style of work, I thrive on change. I love variety and can’t keep doing the same kind of writing forever. Somewhere along the way I founded Writeword, a small company through which I conducted online writing courses to help women learn the art of freelance writing. I used to meet qualified women who had given up their fulfilling jobs for home, kids and etc. while they did this willingly, the fire to do something meaningful burned deep inside. I helped some of these women learn the art of writing and walk a new path. Because my course was online, so I could reach out to women across cities and countries.
I write because I just can’t imagine doing something else. When I write, the world outside ceases to be and it’s just me and the words. Writing calms and soothes me. Writing is like a mind gym for me. I need to get the ideas out of my head else they play havoc with me. I observe people very closely; not what they wear but their mannerisms, what they are saying, how they are behaving and etc. it sticks with me. I could spend an entire day with a person and not remember what he or she wore but their words linger on. I remember conversations forever. If you have a nervous tick, or an odd mannerism or you sit or walk in a particular way…I will notice it. I also notice relationships between people. Human beings fascinate me. At the risk of sounding obnoxious, I have to say that I love to watch people in their daily lives, how a wife and husband talk to each other, how a person speaks with their domestic help and etc.
I always knew that someday I would write a story. Why didn’t I do it earlier? I think everything in life happens at a particular time. Things happen when they are destined to. By this I don’t mean, you put up your hands and wait for destiny to make it happen. You have to do your thing and wait for the right time. Also the kind of relationship stories I write now, I couldn’t have done it earlier. You need to live life.
I write every day. Writing to me is like breathing. As I mentioned earlier I’m very structured and disciplined about my work; I make a detailed plan, the story outline, go deep in fleshing out the characters, think and plan a lot. Even when I’m not writing I am thinking about the story. I’m a mother, wife and a housewife; so like others I have innumerable mundane things to attend to. When I’m chopping the salad, walking the dog, pushing the cart in the food mart; I’m thinking. I am often found going round and round circles around the same isle much to the amusement of the shop assistants, because I’m lost in my thought! And yes, I talk to myself a lot. I say the dialogues aloud and it seems like I’m talking to myself. But then all single kids talk to themselves and have imaginary friends. I have long intense conversations with the characters.
Yes, I love what I write but I can be brutally honest with my work too. I also have a small group of writer friends and I take their advice very seriously. We share our work with each other and give candid feedback. If you wish to be published please keep aside your ego and listen to those who are giving feedback on your work. If you dream of getting published, this is imperative. Else be happy blogging and post it on Facebook where friends and family can gush over it. But if you are planning to submit your work to a publisher, who will put his money on printing and distributing your work; please forget those FB likes, get some serious feedback and be prepared to work at it. Love what you write but don’t love it blindly.
Read a lot and teach yourself to read differently. I read a good book at least twice. First time to just enjoy the story and then again, very slowly to observe the characterization, the dialogues, the setting, how is the author ends each chapter, basically analyzing the writer’s style. Writing is fun but it’s a lot of hard work but if you’re insanely in love with it then it wouldn’t seem like hard work.
My cure for writer’s block is the gym. No, I don’t have a gym sculpted body, far from it. But running on the treadmill, sweating clears my head.
Currently I’m working on my novel number 2. Another relationship story, much more complex than the first one.
I read a lot and I read on the Kindle (feel free to gasp!). Yes, I love the smell of books and I just can’t wait to hold my first in my hand. But Kindle is my constant companion for the sheer convenience of it. While you’re still gasping, here’s another trivia for you; I can write only on my laptop. I just can’t do paper and pen anymore. Sitting in a beautiful locale; the mountainside, gurgling brook, sea side etc… doesn’t work for me. I can’t sit in a café and write. I end up looking at people and eavesdropping on conversations. I need to face a blank wall. Normal table chair is ok with me but I need a blank wall to look at; then the ideas flow. Told you, I’m weird!!
I’ve grown up reading Archer, Grisham, Sheldon and others like everyone else. My favourite books are To kill a mockingbird, Kane & Abel, Thorn Birds, Kite Runner, Gone Girl, Devotion of suspect X, Tintin comics, Asterix, Phantom, all amar chitra kathas. I hate Mills & Boons. I don’t like typical romantic stories. I love thrillers, family sagas, historical fiction.
I’m a huge TV addict. I have to ruthlessly keep away from the idiot box or I’ll never get any work done. My favourites are Grey’s anatomy, Desperate Housewives (superb story telling and awesome characterization), CSI, Criminal Minds, Practice, The Big Bang theory and of course Friends!!
Right on I’m just waiting for the day when I’ll hold my first book in my hand. Harper Collins is publishing it and should be out in the summer of 2016.
Please follow the link to her online writing course to know more Writeword
Please note that this interview was conducted online, via emails.
Interview conducted for Incredible Women of India : Rhiti Bose