Hello Deepti, 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 grew up as an Army brat into a family of readers. My grandparents and my parents loved reading, and there were books strewn around everywhere. That is where my relationship with books began. Every two years, I would be catapulted into a new school and would have to walk into a new class filled with curious faces. Maybe that is where I learnt the art of making friends easily. College days were like a roller coaster, and even as I meandered through the realms of English Literature, I still found time to get involved in literary competitions, theater, films and college politics! I even did an ad for some brand of sweets, which was a nine-day wonder! My parents and my sisters were my immediate family, and we grew up naturally, without any restraints. Trust was the word that underlined our relationships. My sisters and I never misused the privileges we were allowed, but have gone through life so far as happy, well adjusted human beings.
What makes you, You?
What do I say about myself? I consider myself blessed that I was born to parents who doted on me, and spread love and happiness like stardust over me. Happy children turn into happy adults. I strive to be like the proverbial kettle that whistles even when it is filled to its neck in hot water. I also believe that the heart can always remain young, as age is all in the mind. I am also lucky in my husband, and his family, who have given me much love and encouragement in whatever I do. And finally, I have a feisty daughter, and a wonderful son in love, who complete my life with their presence in it.
How did your journey as a writer/poet begin?
I wrote my first poem at the age of 10! All because my mom praised the poem written by a friend, and the green-eyed monster gnawed away at my innards, forcing me to write. Much later in life, my mom gathered up all the poems I had written to impress her, and actually published them for me.
What are your inspirations? Who is your muse, if any at all?
I can get my inspiration from anywhere. It could be during a morning walk, a train journey or a casual conversation with friends. People often watch what they say in front of me because they know they could suddenly appear in a story or an article. My long suffering husband and daughter have often found themselves in sticky situations in my writing!
Why do you write?
I write because there is nothing more that I would like to do with my life. Maybe it was chance that made me start to write, but I consider it the luckiest break ever. I could not think of my life without my writing.
What made you decide to sit down and actually start something?
Life in the Army played a stellar part in my decision to write something substantial. I had been an Army child, and I grew up and turned into an Army bride. I received so much from this great institution that I felt that I needed to give something back to it. That is how my first book came about, titled ‘Arms and The Woman’, which took a light hearted look at my life within the Army. It was published by Rupa Publishers, Delhi, in 2002.
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 have been writing full time over the past eight years, having worked as a freelancer in a number of magazines for a good part of the time. I then moved on to writing short stories, and am presently editing manuscripts as well.
I try and write every day. However, when life catches up with me, I ensure that I try and write whenever I can. There have been occasions when I have finished a story or a piece in fifteen minutes flat. At other times, I have taken days to finish one particular story. Deadlines energize me, and I have often burnt the midnight oil to finish projects. Dark circles notwithstanding, I love the whole process.
What is the hardest thing about writing? What is the easiest thing about writing? Any writing rituals?
Writing is the easy part, especially when there is a specified theme or idea that needs to be developed. However, what is tough is the editing of what has been written – putting in the right word, pruning the unnecessary, padding where required and putting together a sparkling piece that warms the cockles of the heart (a favourite expression of mine!).
When I write, I prefer to be absolutely comfortable. I like my red armchair, and nice bright lights, probably because of my short sight! I also like soft music playing in the background. However, I believe I can write in a lift, if there is a deadline hanging over my head!
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 have done both. I have worked to an outline or plot when it comes to short story contests, where themes and word limits are specified. But where there are no boundaries, I have often let my imagination run riot, and travel untrammelled over wide open spaces. I love every word that I have written because I write from within my heart, and with conviction.
Do you ever get writer’s block? And how do you get over it?
There are times when I do get stuck for words, like when I am exhausted or in a grumpy mood. I then put writing totally out of my mind and read a book or listen to music. Or go for a walk to let the imp of grumpiness out!
How do you think you’ve evolved creatively?
I do feel that I have evolved as a writer, because, even though I have always lived with words, having published stories, interviews, articles and lifestyle pieces over the years, the last two years have been immensely creative. Around 14 anthologies with my stories have come out in this period. I have also created a network of writer friends on Facebook, all of whom encourage and support one another, creating a burst of energy that is unfathomable.
What are you working on at the minute?
At the moment, I have just finished writing and editing my second novel, which is a thriller and a work of fiction. I am hoping that it sees the light of day by the end of the year. Fingers crossed!
Do you read much and if so who are your favourite authors and poets / what are your favourite books?
I love reading, and I cannot sleep at night without reading at least a few pages. My favourite authors are Alexander Dumas, Jane Austen, Victor Hugo (maybe because of my Literature background!), Daphne du Maurier, Victoria Holt, Pearl S Buck, Wodehouse, Agatha Christie, Conan Doyle, Maugham, Guy de Mauppassant and Oscar Wilde. I also enjoy RK Narayan, Shashi Tharoor, Chitra Banerjee and Ruskin Bond.
As far as poets go, Maya Angelou stands supreme. Longfellow is another loved poet. There are many more… Wordsworth, Keats, Whitman, Frost, Rumi, Sarojini Naidu, Ramanujam… quite an open ended list.
What do you think is the future of reading/writing in India?
I feel that India is moving into a fast food version of reading and writing. Readers no longer have the time or patience to go through books. Thus, plots have become shorter and racier, with simpler language. I recall a young friend telling me that he would like to write a fast moving novel on a controversial subject, because that would sell. There are times when I read a book and am left with an empty feeling at the end, because all the things I personally admire – lucid language, an arresting style, an eye catching plot and words used in their best order – are not there.
What are your other passions apart from writing?
I enjoy meeting people, music, travelling, reading and reviewing, and watching plays. I also believe that I stay high on life, and that my funny bone and my rose coloured spectacles make me gambol through life in my own unique manner.
What is your message for the readers of our blogazine?
Do all the things you want to do when you can do them – read, write, eat, travel, meet friends, love your family, laugh and sleep well. Life is too short to waste. Take time out to smell the roses!
Excerpts of Deepti’s work :
Below is a poem that explains why I named my blog ‘Deep Ties’, apart from the fact that it is a twist on my name ‘Deepti’.
I enjoy writing humorous pieces as well. Below is an article I wrote for the Blogging from A to Z (April 2015) Challenge.
To know more about Deepti, click on the following links:
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Deepti-Menon/836947306325477
Please note that this interview was conducted online, via emails.
Interview conducted for Incredible Women of India : Rhiti Bose
Edited by: Sulakshana Chatterjee