Hello Sanghamitra, 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.
Born into an Army family, I was the proverbial “Army Brat”. My early childhood was spent in the orderly and green environs of different Army Cantonments. I was the youngest of 3 siblings and being a part of this large family that included my grandmother and our dog, made growing up a series of interesting learns.
I did my schooling and college in Baroda, taking an Honours degree in Mathematics and securing second place in University. I followed this up with a Masters in Business Administration. College life was fun, the experience of hostel life with great roomies, endless canteen chats and being a part of Spic Macay, are precious memories of that time. I also picked up a Certificate in Russian Language, somewhere along the way.
Thus armed, I stepped into the corporate world. I have worked for the past 25 years in a variety of industries including specialty chemicals, hospitality, financial services and business travel. I have also taught and lead a business school program in China. I presently work for a multinational in Singapore and live there with my daughter.
What makes you, You?
Growing up in a family of strong women and with parents that gave me the freedom to be, has made me an independent and confident person, I have also an innate curiosity about life and want to be a lifelong learner. Impulsive, passionate and gregarious, is what makes me, ME.
How did your journey as a writer/poet begin?
As a teenager, I dabbled with writing but as college and corporate life took over, my love for writing got relegated to the wishful hobby corner. Until my sister heard me narrating made up bedtime stories to my eight year old daughter. She thought that I should write children’s stories. Instead I began writing fiction. It has been a relatively short journey, but I absolutely love it.
What are your inspirations? Who is your muse, if any at all?
Everyday life, friends, family and their experiences are my inspiration. I have travelled a lot and have lived in 3 countries. I am fascinated by people from diverse cultures. They are the foundation of my stories. In that they are my true muse.
Why do you write?
It is my second voice and my self actualisation. The moment where a story starts taking shape in my mind and the words flow effortlessly from my fingers onto the key board, is magical. I feel alive and empowered. And oddly, relaxed.
What made you decide to sit down and actually start something?
Encouragement from my family for a start. But once I had written my first, the stories kept coming.
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 work in a senior leadership role in a multinational organisation and have an eight year old to manage, so writing can only be a part time effort for me. I dont have a writing routine. There are days when I write each night and then weeks go by without a single word being put on paper. I like to write on holidays, but interestingly my best writing happens when I ferry my daughter to her various extra curricular activity classes. I wrote my best yet, sitting outside her art class on an uncomfortable wooden bench.
What is the hardest thing about writing? What is the easiest thing about writing? Any writing rituals?
It is the hardest to write when you consciously decide to. The easiest moments are when you havent really thought about it, and an idea starts forming unbidden, in your mind. I find it hard to write humour. No rituals at all.
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 usually have an outline but if the thought flows in a certain direction, I let it. I usually review my writing several times and yes I have sometimes found parts of my writing to be decidedly corny !
Do you ever get writer’s Block? And how do you get over it?
All the time. I just leave writing for a few days then.
How do you think you’ve evolved creatively?
Over time I have realised that I do have my own style and that has been the biggest creative satisfaction for me. I am a voracious reader and so was always scared about unconsciously plagiarising someone else’s creative style. And then a friend of mine who read my stories said, that they were an extension of who I am. My narration had strong visuals and reflected my love for structure, she said. That simple truth, I think, helped me recognise my creative signature.
What are you working on at the minute?
I am working on a couple of short stories and collecting material to start my first full scale novel.
Do you read much and if so who are your favourite authors and poets / what are your favourite books?
Too long a list to recount. Harper Lee, Paul Theroux, William Darlymple, Amy Tan,Amitava Ghosh and Amish would be some. Then there are old favourites like Agatha Christie, Ayn Rand and PD James. To Kill a Mockingbird and Fountainhead are my all time favourites.
What do you think is the future of reading/writing in India?
Very bright. There is the emergence of clear genres that are unique to Indian english writing, the mythology genre for e.g. With so much content being published, though, there is a need to distinguish one self through one’s style, language and research. Some of the writing today in India, sadly wants for these.
What are your other passions apart from writing?
I love outdoor activities- Running and walking trails. I have done a couple of half marathons. I also love travelling. Music and reading are lifelong hobbies.
What is your message for the readers of our blogazine?
Believe strongly in your dreams and take conscious steps albeit small ones towards achieving it. I personally believe that when you start living your dream in your mind, you create an aura of energy around you that in turn propels actions to make your dream come true.
Excerpts from her short story- Unspoken
She sat on the bench outside. Gnarled hands resting on smooth wood, the patina worn down to an obscure colour. The corridor was dark, hushed almost, with dark oakwood doors at regular intervals down the passage, ending at a framed window at the end. The window was shut and feeble light shone in from the lead crisscross frame, the only witness to the late afternoon autumn sun.
The door to her immediate left was open. If she leaned over and peered in, she would see the length of the room. And she did. Two columns, three rows each, of neatly laid wooden chairs, separated by a central aisle. Polished oak paneling; gleaming in the muted light. The all pervasive smell of incense and lilies; complemented by softly burning candles. The lilies! They were all over the room, white with pale pink centers. Velvety and fragrant, they sat in big vases and large florist arrangements, keeping watch. She loved lilies. There was a single white rose as well, placed carefully on the bosom.
The bosom was the only thing she could see, protruding from the solid oak casket. Hands crossed on top of the bosom, covered by the pale pink watered silk dress, used sparingly, for special occasions. Yes, the bosom was all she could see but she could picture the rest in her mind. The bosom rose from a long neck, once white, gleaming, and unblemished but now, wrinkled, with brown spots. The face, now in peaceful repose, was lined as well, framed by beautifully coiffed, silver gray hair. In another life, that face was a canvas of emotions-passion, joy, grief – life’s journey reflected with intensity on that face. And the hair had been dark, spilling in unruly curls, defying control, not like this, not tamed by the hand of the town’s best undertakers.
Find out more about this Incredible Woman
Facebook page: /sanghamitra.bose.31
Please note that this interview was conducted online, via emails.
Interview conducted for Incredible Women of India : Rhiti Bose