Hello Debosmita, 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.
After spending the initial four years of my life in Assam, I came to Calcutta when my father got transferred. I attended Gokhale Memorial Girls’ School, one of the oldest and best schools in the city. Among many of its qualities, my school had very good teachers of language, both English and Bengali, who instilled in me a great love for both reading and writing. Then I attended The Future Foundation School, which opened before me many opportunities of creative writing competitions. Winning these competitions gave me a great boost of confidence. However, I was clear that I would preserve my passion for language by not taking it up as a career. I went on to study law at National University of Juridical Sciences, Kolkata. The library in my college had quite a collection of non-law books, and I had issued almost all of these books during my five years there. Today I am working at ITC Limited as an in-house counsel and pursuing my passion for writing in my free time.
I now stay at Gurgaon with my husband, since November 2013.
What makes you, You?
I believe that all the little experiences of my life cumulatively made me what I am today.
How did your journey as a writer begin?
They began when I learnt to read. I have always been a lover of stories, even as a child. I would make my mother tell me stories at bed time and she would be forced to repeat after a point when her stock of stories got over. So she urged me to learn how to read so that I could enjoy stories by myself without bothering her. After I discovered the world of written words, I wanted to write myself. I think I was around 5 years of age when I wrote my first four-line poem and around 7-8 years when I wrote my first very short story. It has always been my dream to see my name in print. I published short stories, poems and even the script for a drama in the magazines of my two schools. I published two poems in 8th Day, the Sunday supplement of The Statesman, which was my earliest print publication. I also won a few creative writing competitions. I began blogging in 2006 while I was in law school, to give my creativity an outlet. My journey as a blogger has been very fulfilling – I won blogging contests, made many virtual friends, dabbled in a wide variety of genre and honed my writing skills. One day I came across a post on Facebook asking for submissions for Chicken Soup series on friendship. I sent mine with zero expectation. Imagine my excitement when Baisali Chatterjee Dutt, the editor, emailed me saying she has chosen mine as one of the 101 stories! That was my first publication in a book. Thereafter, I began to submit my writings a lot more. My efforts bore fruit when my submission in a nation-wide short story contest by Rupa Publications won the second prize, thanks to Anuja Chauhan, the judge. It was also published as part of an anthology, The Atlas of Love, which brought me into contact with another contributor, Rhiti Bose, the lovely founder of this blogazine.
What are your inspirations? Who is your muse, if any at all?
All my favourite authors are my inspirations, and life is my muse. I find most of my story ideas in events happening around me.
Why do you write?
I write so that I can give the same joy to someone else as the joy I receive when I read a good story. Anyone who loves a good book knows how it impacts the reader – how the reader immerses himself/herself in the world created by the author, comes to know the characters intimately and gets affected by the feelings of the characters. I would consider my writing successful when at least one reader tells me that he/she has been deeply impacted by my story.
What made you decide to sit down and actually start something?
The urge to write something which will remain in the world even long after I am gone, made me sit down and pen the words.
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, five days a week or as and when?
I have a day job as a lawyer, so I can only write part-time. I usually write on weekends. There is no special time as such because my day job does not give me that kind of luxury. I write whenever I get some time, be it early morning or late in the night.
What is the hardest thing about writing? What is the easiest thing about writing? Any writing rituals?
Going through writer’s block is the hardest thing I have faced. I have gone through months and months without writing because I just could not write. The easiest thing is that once you are in the flow, then the words come out spontaneously without any break.
I edit my writing a lot. There are at least 6-7 drafts or even versions of one story. Although I prefer typing on the laptop, I have recently come to enjoy writing in long hand in beautiful notebooks with fountain pens.
Do you work to an outline or plot, or do you prefer to just see where an idea takes you? Have you ever hated something you wrote?
I always have a plotline or at least a storyline when I write. Whenever I start with an idea, I usually also have an idea about where to take it and how. I approach writing in a structured, methodical manner.
There may have been writings which I later did not like, but I would not say I hate them. I have given birth to them, so I can’t hate them.
Do you ever get writer’s block? And how do you get over it?
Oh yes. I have gotten them so many times.
People say that one overcomes it by simply continuing to write. But that hasn’t happened in my case. I am usually over it when I get back my groove. During such times, I simply stop writing and start reading, since by reading good books one can imbibe the art of story-telling.
How do you think you’ve evolved creatively?
As I have evolved as a reader and discovered different kinds of literature, I have evolved as a writer too, since I have employed some of those techniques in my writing as well. For example, my recent short stories are in the form of a monologue, a form I found in Madhulika Liddle’s anthology, My Unlawful Husband and Other Stories and instantly fell in love with it. Earlier, I used to write mostly in first person using a lot of dialogues in my stories. These days, I am experimenting with the third person point of view and writing a lot of descriptive paragraphs. I started with the usual length of a short story, i.e. 2500 odd words and have now come down to 55-word micro-fiction.
What are you working on at the minute?
I am writing a series of short stories on a particular theme, which I hope to bring together in an anthology and working on my first novel on and off because it requires intense research. In fact, I have three more novel ideas in my drafts folder, complete with summary, characters and chapter outline, but I really want to finish the one which needs a lot of research first.
Do you read much and if so who are your favourite authors and poets / what are your favourite books?
I love reading. I have too many favourite authors and books. The following are just a few of them –
Authors – Amitav Ghosh, Vikram Seth, Rohinton Mistry, Ayn Rand, Haruki Murakami, Sunil Gangopadhyay, Satyajit Ray, Bankimchandra Chattopadhyay, Buddhadev Guha, Rabindranath Tagore.
Books – To Kill a Mockingbird, The Fountainhead, Norwegian Wood, Ibis trilogy, A Fine Balance, Millennium Trilogy and other Nordic noir, A Suitable Boy, The Kite Runner
What do you think is the future of reading/writing in India?
I think something as fundamental as reading will never go out of fashion; and consequently, writing will flourish too since it will have to supply the reading material.
What are your other passions apart from reading and writing?
I love to swim, dance and watch TV series.
What is your message for the readers of our blogazine?
“My dear fellow, who will let you?” “That’s not the point. The point is, who will stop me?” – Howard Roark, The Fountainhead.
So if there is something that you badly want to do, go ahead and do it, without stopping to think about family, friends or society. Only you control your destiny, so have full faith in yourself.
I am sharing a 55-word fiction for the readers of this blogazine. This was written as part of an online contest (which I won) where the challenge was to write a set of three micro fiction, where the first two sets should be stories on their own, which should climax/conclude/intertwine in the third set.
MANY FACES OF LOVE
“Will you marry me?”
Sunita looked at the handsome face of the man kneeling in front of her.
Everyone had warned her against him.
“He is a loafer, flirt and has shady business.”
He held her hand tenderly. She felt the tremors in her heart.
“Because I love you.”
And your wealthy dad too.
“Sanjiv, my best friend, come back to India fast. I have a surprise for you,” she had told him.
He checked the ring in his pocket again.
He will now honour the vows of love taken when they were both seven.
“You are late. She eloped two days ago.” Her father broke down into tears.
The old man sat in the balcony, staring ahead blankly.
“I wish she knew this truth before.”
The newspaper in his hand read ‘Notorious drug dealer arrested…’
“Now I will betroth her to you, if you agree.”
Sanjiv hugged the frail old man and hoped he never saw the second part ‘…wife commits suicide.’
To read more from this INCREDIBLE Writer visit her blog:
Please note that this interview was conducted online, via emails.
Interview conducted for Incredible Women of India : Rhiti Bose
Edited by: Sulakshana Chatterjee