Hello Paromita, thank you for being a part of IWI’s Incredible Women Writers of India 2016, and sharing your journey as a writer.
How would you define yourself?
Extremely flawed but very beautiful
What was your childhood like? Any incidents form your growing up years that shaped you as a person?
I was born and brought up in a very small town of Assam. My town lies very close to Arunachal border. It is a silent town tucked in the bosom of nature. We are the hub of tea gardens. Infact our town grew, because of tea gardens around. I grew amidst the lush green tea gardens and nature in abundance. I strongly feel that Assam or North East India is one of nature’s favourite children. She really took time to create us. Infact in my childhood I have run barefooted in fields, fished and played with bows and arrows too. Freedom was my breath. No one ever told me that girls did not play with bows. Under the free sky, I had grown a deep love for nature. That’s about growing up with nature, you don’t let anyone else dictate or define you. Nature is free. It nurtures and destroys the way you tend to it. And the wind blows, without your permission. I still have not let anyone define me. Though it’s long I have been writing, I still write what feels right in my heart. That what I think worked for me in the long run.
When did your journey as a writer/poet began?
Though I come from a very small town, literature was always in the air. A lot of people read and wrote. Infact, so many people who were writers or poets visited my home. So much of literature was discussed. My parents are very well read people. Infact my earliest memory of my parents is that they read together. So, that way books made a way to my life. And the way nature presented itself, fascinated me even as a kid. I remember that smell of the fresh Sunlight that fell on our desks, I must had been in first or second standard. Not sure, what the teacher taught, but the Sunlight, the Sky that changed its own colors according to whims stayed with me. It turned blue, sometimes orange and in other times purple. I was so much in love with that, I thought writing about it was the best way, to hold it closer. So, I wrote my first poem at 8 and next at 11, while travelling in a night bus to Guwahati. It was a 12 hours bus ride. I still remember that journey. I almost saw whole of Assam, and lord knows it was pristine. I remember those lone houses with a bulb burning in their front yard. I still wonder, what they would be like, if I ever meet them.
So, that was why I started writing poetry in local and state level newspapers and later I shifted to writing long pieces. Now, poetry has taken a backseat. Hope I revive it someday!
Do you have a muse? If yes, who or what acts as a catalyst to your writing?
Can anyone or anything be more interesting than life itself? Life is so unpredictable, it teaches you so much. So, it is my primary muse. But having said that, let’s not romanticize it. A lot of reading goes through everyday. Each piece that you see published is pitched by me. So, if you are going to have an idea each day, you should know a lot that is happening around. I read a lot each day. Atleast 4 to 5 hours is dedicated to just reading. I read a lot of International media. And when I think there is an idea I can write in the Indian context, I pitch. The writing part is easy, but knowing what to write and getting the paragraphs right is where the hard work is.
Do you plan out your work or just go with the flow?
As I write for digital medium (mostly), my days runs from one deadline to another. I would love to have a month before crafting one piece but that is not possible in my sphere of everyday work.
Let me share a secret. There is nothing done in impromptu. Things are planned days ahead before you see it. Like whatever I have to do a week later, it is planned from now. No, I am not kidding. Look, you will see me like everywhere. With friends to events. If I am meeting someone, people let me know atleast fifteen days before.
We are planning to go for an outstation trip this September to perform for Aatish. July has just begun, but once I get the final dates in a week, I will get the tickets and the full bound script ready. So that by Aug when we rehearse we have nothing to worry about, but only the performance.
And when I am invited to events, which is mostly a month or 20 days before, I put the Saree I plan to wear on that day in a packet with the Jewelry aside, so the day I wear it, there is no fuss. Infact it’s such a drama free life when you plan. To be disciplined I learnt it the hard way. If you are not disciplined you will lose a lot and you will never be excellent. I am no more the college girl, who just runs out of the bed and does everything. Life has changed now, so I plan it all. Even those beautifully draped Sarees!
For you, what’s the easiest thing about writing and the hardest thing? Do you have any weird/funny writing rituals?
The easiest thing about writing is when I write personal experiences. The hardest is to write with the conviction that what I say matters and will be read by my audience.
As for rituals, I never put pen to paper without a silent prayer. No matter what I write, the moment I open Microsoft Doc. a prayer is said. And before it goes to print, another prayer is said. So each piece that goes out there has a prayer stitched to it. Rest I surrender it to the Universe.
Yes! One more thing that I find very interesting, once my pieces are published, I read only once to see if there are changes made by the Editor. After that, I don’t remember going through any of my publications. I don’t know, but I don’t like what I write, much. I keep working hard. I hope one day I can open an old piece and feel really good reading it. At present I am not in that phase. I hardly like my language or craft. I cringe at it, at times.
Do you get writer’s block? How do you battle it?
Ofcourse there are days, you just don’t want to push yourself to write. But in days like that, I cheat. I work on things that hardly need my inputs. I do what seems easiest to me.
Also, that is when I watch all the Shahrukh Khan’s videos I can find online. I tell you, no one can break your blocks as a Shahrukh Khan can. He makes life feel so good one more time and I move on with life.
How have you evolved as a writer since you have started? If you could give one advice to yourself, what would it be? What are you working on now?
I think, I have become more matured and willing to take risks and write without thinking much about what people will think. So many of my pieces talk about my personal life in detail. Things that hurt or scared me. But as I am growing, I have lost the fear of showing my own deep vulnerabilities. I am okay telling, I was hurt or I made a mistake without making myself the hero or the victim. That I guess has been my greatest change. Sometimes before something goes on air, I wonder if it was okay to write so much of my inner life in details. I think that is when I tell myself, “Courage dear heart.” At the end of the day, I think I have become much more courageous than I was. It can be one scary experience to tell your own story. I hope I told a dignified one.
The only one advice that I am actually giving myself these days is, “Baby stop selling yourself short. Let go off what has served its purpose. You are worth the world. Go for what you desire, for you deserve that.”
At present I am working on two commissioned pieces. One on over giving women and another- a woman and her life. She is telling her story I am only writing it for her. Both should go on air early this week.
What’s your opinion about the future of writing/reading/the publishing industry in India?
It cannot be denied that the publishing industry in India is growing like never before and many voices are coming up. We are midst of a chaos now. It will take a few years to settle, but it’s a huge influx of new voices. But what remain to be seen is, how many good pieces of literary work we produce that will sustain the tide of time. I see a lot of boy meet girl story these days and everyone is trying to pen a novel, which is a good thing, but how long will it have shelf life, that’s the real test.
Also, will our industry go to such a level, where one can be a full time writer and earn well from it? Even today most of the writers have a full time job. Until this is sorted out, we will still be working in patches. I hope there comes a day, where kids study to become a full time writer. It should be a career choice not just another option.
Favorite food: Assamese Cuisine
Favorite Book: Hundred years of Solitude
Favorite author: Gabriel Garcia Marquez
What are you afraid of: Losing my family
What makes you angry: Bad behaviour
Childhood crush: Rahul Dravid
Things that you can’t live without: Family and my laptop.
Any message or advice you want to share with our readers?
Thank you for all the love and appreciation. I am not sure if I truly deserve it all, but I will keep working harder.
Also, please know. You are here, because you have an important role to play, a gap to fill. If anyone tells you otherwise, walk the other way. You are precious and you deserve all that your heart desires. Trust me on that.
To know more about her work follow her Facebook Page: PAROMITA BARDOLOI
Please Note: This interview has been conducted online via emails by Rhiti Bose for IWI.