Thursday, July 15, 2010

Advice for Writers

An eminent writer was in office yesterday. She was here to talk about writing and also for an official ceremony.

This was my first face to face meeting with a writer of such high caliber. Born in a small city of Karnataka, this English writer has won a Sahithya Academy award for her work. Here I present some of her thoughts on writing. Her thoughts really make sense, especially for all the aspiring authors.

Read a lot and then write
Unless you read, you do not know what is good writing and what is not. You may also improve your hold on the language.

Writing in “non-mother tongue” language
This is a common problem for most Indian English writers. Our thought process is not in English. And our writings may have characters speaking different languages. For example there could be a Kannada aunty, a Tamil neighbor etc in your work. She suggests that the writing should reflect their culture and character but not their English.

Readers should work
Writers would have worked hard to bring up their work. The readers also have to work (at times) to appreciate the work. She suggests that Indian writers should not translate to please western audience. A masala dosa is a masala dosa..It is not pan cake. An idli is not rice cake. Mango thoran is mango thoran. Mostly readers can understand these desi terms in the context of the novel. But they can also research a bit (on google, bing etc) to find more. The desi taste should not be killed to please western audience.

Don’t buy books based on author’s reputation or sales figures ONLY
Not all best sellers are good. And not all works of famous authors are good. She suggests that we walk beyond the bestselling racks in a bookstore. Some of the good books are not best sellers. Randomly read a few pages before buying a book.

Quantity may lead to quality
Asked about her views on the new age Indian authors flooding the book market, she said that some are good and some may not be. But quantity will also bring in quality because the reader is no longer accepting bad ones. But failure should not hinder your writing.

Negative remarks
Like a flood of writers, there are a flood of critics now. And it is obvious that negative comments on your work would come up. It hurts when somebody rips apart a novel in public domain. For a writer, his\her writing is like a baby. And nobody likes if their baby is taken to task. BUT do take it sportingly. And learn to ignore the “bad” bad reviews. When you are in public domain, it’s natural to get hit. Learn to take it in your stride. (I reviewed a Kannada novel in my previous blog)

Writing is a hobby?
People consider that writing is a hobby of the writer. But no serious writer takes writing as hobby. The writer dedicates time, puts in lots of efforts in making the novel. So writing is just not a “free time” time-pass activity. But remember that “Reading” is a hobby. When writing keep the hobby reader in mind.


Raj said...

Really good.
- Raj

Swathi Pradeep said...

Lovely read! Will keep in mind..
following you now

Sanchyeta said...

All these advices are worth taking. I too take writing seriously.