Why I Write
First published on SheThePeople here
I write because I need to write. I can’t go without it for too long. It’s my second love, my passion, and it brings me unprecedented joy and happiness. The best part? That those sentiments aren’t fleeting.
Starting anything new is the easy part. It promises fun, excitement, purpose and satisfaction. Any writer will tell you that jumping into the ineffable world of writing offers all that and more. There’s a certain mystique factor to it.
I officially started writing (blogs, newspaper articles, and novels) in 2011. I had very clear reasons for why I started writing and they still ring true for me, almost a decade later. I have sometimes wondered why I have continued writing, given its challenges such as long publishing cycles, rejection, criticism and its lack of an economically viable career option. An epiphany that I believe emanated from the steam of a cappuccino I was once staring at had answered that for me.
I loved the idea of storytelling as a child. I made up stories about people, places, and things on the fly, and took massive but harmless liberties with truth. It fascinated me that people would hear me out and, in most cases, with great interest. It gave me a huge sense of pride as a middle school kid when my father would warn those around us (in jest) to apply a 70% reduction factor to things I said because a lot of it was seemingly made up. It thrilled me no end. Then came the love for words. I would read some books again and again, marveling at the usage of words and phrases that were strung together to create wit, humor, deep emotions and unique metaphors. Those were the ones that stuck with me. I would spend hours with the dictionary learning new words, playing with their variations. Then came English August, a novel by Upamanyu Chatterjee, which, when I read, I knew I had to be a writer for reasons too many to describe here. To put it briefly, it was an entertaining, enigmatic and enriching read and that was the genesis of my career as a writer.
A decade later, those are still some of the reasons I write. Storytelling is the biggest one of them all. The ability to take an incident, a character or an idea and create a story around it feels magical, every single time. Writing also provides me with the much-needed escape mechanism. I use it to destress and decompress. It balances my overly mechanical life. I work for a Start-Up and amidst incredibly busy days, writing provides a soothing oasis.
I’ve often realized that I’m a free spirit when I write. It gives me a unique identity and a distinct sense of accomplishment because I write relatively better than I speak. Both have to do with words but the former feels far more rewarding. A sense of accomplishment also stems from the fact that it takes me over a year to complete a manuscript. And when I do, I feel good about the fact that I didn’t abandon it, that I was committed to the process.
Another important reason I write is entertainment. I have a huge appetite for it. With writing by my side, I know I can never be bored. I like to imagine extended and stimulating conversations between my characters; that’s my most favorite bit about my novels. It’s something that can keep me engaged for hours. Often times, conversations in real life don’t measure up.
For the longest time in my younger years, I felt as if I didn’t have it in me to feel emotions deeply. I was grinning during my bidaai, didn’t turn into a puddle when I saw my first born for the first time and I rarely weep in movies. But I’ve learnt I’m very capable of feeling emotions when I write stories. I can dig deeper, deeper than I will allow myself to feel in real life. I see one as a vulnerability, other as strength. That’s the other reason I write; it allows me to explore my internal landscape. I still continue to be surprised by the effect it has on me.
Writing fulfills my love for words. It also gives one a unique platform to influence others; as a writer, you have the power to make people feel better or worse about situations. For instance, a dark subject that I wouldn’t even provide opinions on in the comfort of my living room, let alone consider releasing it to the public (because it’s terrifying and generally a private thing), I can comfortably put on paper. Case in point, my latest novel, Made In China. I am at liberty to be completely honest. It’s powerful, extraordinary. And it gives me the chance to express my own unique perspective to the world. Some books have shaped my life and I hope I can extend that gift to others. It is important to have a voice in the current socio political climate we are experiencing not just as citizens of a certain country but more as global citizens and I feel blessed to have that medium available to me.
Lastly, I write to connect with readers. That is the ultimate dream of most writers, and it’s mine too. I want to be read widely. Writing allows me to share my most profound ideas with a dose of my goofiness. It allows me to share my absurd theories along with my life-altering experiences, my exhilarating travel stories along with my learnings.... and if a part of it can make life easier for someone else or at the very least give them the ability to sail through it, there’s nothing more I’d ask for. As an artist, you put your time and attention to detail into your work. You put your heart and soul into it. And when you get acceptance, it gives an amazing high. I wouldn't trade it for anything.