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Archive for March 20th, 2008

People often ask me what do I write? Now this is a very tricky question. I’m tempted to tell them to write whatever they are passionate about, what they believe in and if they believe it will make a good story. But, what you might believe in may not sell-able. You are truly in a happy place if what you are passionate about is also sellable.
So the obvious corollary to that is write something that will strike a chord with the public. Study trends in films and books. Find out what sells and write accordingly, but, and here’s the sticky part, write with conviction. If need be, take some time off to generate conviction.
You know, when Ian McEwan (yes the one who’s won the booker and whose ‘Atonement’ is being made into an eponymous film) first approached a publisher, the publisher, impressed with the former’s writing talents asked him to write poignant stories about human suffering. McEwan reportedly told the publisher that he couldn’t do that because he had never experienced any suffering, having had a reasonably happy and robust childhood. The publisher told him, “Invent unhappiness.”
If you’re a true writer you’ll have many ideas in your head (though that is also debatable. There are many writers like Harper Lee who write just the one great book and never follow it up with another, great or otherwise.). The challenge is in choosing between the idea closest to heart vis-a-vis the one that will sell.
I have a publishing contract for my book Kkrishnaa’s Konfessions. Now. But I have also written another book earlier and have instinctively held back all these years. The reason? The book is more esoteric and also targets a more difficult market. Once you are a published author it becomes easier to find a willing audience for highbrow stuff.
I had the idea for Kkrishnaa’s Konfessions a long time ago. It happily co-existed, and occasionally jousted for space, with other ideas (the book being talked about in the paragraph above being one of them). I knew it was a seller. So why did I not write KK first? Because I was then high on another spirit.
But I was lucky. Income from TV was great and I could afford to wait. Even if that hadn’t been the case, I don’t think I would do anything differently. I couldn’t. You see, when an idea grips you, it takes over your imagination, obsesses you. It is quite like being in love. You have no control over it.Being on a fire for an idea is a different feeling altogether. A true writer knows that, appreciates it and will not trade it for anything in the world.
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