Posted On : March 19 2019
Writer : Shefali Tripathi Mehta
Bookaholicanonymous is delighted to bring to you this exclusive write-up by Shefali Tripathi Mehta. She has some practical advice for first time authors…especially those who want to quit their full-time jobs to pursue writing...read on!
About Shefali Tripathi Mehta: She is a Bangalore-based independent writer. She is the author of ‘Stuck like Lint’, her first fiction novel. She has also written ‘What Were They Thinking!’ a book on observational humour –and-co-author of ‘Ek Prarthana’, a coffee-table book, she has published short stories and poems online and in anthologies. Shefali writes on social issues, travel, parenting and disability awareness in newspapers and journals. She volunteers with the charity, Arushi and curates Gond art to support tribal artists.
A time to write
A young writer in a corporate job discussing his writing with me, spoke the words I most dread. ‘I’m contemplating quitting my job to write full-time.’ Dread because I’ve been there, done that and it wasn’t anything to write (home) about. Dread because, I’ve never had those big, compelling words in my mouth to dissuade another. Writing to me comes from a place of extreme urgency; of having to tear oneself away from some task; of having to tiptoe past a sleeping household to the spare room at midnight holding on to the thoughts threatening to spill and be lost forever; scribbling at the back of appointment sheets in doctors waiting rooms, during daily commutes or just when dinner is on the table. Wanting so badly to write.
A decade that I spent being a full-time writer was a great investment as I wrote features with infinitesimal deadlines and became a part of the great networking mill by trekking across town to attend book releases, lunching with other writers and accepting friend requests from people I didn’t know and who didn’t want to know me, didn’t want to read my books but wanted me to read theirs. It was unbelievably tiring. It blunted my senses and stifled by this busyness, the stories that occasionally sprouted, shrivelled and died.
So, keep that day job. Rather than it slowing you down, it will fill you with a sense of urgency to write, it will soften the blow of rejections and will take care of what writers often complain of—the writer’s block. I have at least two well-known author friends who write two very different genres from each other but are similar in the way they get their writing done. One is a journalist and the other a diplomat. The journalist is a self-confessed ‘night-owl’ and the diplomat gives great credit to the hours of waiting-on-airport and air travel.
Having a day job also gives one the necessary distance from the writing, as one returns to it with ‘new eyes’, sometimes after weeks and months. On days one is too busy to write, one is prepping, slow-cooking ideas, images, adding an interesting facet to a character from one they have been drawn to at the coffee machine; noting the few seconds of a lavender sky just before lights come on all of a sudden on a winter evening, or how the impatient driver in the next car hits the horn with the heel of his fist; mulling over dialogues, tone of voice—catching how it cracks or softens with emotion. It is also the time one is led to flaws in the framing of plot and characters. I had named three characters ‘Rahul’ in a hurry to get past the naming and get to the plot. How it was missed by my editors when it went through two edits, is a story waiting to be told!
Bookaholicanonymous thanks Shefali for writing this piece especially for us. Thank you!