Monday, August 20, 2018

A Talk at Anita's Attic - Writer's Workshop

When In Bangalore one person I always call is Anita whose house is down the road from Rajesh's and Nisha's place. If she is in town and has the time we meet for a short while. This time, the moment I called her she invited me to speak to the participants who are attending her Anita's Attic creative writing workshop. It is over weekends, Saturday's to be precise, over a few months. As part of the workshop Anita invites writers, publishers, critics to interact with her wards.
In the groove
I got there later than promised - the chai took longer than we thought and there was heavier traffic than normal and Rajesh dropped me there almost a full half hour behind schedule. That's pretty unlikely of me because I normally show up ten minutes before time mostly, but what to do.
Anita quickly introduced me and the keywords - engineer, corporate executive cricketer, fast bowler, writer, novel made into a movie, Chairman of Selectors would have given the audience a fair idea of what to expect. I spoke about my writing journey, how I was not trained but how I enjoyed the process, how I took the leap on a whim but a well tested out whom of working for 10-12 hours on articles for 4 months, quitting the job, writing my first book, second, third and then finally returning to the one thing I was trying to escape from - cricket - and writing a novel about it. As luck would have it the novel gets published, it's my first novel (The Men Within), gets recognition as the first cricket fiction in Indian Writing in English, gets made into a movie. Then the romance (f You love Someone..), then a cricket self-help book (50 Not Out), a blog turned into a book (then This Way is Easier Dad), couple of contributions to anthologies. Newspaper columns, blogs and the above stuff - my body of work.
The participants and me - Pic courtesy Vishnu
Some highlights as I remember them - told them to choose their topics well and move on if something is not working, develop a  thick hide, write about what seems to come easy (for both Men Within and 50 Not Out, my reaction was 'It's so easy'!), what you know best, use known structures, try to get published through regular publishers because it pushes you to improve your craft, write what you are passionate about even if it is not popular, work on craft and keep getting better. Then talk went to the inevitable money and I told them that as a full-time writer my money flows are uncertain and I hope to build a body of work good enough that would perhaps ensure that flow. But that it's a choice I made and it's fine. The way to get published, agents, agreements, priorities, rights, what happens when the movie is different from your story etc.
Something that got me thinking
There were questions about how my writing process, if I get the block - write every day and make it the most important thing like how Anita does and there are days when the flow is not as good but I don't consider that a block. Keep writing anyway.

I guess I could have gone on talking but we wound up close to 1. I enjoyed the talk as always, enjoyed sharing what I knew and experienced on this lonely writing path which makes the writer feel very lonely and insecure. I hope I succeeded to some extent. Thanks Anita for inviting me over and fr the lovely books you gifted me from Anita's attic. And thanks Vishnu for the lovely pics.

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