Dr. Nitya Prakash spoke to bestselling writer and poet Siddhartha Yadav about his passion for writing and his plans for the future.
• Hi Siddhartha, thank you for agreeing to this interview. Tell us a little bit about yourself.
Thank you, Nitya for this wonderful opportunity. I have been nothing more than an extremely ordinary talent but some extraordinary determination. A mere mortal determined to make this country a better place to live.
• When did you start writing and what do you think attracted you to poetry & writing?
It all started some six years back. I had stories to tell but there was none to listen and I never wanted those stories to die inside me so I started with writing. I am a writer by circumstances so this philosophy of getting attracted towards writing or poetry was not there. During those insomniac nights when you are being suffocated to death, you bleed on the piece of paper and this is how it all started.
• What motivated you to go on to focus on a career in writing?
At the initial levels, it was just about making peace with yourself but things changed slowly. It all started paying off in due course. When your efforts are being acknowledged, when you start getting critical appreciations and suddenly you have some set of people who are just keen read your efforts, it works as a catalyst. When people have more and more expectations from you and it’s a challenge for you to live up to them, you give your hundred percent to never let them down and are keen to be better every next day. The process which started for no reason became the purpose of life this way.
• Can you tell me about your journey into publication?
My journey into publication started with a writing contest. Mr. Vineet Bansal had been my Godfather in this case. Whatever mediocre achievements I have today, I owe it all to him and General Press.
• How do you think you’ve evolved as a writer over the years?
I have actually evolved as a reader and it helped me with my writing. It is mandatory for any writer to be an avid reader as this is perhaps the only thing which makes a writer grow to certain levels.
• One area I struggle with in my writing is editing my work. Could you tell me a bit about your own editing/rewriting process and do you have any advice?
It’s the most difficult part of this process but I enjoy this the most. I generally have ten days break between writing and editing the work. In between those ten days, I read my work as an ordinary reader and find out the ways to improve and note it somewhere. When the process of editing starts, I just try to find the A union B portion of a writer’s imagination and reader’s anticipation. It is funny but this has been my way throughout.
• I was really interested in your poems & books. How do you approach writing about someone else’s experience and how does research inform these poems?
As a writer and poet, I get into extensive research first. As a storyteller, I tend to choose people from real life and follow them for their routine, habits, rituals, past experiences, beliefs and traits as this all encompasses their persona. Their reactions to certain set of scenarios actually depend on all these things. As a poet, the process is way different and it is all about reading, reading, and reading. I have read with some hundred poetry books in four months before landing into this domain.
• A lot of your work strikes me as being really good love poetry. What role, if any, does love play in your writing?
Tough question. Actually it does. Poetry is not a ted talk where you don’t need to practice what you preach. As a poet, you need to have a heart filled with love and compassion. You need to have emotions to give them some shape. To talk about love, you need to be in love or/and to be loved as well.
• Do you think poetry has a purpose? Is there something particular that good poetry ought to do?
Yes, it has. Poetry is the purest and flawless form of literature. Hardly matter the genre and grammatical barriers this form gets amalgamated with your emotions and even rationale in no time. This is perhaps why the poets were able to make the biggest impacts on society.
• What’s the best experience you’ve gained through your writing?
Having some good repo with the finest like-minded brains from the industry is the best I could have ever got. If you have an idea or a raw story draft, you make some calls to have the structure ready. Those intellectual conversations during midnights which improve you as a human being and as a writer booth. You have a good number of people around who believe in growing together.
• What’s the worst experience you’ve gained through your writing?
It feels bad when you are being treated as an abnormal human brain. Your super imagination is being taken in all negative ways. When you speak your heart out and someone is not ready to trust just because you are a writer and you can produce magic with your words. Even the brutally honest emotions of yours are not being considered. This world actually believes in settling down whereas we believe in miracles. This world believes in staunch realism but we are the flag bearers of romantic idealism. We are the rebel, misfit and the troublemaker; people from this universe are still not ready to embrace writers and poets. It really hurts when people try to force you to be normal and sometimes you even think about giving up on being a storyteller. It’s really painful but this remains the fact in India and you have to live with it being a creative moron.
• Which writers or books most inspire you? Whose work would you recommend with regard to contemporary writing? What are you reading at the moment?
Being a literature student Wordsworth, Shelley, Keats, and Coleridge have always inspired me. Charles Dickens, Thomas Hardy, and Jane Austen have been my favorite novelists. Haruki Murakami and David Mitchell have been my favorite contemporary authors. Am currently reading ‘Che Guevara: A Revolutionary Life’ by Jon Lee Anderson.
• Do you have a particular process or place where you like to write, and does a story start life in paper, notes, or straight to the computer?
I have been a vitamin sea person. When I struggle for ideas I fly to either Andaman or Gokarna. My stories generally start life in paper only. Only the final file gets space on the computer and everything before that is on paper only.
• What is love for you? Are you in love with someone?
Love to me is perhaps the most beautiful and the strongest emotion possible. Yes, I am but it’s an absolutely one-sided sequence.
• How do you respond to the writer’s block or not knowing what to write?
This may sound funny but I have never faced this writer’s block. I have been doing numerous things together so I generally don’t focus on writing for longer durations. I take a break to shift my focus on film-making, start converting stories into scripts, talk to students at various levels, sometimes even take editing assignments and more importantly, I have a diversified taste as a reader. I don’t have a genre or even the language barrier as a reader. When you are into numerous assignments, you sit back to write a story or poetry only when you have the plot or the sequence ready. This is perhaps why I have never ever had a writer’s block.
• Can you tell us something about your current and future projects, if any?
I have back to back erotica projects in the pipeline. Some poetry shoots are also on cards. Am having a couple of good stories which I am to convert into short movies. Had my meetings for a mega film project too so keeping my fingers crossed. Going to start with a science fiction novel soon. You will everything getting materialized in the next six to eight months.
• Who are the people to help you grow?
In the journey called life, you meet new people and they teach you something. Professionally, I have learned the lessons of simplicity and modesty from Mr. D. Chand, currently a General Manager with Punjab National Bank. Mr. P.K. Jain, the Deputy General Manager and Circle Head with the same organization had taught me that knowledge is absolute power. Hardly matters how qualified and creative you are, experience and technical knowledge can’t be substituted.
The basics of writing, I have learned from Mr. Vineet Bansal. Respected Kalam Sir has taught me that small aim is a crime as having been privileged enough to attend his sessions. My father has taught me to stand against the mighty for what is right and my mother made me believe in prayers when everything goes another way round.
• Can you please share the recipe of your success?
I don’t consider myself a success. I am just an ordinary talent determined to make a mark. I am the man-made out of failures, rejections, and criticism. When you fight your heart out just to lose, you learn to emerge stronger. When you are marginalized, you learn to live alone. When you are hammered and brushed, you are made to shine. When you are left out for not being good enough, you tend to improve. When your honest love confessions are being treated as writer’s magic, you are made to believe in stars and planets. When you are standing solo and a battalion comes up to fight it out, you learn vengeance. When you are done and dusted, you learn resilience and this is how you grow. Series of epic failures have made me what I am today and I am surely proud of it.
• Your message for the readers of Bombay Weekly
Don’t ever let your bad experiences ruin the beauty of your brain and the kindness you are hiding in your soul. You have a seed buried somewhere deep inside your heart, please water it properly and let that grow. Have a generous heart. Reciprocate compassion, mercy, and loyalty. Keep your morals high and hopes alive. Don’t ever forget to believe in magic, miracles and a parallel universe in some other galaxies.