THE JOY OF WRITING
There is certainly joy in writing, though perhaps it cannot be properly explained. At least I have felt that way. I am not a regular or a famous writer. All the same, some sudden impulse drove me to attempt writing a piece, for the first time, which turned out to be a good, readable article. Strangely, the subject was science & technology, though I had worked throughout my career as an administrator! Being the first piece of writing, I read, re-read, and re-read and satisfied myself that I could show it to some of my colleagues to find out how they would react on reading it. Two such persons to whom I showed appreciated it and suggested that I send it to the Editor, Economic Times.
With all fears lurking in my mind, and mustering some courage and confidence in myself, I followed the advice of my colleagues. Lo, a week later, I learnt from a colleague of mine in the Department of Science & Technology (I was working then in the Planning Commission, supporting Prof.M.G.K. Menon, Member in-charge of S&T) that this article had appeared in the Economic Times edit page! My colleague said,’Sir, your article has appeared in today’s Economic Times and the Secretary (Secretary to the Government of India, Dr. Varadarajan) has asked me to circulate copies of it to all HODs.’ Needless to say I was thrilled. With that hesitant, though confident start, writing became a passion for me – for who doesn’t like his name appear in a newspaper under an article? And, perhaps the ‘principle of favourability or the beginners’ luck’, as Paulo Coelho calls it, had done the trick in my case.
Since then, until my retirement, I could publish over eighty articles – on S&T, Management, HR, general topics (in leading newspapers/magazines) in addition to a book on Human Resource Management. And, again, after a totally inactive period of more than eight years, I could resume my writing and re-discover in me the same passion and enthusiasm (thanks to my son’s gift of an iPad) – and within a period of nearly two years, the number of total articles jumped to double the earlier figure of 80, in addition to one more book on my career and some thoughts on HR.
And yet, when you feel like writing something, very often, the thoughts do not come, the mood is not right, the ideas don’t flash in your mind (‘the mind is its own place and in itself can make a heav’n of hell, a hell of heav’n’, to quote John Milton) and you get stuck up, and on occasions you abandon that attempt.
Of late writing has become such a strong passion with many of the IIT/IIM graduates (who had enjoyed lucrative career and made good money), leaving their jobs and have got themselves engaged in full time writing. Examples are Amish Tripathi, Chetan Bhagat etc. and they have no regrets, since the royalty they earn from their books are huge and they become more popular too. Both these writers have become best selling authors.
Ashwin Sanghi is yet another case combining business and writing and reserving his daytime and night respectively for pursuing both these activities. His thriller the Krishna Key is a best seller, apart from his earlier one, the Rozabal Lane – rejected, self-published and formally published again by Westland.
Not all authors could claim a rejection free life, not all have become great, not all have written with the motive to earn. Writing can be for a career, for passion, for earning some extra money, to amuse others, to offer opinions, to express one’s views, to provide information, to indicate agreement/disagreement, to criticize, for passing time, or simply putting down on paper one’s thoughts as they occur for one’s own enjoyment, (like writing one’s personal diary) though the same thoughts could, with proper editing and arrangement, get converted sometimes into a book which could be read and enjoyed by others too. Some have published books this way.
All this made me look at how some of the great writers have viewed writing and here are some views expressed by some of them.
After researching, Paulo Coelho concluded that, a writer always wears glasses and never combs his hair; and has a “duty and obligation never to be understood by his own generation” amongst other things.
Christopher Hitchens is reported to have said that he thought happiness was writing all day knowing that you are going to be in the company of an interesting friend in the evening, and perhaps that about gets it.
Thomas Gray remarked, ‘ any fool can write a valuable book by chance’
Samuel Jonson is reported to have said, ‘ A man who writes a book thinks himself wiser and wittier than the rest of mankind; he supposes that he can instruct or amuse them, and the publick to whom he appeals must after all, be the judges of his pretensions.
R.K. Narayanan is reported to have remarked, ‘you know, I find my pen moved only when I have a betel nut in my mouth. Without one, I can neither think, nor write’, he used to tell those who came to interview him. For him, ‘writing in the beginning was like going uphill. Absolutely terrible. It was all frustration and struggle for more than fifteen years’. Someone said about him, ‘it must have required enormous courage and self confidence to decide on creative writing in English as a source of livelihood.’
Milton composed the entire work of Paradise Lost while he was completely blind.
The poet claimed that a divine spirit inspired him in the night leaving him with verses that he could recite in the morning!
One could go on, and delve deep into the personal details of many such writers and learn about several amazing facts concerning their writings. But it must be admitted that the joy of writing is a special joy of a kind, which the writer alone experiences