We live in the age of Literary superstars. Writers who come to voice and define our generations are growing by the day. One look at the UNESCO report and we can say that the Novel/Non-Subject book reading populace has shot up by 43% in the last decade or so. All said and done; we love our storytellers in a way like never before. However, more often than not, we only end up looking at their works and forget to applaud the minds behind. Therefore, we at VoxSpace decided to celebrate the literary geniuses of our generation in a more thoughtful way, and through them understand the tricks of the trade. In this context, we interviewed one of the one of the most accomplished yet one of the coolest Indian authors of the current time -- Sharath Komarraju. Sharath has till date 21 books to his name in a short span of 4 years. Isn’t that truly unbelievable?
Sharath Komarraju was also in the year 2013, long-listed for the Commonwealth Book Prize for his debut novel, Murder In Amaravathi. A trained engineer and mathematician, Sharath Komarraju identifies himself as a quintessential nerd by description, and cricket enthusiast. Also, we guarantee you that you will never get enough of his works, and identifying that, he pens down an original story every week, available via his blog. So without further ado, let’s talk Stories with Sharath Kommaraju:
Publishing The First Book, Evolution In Writing Styles, And Following Modern Trends:
Publishing your first book gives you confidence that you’ve done it once, so you can (perhaps) do it again. And cashing your first check means that you’re no longer an amateur hobbyist but a professional writer. In the intervening years, I’ve sensed that my style has become more natural, in that I get out of the way of the words now, whereas before I used to fret over every word. Also, my grasp on various elements of craft has improved, which means I write good stories on purpose now, whereas before it used to feel more like an accident. I stay away from studying reading trends too much. I’ve always found value in writing stuff that I enjoy; I figure that way, even if no one reads what I wrote, at least I’ve had my share of fun with it.
The Flow Of Story Telling, Modern Day Entrapments, And The Writing Kryptonite:
The most common trap for aspiring writers is aspiring too much and writing too little. Generally speaking, a person who reads and writes consistently over a long period of time will make something of a career for himself in the business. The problem, of course, is that it’s not as simple as it sounds. Lots of psychological issues get in the way. Writing in multiple genres: it came naturally because I read multiple genres. No matter what the genre, I try my best to get out of the way and tell the story as clearly as I can. I try and exercise as little flair as possible. My writing Kryptonite is poetry. I find it extremely hard to write.
Existing Drafts, Unpublished Works, Archives and Planning Ahead:
I don’t have any half-finished books, though there are a number of documents in my writing folder with just two or three sentences in them. These are idea fragments that might (or not) just develop into something nice in the future. Unpublished books, I have a few. My first three books got rejected before Murder in Amaravati made it. Planning of books, I’m afraid there is no one size that fits all. Some books I get by with minimal planning. Others require a lot of work up front. Depends on the story, its length, its genre etc.
Your Advice To Your Younger Self, And Other Advises You Received:
If I could tell my younger self, something, it would be to write more and to read more. I tell myself the same thing even now. It’s getting more and more difficult to shut off distractions and get work done. The most constructive advice I’ve ever gotten is from Robert Heinlein, a science fiction author of some repute. Of his five business rules for writers, the first two are: 1) You must write, and 2) You must finish what you write. And then repeat. Very simple advice, but very difficult to put into practice because of all the extraneous things that get in the way. Modern day writers, I think, lack patience. They write one book and expect it to turn it into a bestseller. While first book wonders exist and make the news (rightly so), it’s important to remember that most solid, long-term fiction writing careers were built on large bodies of work, not merely one or two books. And it takes years to build a substantial body of work.
Making A Career In Fiction Writing, Trails and Tribulations, Attributes Involved:
How hard is it to establish and maintain a career at fiction writing? By evidence of how many people want it and how many people actually do it, very hard. It takes a weird combination of character traits: you have to be arrogant and humble at the same time. You have to be patient. You have to have a pretty thick skin. Being prolific definitely helps; this means you get to practice your craft more and become good faster. It also helps in building a body of work faster. How adaptive is the book market? Who knows?
Characters Vs Story, Logic Vs Intuition:
What is more important, character or plot? Plot arises from a character in conflict, so character. Do I write from logic or intuition? A combination of both. There is no secret to my ‘writing process’. I begin a story and write a consistent number of words over the days/months required to finish it. Once I finish it, I send it out, and while I’m waiting for a response, I begin my next book. Write. Finish. Submit. Repeat. That’s my writing process.
Toughest Challenges Till Date:
I wrote a novel called Nari in 2015 which deals with rape and sexual abuse. It was a hard book to write because I had to get into deranged minds. Thankfully I did not face many hurdles getting a renowned publisher. At the beginning, I was not too concerned with who published me, as long as they paid me on time and their checks didn’t bounce. But as your profile grows, your work gets around, and each book makes it that much easier to open doors.
An Advice To The Aspiring Writers And Mantra Of Success:
Advice to aspiring writers: aspire less and write more. If you want to be a professional writer, act professionally from day one. Set yourself a schedule. Stick to it with the same intensity as you would if someone were paying you. Produce a consistent amount of work -- be it a story a week, a novel a quarter, a novella a month, whatever. Focus on writing and finishing. Promoting is a fool’s game unless you have a large list of books to your name or you have a fat wallet. Publishing will happen as you submit your finished works and keep knocking on doors persistently. Simply put: write, finish, submit. Repeat the cycle as many times as you can. You will eventually publish. And while you’re at it, don’t forget to keep reading and learning how to become a better storyteller.
Three things to remember to become a storyteller: Begin a story, finish a story, repeat.