Since I’ve wanted to be a writer since the age of eight or so, in some sense you could say I’m living my dream. But is it really anything like I’d imagined? Ha! Truth be told, I had some preconceived notions about my cloud cuckoo land, though, in my defence, I had no idea why they were absurd. Here’s what I’d imagined life as a writer would be like:
- Living the life of a writer—whatever that means—was supposed to be dead easy. I had an idyllic fantasy of a desk by the window where I’d sit hammering out stories on my typewriter (yes, I’m that old) and go for long walks in the evening. But the reality is that I neither have a desk, nor a window. If I attempted to go for a long walk, I’d be too stressed out from trying not to get run over to write afterwards. Anyhow, after cleaning up, putting the washing out, paying bills and buying food—apart from meeting deadlines, that is—I really don’t care about either desk or window. I’m just happy if there’s domestic harmony, chocolate in the house, and an idea germinating in my head.
- And it was going to be fun. In other words, I’d be making a living writing fiction. I still hope for that to happen, though it’s highly unlikely. There are many reasons: I write the “wrong” stuff in the “wrong” way, and don’t hang around in the right crowd. Books for children and young adults aren’t very sought-after in Indian publishing at the moment, resulting in very little media support as well as very little money. Also, I don’t believe I’ve written anything good enough.
- I’d be famous… ish. Don’t get me wrong, I never wanted to be mobbed at the market or airport. Just every now and them have someone come up to say they’ve read my book. They wouldn’t even have to say they liked it! The only time I’ve been recognized in a public space was at Bookaroo (not sure it counts since it’s a children’s literature festival), and that too when three different people came up and asked if I was [the name of my sibling]’s sister. Apparently, the shared DNA is obvious and she’s on Facebook. Hmmph.
- There’d be a house on a hill, though I’m not sure what this has to do with writing. Anyway, the aforementioned window was supposed to look out on to the hillside. It’s not a very practical fantasy, because, though I love the mountains, I’m pretty much a city person, lover of broadband and online shopping, and not too fond of creepy crawlies.
- My head would be bursting full of great ideas for stories, it would be like living in a dozen books at the same time. But if I’d known how difficult it is to come up with an idea, convert it into a story with characters and logic, and have everything make sense in the end, I might have studied to be an accountant. Bazinga! I jest! As a kid I’d imagined that if you’re a writer, the ideas drop into your head automatically and keep coming as fast as you can put them down on paper. I stand corrected.
However—and this is a big HOWEVER—I’m not complaining. I work with books and words, and I don’t have to get up in the morning to go to an office. I wouldn’t change it for the world.