Tips for Aspiring Writers, Khagendra Sangroula

  1. Do not write ghazals (lyric poems). Readers suffocate beneath the weight of ghazals that, much like guinea pigs, lack diversity and end up looking all the same. No more friend, enough already! However, write one in case you see the last straw of your existence or the burning coal to your immortality in it. One is just about enough to try out your voice and to get some rushed, insincere welcome applause for life. Having nine out of ten ghazals sounding like the first one is to gobble up both you and your audience’s most valuable lifetime in nine little installments. Such life-taking in the name of ghazals is not a poetic service.
  2. Don’t be terrorized by the lopsided and stubborn judgments of the tape-bearing surveyors of literature. In day-to-day language, such surveyors are called aestheticians or literary critics. These enlightened beings keep a measuring tape of scriptures handy in order to measure the dimensions of writers and their creations. They register and rank the quality of writers and the creations as that of the first, second or third order. Weaving an intricate net of jargon, they write in languages that they sometimes understand or even fail to understand themselves. Just like land surveyors, these know-alls measure all four corners of writers and their creations. And then they mark the territory, saying this point to that point is pre-modern, that point over to that point is modern and then from that point onwards to the point over there is post-modern. Like priests, they baptize writers and their creations saying this is revolutionary, that is revisionist, that one is corrupt and the like. Therefore, think a dozen times before you believe them. Always be aware of society and the era, better yet, take critical judgments in one ear and out the other. In this meditative journey, those writers who try to walk by grabbing hold of the hands of so-called professor-doctors reach nowhere. The real judges of literature are the readers, not these professor-doctors. Save literature from these so-called professor-doctors, instead, consider the preferences of your readers.
  3. The ultra-receptive professor-doctors found in workshops rate the value of poems from a single hearing and provide their feedback instantly. A real poem is not something like a blunt opinion expressed at a debate that can be rated in an instant. Its meaning might have multiple layers, dimensions and angles. Do not listen to the rushed and immature opinions of such professor-doctors at workshops. You will become deluded.
  4. Do not have prefaces written for your creations. Such prefaces are mere crutches that you expect from others to help you stand up when you don’t trust your own creative potential. If it gets too hard, just have one preface written. Having three/four prefaces written for your creation is like using three/four crutches to stand. This is the funny fate of poor writers.
  5. Never have your work of art launched by rulers or those next in line. Releasing your creation from their hands displays a desire to show your soulless face in the shadow of their dubious reflection. It represents a flattery-oriented, parasitic and self-subjugatory trend. The creative wisdom and independently expressive quality of writing is killed whenever any independent and sovereign piece of literature is made to kneel down in front of such rulers. Then, what is left for the writer to even write about? A closeness to the state which discourages criticism and an unknown adherence to  the state makes a writer a minstrel. Why become their minstrel in this life that you get to live once?
  6. Do not blindly believe that bestsellers are also the best in quality. Mostly, such bestsellers are coated with the spell of exaggerated advertisement and commercial interest. Given there is a medium for taking your book to the hands of readers, a good literary book with good printing and an impressive exerior will definitely have good sales. But sales figures are not the only metrics to measure the excellence of a book. In today’s competitive market, we find publications that stamp their own goods as the best around. They make false announcements of their sales figures. Don’t ever be swayed by such delusional cheats.
  7. Do not aspire to be a writer if you are greedy for awards. It’s not wrong to be awarded as a writer. But, pretending to be a writer and being awarded out of mercy is a terrible thing. If some kind of award comes your way, think about what exactly is going to be awarded. Is the quality of your book being acknowledged or is it mere backscratching? Is it the exaggerated advertising on the book cover, or is it caste, creed, lineage, gender, nepotism or any other kind of selfish desire? You do not become an acclaimed writer by being awarded. You become one by writing.
  8. Don’t become a writer to whine or to weep. There is no shortage of whining writers who claim to have served the field of literature and language and weep about not getting enough recognition. No country or society appoints writers to serve the field of literature and language with the promise of a reward. Being a writer is the job of a volunteer. It’s the matter of an individual’s personal interest. It’s better not to be a writer than to wander along the well-trod trails of whining and weeping.