A Literary Journey: The Part-time Thinkers

I am late for this session, being caught up in SPEAKING WITH AMIT CHAUDHURI!! (Excuse the hyper, shrill fangirl-emotions permeating that sentence). The speakers have taken the stage; Indrajit Hazra, Devdan Chaudhuri, Soumya Bhattacharya and Abhijnan Roychowdhury have begun speaking on “On Breaking Boundaries in Indian Fiction” and Dr Abhijit Gupta is occupying his position as moderator. The topic in discussion is the conundrum of the dual identity of a writer being a reader as well: the speakers agree that eventually most people end up writing the books they want to read; the question of the “ideal reader” comes up and Dr Gupta mentions how the ideal reader of every text changes with the text. The topic shifts when he asks if boundaries are necessary for good writing, especially for those who are not “full-time writers”: two of the speakers are journalists. Soumyajit Bhattacharya mentions Philip Larkin the poet and librarian, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle the doctor and writer, and so on. Abhijnan Roychowdhury quips that they are, instead, full-time thinkers, even if part-time writers, always lost in the thought of the next creative project!

Soumya Bhattacharya mentions the “court patrons” who made the job of an artist much easier: one need not negotiate various kinds of lives along with being a writer under someone else patronage. He likes to think of himself as his own patron, he says. The talk turns to timetables; Indrajit Hazra echoes sentiments very close to my heart: Guilt is, indeed, the greatest motivator! (Procrastinators unite.) He sometimes just sit down and tells himself to, in his own words, “write the f*cking book!” He says he survives on serializing his novels: a “very 19th century trick”, as Dr Gupta says, and the QandA begins. 

The very first question catches my attention: Is journalism counter-intuitive to novel writing? I’ve been debating with myself, for a while now, if taking up a Mass Com M.A. will be the kiss of death for my creative urges, and am resigned to find that the writers don’t deny the clash between the two. The path of my future looks perilous and twisty, guys; please support me if you find me begging for money at your closest subway station sometime in the near future. The session ends on a note of appreciation and applause, and I stay resigned to my destiny of an ignominious death. 

PS: Who knew such a large crowd could be so attentive and silent? Our school teachers would be proud.



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