Wednesday, May 02, 2012

The Middle Path And A Book Launch

Responsibility is the biggest enemy of a writer. It is like a strict parent who makes you sit at home to study even though you would like to go out and play, no matter how hot the sun or how chilling the cold.

For example, this very moment, I would like to shift base to Calcutta for an indefinite period of time and return to good, old Chennai (or maybe not return at all) only after I have sent in the manuscript for the Calcutta book. And after that, take off, without any worries, for the next project which would involve a great deal of travel in the northern half of India. The idea is to give 100 percent to what you are doing without having to worry about the next meal or paying the bills.

But then, a vast majority of us are born only to pay the bills. We study hard, we acquire degrees, we take up jobs, we slog to get promotions -- all to pay the bills. Since we have to pay the bills, we need the job; and since we need the job, we can't take off from work as and when we want to. How can you write when you are chained to the responsibility of paying the bills?

Life can be so much easier if you have a rich father who foots your bills. Imagine having a father who tells you: "Son, why have I accumulated all this money? It belongs to you. Go ahead, pursue your dreams." There is, however, another way of breaking the shackles of responsibility: acquiring courage.

Many of the writers literature worships today -- George Orwell, Graham Greene, Ernest Hemingway, Henry Miller, to name a few -- braved penury in order to be able to write. Graham Greene, for example, quit a secure job as a sub-editor of The Times to write novels that no publisher would accept (it was only his third novel that was published first), while the perennially poverty-stricken George Orwell died just when fame and money was finally about to kiss his feet.

I neither have a rich father nor the courage to brave difficult times without a steady job. And yet I dream to be a writer. Well, why not. I have learned, over the last few years, to traverse the middle path -- one eye on the books I want to write and another on the job that I want to do well so that it pays me enough to sustain my writing and my lifestyle.

Tamarind City: Where Modern India Began is a milestone on that middle path. It's a book I am rather proud of. It's being launched formally, in Chennai, on May 15, Tuesday, at Sheraton Park Hotel and Towers, TTK Road. Those who read and love Ganga Mail, please be there.


Anonymous said...

Bishwanath, as somebody who has not even picked up the courage to so much as look at the middle-path (firmly trapped in the deadline-cycle :-))I can only admire, from far, your determination. All the very best for the Calcutta book; looking forward to many many more signed copies.
Best regards,
The Tomato

Shachi said...

You presented this so well. When I read about "chasing your dreams" "do what you love" "quit your job if you hate it" - I always say, "who will pay my bills and take care of my family?" and so I choose the middle path. I do my job and I carve out time for my passions, which include blogging. And thankfully, I don't hate my I'm not miserable doing what I do to pay my bills :).

Looking forward to picking up your book when I visit India next time.

Sunil said...

I am not a writer, and I don't think there is anything I want to do throughout my life. But the idea that you could do whatever you want, whenever you want, just because you want to; was something I have been have been struggling with with for a long time. I have often wondered whether the cyclic nature of our existence is taking us forward.
I have been reading your blog, infrequently, for a long time (5 years?) and I look forward to buying and reading your book soon.
PS: I am sorry that that my need to pay the bills won't allow me to attend the "formal" launch.

Unknown said...

Congrats & Good Luck with the launch!! It is a proud moment, so go ahead and enjoy it to its fullest. Wasn't this your dream a few months ago? Just Wondering. Bills or otherwise, I think you're doing a great job of chasing your dreams. Much more than other aspiring writers, I bet. So keep it up, consider yourself lucky (talented...but still, lucky counts) and enjoy your present, the dreams are sure to follow. My $0.02!

Shweta Verma said...

A writer's dilemmas captured so wonderfully... wish you all the best for Tamarind City!! Really happy to see you do so well :)

Anonymous said...

Was there for chai chai launch....... Can't make it to Tamrind ......wonder if you have one in Bangalore ......may be I should be back by then .......all the best......

Sepiamniac said...

I would have loved to but missing it :(

Congrats :) Very happy for you!

I loved the book!

Ahmed Faiyaz said...

Congrats on the launch! Hope it goes really well. I love this post. There are so many people out there who are stuck in the rat race. Some want to mountain climbers, others want to play chess, poker or scrabble for a living. But most of them end up just paying the bills and the mountain of debt (home loans, credit card bills from the last trip to Paris). Sad reality of our metro lives.

Perspectives said...

best of luck!

Vinayak said...

Have been a faithful follower of your blog. Read both your books. Chai Chai was nice with a brilliant concept. Though I haven't been lucky enough to experience many of the halting stations, have a lot of memories associated with trains.

Tamarind City is one step ahead. I am a Tamilian born and brought up in Mumbai. Have relatives in Chennai and so have been there many a time. Love the nostalgia you evoke and also so many details unknown. I will see Chennai differently when I go next.

Thank you and keep writing!!!

Anonymous said...

the helplessness and psychology of all of us who have our hands tied in view of our responsiblities has been put forth so beautifully by idea, pain of all n sundry so thoughtfully and inspiringly presented.
thanks for the insight!!!!