Anuvab is the author of The President Is Coming, 1 888 Dial India, The Bureaucrat. His latest novel, Chaos Theory, based on his play Chaos Theory directed by Rahul Da Cunha, is now available at bookstores around India and Flipkart! I think he’s deathly funny, don’t you? :) xoxo
After writing 4 English plays for the Mumbai stage, 3 novels and a 4th just published, 120 shows of stand up comedy, several dozen columns and articles, and 2 films, these are a few things I’ve learnt about writing.
1. Anyone who says it gets easier with time, either stopped writing a long time ago or is smoking something I want.
2. Mohammed Hanif, the great novelist, said this at a literature festival and I agree whole-heartedly. The only reason to go out into the world and say “I am a writer” is to give yourself the excuse to not write.
3. Avoid anyone who begins a sentence with, “See I have these ideas but I am not a writer.” It most likely means they want to hire you as their typist.
4. They say to have the life of a writer, to be a genius, one must suffer and struggle and feel pain and be poor and hungry. That’s mostly nonsense. There have been as many genius writers with comfortable lives and boring childhoods as there have been tormented ones. If you embark on this assumed writing life by pretending you are a struggling artist and not actually write, you aren’t a genius, you are just someone who looks destitute.
5. If you write in English, your audience is about 25 people not counting friends and family. If you’re lucky and have a large family, then can tell their friends and you might be able to get to 35 people. If you write in Hindi, the audience is slightly larger. I’d define that number as ‘Everyone’.
6. Try and give yourself frequent coffee breaks but that can be dangerous because at some point, you can be on a permanent coffee break. Soon you start messaging friends and then you’re not a writer, you’re like the college student behind you dropped out and meets his friends everyday at coffee shops.
7. If you want to be a serious writer, which many people do, grow a beard. Don’t make it too long, then you can look like Hafiz Saeed or the Chinese artist Ai Wei Wei. Don’t make it too short or thin, then you look like a British Asian DJ.
8. They say drinking helps. It probably does. But don’t drink too much, then you’ll be like someone’s annoying Sindhi uncle at weddings who shouts nonsense at the bar.
9. Buy some red socks. There’s no reason for this. Just do.
10. Remember the main purpose of writing is not to say something new to the world or bring in an insight that we never had. That’s all being done real time on Facebook and Twitter by your readers. The main purpose is to go the one of many literary festivals, sit on a stage and say things in a grave and earnest voice, always beginning a sentence with, “You see the main problem in India…”