In today’s writing salon, here is my response to a prompt from Writer’s Digest. The prompt is: Why do you write? Tell us the story of when you first realized that you needed to be a writer. (Did it happen when you were young? Was it after you read a particular book? Etc.)
(Note: names have been changed to protect privacy).
At an old friend’s wedding that happened about 6 weeks ago, I ran into many old acquaintances who I haven’t seen since my college days. I actually felt a bit anxious about the wedding because I was going alone and my plus one lives in Baltimore. While browsing through fb, I noticed that everyone seemed to have moved on, married, and some with kids. I hoped it wouldn’t be an awkward social event. Then, Nikki* greets me. The first thing she asked me was about my writing. In fact, almost everyone asked me about it and some were even reading my blog.
I talk about my genres, characters, and topics—generational differences between Indians, the changing culture, dysfunctional families, relationships—all that are topics that anyone can relate to regardless of background and life experiences.
As a writer, I feel like a storyteller…telling stories about things that interest me yet create a sense of community. I remember my elementary school days when I used to make up stories and tell it to my classmates gathered around me during recess. It gave me a sense of accomplishment and I loved the creative challenge of it.
I still want to be a published writer. I am working on a novel. Since I was a little girl, I wanted to write a book. I can’t exactly pinpoint any one specific moot point. I used to read a lot. I loved stories and almost everything we read in my English classes. I remember my favorite books being the Enid Blyton series, folktales, mythology and even YA versions of classics. The school I went to taught us classics in the young reader version.
My favorite book was Jane Eyre that we read in 8th grade. I could relate very well to the protagonist who was observant, noticed everything, and had a lot to say. I also liked the language and the time; I felt transported to Victorian England. Yet, as an Indian girl, I could relate it to social-classism such as the caste system in India. Even recently, Jane Eyre is my favorite literature and I have written a critical essay about the novel for one of my undergraduate classes.
As I said earlier, there is really no moot point that determined my writing ambitions. Over the years, my writing has evolved, grown, and I experimented in different genres such as magazine articles, fiction from sci-fi/fantasy to mainstream, women’s lit, erotica and others. I no longer write sci-fi, even though I enjoy reading them and watching Doctor Who. I prefer writing realistic fiction. My style is inspired from Jane Eyre. All my writings have strong female characters with strong voices. And in some ways, I write, “young angry Indian women” fiction. I am fascinated with people’s lives and psychology, which inspires my writing. Even though, I can point out to many influences, I’m remembering Jane Eyre because that novel continues to influence my writing today.