Author of the Week | Abhay David
Hey folks! I hope you’re having a great time reading ‘A Thousand Splendid Suns’. It is only a few hours for the discussion thread to be live for this week and some more time before you know the next theme and Book of the Week is revealed and the hint for the theme is close to ‘This is how you feel now’.
As promised, we’re here with Author of the Week. Our Author for this Week is Abhay David. He’s a published author and his work is also live on Wattpad. You can know more about his inspiring journey by connecting with him on social media.
So, what was the first book you ever read? How old were you then?
It was Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist. I was 16. Yes, I entered the reading world late, very late. But once I entered, it was sunshine of words and a little rainfall of regret, not starting earlier. The author did further ignite my burning desire to write and like he wrote, “When you want something, the universe conspires in helping you achieve it”, I’m guessing it left an impact, for me to write more, write better.
How many Books/Short Stories/Poems have you written? Which is your favorite? Are there any that ended up getting shelved for the time being?
Books... not so much. Two years ago, I thought I should write an autobiography and did start with narrating my past. I completed like 11 chapters and finally decided to quit. I tried my hand at short stories 3 or 4 times, they usually revolved around the dreams I had. Honestly, I’m not a fan of my short stories. I realized I am not imaginative like that. Poems are my favorite and if I remember right, I’ve written like 50 of them or more. Most of them are saved on my laptop/desktop/phone. I’ve lost some too.
Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?
I always wanted an audience. My first poem was cheesy but then I tried showing it to my friends in class, and their reactions were surprisingly overwhelming. My best friends and even classmates who weren’t very close to me applauded my humble effort. That motivated me. One of them introduced me to Wattpad, which served as the stage to like 21 of my next poems. There, I was greeted by an even more interesting audience. One of the commonest comments was regarding the last two lines. For most of my poems’ last two lines, I did try to make them as poetic as I could. They seemed to like that, and how they could relate to the content of my poems personally.
When did you write your first Book/Short Story/Poem and how old were you?
I wrote my first poem when I was 15 years old, back in 2015. I was in my 11th grade and the poem was about a ‘heart-break situation. It seems funny now but was pretty serious then. Stories and dream logs didn’t come until 2018.
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
There’s no definite answer to that question. Ever since my first poem, I just wanted a small audience who could read my lines and between my lines about what I tried to put in a poem, what I couldn’t voice out as words. And by the time I wrote 20 poems, I considered myself a writer. If you ask me if I wanted to be an established writer, the answer would be no. I usually write to ease my stress, and a professionally published book isn’t on my to-do list, yet. It wouldn’t hurt to get my poems entered in a few magazines though.
What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
A quirk that interests me in poetry, is the ‘standard devices of poetry’. I used to check rhyming patterns, similes, metaphors, oxymorons, and alliterations in my poems unless they’re free verses. I’ve always been fascinated by Shakespeare, Keats, Robert Brown, and how they could rhyme not just lines, but words too. That’s something I wish to achieve. Another one would be, I always group lines of my poem into stanzas of 4 lines each. I try to stick to it and finally end up messing up towards the end of the poem.
Where do you get your information or ideas for your Books/Short Stories/Poems?
More often than not, my poems are related to what I feel or what I experience. And seldom they’re affected by news that hits me deep, usually sufferings of people and very rarely happy news. And recently I have been trying to connect the material world to the world of emotions and have a few poems in that style too.
What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your Books/Short Stories/Poems?
One thing that surprised me is how prolific story writers would applaud my work. I could never match their level of imaginations and yet they tell me they could never form up a poem. Another one would be the ‘silent audience’. This came as quite a surprise. I knew some of my friends who’d stand thick and thin and openly share my write-ups. But then, there are some others, with whom I might even have rows, yet they silently read my poem, leave a like, and leave a smile on my face.
What does your process of writing look like? What is the hardest part?
It varies all the time. The most frequent process is having an idea with a poem potential. And then I forget about it. Those I don’t forget about, those ideas would be conceived either under the shower or when I sit for the family prayer, where I’d usually contemplate my life. After having lost quite a few ideas like that, now I write down the word or idea onto the notes app on my phone and wait for a serene, calm atmosphere, preferably late in the night, to develop on it. The writing process takes less than 10 minutes and the rest of the time is spent on choosing the rhyming words, alliterations, etc. The hardest part is working up a good title.
What do your family and friends feel about your work?
My parents and my brother are always supportive of my writing. Late into my writing stage, I found out even Mom writes good poetry in our mother tongue. They might not get to read them all, nor do they get what I mean, but they take pride that I write well. They’ve aided in my anthology submissions and were more excited than I was to bring those hard copies home. My friends are supportive too. But then, I don’t share all my works with them for fear of being judged. The works they see, they rejoice.
What is your advice for aspiring writers?
For aspiring writers and myself, first and foremost, KEEP WRITING. Nobody is born a writer. It’s years of work. And we have living examples too. JK Rowling. Even if there’s nothing write-worthy, write about something. Even petty dreams we have. The more you write, the better your vocabulary, the better your skills. I wouldn’t suggest writing to meet a deadline to be a healthy practice, as in competitions and stuff. I write to ease myself. It’s more like a hobby. Can’t stress on that.
Who is your inspiration in the field of writing?
It’s hard to pinpoint an inspiration. Shakespeare stays top of the table, since Jacques’ melancholy in As You Like It. I’m not a believer, but The Bible and the Quran are major attractions too. They house some of the best poetry and metaphors I’ve ever read. And it’s never complete without mentioning Mariah and Nirmal from school, Ashly from College for their immense motivation, besides the many incidents of friendship, crushes, and love stories.
Has your writing style changed since you first started writing? If yes, in what ways has it changed?
Absolutely. The change is massive. When I read my first poem now, which I do time and again, it feels like a nursery rhyme. There’s desperation to find a proper rhyming word, there’s a surge of emotions and petty feelings involved. It’s immature. As I progressed, my poems are now concise, stable, and smooth. If I can’t rhyme something, it naturally becomes a free verse. And I’ve been told my recent poetry of being “sensible”. And vocabulary too is another parameter to measure my progress.
What attracted you to the genre(s) you write in?
From what I see around, people tend to attach more towards negative emotions than positive ones. People relate more towards the feeling of loss, grief, depression, broken relationships than all the merry moments in life. Also, the times when I needed to release the stress build-up, it’s always been negative feelings. So, I was naturally attracted to breakups, missing, and feel like that. “Agony of parting” stays forever strong.
Would you consider yourself a planner or a pantser? Or both? Is your current system working for you?
I would say both. There are times when I keep chewing an idea inside my head until I can churn a poem out of it. And there are times when I would create a poem in less than 10 minutes, letting everything going on into words. It works more or less. But I do get writer’s blocks now and then, where I’d desperately want to write something.
What do you love the most about your writing process?
The re-reading part. I enjoy reading my poems. With every read, I come across scope for improvement, of how I could have versed it better, of how I could have rhymed I better. And re-reading gives some relief. I’d want to see if I’m conveying the right message to the reader. And I’m curious as to what the readers thought about the write-up, so it feels nice to read their comments, constructive or even otherwise.
Does music help or halt your writing process?
Music helps. Music helps. It’s usually R&B melodies of English, Hindi, Malayalam, Tamil, and sometimes Russian languages that usually set the stage for my grief and memories to flow out. I don’t remember writing to a rock song ever. When the music is familiar, I can let my thoughts roam free and that makes better poetry, at least for me.
Are your characters often inspired by real people?
Not sure if this applies to me. But yeah, most of my poems are about myself and the events that happened with, around, and about me. It’s a gateway into my inner self. It’s the word that I longed to tell, but couldn’t. I wish to add here that everything I share in this interview isn’t textbook facts. All of it is what I think and what I’ve perceived over the years. I’m not a student of the English language and literature. So, bear with me if I’m being inaccurate.
Are there any specific ways that help you out of your reader’s/writer’s block?
Ashly, the one I mentioned earlier, suggested this movie: Stuck in Love. She wasn’t sure I’d like it. It isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. But I must say, I haven’t re-watched any other movie as much as I’ve watched Stuck in Love. The plot is also about writers and every time I watch it, I’m a fresh writer. It also helps to be in the midst of writer friends. I’m part of this Read It n Weep writer’s server on Discord where a bunch of writing enthusiasts keeps themselves updated regularly. That motivates me enough to try writing down something.
If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
I’d want my 15-year-old self to take more risks. I’d want him to have more adventures. Life wasn’t very eventful until 19-20. So, I wish I had more exposure back then. And I would want my younger self to embrace English literature much sooner. I’d want him to be stronger when facing the many a disease I had to fight against and the many situations I was put under.
That being said, from the bottom of my heart, thank you, team ‘Thy Book Box´ for this amazing first-time experience of a writer’s interview. No matter how many times I say I’m not hunting fame, this interview does make me feel privileged. I’m humbled by this and all the best of wishes to you.