Author of the Week | Sakshi Gupta
I hope you are enjoying this week’s book and those beautiful pieces of poetry gave you a refreshing break from all your midweek blues. The next week’s theme is about a day in that week and that is saying nothing yet too much at the same time. She started writing at school, as an assignment, and now, she is a biographer. Writing for minutesformind.com is another of her many accolades. She started interviewing professionals and businessmen during her college days and knew she had it in her to become a writer. I am delighted to introduce you to our first non-fiction author: Sakshi Gupta. You can reach out to her using the following links:
Instagram - https://instagram.com/possibilistsakshi?igshid=5wp2860a6waf
Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/possibilistsakshi
Media channel - www.minutesformind.com
So, what was the first book you ever read? How old were you then?
My first book was Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austin. I read the abridged version. My school, Navkis Educational Centre, Bangalore had a weekly Library hour and I can't be thankful enough for my school to encourage such habits. I was 12 years old.
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?
I never really thought of writing a book. I wrote poems in Hindi during my school days for competitions. Although I don't recollect all, I remember a poem on 'Pen' which spoke about the might of the pen being greater than that of a sword. It is one of the only lines I remember and when I reflect on it, it makes more and more sense at deeper levels.
Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?
This is the first book that I launched, I do write articles on Minutesformind.com and it feels great when people actually indulge in the content and take time to reflect on my perception of the topic that I have discussed. For the book, I have received some very kind reviews, and that is driving them to take a more personal-based approach to their career. This really makes me happy!
When did you write your first Book/Short Story/Poem and how old were you?
I was 14 when I wrote poems in Hindi as I mentioned before. Interestingly, our English teacher, Geeta Bala Krishnan Ma'am had given us the assignment to write short fiction as a group project. That was my first experience of writing something full-fledged.
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
Life has interesting ways to make one realize their capabilities. I think writing covers a lot of genres. I would like to stick to being a biographer. During my college years, I met a lot of successful professionals, businessmen, experts. Something about them intrigued me. I started interviewing them. But why will an expert of that level, give me time when I was not returning any value? I wanted the interview experience to be extremely valuable for them as well as for me. When I started the process, I realized there are so many people in general of any age group who can pick from their journeys. That's when I thought of curating them in a form of a book accessible to anyone who wants to make sense of their experiences and figure out a way ahead for them which is meant for them.
What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I think it is important, as a biographer, to make sense of the journey you are covering. It is important to uncover some realizations through their journey. It is important to be a witness, unbiased yet be able to reflect on what led to where one is right now. I think that's exactly what makes my work different. When you read my book, you'll find that in every chapter you are uncovering a possibility, another way, a realization. Maybe similar experiences have happened to you, but how you make sense of it is the key question here.
Where do you get your information or ideas for your Books/Short Stories/Poems?
By meeting experts doing interesting things in different ways and understanding why and how they did it this way or choose what they chose.
What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your Books/Short Stories/Poems?
Manier times it has been spoken of as being sensitive to other's circumstances, but what it actually takes to be is something I picked up from all the journeys I chose to write. For example, it is easier to say follow your dreams or leave the job. Can you tell this to a person who is struggling to make ends meet? They might have a bigger plan, but what is important today, in the present is going to be their priority. Such sayings have multiple levels and dimensions for different individuals. It is important to understand the dimension they are coming from.
What does your process of writing look like? What is the hardest part?
The hardest part is justifying the essence of the lives of the experts I have covered. It is not that it has to speak good of them, but importantly it has been devoid of my bias while writing their journey. I need to allow the reader space, for having his/her own understanding of what the chapter wants to speak as well as convey my point of reflection of their journey.
What do your family and friends feel about your work?
My father is not fluent in English so I read him some lines from the chapter and he said, "I am proud that you have such understanding of life from a young age like this." My mother loves talking about my work to her circle and the way people view me or want to consult with me is enough testimony to what she thinks of me. My siblings and cousins make me an important part of their decisions when it comes to their professional life ahead and value what I think and so is with some of my friends. That is in the true sense, an achievement for me.
What is your advice for aspiring writers?
I don't think I'm in any position to advise the writing community, all I would say is, there were times I was lost about how will I position myself amongst the brilliant writers and storytellers we know. But once I pulled myself out of that space, gave my attention towards curating my book, in my style, in my understanding- it worked for me. I am happy with what I was able to come up with!
Who is your inspiration in the field of writing?
Someone who influenced me to write and made me realize what I was capable of doing is my mentor, Dr. Amit Punjabi who is a behavioral expert and strategy consultant. In the field of writing, I love reading mythology. In mythology, I specifically love how a character is built and understood which I found brilliantly done in books like 'Mritunjaya' by Shivaji Sawant and 'Palance of Illusions' by Arundhati Roy.
Has your writing style changed since you first started writing? If yes, in what ways has it changed?
My writing has been about perception and understanding. I sometimes used to be biased while making a point that I realized would not suit what I wanted to communicate and will not allow my reader the freedom of thought. So yes, now my writing is more unbiased. I look at opening more possibilities and outlooks rather than celebrating one.
What attracted you to the genre(s) you write in?
The people I met, the way they do what they do and how I able to perceive and see how this could make difference to someone else's professional journey. That is what made me write biographies with a single, yet the collective context of figuring out your way, and how to make options available to you.
Would you consider yourself a planner or a pantser? Or both? Is your current system working for you?
I only planned the context and objective, which means what I want to convey, what I want to discuss, and what I want to challenge with my book. I was also clear on what are the kind of people that will make sense to the book and who will not. I was clear on what value I want to deliver and the rest of the process aligned itself to it. All my panster moments fell in place automatically with the set contexts. It worked for me because it gave me clarity and freedom. The clarity in thought process and freedom to explore and experiment with possibilities of this book.
What do you love the most about your writing process?
That, that it visits and indulges with multiple realities of people in a single context. With this I mean, that it indulges with professional lives of those who found their own ways of achieving without relying on what seemed the only option. I indulged with 6 such experts in this context and I am happy to see what it has turned out to be.
Does music help or halt your writing process?
Oh! Music helps, rather right music helps. Although I didn't require it every time I constructed a piece of writing, music does put me in a zone of thinking and deepening my understanding of the discussion. I enjoyed listening to theme music from the movie 'Interstellar'. Sing-along music didn't help me but works before or after completing a piece of writing.
Are your characters often inspired by real people?
The book is based on the journeys of 6 people. I don't see myself writing fiction. The people I met have made impossible, possible, and covering just that has been an amazing experience and I'd love to stick to it for my upcoming books.
Are there any specific ways that help you out of your reader’s/writer’s block?
If your writing, read, and if your reading, write. Whenever I wrote and I found myself in a block or being unable to put in quality writing, I read another book. When I read, I find myself making notes of either line that intrigued me or what I perceive or understood while reading.
If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
I am young in my writing journey. I think the only thing I would want to tell myself when I started writing my book is although discipline and consistency are key but don't be hard on yourself to write to meet a timeline because sometimes what you intend to write only comes with an experience or when the right thought is triggered. Allow yourself that space to be okay with experimenting and delays if it is leading to a more concrete understanding of the matter you are writing.