This week, we have Nitin Sawant. His book, Lucifer’s Lungi (Goodreads, Buy from Amazon, Buy from Flipkart). Nitin’s book is about this guy who believes in traveling to unknown places, in search of peace and adventure. One such adventure goes horribly wrong and he gets into “encounters” of the different kind!
The book is more of a novella and is a brilliant read. I couldn’t stop reading it till I reached the end, where a surprise awaited me.
I met Nitin to pick his brains for marketing of my book. And took the opportunity to ask him 5 Questions. His answers to #5Questions are…
1. Why do you write? Why would someone else want to be a writer?
Dunno why I write, as quite frankly, I find that writing a honest book happens to be a convoluted, ham-handed & often a clumsy exercise of taking a selfie. If they come out with movfie-sticks – like them selfie-sticks, I’ll be too happy to act out the stories that I have to key in now. I write because writing is a wonderfully inexpensive form of expression; writing has a very low-entry barrier unlike say, movie- making. And anyways I write just as I would narrate them stories to my friends, at some party.
Mind you, I won’t say that I write because I’ve stories to tell; everybody has a story to tell. Just that we writers have probably figured out a more entertaining way to tell them, and maybe our stories have a better hook than theirs…
And yes, everybody should want to be a writer or, broadly speaking, a communicator. It’s a learnable, practice-able skill. Story-tellers are loved everywhere; they’re always the life of the party. More importantly, writing well helps you articulate your point better. That helps big-time, whatever maybe your core profession. And for some reason, an articulate person is always considered as an intelligent one.
2. How do you come up with an idea? Ideas for plots, sequences, scenes, characters and other things? Do you use any tools?
That’s easy; I simply dip into my past experience of around 25 years of being a roadie. All those insane moments that I’ve lived through form the basis of my stories. All those conversations at roadside dhaba’s, all that chai & charcha, those culture blunders – they all go in my mix. Personally, I find it difficult to convincingly narrate a story that doesn’t have me tumbling around somewhere in it. Okay, maybe nobody’s interested in my life, but everybody likes a good yarn. So I liken my job to that of a time travel agent – going to the edges of experience & bringing something back to reality. (Seems Thoreau said that; googled that…)
Honestly, I’m in great awe of all these engineers & MBAs who churn out best-sellers after best-sellers, straight out of their college. Guys like me can only pen the pain I go through. Guess I gotta stand up to live before sitting down to write. Then again I don’t follow any structure, style-sheet or rules to tell a tale; though it helps that I know what happened next. Dramatization is all that remains then…
Tools? Notepad & Word. What else? My kinda writing style uses a lot of non-English idioms to capture the local flavour. Okay, so they all end up getting castigated by reviewers as spelling mistakes, but I still believe that Wren & Martin’s rigid grammar can’t capture all the real colour & texture of our desi stories. I tell ‘em as I hear ‘em. So I type stuff first in Notepad to avoid the tyranny of Word’s AutoCorrect. Yup, don’t enjoy the role of a Grammar Nazi. A Grammar Jew perhaps. Whose words get gassed down (Okay, that’s politically incorrect & insensitive. Sorry, couldn’t find any counter to the Nazi part).
No, a rigorous schedule almost sounds like a punishment, though a looming deadline does help me to wrap up things. So far I’ve had to balance my writing with my travel & other interests. Naturally the quantum of my output is not what should’ve been otherwise. Though, until now, my writing has happened when I’d to take a welcome break from jewelry designing or sculpting. Writing then becomes therapeutic & sometimes I write for days & nights together, till I get all the stuff out of my basement.
Rules & rituals do help in a way. Like, I try to write the creepy stuff at nights, when the creaks & scrapes around me create the right sorta mood…
4. How often do you get interrupted by writer’s block? How do you go about working around your writers’ block?
Not very often, I must say. Actually, it’s the other way round with me. I’m in the ‘block’ mode most of the time, holding back till the opportune moment to start writing (What can I say? I am a pro at procrastinating). So when I write, I’m kinda bursting out & cruising in smooth flow. So I try & get most of my writing done in this zone. And when I edit it at the end, I make sure not to tamper with what came out extempore.
Okay, I did have a writer’s block kinda situation once, when I simultaneously tried reading a best-seller while writing. That did disturb things, as I guess I was then subconsciously trying to follow somebody else’s style. A mini-timeout & a party session with friends helped to get things back on track.
5. What is the best advice on writing that you’ve ever received?
This is a loaded question. You see, ever since I became a published author, my friends – especially NRI friends, have started gifting me books on writing, and not my usual poison in fine wines & spirits. Now this has become a headache, as I rarely manage to read anything other than stuff on current affairs. So when a good friend dropped in for a drink on a day when I was hard up, I promptly bundled all these advice books, sold them to the raddiwallah next door & got us some cheap booze. Yup, we got all sozzled up, exchanged our puffed-up tall tales & viola – we’d a new idea about a book on different kinda horror stories. So, yes, all those tomes on writing advice did pay up eventually…
Personally, I believe every writer brings in a new rhythm to the symphony. So what works with A needn’t work with B. Also, I don’t think it’s possible to cherry pick a few quotable quotes from somebody, and oversimplify & dumb them down into some BuzzFeed like ‘7 Rules to Write Like Stephen King’, and use them as a template to manufacture a best-seller. It doesn’t work that way; it never will. You live it your way & then you write it your way. That’s the best advice I never received. Though I would’ve loved to…
Editor’s Note: I stumbled onto Nitin’s work when I was researching for marketing ideas for my book. I realized that Nitin has done a splendid job with marketing on the online platform. I had to pick his brains and when I did that I realized that he’s so much more than a marketer. And when I got his answers, I was amazed at his insights on writing.