Two Questions with Author Namita Gokhale

The writers in today’s world are finding it increasingly difficult to find a niche for themselves. What strategies would you recommend for them to survive this sense of uncertainty and vulnerability?

What I’d suggest every writer is that they don’t identify their own personality with the writer in them. See, while you’re writing, you’re very vulnerable. My first advice to every writer is to maintain a sort of sheath around themselves so that this vulnerability remains a private thing, for if this same vulnerability in your persona as a writer extends to your other pragmatic life, it can cause a lot of pain.

Write only for yourself in the sense that you write for yourself as the imaginary audience. Write with as much integrity to whatever you’re really trying to write as you possibly can.

Never write for the market. Try to understand the market. But do not write against your deepest instincts. Writing is a process of actualising your deepest thoughts, your deepest fears, phobias which you really have not come to terms with. Success is totally a by-product. So don’t get into success formulation.

After you finish whatever you’re writing, put on your armour, get rid of your disabling honesty and do all the practical, pragmatic things. Never feel hurt by a rejection slip. A rejection slip is not a rejection of your work. It’s the rejection of the suitability of your work for a particular market in a particular publication under lot of constraint. That’s all I can say.

If you were given a chance to live your life all over again, would you like to live it differently?

I think the people in my life would be the people who would be in my life. I think in hindsight I would try to be more moderate, more cautious than I have been. But that’s only in hindsight because the joy of bravado, of rashness, of all those decisions—you can’t go back on it.

No, I’ve no regrets at all. Of course, if I was at this moment to go back to it, I’d be wiser. So I’d live it slightly differently, but not too differently.

First published in The Statesman

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