Thursday, September 19, 2013

Journey of a Journalist series

 The thrill of a byline.  It never ceases to grip me.  To see your name in print – to share your thoughts – to change options – inform – to praise – to honour and above all to WRITE. Francis Bacon, the essayist, put writing above reading and speaking, as a qualification for a complete person. And to think I almost did not become a writer! Some are born writers. Some become writers by default. I belong to this category
            It all started in Vizag where my husband,Srivatsa was posted. I had a lot of time to read and the Naval Base library had a fabulous collection of biographies and commentaries. Every day, when Srivatsa   came home for lunch, I would read out snippets that amused or impressed me. One day, he casually said, ‘Why don’t you write too?’ I thought he was joking. I believed that writing is an inborn talent and one needs to be inspired by a creative urge. What does one write about? Where does one begin?  “Paper and pen I guess!” he suggested. To please him, that evening, I proudly presented my first piece of literature to Srivatsa for his comments. No Sabbath for women was the title. “Send it to Deccan Herald”, he said. Two weeks later, I got a cheque for a princely amount of Rs 32 for my first published article in the column In lighter vein. The birth of a journalist!
Writing is a skill. It can be developed with a combination of creativity, discipline, observation and a wide knowledge base. The more you read, the better you can write! That is what I found out. An ardent P G Wodehouse fan, I preferred writing in lighter vein about life around me and I made it a point to write an article every day after finishing my household chores.500 words was the minimum number of words (that was the prescribed length for “middles’ in DH) and I wrote diligently.Srivatsa was my first reader and critic.
” Write some more like this’, he said and out of pique, I wrote a series on my husband ‘Suresh’, in many avataras as baby sitter, cook and various fictitious roles. It turned out to be fun. I could write all that I felt about what I saw, read or heard. I would listen to conversations in the bus, marketplace and parties and convert them into humorous pieces with my own masala to pep it up.

Writing hones your sensitivity. I could look for something good in everything because I was not into ripping people’s life apart.  The pen is indeed a powerful tool and I used it to pay my tribute to all those I admired and highlight what I appreciated. I wrote about the extraordinary aspects of ordinary events or people-giving the other dimension. I believe a writer has the twin purpose of informing and inspiring.  The written word can change mindsets and create new visions.  A writer is truly a change agent.