'Writing isn't a negotiation'

Strong conviction

'Writing isn't a negotiation'

According to columnist and novelist Shobhaa De, who was in the City recently, Bangalore is one of the politest cities in the country.

 “I have been coming here for almost 40 years and I’ve seen it grow and change. It was always a young, vibrant city; it was just greener and quieter before. It always had a specific character and spirit to it, and I’d like to believe it’s the same, it’s one of the politest cities in India. The way people speak to one another, to outsider, to not hear raised voices when you speak...it’s a lesson for everybody else,” she says. 

Often criticised for her being outspoken, Shobhaa says, “You don’t let critics get to you. You deal with them in a way that is fair and sensible. After all, you are expressing opinions that could trigger controversial responses. So you should be able to take it on the chin and handle criticism if you are dishing it out,” she says. 

Has she ever let her haters get her down? “Never. I’m not a victim personality at all. You should have the courage of your conviction to stand by what you have said. And sometimes, have the courage of your conviction equally  to acknowledge that maybe you were wrong. It might be five or ten years later, but when you know that you have said something that may not have been completely accurate, I think the honest thing to do is to say ‘I was wrong’. Most people don’t do that, which is wrong - you owe it to yourself to set the record straight.”   

She says writing is her life. “For a lot of people who watch me write, it’s a lot of slogging. It’s what I want to do above all else. It defines me and I write every moment of every day. Even when I’m not writing, I’m writing; even in my sleeping I’m writing.”  

How is she like at home? “I write from my dining table, my entire life revolves around my dining table. During the day, I only make time for family, they are my top priority so if I feel I need to spend time with them mid-book or mid anything, I do,” she says. She adds, “It’s hard keeping to a deadline from home but I have a deadline every single day of my life so I’m used to it. I miss it if I’m not doing it, I go into withdrawal,” she jokes. 

What advice does she have for young authors? “Writing is a craft and how you deploy that craft is a discipline as well. The more you write, the more strong and muscular your writing gets. Writing isn’t a negotiation, you need to do it every day of your life,” she sums up. 

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