August 20, 2013

Who is your favourite author?

Dear M,

I had been reading an interview with one of those new authors on the block. Whenever a newly famous author is interviewed, in magazines or newspapers or websites, there is this one inevitable question. Who is your favourite author? Who has inspired you? And the author will have a ready reply to that too, you know.

Maybe because I am not quite there yet, I do not understand how a single author can be the inspiration behind your writing. If you ask me that question, I will be totally lost. Where do I start? And if I do start listing them, I am sure I will forget some of the most important ones.

And when I say, important ones, do I mean the ones I like the most? Or are they the same - the ones I like and the ones who have inspired me? As far as inspiration goes, both books and movies have inspired me. There was this short story I had been working on for a long time. Then I abandoned it, because I wasn't quite feeling the pulse of the story, though I completely believed in it. I could not get the voice right - but I did not know the problem at the time. I just felt it wasn't coming out right. So I left it and moved on. It must have been over a year later, as I watched a film, it struck me - I had to write in the little girl's point of view. Maybe not in first person, but I need to see things through her. It all came back in a rush. I think I completed the first draft in a couple of days.

Another time, there was a theme in my mind, a single sentence that I thought I could work on. I hadn't thought much of it, I hadn't even noted it down anywhere. Then I read this book, and I was inspired by its tone, and it was only a matter of hours before my story was finished.

I can give you many examples. Each time I was inspired by a different book, a different author, a different movie. How can I name one of them as my favourite, or the one single person who inspired me? I cannot even name one single person who inspired me to take up writing seriously - there are at least three, surely there are more who have inspired me without my even realising or remembering it.

Every thought we hear, every word we read, inspires us, sometimes even without our knowing. It strikes a chord within us and it stays there. When it comes out, days or years later, we might not even recognise it for what it had originally been.


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