My writing life started during my tenth grade in school. I am talking about my successful writing life. My essay ‘An Autobiography of a Cloud’ received the highest praise from my teacher. He read the essay to the whole class. My guess is the essay became spiced up by snippets of poetry I sprinkled here and there.
Afterwards there was a long hiatus in my writing career though I was a voracious reader. Toiling to get into medical college and later busy career made it near impossible to become a prolific writer. My writing became limited to writing lengthy letters to friends and my patient’s charts. But I accumulated a lot of material in the back of my mind by interviewing and treating patients and making friends over three continents.
In 1988, I turned to Indian spiritual epic Bhagwadgeeta. I read many commentaries and my writing was non-fiction at first. But I believed philosophical ideas are better expressed through the stories – like Ramayana and Mahabharata and Panchatantra. I started writing a novel which later I titled as ‘Ocean of Peace.’ I had little idea at the time about the craft.
It was when I heard about the “Long Ridge Writer’s Group’ in Connecticut. They had a program which you could complete by correspondence. They called it ‘Breaking into Print.’ It was about crafting short stories and non-fiction articles. The editor Sarah Clayton who was assigned to me was a tough one. Most of her comments made my face go red. But there I learned about basic things like ‘show don’t tell,’ ‘avoid adverbs (the way to hell is paved with adverbs – Stephen King),’ ‘use active verbs,’ ’be wary of sentences you loved (murder your darlings – Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch), ‘the dialogue’ and similar things.
I obtained their certificate of completing the course which you can see if you click on this link – Longridge Certificate.
I sent a short story to the weekly publication from New York (my first ever submission) – India Abroad and they published my article which you can read in ‘short story section (Reflections of a Physician). So you can call me a published writer. Right?
Encouraged I continued to write and improve.
I subscribe to the ‘Writer’ magazine which has great articles.
My ambitious novel “Ocean of Peace’ is large. I trimmed it but it is still large. I believed no publisher would put money to publish such a large novel by a ‘first time writer.’ It is kept in my drawer. Every now and then I nurse the pages. In due course of time you will find it in your hands. I don’t give up so easily.
My second novel is ‘To Love and Cherish Her.’ It is based on the life of a surgeon facing a midlife crisis. It is a thriller having several murders (a ‘who did it?’). It is a manageable 87000 word novel. I dived into a completely new genre than the ‘Ocean of Peace.’
I seek and try to cultivate versatility. “To improve prose read poetry", was the advice I received. And sometimes reading a poem sets me in a mood, a creative mood, that I could write a spontaneous poem. It flows from the right brain – my non-dominant side.
I feel privileged that I took writing as my hobby. No boss, nobody to dictate what to write and you act as God. You decide in the fiction who lives and who dies, who falls in love with who, whether sun shines or rain pours. I love playing God.
I fully agree with Stephen King who writes in his famous book ‘On Writing’ as: Writing isn’t about making money, getting famous, getting laid, or making friends. In the end, it’s about enriching the lives of those who will read your work, and enriching your own life, as well.
I am very sensitive to rejection slips and haven't dared to send out my writing to many magazines. But the magazine 'Evergreen Review' surprised me by publishing my story 'My Girlfriend is Doctor.' That was the only magazine I submitted that story to.
But the Internet makes it possible for at least some people to know me and read some of my work.
Read more about my novels – in the Novels section