Deconstructing a Writer’s Mind

Vikrant Dutta with Meenu Mehrotra at the Social Potpourri meet up

A few days ago, I was fortunate to attend a meeting with two budding writers, Meenu Mehrotra and Vikrant Dutta in Delhi. As a blogger and an aspiring writer, I was keen to know the stories of these two writers and when the agenda of the meeting said ‘Construction of a Writer’s Mind’ which was organized by Social Potpourri, I was even more excited to know what goes on in that head of a writer that percolates onto the paper like a tin-shed in the Mumbai rains. It was quite interesting to meet some of the most creative and inquisitive souls at the meeting and then finally came the moment when Vikrant started telling his story and how he came about writing his first book, ‘An Ode to Dignity.’

For an Air Force officer, writing a book does not come naturally. Especially when it’s not a memoir, a motivational self-survival story and most importantly when it is written in approximately 300 pages of ballad. To add to its uniqueness, Vikrant Dutta is probably the only writer, ever, to have successfully published a whole manuscript in ballad. Kudos to that! Dutta went on to tell his story about how, he graduated from an avid reader to a writer, after being aspired his mother’s words of wisdom about how a dacoit like Valmiki could transform his life with the power of the quill. In pursuit of not being cast under the oblivion’s curse, Dutta too, started writing. Taking inspiration from the sonneteers and writers of verse, he started writing ballad and after years of perseverance, he finally finished writing his first book. To give you an insight, at the moment I would just like to say that the story is that of an army lieutenant falling in love with his superior’s widow and what transpires thereafter.

Meenu Mehrotra, on the other hand, is a Dubai based full time writer who has just launched her second book, Sunlit Hearts after ‘Lilacs Bloom in My Backyard’. With Lilacs Bloom in My Backyard, Meenu Mehrotra explored the lesbian relationship between two women protagonists in the story. Sunlit Hearts on the other hand deals with infidelity. Meenu prefers to stick to writing in prose and mostly writes about the life of women protagonists in her stories.

Now after a long talk with the two authors, I was rather surprised when I deconstructed the minds of the two writers. Sitting on the same sofa, they seemed to not only belong to two very different schools of thought when it came to their writing but even as they approached their writings for that matter. While Meenu is the quintessential writer for whom writing is sacred, something that gives her joy makes her feel closer to her ‘undiscovered self’ as she says, Vikrant was a first of his kind writer I was meeting. He confessed that he never enjoyed writing per-se, but he wrote, daily, without fail, and the end of it, he felt ‘relieved.’ People have different perspectives on doing the same thing, but never before had a met a writer who didn’t love to write. With Vikrant, I discovered a new way of writing, ‘Mechanical Writing.’ Whoever said, “When you’re good at something, never do it for free,” was right. With Vikrant’s story of how he wrote whenever he got time and that too in ballad gives a new dimension to the way we approach writing. Facts and figures are not something that he looks for in a book. And when he writes fiction, he says, that is not even important.

This brings us to a very deep question. Why do we do anything? Is it our ostentatious self or the desire for attention? Why do people chose a profession and then end up cursing it? Why do we change our priorities every now and then? And do we ever think of the people we walk out on while doing so? Writing is one example, to get to do something ‘mechanically’, what is it that motivates a person if he that. People worship their art, yet many ‘artists’ may just be doing it because they do not know of anything else that they’re better at. How many actors do we have, who only act because they’re good at it and not for the love of cinema? In this world of deceit, if I look around me, then are my friends really the people who love me? Or are they ‘mechanical’ friends too? Will they back-stab me or leave me for good if they find someone more interesting than me? Am I myself true to what I do? Will I leave someone/something for good if it does not satisfy me? Am I honest to the people I love? ………. I don’t think I can answer the above questions. Can you, for me?

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3 thoughts on “Deconstructing a Writer’s Mind

  1. Hi Aman,
    When put in context I remember Vikrant saying he wrote the book during his search for identity. He had extremely few choices given the profession he is in. His reasons for writing stem out of that. I know many people who are good at things they do not like. In my opinion while it is ideal to be in love with your profession – that hardly is the case most of the time. There are reasons why people do things they have to do and I think that is alright. However, I speak strictly in regard to professions.
    Friends, on the other hand, are a totally different factor. I put them in my personal category (as opposed to profession). An overlap here can be dangerous but does happen sometimes.
    Good job reproducing the meet though!

  2. Being true to oneself is perhaps the easiest and also the toughest call for a soul. The more honest and transparent we grow, the more we strip yourself off the layers that shroud you, the clearer you become. You become closer to yourself and only then can you clearly hear and profoundly understand what we truly desire and what our life’s purpose is. It requires courage to step into a space where you are ready to peep into the depths of your soul to explore and understand what is it that blooms your soul. Well written Aman:)

  3. Aman,
    Good to see your post on the meet. I liked your question about why do people do things, like writing. I think people write for different reasons. Some write to put their thoughts out for others to read and share, others write to remain sane, I have to write otherwise I can’t exist( but that’s Me:) ). But the only thing common in all these writers is that they have so many creative ideas and stories in their heads that they have to write them down and share them with the world, they can’t help but not write.
    What Vikrant meant by mechanical writing was that after writing down his thoughts everyday, he felt relieved like any other person who accomplishes some job he has set his mind to do. It’s also called heaving a sigh of relief after completing something satisfactorily. One can only write if one has creative thoughts in his/her head, not everybody can become a writer. Thanks for sharing your thoughts…

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