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?