Two years ago, I made a huge change in my life’s path. I gave up a thriving homoeopathic practice to write for a living.
The one question that I’ve been answering ever since is – why?
People, mainly my patients and some relatives, can’t understand why I’d give up a satisfying career to become a writer. They even wonder if I was forced to become a doctor instead of a writer.
The answer to that is a big, fat no. No one forced me to become a doctor. It was just something I wanted to do, and I did it very sincerely until I felt that I couldn’t juggle a full-time practice with a full-time writing career. So, I decided to focus on writing.
The next question people usually ask is – why do you write?
Well, I’m still trying to figure that out.
I wrote my first story at the age of seven and kept writing stories, skits and plays until I started working. Then, life got in the way and I stopped writing. But I never stopped dreaming up stories.
When I was on maternity leave, I rekindled my love for writing. I firmly believe that the extreme sleep deprivation that’s part and parcel of raising premature twins triggered my creativity. Nothing else can account for my frenzied scribbling at unearthly hours.
There was no pattern to my writing then. I’d weave stories around random topics. Slowly, I realised that I was writing more and more about young adults. Teenagers and their issues fascinated me. It did help that I am still a teen at heart.
That’s how my debut novel, Along Came A Spyder, came about. I used to write about a group of spies. That grew into a full-length novel about Samira Joshi, a girl who wants to be a spy.
When people read the book, they want to know if I’ve ever been a spy. Unfortunately, that childhood dream has never come true. They say that failed actors turn into acting coaches. Well, this wannabe spy does the next best thing. She writes about spies.
When I started writing, I only intended writing one book. I just thought I’d get it out of my head and move on. Turns out, there were many stories buried under that one story, and before the year was out, I had a notebook full of outlines and plots.
I did worry about giving up financial independence to follow my dream. Everyone knows that new authors never make money through writing. Luckily, my first book was picked for screen adaptation even before its release, showing me that every problem has a solution if you work hard enough.
As a new writer, I do worry about whether my stories will find any takers because let us be honest, there are no new stories left to tell. Everything we write has been written before, for better or for worse. So, I decided that I would try and give my own unique twist to every story that I wrote. So, even if it is a story that has been told a million times before, I can always give it a fresh perspective.
I want to tell the stories that are bubbling in my brain. But I also want to give a voice to what I see around me. Through my stories, I want to help build a better world, which is why I write about strong and independent female characters who don’t let anything stand in their way.
Whether I’m writing children’s stories, or young adult fiction, or thrillers, or chick lit, or even horror, my stories will always be about people finding their voices, discovering themselves and being true to that newly-discovered self.
Because, when I started writing about Samira, I rediscovered myself and my dreams. I made peace with the fact that I could give up my day job to focus on my writing career, without having to justify my decision to anyone, for while other doctors could treat my patients, no one else could tell my stories like I do.
When I started my literary journey, I had no formal training in creative writing. After I wrote my first book, writing became more difficult simply because I could see the mistakes that I had made the first time around. I wanted to learn the craft of writing through a creative writing program.
Thankfully, I was handpicked for Anita’s Attic, a creative writing mentorship program by Anita Nair, which is currently underway.
My little notebook of plots and ideas has now turned into a pile of notebooks that shows no sign of shrinking. Every time I open my cupboard and those notebooks tumble out, they tell me why I write.
I write because I have a story to tell.
Picture Credit: Apeksha Rao/ TreeShade Books
Apeksha Rao is a homeopath and author, with a theatre background. Her books are Itsy Bitsy Spyder and Along Came a Spyder. The views expressed are the author’s own.