What do you do when you are done with your homework and still have some spare time? Do you read, sleep, play games, meet friends or watch television? Pooja Patel meets three young, published writers and is amazed at their repertoire of thoughts.
Anshuman Mohan, a class 10 student at St Xavier's Collegiate School was a finalist in CNBC Awaaz's Responsibility and Rupaiyya and HDFC Standard Life’s Spell Bee in 2009. Anshuman plays squash, is fond of horse riding, plays the drums and loves photography. He is also the author of a recently-published book called 'Potato Chips'! So what inspires him to write? Anshuman says, "I was inspired by all the people I met and all the things I saw in my daily life. All these experiences got stored in some funny compartment in my head and when I started to write, they became my source of inspiration. Inspiration comes from being observant."
Writing a book is a slow process, which does not end at just being inspired. Choosing a subject to write a book about is a tedious and tricky job. One has to be really imaginative and literally live the character or story to be able to write about it comfortably. The task is even tougher when the writer is a curious and restless teenager. Commenting on his book, Anshuman says, "I write about anything and everything that catches my fancy. At the same time, I believe in writing about things I know about. I am most comfortable writing about only those things that I have a personal interest in. So my book is all about school for the simple reason that I am living a school life."
While getting one's book published can be a great thrill, it also comes with a lot of responsibility and pressure. Children's author Venita Coelho agrees, "A writer is answerable to his or her readers. He or she has to market the book and has to live up to the readers' expectations, which obviously creates pressure. All these are adult stresses and so it depends on how far a child can take it. If he or she can't live up to the pressure and stress, his or her career as a writer may be cut off at an early age. A lot of the pressure-bearing capacity depends on parents, as it is their responsibility to see that their child enjoys childhood and gets enough time to relax. Parents need to decide on whether their child needs such a huge platform or not. Otherwise the parent should simply allow their child to write and have fun. I feel children should just enjoy what they do during their childhood. A book can be published later."
But more and more young writers are getting their books published these days. One such writer is 11-year-old Dhruv Raman Singh from St Mary's School. His book is a biography about his pet pug, Tuppy, which took Dhruv two years to complete. Another writer is Prateek Arora, a class 12 student of DPS R K Puram, Delhi. He had been penning his thoughts in a diary since he was in class 6. His notes were explicit and included everything that happened to him and around him. These notes and random writings were collectively published as a novel called 'Village No 1104'.
All these young writers have not only managed to find a publisher, but are also constantly in touch with their readers as marketing the book is equally important. Anshuman says, "I market myself along with my book by visiting city schools with my friends and holding sessions for the students there. I answer my fan-mail dedicatedly and connect with interested readers on Facebook."
All this only proves that the young generation has immense calibre and can survive the competitive pressure. Evelyn Dias, a parent, says, "Publishing writing for children by children is good and quite innovative. This shows that there is a lot of potential in the young generation." Indeed, it shows that despite the fact that television and the Internet have become integral parts of children's lives, reading and writing still hold an important place.
PSYCHOLOGIST H'VOVI BHAGAWAR ON CHILD WRITERS
"Children's interest in the world around them is the most important factor that inspires them to write. Introverted children are usually good at writing as they find their inner world interesting. Another very important factor is the social and cultural conditioning that the child receives. Due to the awareness that has spread among children, schools have also started to provide students with a lot of moral support. Such nurturing makes students comfortable and this boosts their confidence, motivating them to write better. Children who are genuinely interested in writing will keep up with the pace. Parents have a key role to play and have to make sure that children don't write under any kind of stress or duress. As long as children enjoy writing, they will be able to cope. Being a writer at a very young age can create a lot of pressure due to the competition. Children need to develop skills to cope with this. Unfortunately, schools don't teach them how to handle it. At competitive levels where children have to publish their own books and are answerable to their readers, all activities must be done under an adult's supervision."