By Plimun Web Design

Charlie Kaufman
“the only thing you have to offer to this world is you”

                                Charlie Kaufman


 

 

I became a writer for I was born to my father. My father is a teacher, who taught hindi litrature. So my house was full of books. There was every possible hindi writer present on the shelf and there were few from the world of english litrature too. I was a science student but stories chose to come into my life. I didn't realise then, but they were my destiny. And soon, I fell in love with the words.

I don't know when and how I began to write for I felt the urge to write, to express, to change the world. (Back then, I really thought, writing could change the world. I still somehow hold on to this notion.) I didn't train formally to write. I wasn't aware of NSDs and FTIIs of the world and there wasn't much help available otherwise. In fact, writing was not even considered a full time profession. Most writers were either teachers/professors or government servents. Writing was their part time hobby.  

So, the first question which stood in front of me was do I need a formal training to write?

Well, Tulsidas didn't train and 'Manas' is probably the most popular book, I have come across. People remember 'Manas' by heart. Neither did Shakespere or Chaplin or Walt Disney train under anybody. But, there are thousands of books available on 'how to tell a story' (Even I read Syd Field later and he is very good. At least one such book is a must read, if you want to take up writing as a profession. You will at least know the jargon which would be thrown at you. Words like protagonist, begining, middle, end, first plot point etc play a very important role in making the sale.)

There are schools teaching the art of writing. Experienced professionals take classes. There are so many schools, so many softwares where all you need to do is fill in characters and it will give you a story. Yet you see same stories being churned out every friday and I am not talking about hindi film industry. Even hollywood has a set formula. You can read Syd Field in all these films.

But I would not right off training completely. I am a firm beiliever in discipline and at least one thing that training does is it instills some discipline in the writer. I think, if you want to be a professional writer, you have to be disciplined. That notion of shabbily dressed writer, who doesn't give any importance to deadlines or monies is not real, trust me. Whether we talk about Gulzar or Javed Saab, they are all very disciplined and hard working people.

So, some level of training, discipline and...

But let me talk about, the first thing that I learned when I began to learn writing.

I use to work for an advertising agency as a writer and I went to meet Gaurav Pandey. Gaurav had written 'Aastha' for Basu Bhattacharya. (later he won  national award for writing 'Anuranan' and he directed a very talked about film called 'Shukno Lanka'.)

Gaurav gave me a screenplay to read that he had written and asked me to write a scene from it. Any scene. So, I wrote a scene. There and then. Gaurav read it and said, you need to unlearn. You write to impress. He was right. I was working in advertising. My job was to impress. Don't impress, just write.

And that is what I would come to in the end. WHY do you tell a story is much more important than how you tell a story. Tell a story only if you have to. Tell a story if there's no other way. And don't be afraid of being a bore, unexciting. Of not knowing the plot points. Of x, y or z. Because you are special. Nobody can tell a story the way you can.

Let me end it with the beginning for I always like to complete a circle in story telling.

The only thing you have to offer to this world is you.

Mohinder Pratap Singh

Mohinder Pratap Singh