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'Do not write if...'

books Updated: Jan 25, 2011 23:14 IST
Antara Das
Antara Das
Hindustan Times
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'I approach writing differently now. I am older, and the world has changed,' says Vikram Seth while talking about his work-in-progress, A Suitable Girl, the sequel of his 1993 novel A Suitable Boy.

Seth admitted that there was always tremendous commercial pressure, especially from the publisher and agents, to write a sequel, apart from the fact that the novel itself contained hints of being picked up later.

"But I wasn't enthused, I had already exhausted what I had to say about India in the 1950s," he said. And then, a few years ago during the run-up to an election, Seth started wondering: "Lata [the 19-year-old character in A Suitable Boy] would be 80 now."

The advantage of placing a novel in the present, Seth said, was that all that he had to do was "live life" and use it as the grist for his material.

"Except maybe researching about shaadi.com, or Twitter," he added.

The real inspiration behind A Suitable Boy was a Chinese novel, Cao Xueqin's The Story of the Stone (The Dream of the Red Chamber).

For young, aspiring writers, Seth offered the advice.

"Do not write if there is no tremendous urge to do so. At the heart, there must be an inspiration or muse or one of those old-fashioned things. Else, why bore yourself, destroy other people's interest and kill trees?"