The travails of an author

  • Vivek Atray, Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
  • Updated: Oct 17, 2014 11:47 IST

If by dint of sheer determination, pluck, and all kinds of heavenly assistance, one does manage to become a published author, one has to be prepared for the next phase of life, which is facing the many challenges that the status of being an author brings with it.

The glitz and glamour that come with being constantly in the news, being on stage almost every day, with queues of people wanting to pose with one's new book for pictures, make up just a part of the story though.

The truth is that being an author of one or two books is like wearing a crown of thorns. The downside, you see, is that people start thinking of an author as some kind of intellectual. They constantly want to hear his views on international issues and age-old societal problems, notwithstanding the fact that he may be a writer of light, humorous, romantic novels!

Thus every reporter worth his salt will want a quote from an author on issues as complicated and diverse as the significance of Karva Chauth and the general decline of interest in Test match cricket.

Organisers of seminars will expect such authors to deliver speeches on topics that could be as alien to him as biochemistry or intellectual property rights. The author will accept the invitation thinking that he will somehow manage, but then will mumble and fumble through his talk and leave the stage very soon, feeling rather humbled.

Authors also have to be highly careful while airing their views publically on other writers and their calibre. It is just not 'cricket' to criticise the writing ability, or the lack of it, of a fellow author, howsoever low may be one's opinion of him.

At a recent book-signing event, this author was at his wits end when a comely lass came up and wanted his autograph on a copy of a book authored by one of the worst possible writers in the land! Broad hints to the young lady to pick up a copy of one's own latest novel did not succeed and one had to reluctantly comply to keep the queue moving.

Another downer that an author has to put up with is the number of people wanting a 'treat' for the publication of his latest novel. As a result, an author's monthly budget planning may go for a six. And to top that, an author can expect close friends and distant relatives to give him frequent unveiled hints about wanting to be gifted a copy of the new release rather than having to buy one!

It is a fact that most authors write for the love of writing than any expectation of financial boom. Only a handful of commercially successful authors make any significant progress in that direction. As a result, an author often wonders whether it has really been worth all the effort and usually decides to lay at rest his creative writing pursuits, at least for a few years.

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