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What it takes to be an author?

What is it that sets writers and poets apart? Kanika Johri finds out from the horses' mouth.

books Updated: Mar 08, 2011 12:25 IST

What is it that sets writers and poets apart? What is it that makes them write the way they do and emote in a way people often don't even dream of? Here's answering these oft-wondered questions and unveiling the aura and mystery behind these artists. Here's what it takes to be what and who they are. We hear it from the horse's mouth.

While most believe writers are an exotic variety of people, writers Javed Akhtar, William Dalrymple and Namita Gokhale dispel the rumours.

Renowned script writer and poet Javed Akhtar says writers are passionate and spontaneous people and there is nothing innocent about their craft. In fact, he even goes on to say all artists, to some extent, are fraud and all art is a form of schizophrenia. They all lead multiple lives, is what White Mughals author William Dalrymple feels.

Do writers have to be deeply antagonized to write beautifully?

"The urge to create something new emanates only from pain and dissatisfaction,"  says Javed Akhtar. Dalrymple feels it wasn't necessary to go through a lot of pain to be able to write. Though, that depended on who was writing and what they were writing.

Are they escapists?

Veteran journalist Sunil Sethi has been interacting with several renowned authors and he believes writers are both escapists and very tough realists. He adds they are great 'go-awayers' as well.

Paro author Namita Gokhale agrees that authors are able to detach themselves and even walk out of a public space, if need be. Akhtar even says a lot of good writers don't talk too much in public because they are conserving their energy.

What makes them writers?

City of Djinns author and Trinity College, Cambridge alumnus William Dalrymple says one has to maintain a basic discipline and follow it regularly to be able to clear one's thoughts and words.

"There are several drafts before one comes out with that one fair copy, which is the most tedious (and the most rewarding) part of writing."

Akhtar believes creativity is not as innocent and ethereal as believed and writers too, in a way are performers. "No fiction is completely fiction, it has a bit of non-fiction in it and no piece of non-ficton is completely free of fiction.

For Namita Gokhale, it was her observations that made her write the way she did. "Each of my books has been a quest for me and there is a lot in our subconscious that comes out while writing."

Each writer may have their quirks and ideas but it seems like they're all agreed on what Dalrymple says, "The only way to become a good writer is to be compulsive reader."