Kamla K. Kapur is the author of several bestselling books including two books of poetry, and seven full-length plays. Her works have won accolades nationally and internationally, including two National Awards. With such a prolific bibliography, we are extremely excited to share this interview we had with the amazing Kamla K. Kapur.
Kamla K. Kapur – The Complete Bibliography:
With so many bestselling works to her credit, it is only fair that we start off our interview with a recap straight from the horse’s mouth.
“I am the author of several best-selling books: Ganesha Goes to Lunch (Classic Tales from Mystic India), Rumi’s Tales from the Sikh Road (Pilgrimage to Paradise), Rumi: Tales to Live By, The Singing Guru, and Into the Great Heart. I’ve also written two books of poetry, As a Fountain in a Garden (to be reprinted shortly under the title The Gift of Grief), and Radha Sings: Erotic Love Poems. I have written seven full length plays, two of which won national awards in India. Three of them were produced in India, most recently at an international festival at the National School of Drama in February 2016.”
Transcending Traditions in Writing:
Kamla K. Kapur believes in looking at the world the way it should be looked at: as one race, one people. Her thoughts on traditions and their values are something worth listening to and keeping in mind. Her works, too, are a reflection of these values and thoughts.
“My publications from 2007 onwards were reimaging and recreating stories from three different traditions: Hindu, Sufi and Sikh. I believe with all my heart what I have been taught by my gurus from all traditions and especially from the Sikh tradition I inherited at birth, that there is only one race on this planet: the human race; that all religions tap into the same universal root. This egalitarianism is an integral part of Sikhism. The Sri Guru Granth Sahib, the Sikh holy book, contains the songs of seven Sikh gurus, including Guru Nanak, who composed and sang, and the songs of fifteen Hindu and Sufi saints.
I also sincerely believe that this eclecticism has to become part of humankind’s thrust as it moves into the future if we are not to put ourselves in tiny, constricted boxes of our own making. We see this Tug of war between broadening out to include or narrowing to exclude on the world stage, reflected in the human heart and outward into politics. We are morally and ethically obliged to throw in our lots with forces that connect and unify instead of forces that sever.”
Kamla K. Kapur – The Writing Journey:
Like many writers out there, it wasn’t all hearts and flowers for Kamla K. Kapur. She talks to us about her journey from being obscure to have a number of appreciated works that reflect amazingly on her bibliography.
“It has not been easy being a writer. For a thousand years I worked in obscurity, at once doubting myself and being obscenely self- confident. I had no idea then when I strayed into writing in my early teens that I had taken the first step on a journey that was extremely challenging and fraught with obstacles and dangers of all kinds. I did not then know that there would be so much joy and so much sorrow here, that I would be engaged in a constant battle that would require all my inner and outer resources to survive and prevail.
Battling Doubts As A Writer:
Every writer goes through a phase in which they doubt themselves. They doubt whether what they are doing is right. They doubt whether they will succeed in bringing relief to at least a few readers in their careers. Kamla K. Kapur explains how these doubts surface and how it makes a writer feel.
“Sooner or later most writers arrive at the realization that the entire matrix of writing is at once joyous and difficult. Our source of joy can also be a source of frustration and sorrow. Perhaps you who are reading this don’t know where to begin, or re-begin; maybe you are blocked and can’t write anymore; perhaps you haven’t got the praise for your endeavors, or the awards, or the publications, to the degree and extent that you had hoped, and that has paralyzed you with doubt about your abilities; maybe writing seems like an unremitting journey up an impossible incline, a journey whose goal seems out of sight, or impossible to attain; perhaps your spirit has been sapped by a sense of failure, and you feel defeated.
Which writer worth her salt has not felt doubt on her writing journey? We are all besieged by doubt. The hardest part for me has been and continues to be what Norman Mailer calls “the failure of ego.” Why should anybody want to read what I have to say? Is what I want to say important and meaningful enough? Who am I to compare myself to the best of writers?”
How to Survive As A Writer:
“To survive as a writer, we have to wage war against the forces that would gag and silence us. In this War for Voice we have to keep our symbolic swords handy. There is really no difference in this battle between the word and the sword.
Take heart. Most writers who have ‘made it’ have been and continue to come to this impasse in their journeys: despair afflicts even and especially the best of us. The battle to reclaim our voice from fear, chaos, and silence is recurrent and ongoing. One doesn’t simply arrive at mastery and stay there in a static state of perfection.
As Flannery O’Connor said in Mystery and Manners, “One thing that is always with the writer – no matter how long he has written or how good he is – is the continuous process of learning how to write.” This is because writing, and succeeding in writing, whatever our definition of ‘success’ might be, is a huge, a herculean task. Unless we become fully aware of, and accept, all the physical, mental, emotional, social, and spiritual aspects of the difficulty involved in this vocation, we will not be able to develop strategies to overcome the multitudinous obstacles that we meet on this path.”
Talking Writing, Talking Commitment:
“People who are serious about writing must commit themselves to writing, to the determination and devotion to learn our craft with passion. With commitment we can ride out the doubt part. Commitment is our first and primary defense, a magical weapon that gives us the determination to allow nothing to interfere with our desire. Commitment allows us to persist. It helps us develop strategies to go under, above, around and through all the obstacles that we encounter in the course of our adventures. It helps us develop ways of thinking, attitudes, mind-sets that enable us to defeat our demons and attain our goals.
Commitment involves courage, the kind of courage that Rollo May, in his The Courage to Create, talks about: “The relationship between commitment and doubt is by no means an antagonistic one. Commitment is healthiest when it is not without doubt, but in spite of doubt.’”
More Writing Advice:
Kamla K. Kapur has quite a few wise words of advice to give as a parting thought. Talking about getting serious, being patient, and knowing oneself, she makes a thumping point as we bid goodbye.
“I would also advise writers to play with their material instead of getting too serious about it. There is something self-defeating about taking our tasks too seriously. This seriousness makes our loads heavy, ponderous, and contributes to the difficulty by producing anxiety.
Also, learn patience. If someone were to ask you how long it takes trees and babies to grow, you would not reply, “in a day.” You know from experience that it takes time in the ripening of these things. We know that books are not written in a week, nor plays in a month, nor poems in a moment. But we often place such stresses on ourselves that weaken and defeat our efforts.
As a writer it is very important to know your own tempo, your own characteristic rate or rhythm of activity, not one imposed either by the culture, your desires, or your models. If we compare our processes with others, we will invite defeat. And if we have models without being aware of our own processes, we will suffer infinitely.”
Author(s): Kamla Kapur
Publisher: Jaico Publishing House
Release: July 2018
Genre: Non Fiction/Mythology/Religion
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Featured image sourced from author’s website, kamlakkapur.com.