Naveen Kakkar, a pathologist and a teacher in a medical college, has several scientific publications to his name and a few chapters in medical books. But this time, he has channelled his experience into writing and come out with his first fiction, Dissected. Set in a medical college, Dissected tries to dispel the image of seriousness that medical students are attributed with and brings some fun into the equation.
From college magazines to becoming a published author, Naveen talks to Writers Melon about his life as a writer and how he balances work with passion.
Naveen Kakkar – The Man:
In just a few points, Naveen Kakkar manages to paint a vivid picture of who he is as a person. From humor to music to cricket – he covers almost everything.
“I am capable of thinking of humor even in the most trying circumstances. And I feel I look at things in a different way than others and love to create pathetic jokes (poor ones are below par for me). I have always been considered eccentric with my extreme fondness for old Hindi music, gluttony, fascination for long train journeys, test cricket scores (no T-20 or IPL madness for me) and aversion to social media. Some of my English writing skills have been an accidental outcome of listening to endless hours of BBC news and cricket commentary on radio in the 80s.”
Naveen Kakkar – The Whys of Writing:
When it comes to why a writer writes, everyone has a different answer that sticks to their personality. And Naveen Kakkar has a different twist to the answers that we see every day.
“I write as it gives me a creative outlet to see humor in true or fictional situations. It gives me the freedom to see and describe things around me the way my inner world perceives them. I also find satisfaction when others enjoy my work.”
Naveen Kakkar – When It All Started:
“For our college magazine, way back in 1991, I wrote brief titles for the boys of my class. It was my first attempt at humorously capturing a 5-year association with the guys in 4-5 lines. As it turned out, the titles came out very well. I was probably too pleased with myself and the accolades I got that I rested on my little laurels for the next many years.
Later around 2010, as faculty and teacher in the medical college, I started to write humorous articles in our magazine edited by medical students. I would write on the types of teachers, students and what causes stress among students. I also wrote an article “The planet of the faceless”, a satirical dig at what Facebook has done to normal people.
In 2012, we had the 25th reunion of our MBBS batch. I again wrote titles for the entire group of 33 who attended and the titles had everyone in splits as they were being read out in the background with the batchmates being called on stage one by one. A day after, as people were leaving, Reena, one of my batchmates told me to write a book since she thought I wrote well. I was not sure then but later just thought about penning something down. The first chapter seemed very interesting to me so I thought I could carry on.”
Writing and Writer’s Block:
If you’re a writer, there is absolutely no way to avoid that thing they call ‘writer’s block’. Naveen Kakkar agrees with this and talks to us about how he experienced and emerged from it.
“I fully agree with the concept of the writer’s block because I had it off and on for nearly 5 years. By early 2018, I wrote about 30 pages and was sitting on them. There were about 3-4 sections that could loosely be called chapters. The rest were schizophrenic paragraphs built around stories that we had heard or my own experiences during college times. Egged on positive comments by my wife and my foster daughter, I started to give them a better shape around 4 months back. More importantly, regular writing followed and the jigsaw seemed to be coming together.”
The Writing Process:
Every writer has their own process. Some might enjoy writing at their own pace, some might want to egg themselves on, and yet others might take it as a task but don’t burden themselves with it.
“I don’t sit and write every-day. Whenever some funny instances or other happenings come to mind, I jot these down on a rough piece of paper or on a sticky note. Later using these as index points, I build the story around them. I usually get my wife to read the test paragraphs aloud and then modify if it does not flow well or is not humorous enough. There are days though when the words just flow and also those when the keyboard does not obey me at all. I tend to have very strong visual imagery of events and places and at times seem to write standing right there in those places and situations.
Professional work goes on side by side. Since my writing is an after-work activity always and I am a night owl, this works well for me.”
What is ‘Dissected’ About?
“Dissected is a humorous account of the experiences of teenagers beginning to find their feet in the initial year of their medical course. There are many books on IIT/engineering student life but only a handful on beginners of a medical career. Also, most medical books are of a grim kind or have too much science thrown in them and not many books have broached medical humor as a theme especially with beginners.
The storyline revolves around their adventures in the first year at the medical school. The book includes an introduction to college and hostel life, class trips, interaction with seniors and parties. The key characters are Tazo, the narrator, Lego and Joy, his diametrically opposite friends. Palak and Podgy’s romance runs through the book and there are others who play a small part.”
Dissected – The Story Behind the Story:
“Our life as medical students had many funny instances amidst the serious nature of the course. The same is true for any college and any course. Medical stories are usually too serious and a humorous take on life in a medical college appealed to me.”
When asked about what he thinks is the USP of the story, he says, “The readers will like the fumbling and vulnerable but lovable characters, the humorous situations in what seems like a dour course to most people and the attempt at vivid recreation of the scenarios that occurred some 30 years ago. Humor runs through the book as a common thread which should appeal to the readers.”
Naveen Kakkar – The Inspiration Behind the Writer:
With inspiration comes great writing. And with great writing comes hope for the world. Naveen Kakkar takes us through his inspiration behind writing.
“The inspiration in writing is the response of my batchmates to the light hearted comments during the reunion. Also of the college students to the articles I have written for the college magazine. I also enjoy the creative process of writing itself. I don’t read much of serious stuff. Except for an odd year when I could manage to read “The Fountainhead” by Ayn Rand, I have grown up reading Phantom, Archies, Commando war comics, Asterix and Tintin.”
Advice for Aspiring Authors:
“With an explosion of books, print and electronic, it may be an endless wait if you wait for reputed publishers to decide your fate. I would suggest you to take the plunge using a self-publishing platform. But do make sure your writing is grammatically correct, flows well and has a target audience. Avoid hurrying before submission. Proof read thoroughly and best of luck. And most importantly, write regularly even if for a short time every day.”
Author(s): Naveen Kakkar
Publisher: Notion Press
Release: September 2018
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