Let’s unravel the term ‘First Time Author’

This month, we have Author Saikat Bakshi with us. The mechanical engineer by qualification calls himself explorer of unseen alleys of life. On his way through the human jungle, he picks up drops of tears and flashes of smiles and notes them down. History, literature and art add spice to his world. 

Far Beyond The Dead End, the book in focus this month is his fourth novel.

Kafka never became a first time author – how does it sound?

It sounds like blasphemy; right? Yes it is; because the name of the person is Franz Kafka. But indeed Franz Kafka never saw his book in published form during his lifetime.

Let us consider a couple of artists like Van Gogh or Paul Gauguin. They were the emerging impressionist painters of an era when realistic art reached its pinnacle. The west was crowded with realistic painters (who made money too) but ironically, history of art never kept any record of such people.

One of such fated impressionist artist was Van Gogh who started painting at the age of twenty-seven and splashed countless canvasses with riot of colours for ten years in a hypnotic trance. Finally he shot himself in the head at the age of thirty seven; not because he could not sell a single painting but because he ran out of fire. He just could not paint anymore! Now, in today’s parlance of publishing world, Van Gogh never became a FIRST TIME ARTIST!

How about Paul Gauguin? The same fate! A man of commercial world, who traded in the stock market, left everything including his family and vanished. Everyone thought he ran away with another woman. Finally, his wife was shattered when she discovered that her beloved good natured husband had run away not with any woman but with his hidden passion for painting! No one had a clue as to his secret urge to paint for long three decades. Even Paul Gauguin painted for the remaining half of his life without a single painting being appreciated or sold. Same fate! Paul Gauguin too failed to become a FIRST TIME ARTIST! How funny!

I have my reservation about this term, FIRST TIME AUTHOR, slapped against someone whose first book has seen the light of the day. A first time author is the one who penned the first short story or the first novel. Be it locked in his drawer; he is already an author.  
Writing a book is one thing and getting it published is another. And the third challenge of another nature has emerged these days; that is how to bring the book to the top selling rank in online platforms. To cross the first hurdle, one must be an author. For the second, one should wield iron grit and resolve as well as plain luck. The third one calls for entrepreneurial spirit. Now, in the history of art, I am not sure, how many merchants have been equally good artists. One can at most conform to the criteria of first two or the last two categories…not all three. And there are people who just cannot go beyond being just a good author. Such people will never be a FIRST TIME AUTHOR in spite of being excellent at their work.

Hence, a published author is a mix of too many things. We should not call him just an author.

In this article, I shall restrict myself within the ambit of the first two categories only because talking about the strategic marketing professionals is a different ball game itself. For that there are legends in the corporate world. Classrooms of Business schools may be a good place for such discussion.
As for the aspiring authors, I advise the following:
A)     Enjoy your thoughts. Cherish your pain and become happy with your sorrows. Don’t escape from life but go through it. Every life is a goldmine of plots…yours too. Moreover, every life has an anti-life –an entire alternate life that is made of a long list of count-have-been. Write them down. You will feel better and the reader will find it pure. Any reader respects an honest piece of work.
B)     Read a lot. There is no harm in being influenced by some legend. But avoid trying to adopt any style. The moment you try to become different, you recall all the patterns that you learned just to stay away from them. Hence, you will never be able to get rid of them. They will stick to you like glue. So, just put down your words without knowing what you are doing.
C)     Write simple sentences with as few words as possible. Writing long winding twisted bunch of words learnt during TOEFL exams don’t necessarily make good literature. The purpose is to convey your thoughts through printed words. Remember that facial expressions and bodily gestures are missing when readers read what you write. Without flouting basic rules of Grammar, this should be achieved in whatever way possible.
D)     Allow enough space of time between your writing a piece and editing it. This gap will erase the memory of what you wrote. When you see the same work after a long time, you will have no existing framework in your memory and your mind will be alert to grasp the content. The errors will glare out.
E)      Don’t panic. Only a couple of legendary authors have been lucky enough to strike success early in their writing career. Most of the authors had to struggle for a long time before they were acknowledged as a ‘First time author’. In fact, the only genre of writing that offers immediate gratification is Chick-lit pulp fiction because those are sold at a cheap rate and lapped up by relatively large mass of younger crowd. The return is quick but they fade into oblivion even quicker. Choose what you wish to write. You must write what you can’t help writing; you should never write a single sentence because the sentence will sell at a good price in the market. Such attitude may create an overnight bestseller but definitely not a classic.
   F)    Don’t venture into the field of writing just because you feel writing books make one rich. The contributing factors deciding the destiny are too many. There can’t be a formula. Always remember that the media talks about the handful of commercially successful examples. Nobody talks about the failed ones; but the pool of authors faded into oblivion is way too bigger than the small lot of successful ones. Know this. The success story is not a rule; it is an exception. Hence, just write and enjoy life. Let fame and money be by-product. 
        —- By Saikat Bakshi 
   WEBSITE : www.saikatbaksi.com 
  A mentorship series on writing effectively and beautifully. You can find previous posts here.


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