Writing Your First Book

If you were wondering on how to begin your first book, here are a few Words of Wisdom from C Balagopal, an ex IAS officer and writer of ‘On a Clear Day You Can See India.’
When your hands hover over the keyboard, you face several questions. The first, of course, is what to write? Should it be a narrative or a story, should it be fiction or non-fiction, should it be located in the past or present or future, should it be about people you know or about entirely imaginary people and places?
Let us say you have decided you will tell a story about a situation you have actually been through, and that you plan to tell it truthfully. You will have to decide whether you are going to leave real names out, or whether you are going to give a journalistic account. Some of these issues can be resolved as you go along, as you see your writing emerge on the sheet in front of you. You could get the advice of others on these matters, and indeed you should, so that you can avoid disappointment later if you have to substantially change your draft.
Each of us has a voice when we write that is probably as distinctive as the voice we speak in. We are not aware of it, especially if we have not been in the habit of writing down our thoughts in a daily diary or journal. While it is a good idea to attend workshops for writers, I am not sure whether it is a good thing to do so before you have written anything because you will then be faced with many different styles of writing, and will have difficulty in finding your own voice. Attending such a workshop is of course one way of overcoming one’s shyness and to start writing.
It is important for a writer to find her own voice. With so many books emerging from a burgeoning publishing industry, a writer must be different in some meaningful way if she is to capture the attention of readers. Since subjects are limited, that difference must lie in the way a story is told, in the voice of the writer telling the story. This is similar to a role being performed by an actor in such a way, that although hundreds before her have played the same role, she brings to the role something different that compels the audience to take note of her performance.
The best way to find your voice, is to write several different pieces on the same subject or related subjects, each time trying out a different way of telling the story.
In some of them, try and tell the story the way you would if you were speaking, without consciously searching for words, and using words that come naturally to your mind as you tell the story. Your friends and others who read these pieces of writing will tell you which one resonated best with them. You will often find that they like best the one where your real voice comes through, where they feel they can hear you speak.
Of course, the important thing is that you must have a story to tell. Only then can you become a writer. Just as a painter or photographer must have the “eye” to see the same reality differently, and capture it on canvas or in a photo frame to communicate the same emotion and feelings to the viewer. If you have the eye, you can then polish up the craft. Similarly, if you have a story to tell, you can polish up your story telling skills by attending workshops for writers, sharing experiences with other writers, by reading the works of other writers.
But there is only one way to find out whether you have it in you to become a writer: start writing!
About the Book
This book is a collection of anecdotes via Balagopal’s experiences as a young IAS officer in Manipur. This book also deals with issues like identity and nationhood from a perspective of a district official in Manipur. It is deeply personal and insightful the cores social, political,and developmental issues that shape the lives of the people living in a remote yet beautiful wonderland Manipur.
On a clear day you can see India_Book Cover
About the Author
c balaAn ex-IAS officer & Managing Director, Terumo Penpol Limited, Chandrasekhar Balagopal (Also known as Bala) has penned down entertaining chapters in his fictionalized style. While he stays true to each incident he describes and has chosen them for their “entertainment value”, the political and social issues, conflict and strife and the colonial character of the administration are never far away. The book aims to look at the bigger picture by stressing the particular, inner process of a typical small government office, and especially the people involved in the stories.
Author: C Balagopal
Publisher: HarperCollins
Release: August 2013
Genre: Non-fiction / Sociology
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