Samah completed her Bachelor of Business Administration. She is currently an Author, Writer, Digital Printer (Big Vision Pvt. Ltd.) and Co-founder of Wedding Diary by Gehna Samah. She recently won Write India – Times of India’s short story competition. Let us know more about her writing.
What inspired you to start writing?
I have been fascinated by the art of storytelling for as long as I can remember. I knew I wanted to pursue something related to this field whether it is filmmaking, writing or acting. I took up writing as a mere hobby initially. I believe I am unusually observant and when I started to write my first story I was surprised to find myself incorporating things that I must have seen/thought of years ago. I took my time to complete the first manuscript, pursuing another career alongside, and when I finally saw it taking shape I knew that this is what I want to do. It may not be the only thing I want to do, I’m a person of many dreams, but writing is definitely something that will stay with me for a while.
What did you like to read when you were a girl?
As ironic as this may be, the truth is that I didn’t read much as a child. My mother tried to inculcate the habit but I guess I started off on the wrong foot reading books that didn’t make me love the hobby. But I did manage reading a few Nancy Drew books, The Famous Five, and the likes but once I outgrew that genre I didn’t go back to reading. I was majorly into Hindi movies; still am.
What is the greatest challenge in writing a book?
That’s a tough one. There are several challenges and it’s a challenge to even pinpoint which is the greatest. Regularity is one of them. Writing fiction may not be possible on a 9 to 5 basis like another job. Even though I sit to write on a daily basis there are times I end up with nothing. There are days I just don’t have the right words in my head. There days I have clarity in my thoughts but I can’t articulate them.
Writing a story is very different from writing a book. When you automatically want to write a book for others to read there are several aspects that keep playing on your mind – Am I being repetitive? Is this a genre I should explore? Would publishers be interested in this? Whereas when you just want to write a story you write it as it forms in your head. Another problem I have faced is having a clear start and then getting confused about how to proceed with the plot.
How much research do you do before writing the book?
Most of my manuscripts/stories are based on plots that revolve around relationships. This mainly requires a keen perception of life around me. Not much technical knowledge is needed on a large scale. However, even so, I do need to research on factual aspects. For example, if a story is based in a particular city then I read up on it, understand the working and style of the place, what it is known for, what are the landmarks.
I try to use places that I have visited in order to draw a more realistic sketch of the place. Such research was minimal in my first few manuscripts as I stuck to perception more than imagination. However, as a writer I am eager to explore different genres. Thrillers/mysteries fascinate me as a reader and I intend to explore them as a writer in the future. I have a plot for a story based on crime and it requires a fat lot of research on the law.
What motivated you to write the book “Not a Love Story”?
Pursuing an unusual hobby motivated me to write my first fictional story which turned out to be my first book ‘Not a Love Story’. At that point this was the only plot I had in mind which I was able to develop.
Can you tell us more about your latest book “Not a Love Story”?
I usually refrain from talking about the plot of the book because I tend to write in a way that offers surprises, and talking about it takes away from that. But I guess at some point I will have to reveal what the book is about. (Warning – to anyone who intends to read it don’t read this answer further. It’ll be a major spoiler.)
If I have to describe the plot in one line I would say – It’s about a man who falls in love with his fiancée’s best friend on the day of his engagement. Now there are a number of subplots that went into this story but the basic idea of the story was one thought – You can fall in love at any point in your life.
In India arranged marriages are rampant. My story is not for or against it. It’s just about an idea. A man wants to get married, have a family. He doesn’t already have someone in his life for this, someone he is in love with so he opts for an arranged marriage. Now what if he meets the love of his life after the marriage has been arranged? Or during the arrangement? People who want to settle for arranged marriages often choose partners in a short span of time. Sometimes there is a click, an attraction (and some lucky ones even find love but this is not about them) but it is possible that it fizzles out, that you realise it’s not love, or you realise you may be in love with someone else.
What happens when the protagonist discovers feelings for a stranger he meets at his own engagement is the crux of my plot. It’s not a very heavy or philosophical read. In fact, it’s a breezy, almost comical one but it does have a few morals. Almost all books do. Also, the end of the plot is inconclusive. I wanted to show that any part of one’s life can be a story. It doesn’t have to be about an achievement, an overcoming, a conclusive victory. It doesn’t have to be from the start to the end of a subject. Every romantic story does not have to be about how a boy wins over a girl in spite of the unfavourable odds. Romance is interesting even if it’s one sided.
Another subplot was to narrate the story from the point of view of the person who is seemingly in the wrong; to show that sometimes only circumstances are bad, not people; to show that despite having good intentions we sometimes to hurtful things; to show reality.
How did you come up with the idea of writing fiction genre book?
This is really not something I had to come up with. I feel I need a lot more experience to write Non-fiction. However, under Fiction I would love to explore several sub genres over a long period of time. Writing on interpersonal relationships, romance, marriage and similar subjects comes naturally to me. For other genres I put in more effort.
Who are your favourite authors?
They keep changing from time to time. Sydney Sheldon is an all-time favourite, though. I loved reading the works of Amish, and Chetan Bhagat. Anuja Chauhan’s writing is interestingly different. Although I can appreciate classics and world famous authors, the truth is I’ve enjoyed reading Indian authors the most.
How much time do you dedicate for writing on a daily basis?
Although I write from Monday to Friday (weekends are for shopping), it’s not always for my long stories. I write micro fiction for websites, and short stories (and now interviews – yay!). Until recently I also regularly partook in writing competitions. On a daily basis even though I spend long hours in front of a laptop or my notebook in order to write, actual, productive writing could range from nothing at all to three/four creative hours. Of course, there are days when I suddenly get an idea in the middle of a car journey and make mental notes, and there are nights when I won’t sleep till I have developed a plot in my head.
What words of wisdom would you like to give to aspiring writers?
Words of wisdom – I don’t know, but words – I can give you a lot of that.
When you write, do it to impress yourself, try do it to like no one is reading. Write as though you’re just a voice; be a clean slate. Sometimes things may be against your personal likings but if they go with the plot don’t exclude them. I don’t think there is any bad writing, just writing one may not like. So even if there’s just one person who believes in your story, and even if that one person is just you WRITE IT. It doesn’t matter if it’s silly, weird, and repetitive. Even life is like that.
Don’t shy away from letting your near and dear ones read your work. Sometimes it helps, but trust your instinct.
Be shamelessly confident about what you write. Know that it is okay if people don’t like it or understand it. Whatever happens, don’t stop.
Observe, observe, observe. All writing stems from either great perception or great imagination. If you have either one, you’re set. If you don’t, you can work on it. Read books. It’ll do you wonders. But that said, you don’t have to read a lot to be able to write a lot.
Being a writer and being an author are two very different things. Many great writers never become authors. If you want to write as a hobby you have nothing to worry about, but if you want to make writing your career then the market is important, so be in sync. Having clarity, and patience (and maybe another job to support yourself meanwhile) will really help in your journey from writer to author.
Most importantly, learn to enjoy the process even though it’s a tough one.
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