With their attention divided between a Whatsapp text, a Facebook update and a much dreaded examination just around the corner, how do young writers of the city manage to find that solitary moment of not just a peaceful recollection but inspiration? For Bangalore's young authors, this challenge to find solitude appears to be as big as the struggle to get published and read.
For Akanksha Panwar - all of 17 and author of a self-published novel Jager - technology was not much of a distraction. “I had a basic phone then and only messaged a handful of friends occasionally,” she says. “My studies and the looming tenth board exams were the biggest distractions. Some days I would find myself spinning a whole chapter and some other times, scraping through a paragraph.”
Shalmalee Suresh (17), author of The Mystery of the Sancy, says, "I wrote this novel when I was in 9th standard but I couldn't publish it then as I was busy with my preparations for the board exams. I wrote whenever I found time - an hour before going to bed and even in school."
The invasion of technology has not only flung open the gates of knowledge for young writers but has also provided a platform for them to share their works. Numerous online communities like the Young Writer’s Society - the world's largest website for young writers between the ages of 13 and 25 - encourage submissions and offer tips to budding writers.
Akanksha, whose book was published with the help of an online publishing site called Notion Press, strongly believes that these platforms make one a better writer. “It all depends on how much time and skill you invest in promoting your book. There’s so much more you can learn by doing it yourself than by going through publishing houses,” she says. Shalamalee, whose book was published by Kinnari Publications, disagrees saying, "Self publishing is not advisable for debut writers since the entire process is an elaborate one and when it's the first time, one tends to go wrong."
Nonetheless, one cannot help but regard with a slight awe, the age-old tradition of getting a book published after going through the dexterous scrutiny of a publishing house. "We are approached by a lot of authors in their teens. Many have bright ideas, many write well, but few, if any, are able to create something which works completely as a book. I feel many of them have been published for sheer novelty value," says Sayoni Basu, an editor in Duckbill Publishers.
Meanwhile, the Indian reading audience seems to have a rather mixed opinion about the fresh, literary talent at home. Santosh Baynes, an Engineering student, believes that today’s young writers are more mature than the previous generations. “There is depth of characters and these young writers are much open-minded in dealing with issues such as the LGBT community in a more positive or acceptable light, influencing their readers to a similar mind-set," he says.
Another avid reader, Samantha Christopher, disagrees, “Young Indian writers are rather flippant about their writing at times, limiting their readership not only to a certain age group but also to a section of that group.”
Our young authors have indeed come a long way to prove themselves worthy in the literary world, however, a closer look reveals that there is a whole lot of room for improvement - something acquired only with age and experience.