BENGALURU : Bengaluru writer Ahmed Faiyaz kick-started the first month of the new year by publishing his new book, Bestseller, a comic satire that explores the world of Indian publishing. This is the author’s fifth book since the release of his first one in January 2010, which was launched at the Crossword bookstore on Brigade Road (Now Sapna Book House). Life has come a full circle for Faiyaz, since the Dubai-based senior business professional is back in the city to launch his new book at Sapna Book House.
Like most successful writers out there, Faiyaz too started his journey being a voracious reader – as early as the age of eight, when he read Leo Tolstoy’s books. In 2009, he started writing alongside work, and between 2010 and 2012 alone, he published four books and curated four collections of short stories.
Going full steam ahead for those three years, Faiyaz eventually found himself struggling with a writer’s block and in dire need of a break. “That’s why I took a six-year break before publishing my new book. A lot of changes took place over the years. My kids were born, I changed jobs and that involved a lot of travelling. My writing needed to take a back-burner,” he explained.
The break, however, was a blessing in disguise for him since he came back wiser and more mature. “The new experiences helped me be a better writer. I visited over 30 countries, attended literature fests, met different people – from privileged brats to strugglers – and all this helped me grow,” the 37-year-old said.
Despite writing taking a backseat, storytelling never did and Faiyaz continued to make up bedtime tales for his two sons, aged four and seven, while also constantly thinking of new plots for his own books. “I wrote the first draft for Bestseller in 2014 and completed it in a month.
Once I complete a draft, I leave the book aside for a year or so, before I revisit it with more objectivity, having grown in the time that passed,” he said. Upon returning to the book in 2016, he decided to make some changes to the political figures in his books in order to not get into trouble, along with amping up the role of Instagram, which was not as big during the time he wrote the draft.
The six-year break came with a lot of changes in the writing and publishing process, compared to his earlier books. For starters, his children were now aware of their father being a writer. “I see them pick up my book, look at it in awe and ask me if I really wrote 200 pages,” he laughed, adding that his characters too had changed over time: older, more cynical and with a lesser focus on heavy idealism.
He also reveals that he is now a more organised writer and relies heavily on his chapter outlines, which helped him pen down 7,000 words a day. “My work in Dubai wraps up by 4:30 pm, leaving me with a lot of time to write. A friend told me that the fact that I write 7,000 words a day shows in my writing. Readers find it just as easy to read chunks of the book in one sitting,” he revealed.
As a writer, he has come across various reactions to his books. While loved ones are encouraging, miffed aspiring writers have been harsh with their reviews. “Since I was involved with publishing for a while in between, many writers would write in to tell me they enjoyed my work and wanted to give writing a shot too.
I have always encouraged them but the next thing I know, they’ve sent me their manuscript and asked me for feedback or to publish it! If I didn’t oblige, they would write bad reviews for my book,” he said. While this was something Faiyaz too indulged in when he started out, he says with time, he has learned better than to do this. “I approached many writers with similar propositions and all but one said no to me. Now, I understand better. It’s easier to decline than reject someone’s work,” he explained.
If given a chance to redo any of his books, Faiyaz believes he would have kept Love, Life & All That Jazz 20,000 words shorter. But instead of looking back, he prefers to look ahead, and already has the draft for his next book ready. “However, I am not going to publish it for another year or so because that’s an extremely immersive process for me, so it might take some time,” he said.