Sandeep Kumar Mishra speaks to LA Tribune about getting into poetry and his recently realised Amazon Bestseller poetry collection “One Heart-Many Breaks
Do you come from a literary background?
Yes. My father and sister are published writers. I used to play and read poems in my father’s library without understanding any meaning though. My father is classicist and teacher. What we had in common though was music and books. Reading was everything. My dad used to read aloud to us. I used to ask so many questions about great writers and listen to stories.
Did you write as a child?
Yes, all the time. Poems sometimes – my mother once told me she had a poem from when I was six but I and stories all the time. It wasn’t particularly encouraged by my parents, it just seemed a natural thing to do.
What is your favourite childhood book?
We have Anne of Green Gables, Winnie the Pooh, Snoopy, the “Encyclopedia Brown” series of mystery books. The books were so unique to me because they gave the reader (unlike the “Boxcar Children” series) a chance to actually solve the case for themselves. Of course, I rarely solved any, but I just enjoyed the mystery, suspense, and complexity that went into those stories.
All the Disney characters, Grimm’s Fairy Tales and Aesop’s Fables, David Copperfield, Tom Sawyer, The Three Musketeers, Peter Pan, Robin Hood and all Jane Austen novels have made a permanent impression. I also read Indian authors like R.K. Narayan (Malgudi Days and many more), Ruskin Bond, ‘The Jungle Book’ by Rudyard Kipling; and also the Indian comics, Tinkle and Amar Chitra Katha (tales of Indian history and mythology in the graphic form).
When you started writing poetry?
It started and stopped at first. I studied Hindi and English literature at school and at university and loved the poets I studied : Kalidas,Kabir, Mira Bai, Magh,G M Hopkins, Yeats, Keats, Tennyson, Shakespeare. I found they were in me in some way. Now and then I would write a poem but never sent it anywhere. I didn’t know writers, I didn’t have a model for publishing anything; though I had a few poems published in the school magazine. It was only when I was a graduate student that I started writing poems more seriously.
How do your poems develop?
Usually when a line that comes up when I am thinking of something,as my life has been,I have so much too think and I have to write them down. Then, when I’m at a table and have time, a draft comes pretty rapidly. Then I re-work and re-work. This stage might take several days. I wouldn’t usually show it to anyone till it’s fixed and settled.
What are common traps for aspiring writers?
The most common traps for aspiring authors are two things:
EVERYONE WILL LOVE MY BOOK.
It is a very unrealistic point of view. You love your book because you wrote it. Just because you love your work doesn’t mean everyone will love it. Not everyone reads the same thing.
I love writing poetry but I don’t enjoy reading them. I love non-fiction and memoirs mostly. You have to approach writing realistically and with some idea who you want to market your book to.
Age, gender, location, interests… etc., these are all things to consider when thinking of who your reader is going to be and who may love your book.
NO ONE WILL WANT MY BOOK, SO WHAT’S THE POINT.
Just like not everyone will love your book, not everyone is going to hate it either. You wrote a book or short story or poem that you needed to write. Something inside you said the world needs this. That same voice is the reason why there will be people who will love your writing.
Someone out there needs what you’ve written, and you may never meet them but they are there. The world is a big place and there will be those that will not like your work but there will be just as many who will love it. You can’t be afraid of those few for the possible many that will embrace your creation.
SO, IN CONCLUSION:
Always think of ways to engage your potential readers, (maybe start a blog), or become part of a writing guild in your community to learn and get to know other creators.
Get someone you trust to review your work and see if there are places where you can make your piece stronger. Also never be afraid of criticism; take it as a chance to grow.
Explore places where those that might enjoy your work may be hanging out either online or in the real world. Try sharing your talents in small ways to build your confidence and maybe your following.
Can you give any advice to someone writing poetry?
Read as much as you can, find out the poets you admire and read their poems closely, maybe learn them by heart. No one ever wrote a good poem who isn’t a passionate reader and lover of other people’s poems too. Go to poetry readings, join workshops, share your work with other people, then start sending it out to magazines. But research the magazine, to see if the kind of poetry it publishes is the sort you would want to write.
Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find?
No, But my personal circumstances find expression in my writing and tend to seek some solace from the reader. One Heart – Many Breaks is an autobiographical poetry collection that plunges into modern times, regrets, depression, and suicidal thoughts. Most of them are poetic reflections of personal emotions and situations the poet was laid in. The poems cover 20 years life events and are expression of clear, true and purged feelings and stark reality of my situation.