Meet the recipient of our most coveted WriteFluencer award for Season I, 2021 – Vishaal Pathak!
Vishaal’s book I Can Sir! was read and liked by all of our editorial team and our five (external) jury members.
Vishaal was born in Lucknow, India in a middle-class family. Curious yet introverted, he spent his time taking apart toy machines and putting them back together. His parents saw an Engineer in him, and before he knew it, he was chasing the conventional Indian dream. He was drowning in spreadsheets, wireframes and user stories when the unthinkable happened and brought the world to a screeching halt. It was only around June 2020 when the situation got the better of him and he turned to writing, nearly full-time. Since then, he has self-published two small-length books (notably, “I Can, Sir!” based on the true story of his dear friend) and has a couple of short-stories published as part of anthologies.
His recent publications include ‘The smell of freedom’ (Project Lifespan – Growing Up Vol. 2, Pure Slush), ‘Memorials’ (Issue 29 – History, Tigershark Publishing) and ‘The scent of kindness’ (Wafting Earthy, WriteFluence). Writing, he believes, is medicine for the soul. The topics that pique his interest the most are time, memory and ethics. Among his favorite books are ‘Catcher in the Rye’, ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ and ‘Never Let Me Go’. While currently writing short stories, he hopes someday to be able to write something of relevance – ambitious in both length and depth. When not writing, he can be found daydreaming or cycling.
We asked Vishaal about his experience in the literary field so far and here is what he had to say:
Book/s you have written:
I think only ‘I CAN, SIR!’ would qualify as a book, though I’ve written and published a few short stories too, independently. I hope there are many more to come.
How would you describe your literary journey?
I think I am just beginning to chart a path for myself. While I have been writing for quite some time now, it was only in 2020 that I began sending them out, and have since had some of my work published in literary magazines and as part of a few anthologies. I do feel that I am getting better — both in terms of quality and impact of work — and I sure hope that that feeling is true.
Absolutely thrilled and delighted to learn about this! Thank you so much for the news and the opportunity.Vishaal Pathak on winning the WriteFluencer, Season I, 2021
Have you ever considered writing under a pseudonym, and why or why not?
I’ve never used (or have had to use) a pseudonym, but I’ve certainly toyed with the idea. I’ve published stories using only my first or last name or initials. I think, because, subconsciously, I am still trying to find a voice, as well as the self-belief that I am producing quality work. Using a pseudonym or initials, especially in the beginning of your writing career, gives you a sense — albeit just psychological — of anonymity. That you can hover around the scene or have a foot in the door with work whose quality or impact you may not be a hundred percent sure of. And then, when you’ve got the necessary validation, you may switch to using your name — as a declaration of ‘I think I’ve arrived’ to yourself. And that you no longer mind getting discovered.
How do you use social media as an author?
I actually do not use social media for promotion/marketing of my work. If I do use social media, it is mostly to share my work with friends and family. While I completely understand the importance of social media usage — to not only build a readership but also as a medium to connect with readers who genuinely relate to your work and may want to offer comments, feedback or even compliments — I am, at the moment, hesitant to put myself out there so much. Social media can be overwhelming and I think one should use it only when it is warranted, one is comfortable with it and has the strategy and composure to navigate the tough terrain that Social media can be.
What inspired the idea for your book?
The book is a fictionalized account of my dear friend Rohit’s journey through the years 2007-2013. It was one of the toughest challenges of his life, and it is why we felt it merited a chance to be told. The work is dedicated to the resilience and persistence of all humans, everywhere. May we learn from the resilient.
How long did it take you to write this book?
About a month. Since the word count is just under 14,000 and I was able to stick to the goal of writing at least 500 words a day, I managed to finish it in time. It also helped that I had all the facts and details from Rohit, whose life this story is based on.
Do you prefer ebooks, printed books, or audiobooks most of the time?
I think printed books have a charm that will stay undefeated for years. Even though digital versions (e-books or audio-books) may be more convenient in terms of storage, access, pricing, innovative user experience, or someday even sustainability (?), paper books are probably not going away. I am a fan of paper books and as any other fan would tell you — the feeling of holding a book in your hand, the smell of print, the consideration of economics in buying/carrying a book while travelling, making a space in our book shelves, and all our memories of book swaps, school libraries and the time spent at bookstores — is just too much for us to part with, just yet. I do believe though that book borrowing, sharing and buying second-hand should be encouraged more.
Has writing and publishing a book changed the way you see yourself?
Immensely. I think writing is about getting to know yourself. The more you write, the more you construct and deconstruct the characters and plot settings, hence, the more you learn about your own thought and behavioural patterns. Sometimes, you even understand others and their worldview. Writing is a great exercise in self-awareness and empathy, and I would recommend it to everyone — especially those who are exclusively critics and never creators. Publishing requires you to put yourself and your work up for scrutiny. It takes courage to share your worldview, receive feedback and integrate it with your life.
What do the words “literary success” mean to you? How do you picture it?
It is tempting to equate literary success with commercial success, but it is a line of thought — as many writers around the world have learnt sooner or later — that will only set you up for disappointment. Critical acclaim and shelf-life are slightly better measures. However, real success is creating work that you like yourself. Writing (or for that matter, even reading) a book is a journey. Literary success, to me, means to undertake that journey well. And to have the nerve and enthusiasm to start all over again and embark on a new journey, regardless of how arduous the previous one was. It is the journey that counts.
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