We had an opportunity to interview Nalini Priyadarshni on Storizen Magazine. She is a renowned author and writer. Read below the interview we conducted.
- How did you get into writing? Did it just happen to you or you knew it from the beginning that you want to be writer?
As a child, I was an avid reader and writing seemed to be the next logical step. So I wrote stories though nothing of any consequence and it remained confined to my notebooks and subsequently lost. When I was in college, my writings were published in college magazine and my story won the first prize. I was also accepted on the editorial board as student editor for English Section.
My love for written word persisted even after I finished my studies and started working. It was much later when I was in my mid 30’s and a stay-at-home-mother of two when I realized that I wanted to be a writer more than anything.
2. What all Genres as a child and now, as an adult you like to read?
As a child I used to read anything and everything I could lay my hands on including comics, theology, biographies, autobiographies, poetry and of course fiction. Unsolved mysteries and bizarre facts fascinated me. Most of the books that I read were those that were part of my father’s collection. It also included the condensed versions of bestsellers that Readers Digest used to bring out every year.
As an adult, I read suspense thrillers, non- fiction, fiction and copious amount of poetry. My poet friend and writing partner, D. Russel Micnhimer introduced me to American classics and science fiction in recent years. I am sure there are many genres out there that I am yet to discover and enjoy.
3. What inspires you to write poetry and stories?
Inspiration comes from life and literature. I have written a lot of poems as a reaction to poems by other poets. Lines Across Oceans got written mostly that way.
Also poetry and pictures or even phrases and words could act as trigger. I remember, when I first read The Love Song by T.S. Eliot, I got really excited and wanted to write something as beautiful as that. My poem, Time Traveler was written as a result. Though its nothing like ‘Love Song’ but hey’, I haven’t finished trying.
I was reading an interview of a woman poet when I was inspired to write the poem ‘Women Who Write Poetry’
Women who write poetry
in silence or verbosity
except, they prey upon life
women who write poetry
read their way in all directions
like a ginger root in spring
every single stolen minute
in local trains
in bathroom, sitting on commodes
with curled toes
They are the hagfish of this world
existing on fringes
women who write poetry
ingest everything they come across
ecstasy and agony
and everything in between
they eat language
they eat experiences
they eat other people’s writings
and leave a trail of poems everywhere they go
Pictures, people, words and situations anything and everything could be inspiration and fodder for writing.
4. How do you feel as a published author with works published in so many journals as well as editing the work in contemporary Major Indian Women Poets published by The Poetry Society of India?
It feels good to be connected to a larger community of writers and readers out there. It does alleviate the sense of isolation and loneliness that got me started in the first place. I like to read and follow several poetry blogs and literary magazines and share my writing with them. This whole exercise provides, to some degree, the fellowship I hankered after.
Before I connected with The Poetry Society of India, I worked with The Good Time Books as an editor. I also edited the English section of a multilingual poetry collection, Resonating String published by Authorpress India in collaboration with Poets Artists Unplugged.
My desire for fellowship with other poets and writers often result in author interviews that find place in many international literary journals. While each one of us has our own path to follow and destiny to fulfill, we all have experiences and insights that can be useful for others.
5. Tell us about your books Doppelganger in My House and Lines Across
Doppelganger In My House is my first solo poetry collection. Poems included in this book were written over a span of several years. Since it was not planned in advance, there is no thematic unity in poems. There are love poems rubbing shoulders with food poems and funny, irreverent poems while jostling with existential and political poems. The book is roughly divided into 5 sections. Each section starts with a four line poem that sets the mood for succeeding poems.
My second book, Lines Across Oceans, is a collection of love poems written in collaboration with an American poet, D. Russel Micnhimer. Russel has been writing poetry for over forty five years and has been conferred with Poet Laureate for his book, Notes To Be Left With Gatekeeper. Writing Lines Across Oceans has been an extremely enriching experience as I, for the first time, learnt the discipline needed to write form poetry. Along with free verse, poems written in various Japanese poetic forms make this book an interesting read.
I cannot speak about these two books without mentioning the wholehearted support and encouragement of my mentor Dr. Madan G Gandhi that made these books possible.
Interesting question…On the left side of my neck is tattooed the Chinese word wú 無 which means ‘Nothing’ or Sunyata. I got this tattoo around the same time I started writing poetry. I have tried to live my life by this Zen principal ever since. Without going into etymological details, it symbolizes for me the absence of constrains of being. It’s a daily reminder that my gender, age, profession, nationality, religion, marital status and circumstances do not define who I am. So while it’s most likely that being married or being a mother does affect what and how I write, it’s entirely unconscious. I hope it answers your question.
7. Who all have been your favorite authors? Whom you like the most?
Now this is a trick question since there are so many authors I read and enjoy. And then I keep discovering new writers that I hadn’t read earlier. List is endless actually but I will try to name a few. Let me see, I enjoy reading T.S. Eliot, Khalil Gibran, Kamala Das, Bukowski, Neruda, Khushwant Singh, Ruskin Bond, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Kurt Vonnegut, Tom Robbins, Agatha Christie besides several contemporary poets and writers.
8. You also worked as a high school teacher before starting as a freelance writer and editor. Tell us about what made you switch the career path.
Birth of my second child and subsequent health issues made me quit my teaching job. Three years that I was home as a full- time-stay-at-home-mom got me into writing to alleviate my loneliness. By the time my little one started play school I was ready to return to work but this time as a writer. Luckily, I got a job as a content writer and editor. This is mighty unusual because Ludhiana is known for yarn, hosiery and cycle parts and not for IT companies. But I enjoyed my work immensely as it involved long hours of reading and writing. I later quit that and continued as freelancer. Working as freelancer allowed me to work from home, choose projects I wanted to work on and enough time to pursue creative writing. I have recently returned to high school teaching again after a hiatus of almost 12 years.
9. What’s the frequency of your writing? Do you write daily? How much you write?
Last year I returned to school teaching so I don’t get to write as frequently as I wish to. But I was never a daily writer even before that. Most of my writings are inspired pieces that mostly write themselves whenever they wish, something I have no control over. I do chisel them later. Only the longer fiction that I am writing with my husband, Vikas Singh is the one piece of writing that we worked upon every day. Padam Shri Sardar Anjum once advised me to set aside a certain time of the day to write every day and I hope to follow his advice.
10 . What was your most precious moment as a writer?
Writers are tortured souls. We vacillate between shamelessly exhibiting our writings to anyone who shows even a wisp of interest and desire to burn everything we have written and not write another word again. However, every now and then we have moments of lucidity and gratification that makes us continue on our chosen path. I have such moments whenever I receive a message or mail from a reader who found my poems reflecting their experiences and thoughts, exactly. It reminds me of the joy and bonding I feel whenever I read something that echoed my thoughts and feelings that I was unable to put in words. I think this is what art and literature is all about- to know that one is not alone in ones ecstasy and despair though it is what seems to us most of the time. Rather, we are connected with rest of the humanity across the length and breadth of this world through our experiences and emotions which is reflected in work of various artists and writers.
11. What advice you would like to give to our readers and budding writers?
There are three things that all aspiring writers must do and that is Read, Read and Read. And then keep writing no matter how futile it might feel. Oft time we are our worst critics. Follow your heart rather than what you are told to write. Above all be kind to yourself.
Author Bio –
Nalini Priyadarshni is the author of Doppelganger in My House and co author of Lines Across Oceans. Her poems have appeared in numerous literary journals, podcasts and international anthologies including Mad Swirl, Camel Saloon, Dukool, In-flight Magazine, Poetry Breakfast, The Riveter Review, The Open Road Review, Your One Phone Call, In Between Hangovers and Yellow Chair Review. Her poems and views on poetry and life have been featured on AIR (All India Radio) and FM radio. Nalini’s has been nominated for 2017 Top Female Writers by The Author’s Show.com for her book Doppelganger in My House. She lives in India with her husband and two feisty kids.