UNPLANNED JOURNEY OF A WRITER
by Snigdha Agrawal
Please welcome Snigdha to the Writers Journey Blog this week with the story of an unplanned journey!
UNPLANNED JOURNEY OF A WRITER
The #writer doesn’t exactly fit my profile. You would ask why. My answer is that I am neither a born writer, a cultivated one, nor a professional. At seventy, I still don’t qualify as a writer perse. My writing journey was unplanned, unchartered, and came by through a combination of factors that catapulted me to call myself a person who expresses through words. Primarily a passion that lay latent right from childhood, grew and evolved with time. Part due to gene transference from my father, a prolific writer himself, part to my educational background, and a huge part to my social conditioning.
To elaborate, let me start with Dad, my first influencer. His mastery of written and spoken English was faultless, despite English not being his mother tongue. I would attribute it to his in-depth knowledge acquired through reading and interaction with Britishers when India was still under British rule. His ancestry is traced back to writers of repute who made a mark in the field of Bengali literature. All hearsay and therefore, I am refraining from name-dropping, in the absence of any documentary evidence to validate this contentious claim. I do, however, recall Dad and Grandmom, having conversations about the family tree branching to include well-known writers of yonder days. Suffice to say if that holds good, I am more than certain, that the writing genes were very much pronounced in him. A watered-down transference to me is the only logical conclusion.
I was fortunate to have received the best education available during my time, from British/Irish Roman Catholic Nuns running Loreto Institutions in India, both at school and university level. They contributed to shaping and channelizing my thoughts and expressing myself coherently whether in writing class exams, essays, or interpreting Shakespeare’s plays from a student’s perspective. My love for literature and poetry took birth from my school days. Encouraged by a few wins in school contests, was the driving force to develop and hone my writing skills. Social conditioning came from living in a cosmopolitan society, where at home we spoke in our mother tongue, but in a group, English was the language of communication, spoken and understood by all. It was natural to think in English, even when speaking at home in our respective mother tongues. This habit of speaking in dual languages gave me a wider berth to play with words and appreciate the finer nuances of writing, at the micro level.
At the macro level, serious writing ran parallel to my career graph spanning over two decades, with my joining the corporate workforce, starting as a Stenographer, stepping up as Secretary, and ending as Executive Assistant to the Managing Director. Having a good command of the English language was one of the prerequisites for these positions, as it required the ability to write independently, in commercial parlance. That perhaps was the start point in my writing journey. My bosses were appreciative of my style of communication and relied on me for editing their presentations during staff workshops. Taking their input, I enjoyed putting them in words, without affecting the contents. The first public acknowledgment came from my boss, post-retirement, giving me due credit for editing his book on Management. That did boost my motivation to learn and pursue a degree in MBA, which I completed through online studies. Learning was thus a corollary to writing.
As is usual, the writing wagon got derailed with marriage and motherhood that followed, leaving me little time to indulge in my passion. The responsibilities entailed with these roles and also as a caregiver to my mother kept me on a tight leash. It was not till the nest emptied, did I take up writing in right earnest, as I would put it the classical way. My girls left home to pursue higher studies in the USA and my mother left for her heavenly abode, shrinking my family from five members to just the two of us.
The grieving and the ‘empty nest syndrome’ were like tectonic plates squeezing me from both ends. I went into depression.
Then, writing seemed the only escape. I poured out my grief, and my pent-up feelings through poetry, joining online forums, and participating actively in contests run on various platforms. Recognition came by way of wins and subsequent requests to join as administrators of various poetry groups. I politely declined as I felt it meant commitment and would impinge on my freedom to engage in other activities, mostly traveling which comes second after my passion for writing. And honestly, I was not ready to be a full-time committed writer.
Without a doubt, travel contributed to opening up avenues for writing travelogues, observing nature up close, learning about new cultures, and writing reviews on Tripadvisor of places visited, hotels stayed in, and restaurants visited, giving feedback, and thereby helping fellow travelers. Global travels over the last two decades have been an enriching experience indeed and perforce makes me share my travel experiences, through penning down my thoughts in my blog.
In summation, the hashtag ‘spontaneous writer’, is more appropriate as I write off the cuff, without any planning or creating a blueprint before embarking on writing projects. And in that spirit, I wrote my first book of poetry, followed by another book of prose poetry, and recently a book of short stories and rhymes for children, apart from responding to calls for submission to innumerable worldwide anthologies, accepted and appreciated. It would not be out of place to mention that in this activity, I received enormous support from my better half of forty-seven years. Being a discerning reader, he does the proofreading, is my sounding board, idea generation Springwell, and best critique, and encourages me to write and write and write, even on days, I suffer from mental blackouts. I consider myself a ‘wanna-be’ writer, somewhere middle of the learning curve, and still have a long way to go to reach the peak. At seventy, I foresee continuing with accepting writing challenges that come my way.
Bio: Snigdha Agrawal (nee Banerjee)/has an MBA in Marketing and Corporate work experience of over two decades. She enjoys writing all genres of poetry, prose, short stories, and travel diaries. Educated entirely in Loreto Institutions, and brought up in a cosmopolitan environment, she has learned the best of the east and west. She is a published author of three books 1. "MINDS UNPLUGGED Lockdown stories and Rhymes for the six to sixteen" (Nov.2021). 2. "EVOCATIVE RENDERINGS" (June 2017) and 3." TALES OF THE TWINS unsung melodies"(2018), apart from contributions to several published anthologies from Sweetycat Press, Indie Blu(e) Publishers, to name a few.
She has been twice nominated as Author of the year (2020, 2021) by StoryMirror, a writing
platform, holding #rank1 for participating in a Biography contest, held recently, that may be published in e-book format and print as well. Her travel diaries are accessible in her WordPress blog randomramblings.52. In the pipeline is a book of short stories awaiting publication.
All her earnings, whatever small amounts received, from the sale of books and prize money from contests are donated to charitable organizations to feed the poor and underprivileged children and for old-age homes.
Copyright: Snigdha Agrawal 9th August 2022