Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Why I Write What I Write: Guest Post by Manjiri Prabhu

Today I welcome Manjiri Prabhu. Dr. Manjiri Prabhu is an award-winning Writer/ Novelist of mystery fiction, an independent short-filmmaker,  and also the Founder/ Director of two Festivals. She has directed over 200 children’s TV programmes,  more than 50 short fiction and travel films and has authored 15 books. Her latest mystery is Voice of the Runes.

Manjiri Prabhu:
Why I Write What I Write

When the stream skips by 
and the peaks seem shy, 
When twilight drapes 
the golden landscapes, 
The words and the verse 
light a path to the Universe… 
That’s when I take flight, 
That is why I write…. 

It was really early on in life when I discovered that I had a direct connection with the Universe’s creative energy. It was a unique relationship with the Universe, which revealed to me in a swoop that I had a job to do – I had to write. I was a writer at age seven and I have been a writer all my life.

But here is a simple answer to the question – Why do I write?

Because I can’t help writing! 

And why do I write what I write?

Because the mystery genre has found me and stayed with me and sought its expression through me. And I enjoy being the chosen one to represent this genre and discover newer ways to explore and experiment with the mystery, suspense and thriller format.

I write because I am self-absorbed, even self-obsessed, a universal entity in connect with the Universe. Because I am selfish and in deep love with what my imagination conspires, and love the spring of ‘surprise’ and because I connect more with fiction than reality. Fiction is my world, my characters are my companions and my ordained role is to narrate a story that would entertain, engross, engage and educate – in that specific order.

“Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing.” 

This quote by Benjamin Franklin features prominently on my website and has dominated my world of creation.

15 books to date, hopefully more to come…..what am I really proud of in this journey?

I write because I don’t feel the need to prove anything to anyone. I do not wish to prove that I am a woman in a man’s world. I do not wish to prove that I am better than another man or another woman or for that matter another writer. I don’t wish to prove anything.

And that is why I write what I write - Pure creative energy that stems from a prosperous source. Still. Non-turbulent. Undisturbed and happy. Stories that uncoil from an unadulterated love of the art, adventures and plots that my inventive energy attracts. I write because I think like a human being, not like a woman but like a person without gender. Being labeled as ‘Desi Agatha Christie’ and then compared to Dan Brown, is proof of this state of my mind and my writing.

I write not to deliberately break any glass ceilings, because I have encountered none in my life and believe in none. And yet I have broken moulds, opened paths to others by being the first Indian woman to write mysteries, suspense, and destination thrillers in main stream Indian fiction. My characters are strong, fierce, wise and empowered and in the journey of the book, become even more so - Inspiring and aspirational characters which lead you through life in the most amazing manner possible. I write because imagination is my focal point where ideas germinate, flourish and become reality.

I have given myself full freedom and permission to write what I wish, without the pressure of clichéd expectations and societal stereotypes, the pressure of womanhood and the sense of responsibility frequently and inevitably thrust on women writers, without being answerable to mental conditioning of decades, or entrapped into pleasing the dictates of sexist inhibitions.….Perhaps I have risked an emotional bonding with some readers by not adhering to the ready template of women’s fiction. My fiction stems from my need to be me, carefree and adventurous. And in that sense, I have remained true to myself and my creative energy.

Whether it is my destination mystery/thriller series with Re Parkar, or the Astro-Detective series with Sonia Samarth, both trend-setters and unique concepts in India or the dystopian Super-Dome Chronicles – another less-explored genre in India – I have always been different in the study of subjects. Perhaps it has more to do with what I wish to read and cannot find out there or simply that I am ahead of my times. Whatever it is, the bottom line is that I write what pleases me and what I please. Fortunately for me I have found support from many Publishers who were kind enough to help me find space in the world of publishing.

I realized early on that I am trying to play God, not a Saint. Trying to be a Creator, not a Reformer. I look at change as that which moves from one emotion to another emotion, from one moment to another moment like a slow delicious stirring of thought. An unconscious shedding of set notions, like the erosion of the soil or the melting of metal in heat. And I think mystery fiction has the capacity to do this, in its ability to encompass myriad issues within its genre. In the guise of a good plot, can hide the streams of political ideologies, socio-psychological upheavals, relationship and societal issues and you-name-it, thus initiating rather unobtrusively and intelligently, a pleasant excitement in the reader. I find this rather challenging, fascinating and inspiring – the subtle art of deception stirring a sense of contentment.

Mystery fiction to me is also Motivational Fiction. Where else would you learn that no matter what life throws at you – conflict, hassles, ups and downs – in the end, all is well. It redefines courage and encourages optimism and independent thinking. It demotes the evil in beings and uplifts compassion, love and what is good in humans. Mystery fiction tickles interest, perks the reader’s brain, inspires him or her to prod on against adversities, and offers hope as an eternal serving.

However, at no point in this writing journey, do I wish to take full credit for what I have written. Artists, I believe, are mere channels for the creative energy to flow through them. What you create is a gift from the Muse, from the Universe and you are an instrument in the process. Albeit an important instrument. But neither can you separate the creator from the created. Thank God for that!

When I am at the age to look back and question my choices, I hope that I can respond with candour and honesty, that the work I put out in the world, was the true expression of my beliefs and acts. That it was a genuine effort to fulfill the role assigned to me. That I did justice to the task undertaken – the task to entertain, engross, engage and educate through the art of telling stories that stimulated imagination and thought and created magic, memories and motivation. And in the process allowed myself the pleasure of being entertained! I hope that when I look back, I feel a complete sense of accomplishment and pride.

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