As they say, all of us have a story, a book in us. So then why only a few people are able to pull that book out and present it to the world?
Because narrating a tale is not merely coining words and forming sentences.
It requires skills, sweat, and investing your heart and soul.
Writing a book, in my opinion, is similar to undertaking an arduous journey because at every step your love for telling that story to the world will be tested.
If you score high in all these departments, there is a chance to see your name on the cover of a book.
Soniah Kamal, author of Unmarriageable, a book that is winning praise from readers across the globe shares her views on the ever-evolving book publishing scene, what it truly takes to be a writer and more.
Why did you choose to become an author?
Soniah Kamal: I actually never wanted to be a professional writer. I wanted to be an actress but, unfortunately, since my cultural heritage—I’m Pakistani-Muslim– traditionally views actresses as prostitutes, my father forbade me and, I, uncharacteristically enough, listened to him. As I explain in my TEDx talk, he said my decision would ‘ruin’ my family and since I didn’t feel right ruining everyone else simply for my dreams, I gave in. I actually refer to myself as the reluctant writer in an essay as my work tries to make sense of individual desires versus responsibility to the community and what is lost– what I lost– in-between. However, now I feel as if writing chose me and, as such, I’m grateful for the wonder it has been in my life. Reading was everything to me growing up and to think that I’m an author myself now is a surreal, fantastic feeling. As for how I began writing— since age 8-9, I was always entertaining myself with storytelling, like some might sing in the shower, and at some point, I began to scribble them down. However, it wasn’t until age 24 that I decided to pursue writing professionally by which I mean trying to publish fiction and get paid for it.
What is the key requirement to achieve the dream of becoming an author?
SK: Learning how to write really well and dealing with rejection.
Tell us a bit about the connection between reading and writing.
SK: I read for pleasure. I write to, hopefully, give other readers pleasure.
How different is the writing scene for authors compared to, say a decade ago?
SK: Extremely different. The growth of the Indian publishing scene has been a boon for Pakistani writers. In the U.S., where I live, there is certainly more attention paid to diverse narratives and own voices. The U.S. market has traditionally published narratives about immigration and /or terrorism and Unmarriageable is neither, and moreover, it is set completely in Pakistan.
In her initial phone call to me, my editor told me that even had there been no Austen connection she would have acquired Unmarriageable, so yes things are gradually changing. Authors have to do a tremendous amount of marketing too these days though the choice to do little or none is there too.
Is success measured differently for authors than for people from different industries?
SK: For me, success is knowing I’ve written the best novel/story/essay I possibly can. It is definitely different in other industries where promotions and profits come into play.