“Follow your own passion—not your parents’, not your teachers’—yours.” —Robert Ballard
In our country, it’s not an easy advice to follow. You need to have a lot of conviction to ward-off the pressure of expectations of parents and society as a whole.And to leave engineering and don the hat of writer is almost unheard of.So, let’s hear from our alumnus and author of 2 books –‘I AM DEAD BUT MY HEART BEATS’ and ‘GOD & HIS GIRL-FRIEND’, Priyank Aryan. His first book was published while he was still in college.He has been associated with various startups and yet found time to pen down the second book. So let’s heed to his advice on taking the LESS TRAVELED ROAD .
Sarjana: First of all, congratulations from our side for your two books. Being in a technical college, when did you recognize the writer within you?
Priyank: Thanks. During the initial days in college, due to ragging and some issues in my family, I didn’t like the environment and wanted some time out of it to do something relaxing to keep my mind diverted. I was never interested in writing. Even today, I am not an expert at it. But the thing is, I am good at jotting down emotions and portraying what I see and experience. I am not much into writing scientific fiction or mythology. So answering this question, it was not there, my keen observational skills snowballed into what you see as a story.
Sarjana: What is your source of inspiration?
Priyank : My source of inspiration has changed over the years. My inspiration which has shifted from the reasons that were earlier, is the voluminous response which I received from my readers. I am a very slow writer and it takes around two years for me to complete one book. Writing 7 days a week is impossible for me as it depends entirely on my mood. So I can’t even think of taking up writing as a full-time profession. And if I am not writing 7 days a week I can’t make the deadline. I’ll try a book per year at maximum. So that’s my inspiration for now.
Sarjana: As of now, we all know that you are among the favourite writers of young generation, but we want to know who is your favourite writer?
Priyank : There are a few categories based on which I admire some writers . Nicolas Sparks is someone whose work, I like reading, the reason being that I am more into romantic fiction. Among Indians if you ask me, then yes I do admire Chetan Bhagat, not because of the genres in which he writes but because of the background from which he has come. The success he has achieved over the years is laudable.
Sarjana: According to you ,what important role does literature play in an individual’s life?
Priyank : According to me, the role of literature is actually very crucial in an individual’s life. If you start believing in literature , the depth it brings out can easily be related to everything that we do in daily life . But the thing is , we need to feel that connection. Until and unless we don’t analyse, we can’t connect. Let me cite a small example. If you read a work that is based on nature which explains the beauty of dawn, one is able to capture the essence the author is trying to deliver if he or she can draw themselves into the depth of the emotion.
Sarjana : So far you have tried your pen in love stories. Don’t you want to engage in some other genres?
Priyank : My books are not exactly love stories . They are an alchemy of love stories embedded with some social concerns. My first book was based on the communal issues of Muzaffarnagar riots whereas my second book dealt with the concept of how to convert our passion into profession. I have a keen interest in historical fiction. When I shall have read enough about it, I’ll try my hands in this genre.
Sarjana: Have you given a thought to script writing ?
Priyank : Actually yes. My priority has shifted a bit towards script writing in last one and half years and I have long-term plans for web series or movies perhaps. I am in talk with some producers but as of now, nothing has been confirmed . That’s my long-term goal in the coming 5-10 years.
Sarjana: Tell us about your journey in BIT?
Priyank :When I was preparing after 12th, I realized that I was into a wrong field but it was too late . So, I went with the flow and got into engineering . In the first year the dilemma that I was not liking engineering got confirmed . So in the second year when others were going for Vocational Training or something, I was searching for internships in startups because I wanted to know exactly what the startups were and how they worked . I was an intern in Delhi as a market research associate which gave me the idea of trying something different . Again in 3rd year, fortunately I got selected for CII-IIM Ahmedabad that conducts the event ” Power of Ideas” every year in association with Economic Times . My role there was to analyse all the business ideas people used to submit for funding . I liked to work in roles which was basically into marketing or management . Then in the final year, I started my startup “Embellish India” with one of my friends in IIM-Ahmedabad . By that time, my first book had also released. The startup was about removing the frauds from the publishing industry . We started to tie up with branded book stores across India so as to create visibility basically for anthology for the first 6 months. Initially we got a good response but the thing was that our startup idea didn’t involve any technology. It had nothing new on which an investor could think of putting their money. After one year , the fiscal valuation of our startup came out to be just 1.5 to 2 lacs. So we talked to the publisher that we would not be able to continue this . We sold the company to the publisher for a small amount . At that time my journey in BIT was coming to an end . Then I worked for TCS for about 6 months which proved to be the worst decision of my life. Since last 2 years I have been working with startups. So, every year in BIT made me realise that engineering isn’t my cup of tea and I should move away from that.
Sarjana: Most of the people of our age in BIT do have a common question regarding how could one command a language. Can you comment on this?
Priyank : I don’t have command on English and my Hindi is really bad . I am trying to learn hindi since last one year. In my first book, if you have read, you will see that I have written long sentences. Long sentences tend to be a little confusing at times for the reader . Later on I realised that it was one of my major shortcomings that actually affected my grammatical portion. As of now I am trying to overcome this by writing rather smaller sentences. So that’s how I am trying to increase my command over language.
Sarjana: Possessing very hectic schedule, people can barely maintain the passion-professional balance. How did you manage and what are your do’s and don’ts for them?
Priyank : It was not tough for me because I was very clear about the profession which I wanted to go for . I wanted to work for 5 or 6 days a week and a couple of days in writing. Since I was very much clear with this, balance has never been an issue for me. First do is that you really need to understand the subtle difference between passion and hobby. If I’m interested in something, I may not be passionate enough. If i have a strong passion for something, then I’ll move beyond the obstructions that come in the way. One needs to understand that. The first don’t which I’d suggest will be to never look at what others are doing or saying.
Sarjana: Many a times in past we have seen writers being criticised and banned for their way of expression of some really bitter peculiarities of society. How do you take this exploitation of the freedom of expression?
Priyank : I feel for all those writers who had to face such a scenario and this is actually a very positive thing for them . The book gets banned but then the story or the content reaches the mass, even to those who do not read. Thus, a ban on the book helps in that case, but then it is negative for the publisher as it hampers the business . On my part, I would suggest everyone to keep balance in the usage of words and content while writing. One must take care of sentiments which otherwise may get hurt due to some content. One should be expert in persuading their reader with valid rational explainations. Another way to express such content is to present them indirectly. So play with your words in some way or the other to convey the message.
Sarjana: Do you have any other hobby ?
Priyank : I don’t have a hobby but yes, I do like to travel. I like to meet new people. Even if it’s a tier-3 or tier-4 city . So if I have a holiday of 3 to 4 days, I would prefer to visit some places . I won’t consider this a hobby but I have a very strong interest in cricket. I try to keep a track of that.
Sarjana: Where do you see yourself in next 5 to 10 years ?
Priyank: I’m not sure about movies but a web series might happen. In June I am going for my MBA. In 10 years time if that web series or movie comes in and that clicks, then post MBA I would resign from whatever company I would be working at. But for that to happen the condition is that it needs to click . You need at least one click in 10 years . My long-term goal is to write for movies. I am not too serious into books because you need to invest heavily in books and in return only a handful of the lot who are interested in reading get access to your work, whereas the movies cover a wide spectrum of audience and have a huge commercial and publicity scopes.
Sarjana: What is your message for those aspiring to be a writer ?
Priyank : I would like to say two to three things . First, check out what your age is. If you are around 19 to 20, I would say there are two ways to look at this. One is that you can definitely write if you want to or if you know that you can go for it full-time. Initially writing will not fetch you money . So if you are a student aged 20-25 and you are not from a financially stable family, put the idea on hold for few years and once career cum profession is settled then work on your passion with some decent finance in hand.
Second point is that you can always go for it but keep a balance of the other things you have in life . So, wait for the right time and when it comes you should actually go aggressively for your passion . Don’t do it in the initial stages . But then many people would advice you in 30s don’t take risks, try to do every possible experiment or risks in 20s . Although if one tries attempting even in 30s , 40s, ensure that you have enough savings so that nobody can grab your work, you will have financial cushion to protect your writing and also to pay monthly bills. Another important fact is that you need money to invest into writing. So one needs to weigh all the repercussions and work accordingly.
Sarjana wishes him luck for all his future endeavours.