I’m a very ten­ta­tive per­son. Writ­ing is one way of find­ing cer­tainty.

Daisy Hasan, 39 is a crit­i­cally ac­claimed writer from Shil­long. Her novel, The To-Let House (Tara Books), was long listed for the Man Asia Literary Prize and short listed for The Hindu Literary Prize. Daisy plugged into her past and brought alive a ten­der

Cosmopolitan (India) - - LIFE LESSONS -

“I wrote my de­but novel, The To-Let House, quite by ac­ci­dent. I had sent in a short piece for a cre­ative writ­ing workshop that Tara Books was or­gan­is­ing. My piece was in the voice of a young girl grow­ing up as an ‘out­sider’ in Shil­long. En­er­getic ed­i­tors recog­nised a strik­ing voice in this piece, and nur­tured it into a full fledged novel.

My pub­lish­ers were both au­di­ence and crit­ics. In this, I was for­tu­nate. Yet the book took a long time to com­plete. It sang it­self out over 10 long years, dur­ing which time I moved to another con­ti­nent, found a soul mate and fin­ished a Ph.D.

Frankly, I was wor­ried that the book may never see the light of day. In ret­ro­spect, the wait was worth it. The few ‘flashes of bril­liance’ were slowed down by sev­eral false starts. Pa­tience was crit­i­cal. I am a very

ten­ta­tive per­son. Writ­ing is one way of find­ing cer­tainty. As the story grew in strength, I re­lied in­tu­itively on the char­ac­ters, who slowly found their feet, to tell the tale. It is won­der­ful to have a crit­i­cal au­di­ence for your work. My sis­ter, An­jum Hasan, is a pro­fes­sional writer, and feed­back from fam­ily and friends was never in short sup­ply. How­ever, writ­ing is essen­tially a lonely busi­ness. There is no one way of do­ing it. Stick­ing with it for long enough is what usu­ally works in the end, in my ex­pe­ri­ence. The im­por­tant thing is to be your­self, to write from crys­tallised ex­pe­ri­ence. To write be­cause it’s the only thing you can do.

I am a very slow writer— per­haps not a very dis­ci­plined one! Even­tu­ally, I fell into the habit of writ­ing ev­ery­day—that was the most an­chor­ing, and per­haps the most rec­om­mended, ex­pe­ri­ence.

This is the best time to be a writer in In­dia. How­ever, the plen­i­tude in pub­lish­ing can lead to some in­dif­fer­ent work. I would not rec­om­mend rush­ing into print.

As for it be­ing ten­able to be a full time writer––some strug­gle, some soar. If it’s com­pelling enough, one sticks to it, no mat­ter what the mar­ket’s like.”

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