Writer’s plight

I am pained to read about Manik Bandopadhyay’s plight. He was an immensely popular writer of 40 novels and 223 stories, including Padma Nadir Majhi. It is said that he did not have enough money to reach the hospital in time. I can only feel sorry for him and his family. This sad state of affair is not new for most writers. Should then a full-time writer stop writing full time? Should a writer be only a part-time writer who has other means of livelihood? Recently William Deresiewicz wrote a book: The death of the artist: How creators are struggling to survive in the age of billionaires and big Tech. Should we blame billionaires and big tech for the plight of writers? It is said that it is a good time to be an artist because there is an abundance of means to write as well as publish. Is it a reality? Though the publication of a book has become relatively easy, due to the arrival of a number of self-publishing and distribution platforms, “most sink like a stone”. Though there is ‘universal access’, and at the same time there is ‘universal impoverishment’. There is a deeper shift on the artistic horizon. Networking and self-promoting are taking most of a writer’s time. There is less time on building an oeuvre or perfecting the technique. Art is becoming entertainment. Deresiewicz doesn’t like ‘creative entrepreneurs’. He likes to call them ‘part-time amateurs’. Is there anything wrong if one is a part-time amateur when it is hard to make a living as a full time professional? Should the lesser popular writers forfeit their urge to write? It is a fact that books by popular writers only sell. Barring a few exceptions, it has always been so. Should that be the reason for a writer to stop writing? Why can’t one indulge in ‘wasteful’ expenses, if one can afford it? Perhaps, for an amateur writer, it is not expenditure but an investment for the future. It is said that there is too much of everything, including writing. When one writes for oneself and one’s associates and friends, does it matter if there is too much writing? Assuming that an amateur is a mediocre writer, and also assuming that a mediocre needs mediocrity, the question is who will serve the mediocre who are in majority? If a mediocre aspires to become a high class, why discourage him. Majority of full-time writers live in places, and they know this, should not have lived. Still, they continue to write and live ‘where they should not have lived’. Digitization has changed the writing world. Not so popular writers also want readers, even if that means ‘selling’ books for ‘free’. But that often doesn’t work. Only kabadiwalas love ‘free’ books. For my poetry books, I have only 10 readers. My engineering books sell. Even when I edit an engineering book I am complimented for my writing. When I write a poetry book, I don’t even receive the acknowledgement. I feel bad, but I have realized I should not. How many ’such’ books I read? Self-publishing pre-empts me for such an onslaught. It is my effort and I can play with my money. I don’t have to go for a paid review to get a good review. I don’t have to go for book promotion. I can manage my people. I don’t mind taking chances to express my inner truths. It is okay if I am not proficient in the craft of writing. Who will r know my inner truths better than me? Perhaps I want to cultivate an air of independence from the market. Perhaps I want to remain simply a writer, and I have no desire to turn into a professional. Perhaps I am not looking for commercial acknowledgement. If I am not the “the bright, the loud, and the easily grasped, ” so what. Perhaps I don’t want to become one. Perhaps mine is a case of sour grapes. Times have changed. Perhaps the time is for those who can support themselves for the long haul and write independently. Perhaps the time has come for the ‘not so popular’ amateurs. Perhaps I am writing less thoughtfully. I am writing, maybe, the same thing. Perhaps everything that needs to be said has been said. I can’t write the way Rabindranath Tagore wrote. I use borrowed thoughts. I am not afraid to make them my own. I don’t let my limitations obstruct my writing. I love recognition, but that is not the sole purpose of my writing. I am aware of the digital world, but I don’t expect that world to let me understand my needs. I want to develop my stories. I am of an age that believed in one-to-one communication between a grandparent and a grandchild. I like to spend real time in a fictional space. I too want to write a ‘breakthrough’ book and read a flattering review of my book. I also have more faith in what others say about my work than what I think about my work. I feel happy when I read, “There seems to be no logical pattern in the honours, fellowships and glowing reviews it bestows or does not bestow on writers, who have achieved a respectable level of professionalism.” The life we are creating for ourselves is rushing towards ‘a quarter of a second’. Perhaps I am forgetting a vital fact that there is a difference between ‘barely registering ‘and ‘actually seeing’. Perhaps I am losing my ability “to endure the long shot, the slow dissolves, and the sustained monologue.” I am forgetting that greater the numbers of events we come across per unit time, lesser become the number of experiences. It is important to enliven the memories, but it is equally important to live memorable moments. Amidst plenty, I should not miss the subtlety. Perhaps I am making lesser errors. Perhaps I am writing less thoughtfully. Perhaps, the likes of Manik Bandyopadhyay don’t deserve the plight. When they die so many also die.