4 AM Conversations with Ayushee Ghoshal

With Twenty two years of wisdom, she is a Lawyer and a writer. Born and brought up in Patna, she has been the youngest contributor to several National and International Short Stories anthologies. She has been blogging since I was Fourteen. She passionate about directing and writing Movies. She also loves travelling, dancing and music. She aspires to leave a mark in this world with her story telling.
Blog Address: http://ayusheeghoshal.blogspot.in/
Instagram: ayushee.ghoshal
Facebook: Ayushee Ghoshal

What is the first book that made you cry?

Harry Potter and the Order of Phoenix tops the list. It was tough, dealing with Sirius’ death.

What is the most Unethical Practice in the Publishing Industry?

Unethical Practices dominate the publishing Industry. First timers barely get single digit royalty. I have stated this in the past too. This is a common problem faced by writers. At some places, the royalty rates are lower than the cost of an use and throw pen. Some publishing houses do not reveal the actual sales. This discourages writers. There is nothing quiet as unethical as denying someone their hard earned royalty. I have been lucky when it comes to publishers. Transparency is a must.

Does writing energize you or exhaust you?

That depends. Writing is my way of making the real world more bearable. When I pen down something that I like, I get this warm fuzzy feeling, a sort of satisfaction. However, when I cannot really pen down something the way I thought I would, I feel exhausted.

What are common traps for aspiring writers?

Oh, believe me, I get at least five to six messages in one day asking me “How can I become a Writer? I mean, how can I get published?” And I only have one reply. Getting published does not make you a writer. Focus on your art first. Anyone can publish crap and become a self proclaimed writer. What matters is whether you are good at what you do. I don’t know if people realize, but the life of a writer is nothing like what has been portrayed in movies. No one becomes Carrie Bradshaw overnight. Publishing houses take advantage of this desperation. Paid publishing is one of the easiest traps. There are so many opportunities where you can pay and get published. But what happens next? I mean, do we really need to pay someone to publish our work? There was this US based publishing house that started a self-publishing branch. They took hundreds of dollars from the writers, but their books were never shipped, the sales figure was rigged and the book was barely marketed. The company dissolved eventually succumbing to the pressure of the writer community. One should not fall for the easy way out that is being served to them in form of packages.

 

Does a big ego hurt or help writers?

Modesty and humbleness are two essentials of a writer’s life. With an inflated ego, you can barely get anywhere. It makes it tough to accept criticism. Forget that. A big ego puts a shield between you and the way you perceive the world. That affects your art.

What is your writing kryptonite?

Lately, my kryptonite has been the internet. I may want to start off by researching and then few hours later, I will be on Youtube watching some space video. And then I tend to forget what I wanted to write.

Have you ever gotten a reader’s block?

Yes. I am going through one currently. Hopefully, the book I pick up next will drive it away.

Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym?

I won’t deny that the thought has crossed my mind. Internet is a funny place and there is a stigma attached to Indian poets. Sometimes, people are so prejudiced after reading your name that they do not appreciate the work. Sometimes, I would think of using an English name for myself just to see whether it is being received the same way as it would be if a twenty something Indian girl wrote it.

Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?

I write for myself. And I hope that readers will relate to it when they read it. 4 AM Conversations was my coping mechanism and I never thought someone would relate with the words that I am scribbling in my diary. Turns out, when you put your heart and soul into our work, the words resonate with the readers.

Do you think someone could be a writer if they do not feel emotions strongly?

Let me quote something from my book.

“The world comprises of two types of people – Those who feel too little and those who are crushed by the enormity of what they feel.”

Writers, I believe, belong to the latter category. If you barely feel anything, your art will feel the same way – Empty.

 

What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?

So the writers I know in the industry do not really belong to my age group. I hold a lot of respect for them. All of them are published writers. When I started 4 AM Conversations as a series on Instagram, there were two writers who encouraged me so much that I started believing in my work. This other writer friend has believed in my work so much that he has been giving me a chance to write in his anthologies since I was eighteen. Another friend owns an e magazine company and he published my first poetry. It was my first big break. This another friend of mine who has published three books believed in me so much that he took me to the first literature festival of my life. There I happened to meet two incredible women whom I continue to look up to. One of them went out of her way and helped me with my book launch. I was a bundle of nerves during the launch and just looking at her smiling gave me so much of strength. The other one is my honest critique and a dear friend. I know her for her blunt reviews. She recently messaged me after reading 4 AM Conversations and said “I enjoyed reading your book. The poems were raw, honest and beautiful. I think that can be your forte.” Believe me, that one review strengthened my belief in my work. There are a lot of other kind hearted people in this industry whom I know. Each one of them has blessed me with their kindness, honesty and belief. And that in itself has helped me become a better writer.

 Internet is a funny place and there is a stigma attached to Indian poets. Sometimes, people are so prejudiced after reading your name that they do not appreciate the work. Sometimes, I would think of using an English name for myself just to see whether it is being received the same way as it would be if a twenty something Indian girl wrote it.

Do you want each book to stand on its own, or are you trying to build a body of work with connection between each book?

I want each book to stand on its own.

If you could tell your younger writing self something, what would it be?

Believe in your work.

How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?

Well, not much has changed, except I have become more organized now.

What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?

I bought a Tab recently. It has made the entire process of editing and organizing my work so much more convenient.

What authors did you dislike at first but grew into?

I don’t think I have ever grown into a writer whom I have disliked at first. I am rigid that way.

 

As a writer, what would you chose as your Mascot/avatar/spirit animal?

I think, it would be a cat. I am often drawn to the darkness, wanting to uncover what hides within the unknown. I like my writings to be emotionally deep and adventurous at the same time.

What do you owe the real people upon whom you base your characters?

Had it not been for the good or bad experience I had with them, my characters would be without soul. So well, I am grateful to them.

How many unpublished and half finished books do you have?

I have an unpublished collection of short stories. I have two half finished novels.

What does literary success look like to you?

Success is a relative term. Not everyone might agree with my definition. There is a difference between the number of copies you sell as a writer and the number of lives you can touch with your writing. For me, literary success is measured by the number of lives I have touched with my writing without resorting to cheap book selling schemes.

What is the best way to market your book?

The best way is to get in touch with your prospective reader and bring to their notice snippets of your work. If they think they can relate with your words, they will end up buying your book.

Do you view writing as a kind of spiritual practice?

Yes. Writing is how I connect with my innermost self. It calms my mind and soul.

 

Ayushee wrote a movie along with a friend and it was an entry to Sundance Ignite film festival.

What’s the most difficult thing about writing characters from the opposite sex?

I have never been able to figure out men. So when I write something from a Man’s perspective, I find myself thinking “Does this make sense? Is this how a guy thinks?” I have to ring up my male friends and ask them for their opinion.

How long were you a part time writer before you became a full time one?

I will be graduating from Law School this May. Throughout Law School, I was a part time writer. The struggle to become a full time one has started now.

How many hours a day do you write?

When I used to go to college, I would take out one or two hours in a day to write. Now that I am home, it stretches to three to four hours with intervals in between.

What period of your life do you find you write most often about?

Childhood and young adult.

What did you edit out of this book?

The book originally had three hundred poems. Obviously, it was not possible to publish them all at once. So I chose the best one fifty poems for the collection.

Have you read anything that made you think differently about fiction

I read Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri and I realized that even the simplest of story line can leave a lasting impact if you tell the story in an extraordinary manner.

How do you select the names of your character?

Names play an integral role in any work. Reading the name for the first time should paint a subtle image of the character in the reader’s head. Apart from that I follow the six golden rules – Check the root meaning, Get your era right, Speak them out, Use alternative initials, Think it through, Re-check.

If you didn’t write, what would you do for work?

If I don’t turn writing into my full time profession, I will start practicing Law.

Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with good and bad one’s?

Yes. I read all my book reviews. I try to identify whether the bad review is basic hate and prejudice or is it an honest criticism. If it is the former, I forget about it’s existence. If it is the latter, I keep it in my mind. I am thankful for any form of review that comes my way.

Do you hide secrets in your book that only few people will find?

Guilty.

There are too many secrets hidden in 4 AM conversations and hopefully, they will always remain a secret.

Do you Google yourself?

Who doesn’t?

What one thing would you give up to become a better writer?

I am fickle and have difficulty sticking with something. Also, I procrastinate. I am trying hard to give up on these bad habits.

What is your favorite childhood book?

I was an ardent follower of the Famous Five series.

What is the most difficult part of your artistic process?

While writers are extremely emotional people, they are constantly on the quest to maintain a rational way of perceiving the world. For me, the most difficult part is the need to be rational while being an emotional at heart. Sometimes I feel too much to the extent of not feeling anything at all. It is exhausting. But, I love it. I am trying to find a balance between my want to feel emotions so that I can write better and my need to become a more rational human being.

Does your family support your career as a writer?

They are supportive of my writing. They understand that I want to be left alone most of the time so that I can think and write. My graduation present was a solo trip across India so that I could write better. Quitting Law to become a full time writer is risky and foolish according to our society. Who gives up a secure career for something as uncertain as writing, right? My family is scared, yes. But, I know that deep within they believe in me and in my work.

If you had to do something differently as a child or teenager to become a better writer as an adult, what would you do?

Honestly, I cannot think of anything that I would do differently. I do not have any regrets as of now. If I made some mistakes, it only helped me become a better writer. The younger self used to think that I should not have chosen Law. I could have written SAT or taken up a course in Journalism or even film making. But, Law helped me become good at things that I was bad at. It has changed the way I perceive the world. It gave me experiences that I can keep writing about. So even if I am given a chance, I would not choose to do anything differently..

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