“Ambal, why do you write?”
That is a very tough question to answer. It is sort of like asking me “Why do you climb mountains?” The answers are so multi-dimensional. It is hard to capture them all.
But, since you asked, here is my attempt to answer the “Why do you write?” question.
- Paying it Forward
I have one life and one chance to make it count for something. My faith demands that I do whatever I can, wherever I am, whenever I can, for as long as I can with whatever I have to try to make a difference. – Jimmy Carter
My parents didn’t have a camera when I was growing up. If they had had a camera, most of the photos would look like this.
I think my brain was hardwired to read and love storytelling due to several factors. My mom was an avid reader herself. She has probably read every Tamil classic possible. Also, I was surrounded by a family (grandpa, grandma, aunts, uncles) that told stories to me and sung lullabies long after I had crossed my childhood days. My family had a lot of differences (like any other family) and a lot of differing viewpoints on life. All of those differences and different views enriched my childhood experience.
My family and childhood teachers encouraged and fostered my love of reading. Even during the financially tough days, my dad always managed to buy me copies of Reader’s Digest from a used book store. My friends loaned me books. My teachers taught me the love for both poetry and prose. For all of that, I am eternally grateful.
I have read all my life. I have read almost every day. My life has been shaped by how much I have read. I have read multiple genres and subjects – history, psychology, philosophy, science, classics, biographies, poetry, religion, spirituality, mythology, thrillers, business, and more.
If I counted all the years of experience that I have “lived” by immersing myself with characters and authors in books, then I am a zillion years old. No wonder my friends sometimes call me a very old soul. That is because I have lived through the experiences of all the books that I have read.
Books have made me who I am today. I started life as the eldest daughter in a middle class family in South India. I have come so far from where I started. I have travelled the world, lived on two continents, gotten a top class education, worked at Fortune 100 tech companies, climbed mountains and done much more.
Books have shaped my life and life choices. Books have led me to seek education and adventure. Books have taken me to places that I have never been. Books have taken me back in time and taken me to the future. Books have taught me every idea to know, every mistake not to make, every value to uphold. Everything that is to be learnt is already in books.
Books have made me a life-long learner with a growth mindset. I feel thankful for all the authors who put their pen to paper or fingers to the keyboard and helped me grow.
I used to love fiction. But, as I start growing up, I have come to realize that no fiction can match the drama of real life.
When I was much younger, I thought I had nothing to add. Everything that was to be said had already been said in a book. But, now I know otherwise.
My life and life experience is unique…just like each of the authors had a unique life experience. That is what shaped their writing. Whatever genre they wrote in, they brought all of their life experience and unique perspective. That perspective is what made each book special.
So, I am at that point in life where I feel the strong need to pay it forward.
To pay it forward one story at a time.
To pay it forward to one person at a time.
I am not in a rush.
I have my entire lifetime to tell stories that matter.
I have my entire lifetime to tell stories that are going to alter the trajectory of a reader’s mood, a reader’s day, a reader’s choices. If I dare to write the right stories with all my might …and if a reader dares to observe what I am saying closely enough, we might, together, even alter the trajectory of our lives.
Now, I don’t want you to get all worked up. I am not going to be telling any BIG stories. In most cases, what I am going to write about is going to sound like an every day frivolous occurrence. It is up to you to interpret that story….with your own unique perspective.
One starfish at a time.
If there is one weary person on this planet that I can move to action, one sad person on this planet that I can make laugh, one tired parent on this planet that I can energize, one young child’s life course that I can change, one dormant soul on this planet that I can urge to go seek adventure….just ONE…then all the effort that I put into reading and writing would have been worth it.
Hence, I write.
To pay it forward.
By the time I am done, every one of the authors who made me who I am today and every one of those people who ever told me a story or sang me a lullaby are going to be so proud of what you (the reader) and I have accomplished together.
Are you ready for the ride?
“In a world like this, you pay it forward, ’cause more than likely you didn’t deserve it when you got it the first time.”
― Mindy McGinnis, In a Handful of Dust