Monday, December 22, 2014

Jaipur Literature Festival – Part 4 - Jerry Pinto on Writing

By consuming quality Literature you are actually creating more quality Literature

After the morning music performance I attend a  session of Mr Jerry Pinto, a Mumbai based indian writer of 14 books  as of January 2014. I had attended a workshop of Mr Jerry in Mumbai and was rather excited to meet him here again. He wrote in subjects as diverse as poetry, prose and children’s fiction.

Jerry thought me a lot about the craft of writing. I do not know him personally. But I cannot thank him enough for what he has done for me. His story and some learnings here:-

A Family Reading Environment

Jerry came from a background that really understood the importance of books and the world it opens you up to. He described how his parents would bring three copies of each book. They would keep one for themselves and keep the other two for friends and family in case they wanted to borrow a copy. His sister worked at a library and would bring home several books in his childhood that he consumed through time.

Jerry's Books

When you consume you also are creating

He mentioned how young people today are so consumed in creating content and not in consuming quality literature. Everyone wants to write their first book by 16 or seventeen. He describes how many of these young authors do not continue publishing good literature later in life. An important point he mentioned was that by consuming great books and films we actually play a part in creating the book and film. Without the reader or viewer the book would not exist.

Reading in other Languages

He had a habit of reading some text everyday in multiple languages like Hindi, Marathi, Gujarati and English. He also taught Journalism at a college in Mumbai where he often conducted an interesting exercise with his students. He told them to write a five thousand word essay on their mother. At the festival, he had an additional workshop where he told us to write a 1000 word love letter to ourselves. He put forward the point that best way to develop your writing skills, was to write about the things you are already familiar with.

His latest novel Elm and The Big Hoom, includes some characters based on his family and people he met in his childhood. His first draft had over 750,000 words. He had to edit and re-edit it and bring it down to 50,000 words. This writing process of his really surprised me. As a young person passionate about writing, I never spent too much time editing. I learned a lesson from Mr Jerry about the quality of each word used in your prose and poetry. He also showed me why as a writer it was my responsibility to not waste the reader’s time.

The Work behind Great Work

The changed my perception about excellence completely. To really achieve excellence in any field, it takes patience and discipline. You do not just become a prodigy overnight. Good writers spend years consuming literature and honing their writing skills through several failed manuscripts. It was this patience that is rewarded in the future with the quality work they eventually produce.

I had spent over 6 hours attending workshops and lectures by Mr Jerry Pinto before I came to this realization. It would be very hard for me to get to this point if I did not commit to learn as much as I could from him and to attend the training events he conducted.

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