[ Issue 5 / May 2013]

What Do I Write? by Tuhin A. Sinha

Even after a decade of being a professional writer, the vexed conundrum of “what do I write” never ceases to haunt me, every time I embark on a new writing assignment.

The first time I had to address this query was when I first decided to write a book way back in 2004. Subsequently, though, the query resurfaced each time I was to write new book. Once again, I was to address the query when 4 years ago, The Times of India offered me a column space in their Sunday supplement Times Life on a topic of my choice.  More recently, I had to address the same query when I was thinking about a suitable topic to write for Open Road Review. After a lot of thought, I decided to address my perennial dilemma via this piece and hence the unusual topic, “What Do I write?”

Every debutant author has a tough time deciding which should be the story to begin his writing career with. The author’s personal sensibilities and his worldview play an important, influencing part in arriving at the decision.

Mid-2000s was a time when I was searching unsuccessfully for a life partner. Most of my friends, on the other hand, were grappling with their own set of issues concerning relationships and marriage. Moreover, the causes that led to a successful or failed relationship were very different from what they used to be a generation ago.

Hence, I decided to write a book where each character essentially represented an issue concerning contemporary relationships or marriage and the story would be the coming of age journey of each of these characters. Zeroing in on this story was an instinctive decision. I did not have great expectations from the book. However, within months of its launch, the book had struck a massive chord with young readers across the country. In those days, I would often type the book’s name on orkut (facebook’s predecessor) in order to gauge the book’s popularity. Every week, the sheer number of people who were adding themselves as followers to the book’s pages would surprise me no end. Another indicator of the book’s popularity was the number of reader mails I would get on an email id I had left on the book. Most of these mails would come from readers residing in small towns like Raipur, Haridwar and Allahabad. These were significant indicators to suggest that the book was selling very well, so what if the royalty figures sent to me didn’t quite seem congruous with the book’s popularity.

After That Thing Called Love, everybody expected and wanted me to write its sequel. However, I wasn’t too sure about the idea. Hence, I took my time to decide “what do I write” next.  And given that I can be stubborn with my choices, I once again decided to go ahead with my instincts.

22 Yards (now The Captain) is my tribute to cricket. As a child, I was very passionate about pursuing cricket as a career. As years went by, those dreams died a natural death, even as the task of negotiating the more mundane necessities of life took precedence.

In 2007, after India’s ignominious early exit from the cricket world cup in West Indies, I was compelled to write a first of its kind ‘cricket thriller’ from the point of view of a fictitious Indian captain. 22 yards released in September 2008 and got huge critical acclaim.

With my first two books as different from each other as chalk is from cheese, I was once again confronted with the query, “what do I write now as my third book”.

Indian politics has always been an area of keen interest for me. Much of this interest can be attributed to a particularly turbulent phase that India went through in the early 1990s. As an inquisitive teenager, I couldn’t remain aloof to the political turmoil in the country. I have since followed Indian politics very closely.

Hence after mulling over the topic for my next book, I decided to merge politics with personal relationships. The core idea which I then had in mind and which I wanted to explore in a book was – “Can your ideological differences impact your personal relationships?”

And hence Of Love And Politics was born.

After Of Love And Politics, when I was yet again confronted by the query, ‘what do I write now’, I decided to explore the challenge of writing a narrative from a woman’s point of view. And since gender crimes shame our country day in and day out, I decided to explore the life of a modern woman who is raped.

After the huge success of The Edge Of Desire, I once again had to address the eternal query; the only difference being that by now I had graduated to working on multiple books simultaneously.

For the first time, I wanted to do a sequel to The Edge Of Desire to thank my readers for their phenomenal support to the book. Simultaneously, I had finally also cracked a most unusual story for the sequel of my first book.  Besides, there was another experimental book I wanted to attempt which I’m still not confident to talk about.

And yet, while writing this piece, the age-old query kept staring  at me for several months until I decided to make that the topic of my piece.


Bestselling author, columnist and screenwriter, Tuhin A. Sinha is acknowledged among the most prolific of the new age Indian writers. More at www.tuhin.in