In my interactions with my audience, which is primarily made up of children, I get asked any number of questions. These are usually about how I write, where I live and who draws the pictures for my stories. But occasionally, there are questions that are so unexpected that they have me in splits! Presenting a series of Questions Readers Ask.
At one of my interactions, a child asked me, ‘Do you have any ordinary friends?’ I was puzzled. Did the child think I lived in the midst of crazy people? Seeing my confusion the children kindly clarified, ‘Do you have friends who are not writers?’
And suddenly, I saw myself through the eyes of all the children watching me with honest curiosity and waiting to hear my answer. They had been going about their lives peacefully when all of a sudden, there I was, thrust into their midst and introduced as a writer! What was more, I had books with my name on it to prove the fact. What were they to make of it? So they asked me questions. And every question I answered only confused them further. I seemed to do nothing but read lots of books written by other people and then sit down to write some of my own! Surely, they thought, such a person was not normal. She probably lived on food different from the food they ate, knew nothing of boring things like school and homework and spent her leisure with equally mad people.
To answer this very honest question – yes, I do have friends who do not write or spend every waking moment writing and discussing writing when not doing it. These are friends who keep me grounded, who help me see that while writing is an amazing career to have, there are other things that make up life. I go shopping with them, watch and discuss movies, agonise over children and families, swap recipes and information. Since they have nothing to do with the world of writing and publishing, I even share my worries with them. And sometimes, their casually thrown comments and suggestions provide me with a brand new way to move forward.
But it is much more than that. These people knew me long before my tryst with writing began and their memories are made up of the person who dreamt wide and deep, the person who fell but learnt to stand up again, the person who wanted. And in the midst of all the rejections and silences, in the midst of the wait to hear from editors, it is nice to have such people. They are the oasis of memories which sustain me, which refresh me and which send me back to writing, with my determination renewed.
So, no, I actually don’t have any ordinary friends in my life. Because every single friend I have is so extraordinary.
This is dedicated to all my extraordinary friends who listen and sympathise, cheer me on and believe in me.