by R K Biswas
Monideepa Sahu is a former bank manager. She has authored Going Home in the Rain, and Other Stories (Kitaab, Singapore), Riddle of the Seventh Stone (Zubaan) and Rabindranath Tagore: The Renaissance Man (Penguin/Puffin). Her short fiction has been accepted into collections from Central Michigan University, Northeastern Illinois University, Marshall Cavendish (Singapore), Puffin, Scholastic India, and elsewhere. She has been a Views columnist with Bangalore Mirror (Times of India Group), and regularly writes for Deccan Herald and other mainstream publications. She is Fiction Editor with Kitaab.
Spending her growing years in New Delhi and Washington D. C., and a couple of decades in Bangalore, she is now living out of suitcases and packing boxes. During her nomadic phases, she has also called Hyderabad, Mumbai, Bhubaneswar and charming small towns in Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh her home. She blogs at: http://monideepa.blogspot.in/.
RKB: There’s a quote in your blog which reads “Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep. Musings from someone who sees stories everywhere.” Can you share some more musings on this?
MS: I see stories everywhere; in overheard conversations, in the gestures and body language of passing strangers, or a post-it note stuck on someone’s fridge door. I often play with various themes, techniques and styles. Fantasy, ghostly supernatural stories, “literary” stories, magic realism, have all touched my writings at different times. While I have a soft corner for literary fiction, it’s challenging to step out of the comfort zone of a favourite genre. It’s also more fun to come up with the unexpected.
Creative artists need to play freely with ideas and modes of expression, and there will be mistakes and false steps. The end product may be quite different from the original plan. The perceptive artist will realise which of these deviations are not working. The artist will also realise that some tangents from the original plan are leading to interesting, if unexpected paths. Those are the mistakes to keep, and work upon. The short story “Dhatura” is one such “mistake”. I imagined Surpanakha as a wild character with her own code of ethics. When I submitted a draft to an international online workshop, a fellow writer saw a strong combination of horror and erotica, which I hadn’t initially planned. This “mistake” was definitely a keeper.