‘From love of reading comes writing’

By Siddhi Jain

Much-loved and widely-read author Ruskin Bond believes that it is from a love of reading that a writer comes to a love of writing, and penning a book does not always translate to the author becoming immortal.
“There’s only one way to become a writer, that’s to be a reader. If you look at the lives of all writers who are successful, you’d find that when they were boys or girls, they were readers and bookworms. It’s from a love of reading that you come to a love of writing.
“Writers do get forgotten. Sometimes we think writing a book gives us some sort of immortality, I assure you it doesn’t. Ninety-nine per cent of writers over the ages have been forgotten, you don’t know that some of them have been very good. Writing is something you do anyway, regardless of whether it is going to make you rich or famous around the world or in your country,” Bond, 85, said at Arth, a cultural fest, in the national capital.
Landour-based Bond, an Indian author of British descent and a Padma Bhushan awardee, published his first novel ‘The Room on the Roof’, a semi-autobiographical story of the orphaned Anglo-Indian boy named Rusty, at the age of 17, which won the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize (1957).
“I did begin writing very early, and writing somehow wasn’t very fashionable back in the 1950s when I finished school. Today, I keep meeting youngsters and even oldsters who want to write and are writing books. It seems to be the in-thing. But when I finished school, writing wasn’t popular as a profession. But I was determined to be a writer, and when I came home, and my mother asked, ‘Ruskin what are you going to do with yourself now?’ I said, ‘Mum, I’m going to be a writer’ and she said, ‘Don’t be silly, go and join the army,” shared Bond.
How far do awards go in contributing to the work of an author?
“I don’t think in the long run, awards have made much difference. If you are a good writer, and you have a good readership, then prizes and awards along the way are nice to have on your mantelpiece, but they are not going to make a great difference to your work.”
When asked whether the great author has a writing ritual after more than seven decades into writing, he said, “I think most writers try to write something every day, you need a certain discipline to get through the assignment you have been given, or to complete a novel. I try to write a page or two every morning, but it’s not compulsory.”
Bond has previously pointed to a dwindling reader base, but feels that there is enough audience for good writers to help them thrive.
“A lot of parents complain that children spend more time on electronic media and don’t read enough, but you see, reading has always been a minority pastime. Even when I was a boy, in a class of 30-35 boys, there were just 2 or 3 of us who were fond of reading.
“At that time, education in English in India was confined to a few schools, and maybe to the upper classes, but today it has spread significantly throughout the country.” (IANS)

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