The journey from a reader to a writer, and beyond

Debashish Das
Nov 6, 2016 · 4 min read

I have loved reading for as long as I can remember. By the time I was in sixth grade, I had moved on from Famous Five and Hardy Boys to Agatha Christie and Arthur Conan Doyle. Even today, reading fiction remains my favorite leisure activity.

My love for the written word eventually led me to quit my job as an engineer and start writing.

These days, I start off each day with a 60 to a 90-minute writing session, working toward publishing my first sci-fi novel. I am acutely aware of the fact that it won’t be a great literary piece, or win any awards, or even make me any money. And I’m okay with it. I don’t know about you, but for the first time in my adult life, I am doing something just for the love of it. It gives me an unbridled sense of freedom that I’ve never experienced in any job or project.

Writing, like art, is inherently valuable

Some say that fiction is just a guilty pleasure, something you should be ashamed of. Others argue that reading fiction helps you become more empathetic. But does it really matter? If you really enjoy reading, no one can stop you from reading more. No one can tell you what you can or can’t read. But even bookworms would balk at the fact that novels can make a difference.

You wouldn’t expect any novel to have an earth-shattering, world-changing impact, much less a novel written by me. But the imagery of Alice talking with the Cheshire Cat, Sam carrying Frodo on his shoulders on the last leg of their journey, and even Harry catching his first Snitch is deeply emblazoned in my mind. These images are more real, more alive than some of my own memories. How then, can I not believe that a book, a novel doesn’t make a difference in the lives of the people who read it?

Writing, like any other kind of art, inspires you and becomes a part of your life. Sure, it’s not absolutely essential, but it can enrich and add color to life. And if you can be the creator of a piece of work that provides solace, comfort, joy, and even a sense of escape, is that work not worth doing?

Lessons learned from writing my first novel

While I still love to read, the process of writing my novel has taught me so many things that I would never have learned otherwise:

  • The value (and challenges) of committing to one thing and sticking to it
  • Getting comfortable with facing a blank page and not knowing what to write
  • Replicating something that you love (like dialog) and making it your own is not as easy as it seems
  • There are far more layers to a huge project like a book than it appears from the outside
  • Planning, goal setting and tracking, reevaluating progress, and even the arduousness of revising your work over and over again
  • Most of all, the joy (and fear) of being unashamedly authentic

If it were up to me, I would urge everyone to undertake a book writing project. It will change how you approach and perceive life.

Writing, as its own reward

I started my old blog, Quit Be Free, to document my struggles and journey through a job I hated. It ended the day I quit my job. I thought that life would instantly change for the better once I quit, but it turns out that it didn’t.

In the same way, before I started writing my novel, I believed that having it out there would change everything. But the truth is, no one cares about it as much as I do. I see that now. Even if it were to become a huge success (whatever that means), what would it mean for me? I might gain a little fame, some money, get book deals, but I certainly wouldn’t stop writing.

So, instead of waiting for the results of how my book fares, I have decided to continue writing. I’ve outlined my next book and excited to start writing once I finish my current one. I have got a Trello board full of ideas for other books that I can start working on after that.

I don’t bring this up to brag or preach. But I want you to consider what you truly want from life. Will attaining success or reaching a goal completely change your life? Will you become a different person, live life differently? If not, then why the mad rush to get there?

Joy of the journey, or gratification of the destination?

I have been thinking a lot about how we live our lives. A life that seems to be defined by instant gratification, low attention span, and cognitive overload. There seems to be no time for breathing, contemplation or even enjoying life. We are in a hurry to get from point A to point B, and when we get there, we can’t wait to get to point C. We always feel like we have to be doing something. We demand immediacy and speed.

As a writer, my thoughts almost inevitably end up on paper (or a screen). That is why I have decided to start a new blog. I want it to help people who are tired of the way we live and want to enjoy living again. I don’t know exactly what form my new blog will take, but I know I want it to exist in the world. Just like my novel.

Will it change the world? Probably not. Will it help someone live a better, relaxed, fulfilling, and happier life? I hope so.

Debashish Das

Written by

An avid reader. A journeyman writer.

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