From Mind to keyboard, edited by Sheela Jayawant is a collection of personal stories of 30 or so writers talking about their writing journeys.
Sheela Jayawant writes a very popular column in Navhind Times, the most read newspaper of Goa. I have been a fan of her writing, especially the subtle humor that she brings into most mundane current affairs. I have also know Sheela Jayawant as a fellow Goa writer as part of a Goa writers group. In fact, we once met in her lovely home at Salgolda. So, I was expecting this book to be good. Blame it on my expectations, but the book was far below my expectations.
From Mind to keyboard
From mind to Keyboard has been published by Goa 1556 – a Goa-based publishing house. They are a messiah of anyone who has even remote Goans roots. If you say, I want to be published, unless you give them a strong reason to say no, they would publish you. What does this do to writings from and about Goa? Writers get the encouragement and support they need. At the same time, it has the potential to give them a false sense of confidence and entitlement.
30 writers – big and small talk about how they began writing. Most of them focus on the publishing part and go to the extent of sharing their monthly incomes of writing. They blame the editors till they are not published, but love them and thank them once they are published.
I found most of the pieces very amateurish. It seems there was no brief from the editor and everyone wrote what they wanted to write. I expected Sheela Jayawant to mention how she chose the people who feature in this collection, what was the purpose of this collection. I know she does mention something in the ‘Backword’ – that comes across as an afterthought and not something that was discussed with the contributors. Nowhere in any of the pieces, writers share their lessons learned – that can be used by the generation next of Goan writers. I do see some non-Goan names, have no idea why they were there. And if they could be there why more like them were not there. No one speaks about ‘Mind to Keyboard’, it is mostly about the outward struggles of a writer.
Myths about writing
I liked the piece by Harish Kapadia the best – his story busts a few myths about writing. He talks with passion about his writing process, how he takes notes, and how he then processes them into books over a period of time. His failed experiment with writing in exotic places is both entertaining and insightful. I also liked the piece of Ria Gomes – the way she relates her childhood stories and how she continues to write for children.
I know some of the authors who have contributed to this book. The stories helped me know a few of them better. For example, I did not know that Damodar Mauzo runs a shop for his living. I came to know of Sheela herself and the experiences she had in living across the country in multiple cities and states. A lot of writers bring out the nostalgia of sending typed pieces to editors, which to my generation is an alien concept.
I am not taking names, but some pieces made me question the choice of Sheela Jayawant. Was she under some obligation to have those people in the book? Or was there a requirement to meet a certain number of pages? These pieces make the book look like a patchwork rather than a tapestry.
I had seen the cover of the book in its draft state at one of the Goa Writer’s meet – I had liked it then. However, in its final state, it looks a bit cramped and a tad bit darker. Editing is decent – not a common trait in books these days, so the editor deserves some appreciation for that.
I think the idea of ‘From Mind to Keyboard’ was powerful, it needed a lot more effort in execution.