Sayantan Ghosh, author of Who Needs Cupid? The TrulyMadly Guide to Dating, is a night-bird whose neighbours can hear him tapping away on the keyboard late into the night. Or it could just be him watching scary prank videos on YouTube! We asked him how he writes, and the best date he could imagine:
Do you write everyday?
That’d be a long due wish fulfillment. I’m too undisciplined and unorganized to manage that, yet. What I do instead is think of at least one good line every day; it isn’t that I’m using those lines in my writing though. But it keeps the cogs oiled.
When and where do you write?
Most of my work gets done at night, making me sound like a character straight out of a Thomas Harris novel. But I think nights are best for creative things. I sleep very little so that makes it even easier for me. I live in a small rented room in south Delhi where it gets quiet by 11, that’s when my neighbors can hear a lot of tapping on the keypad if they’re paying attention.
Do you listen to music while you write? What’s playing on your iPod right now?
I don’t listen to a lot of music. As a creature of habit, I keep listening to the same songs over and over through the years. Bob Dylan’s songwriting has had the deepest impact on me ever since I was a teenager. I also like a little bit of contemporary jazz, and the soundtrack of Masoom. I don’t own an iPod.
What’s your go-to-site for distracting yourself while you write? Or do you refuse to surf the net while writing?
Distractions don’t bother me. In fact, I’m always looking for them. I don’t visit any website in particular though. There’s New Yorker or Caravan page open often, and lately The Wire has done some great stories. When I want to unwind completely, I watch scary prank videos on YouTube. This one is a favourite:
As an editor yourself, how do you view your writing? Do you find the two colliding?
It’s inescapable, and I don’t make any extra effort to keep the two roles separate. That would only strain this interaction between my day-job and my night-job (was itching to call it that) further. It definitely helps me write shorter, clearer sentences, which is also the kind of writing I generally enjoy reading. I never read anything I have written myself once I have finished writing it, unless I absolutely have to, in case a piece is getting published and my editor wants me to tweak things. But being an editor myself, I think I’m a little more equipped in terms of cleaning up my lines as I write them. Or it could well be in my head and maybe I’m just bad at my job.
What would your ideal date be like if you wrote the script for it?
Probably set in Shakespeare and Company, the bookstore in Paris. Since I’m writing the script, I might as well fly myself out of this country without worrying about the visa for once. People like Hemingway and James Baldwin, who are literally my heroes, hung out there once. I’ll probably be too captivated by the history of the place, with the walls and some of the books that these guys had maybe once touched around me, so it’ll help if she’s also a reader. If not, then I have heard they have a bed next to a piano somewhere inside the store too!
Sayantan Ghosh’s Who Needs Cupid? The TrulyMadly Guide to Dating is now exclusively available on the Juggernaut app. Download the app here.