Adgully Exclusive | Being a writer means juggling multiple roles: New York based author, Sweta Srivastava Vikram

Sweta Srivastava Vikram, an award-winning writer, poet, novelist, author, essayist, educator, and blogger is known for her four chapbooks of poetry, along with a kitty of assorted offerings like two collaborative collections of poetry, a fiction novel, and a nonfiction book of prose and poems (upcoming in 2012). Taj Mahal Review describes her as "A poet with hauntingly beautiful talent."

At the launch of her latest selling book, "Perfectly Untraditional," at Landmark Book and Music Store, Adgully caught up with Sweta Srivastava Vikram, and spoke about her journey, works and her experience with books.

Ever since she was a little kid, she wanted to become a writer. She says, "I wanted to see my name on the cover of a book. Words came naturally to me, and I felt comfortable in their company. I remember reading the dictionary and learning new words every week."

Writing isn't all glamorous and just about writing books. But being a writer means juggling multiple roles, that of a creative person, marketer, publicist etc. Long hours, unpredictable schedule, different time zones, unconfirmed outcomes are nothing out of the ordinary in a writer's day-to-day life.

Speaking about her journey, she said, "Honestly, not only has it been exciting, encouraging, and gratifying but also exhausting."

Though she has been published widely in several countries across different genres,but never lose sight of reality. She says, "While I am humbled by my achievements, I am cognizant of the challenges I have faced. They have taught me to never take anything for granted. The uncertainty and volatility of the profession ensures I remain grounded and focused on what and who is important. Writing is what I have always wanted to do. And when you love what you do, every hurdle appears workable."

The process of writing for her differs from one genre to the other. Telling about her experience with her books, she said, "While for writing poetry I need to be away from the city life and closer to nature, fiction and nonfiction require me to be in close proximity to people, life, movement, and noise. That's how and where I find my stories. Though, overall, all of my books have an obvious or subtle social message in them, I would say that the process of publishing varies depending on whether the work is fiction, nonfiction, or poetry."

Depending on the country of residence, each publishing house has been unique. So far, excluding the two upcoming books, she has five collections of poetry and a novel published. While some book contracts were signed on project proposals, others were dependent on the agent selling the book or she sending her completed manuscript to open competitions. She adds, "Irrespective of the path that worked for each book, I did my homework, a lot of thorough research, the kind of books a publishing house represents number of titles they release every year, their reputation within the industry etc."

Elaborating the key highlights of the latest book, she said, "My book, "Perfectly Untraditional," a work of fiction, is about relationships."

The story, set in India and New York City, is based around a conversation between the female protagonist. The book traverses through past and present as the father-daughter duo comes to terms with the truth about each other and their family. As the novel unfolds, the readers learn that no one is perfect or always a saint or Satan. Our circumstances and place influence who we are and what we end up becoming. And that our past influences our today.

Telling about her expectations with the Indian market, she says, "Frankly, I didn't come to India with any set expectations. Because my novel is on a controversial subject, I always wondered how the Indian audience would respond, especially the older generation. But the journey has been fantastic so far. I am humbled that the readers, irrespective of their age, gender, and life choices, have found something in the book that has resonated with them."

Very soon we'll be seeing a chapbook of poetry coming out in October 2011, titled "Beyond the Scent of Sorrow, "that delves into the challenges faced by women around the world. She adds, "I also have a collection of personal essays and poems, titled "Mouth full," due for an early 2012 release. I am also at work on my second novel."

She suggests that the new entrants should take writing as seriously as a regular day job. As in, if writing is what you do for a living, make a commitment and stick to it. Discipline yourself and write every day. Don't wait for the muse to come to you; go seek it out. Understand that rejections are second nature to the profession. Don't take them personally or lose hope. Learn from them and then move on.

Born in India, Sweta spent her formative years between India, North Africa, and the United States. Her scribbles have also appeared in several anthologies, literary journals, and online publications across six countries in three continents. Sweta has won two Pushcart Prize nominations, an International Poetry Award, and writing fellowships.


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