Wednesday, May 27, 2015

An interview : Oswald Periera

        1.  Journalist, Author, Editor and now a mentor to budding writers. Sir, how do you define your journey? (in terms of the experiences, learning and carving a career)

It has been a great, exciting journey. But it has never been a bed of roses, for there were thorns that hurt me as a journalist and writer as well. The life of a journalist can be quite stressful and you are only as good as your last story. So, there is always pressure to surpass yourself and come out with a better scoop or newsbreak each day. There’s a great adrenalin rush when you see your name on the front-page of your newspaper or your story appears as a cover story in a magazine. But there is a real rat race out there and in journalism we find the classic example of survival of the fittest. But while a journalist can call the shots, and with experience, your story rarely gets rejected, as an author rejections come like a deluge. You have to really be patient, because editors of publishing houses can be quite subjective in their evaluation and you never get a reason why your manuscript has been rejected. It’s a standard, ‘doesn’t fit our list.’ And unlike journalism, where your name flashes the very next day, in publishing the wait is rather long ― from acceptance of your manuscript to actual publishing ... it can take a couple of years. But once you are in print, you stay on the shelf for a long time, unlike newspapers where stories are forgotten soon after they are read. I have evaluated manuscripts and mentored a few authors ... that can be very satisfying. All said and done, I have no regrets or real complaints and I’m happy being a journalist and author ... I wouldn’t want to wear any other shoes. 

2.It must have been tough. You talk of planted news, the money in the offering and similar things in your first Novel “The Newsroom Mafia”. Honestly, are we left with any trustable news element today? There are a dozen news channels and I know each fight for its TRP but somewhere, is the essence of journalism lost somewhere?

Yes, as I said earlier, it was tough in my time. But there was more honesty and professionalism, though there were black sheep then too. But today it’s a sad state of affairs in journalism. You have put it succinctly; the essence of journalism is lost these days. Professionalism has, indeed, taken a beating, with the hunger for instant scoops and TRPS.

3.I see your contributions in the Speaking Tree as well. Are you spiritual or philosophical?

My contributions to The Speaking Tree I would term as articles of analytical or logical spiritualism. I think it is logical to be spiritual. Take a subject like, loving your enemy or loving your neighbour. Hate is illogical because it kills you and you become a victim of your own hate. So, doesn’t it make better sense to love, rather than hate? It would be presumptuous for me to say I am spiritual. I’d rather believe that I am philosophical and take life as it comes and play it by ear, looking at ups and downs, highs and lows, as part of life’s cycles.

4.The young generation of the 21st century is completely moving to a different space where they do not really hold the teachings of our holy books. Somewhere, I feel that the essence of our cultural teachings is lost. However, we can’t really blame this shift owing to the pressure and challenges of life one has to face in order to make a career. And somewhere they get delineated by the illusions of the modern world! Your take on that sir? And especially is there one piece of advice you would like to give to the youth of today?

There were illusions even in earlier times. Life itself is an illusion. Each individual has to take responsibility, and, we living in society and one world community, need to take collective responsibility. The youth of today should take responsibility for themselves and shouldn’t expect things on a silver platter or expect others to the dirty work.

5.So moving to the space of creativity, tell me- How difficult is it to make a career in writing? Because somewhere I feel it requires a lot of patience to script one book. You have done two.

As I have said, earlier, writing a book is no child’s play. It requires a lot of patience, grit and determination. A full time career in writing or making a living out of it is not such a good idea. One always needs a day job, till you hit the jackpot.

6.One straight question- how do you successfully market your work? It requires a lot of personal investments right?

Yes, marketing a book, I often think, is as, if not more difficult than writing your book. The best way to market your book is promote yourself, without feeling shy about it.

7.You have used Youtube, facebook and personal website to market your work. How to strategize the marketing?

You have to try a combination of all. Media reviews and reviews by book bloggers are also very important means of marketing.

8.How do management students use their skills and contribute in this arena?

Management students can help with their innovative, out-of-the-box ideas.

9.In the game of MBA as I know, most fight for a big 6 figure salaried job. Most dream of making it big in consulting. On the other hand, Dan Brown and J K Rowling- you guys have made it big in a pretty unconventional career. What are the challenges one needs to face in this unconventional career?

The challenge of taking rejections in one’s stride, in a matter-of-fact detached manner.

10.How do you see the creative market shaping up in the future? (You can talk of the size of the book market and where is it going, the different events that take place for writers, the platforms for writers and awards and the impact that it can have)

I believe eBooks will shape the creative market. Some publishers today are also talking in terms of novels that are around 50,000 to 60,000 at the most ― quick, easy but meaningful reading. The size of the book market is growing, but there is also some churning going on, as the place has become overcrowded. The problem is that there are too many books, chasing too few people, as we as a nation are not voracious readers ... we like to discuss a lot, rather than read and there seems to be more charm in eating out and watching movies and television, rather than sitting and quietly reading a book. Platforms and awards for writers are limited in India. There are much more awards in showbiz. Authors are still a growing species.

11.Just to finish it on a quick note – who is your favourite writer and why?

I don’t have any modern favourite authors. It would be unfair to pick favourites in this struggling profession.  My all-time favourites, however, are the classics.

12.Anything you would like to say to the Cox MBA students? Would you like to be invited again for an interaction?

Do your Karma and leave the rest to God. Make giving rather than receiving your philosophy in life. Sure, would love to interact again with you folks.

No comments :