Feature 86 is from the interview with Professor Dr. AK Choudhary, published first in Kohinoor, a literary journal, number 2, vol. 4, June 2008. This feature will be included in Stephen Gill’s forthcoming book My Conversations. Professor Choudhary, a poet and literary critic, has contributed research papers to journals and teaches English Literature at a college in India. He has co-edited War and Peace in the Works of Stephen Gill, released by Pointer Publishers, India.
QUESTION: Do you want to give any message for our readers?
STEPHEN GILL: Readers should find out what they want, though it is not that easy. Some are destined to do certain things that are clear to them from their early life. Those who do not know, should sit down and meditate to find an answer. If they do not come up with any answer, they should not condemn themselves. They may be destined to help others or raise a family in a graceful way. This is a serious and meaningful destiny. Whatever a person wants to do, he or she should do it with the whole mind, soul and devotion. There are no short cuts.
Those who want to serve the muse should not compete with their neighbors and friends, or with anyone. My message to them is to compete with their horizon. They should believe in giving. Giving is not waste—it is sharing. There is much wisdom in the wise words of the wisest soul that ever walked on earth, “Give and it shall be given to you.” It applies in the realm of writing in the form of advice, sharing marketing knowledge and helping in any way possible.
Always find time to worship the muse. Those who wait for the better times will not be able to serve the muse. Every human need daily food. No one can take the food of the whole month in a day. In the same way, the ration of daily consumption has to be consumed daily. It can be less or nominal, but it should be there. Writers should find time every day to be able to write on the project they have in mind. The gist of my message is write, write, write, and get published.
To get published, they should start first with their local newspapers, magazines and newsletters. They should join groups of writers and if there is none, form one. Problems about writing, including where and how to get published, are some topics to discuss in these gatherings. Creative writing is not an easy job. Moreover, it is not profitable from the point of money. Serious writers need constant doses of inspiration. My advice to writers and poets of your journal is the same that I gave decades ago and I shared with Dr. George Hines who authored Stephen Gill and His Works that was first released by Vesta and later by Authors Press in 2008. I said:
It is hoping against hope for any writer to expect a publisher to invest money and time on a product that lacks proper treatment. However, one important step that beginners can take is to join their local group of writers. If there is none, they can form one. The main function of these literary groups is to provide guidance and inspiration to writers. Beginners will drive immense benefits by associating with birds of the same feather (xxiii).
I will conclude my message with my special words to poets. They should forget to make money. Creative writers, particularly poets, find life hard because there is no money in their profession, and competition is suffocating. Yet, they have to give the best to their readers. I will repeat here what I say in my preface to Songs Before Shrine, published by Authors Press in 2007:
I believe that the language of poetry is more compact, energetic, of greater intensity and emotional depth than the language of prose is and it has no room for clichés and unnecessary words. Poetry is a villa of glorious shape where every brick that is chiselled in a unique way belongs to its exact spot. Like other arts, poetry needs revisions for perfection and there is more than one way to do that. Poets are professional workers who keep polishing the tools of their trade. The tools of an artist keep changing while zigzagging down a labyrinth of experiences. When it is said that artists are born with talent, this implies to me that they have a natural aptitude for particular skills. These aptitudes or talents are rough diamonds to be chiselled and polished to become hard, bright, precious and flawless gems. Writing is a profession and the skills of every profession need to be improved with hard work, patience and study. Constant revisions were a way of life of the masters, including Dylan Thomas, Nobel Laureate W.B. Yeats and a host of other poets. Artists strive to touch the highest pinnacle of perfection, but perfection is confined to Divine Being Who is the Creator of the inheritors of His spark of creativity. Prominence is the result of years of labour in obscurity to find a market and an audience.
NEXT FEATURE ANSWERS IS A QUESTION BY DR. NAZIR BHATTO, EDITOR OF PAKISTAN CHRISTIAN POST, WHO ASKS IF KASHMIR ISSUE CAN BE SOLVED BY POETRY OF PEACE
About Stephen Gill:
Stephen Gill, a multiple award winning Indo/Canadian self-exiled poet, fiction-writer and essayist, has authored more than thirty books. He is the subject of doctoral dissertations, and research papers. Thirteen books of critical studies have been released by book publishers on his works and more are on the way. His poetry and prose have appeared in nearly nine hundred publications. The focus of his writing is love and peace.