Ratika Kapur worked in publishing and multimedia before cutting loose to write full-time. She lives in New Delhi with her husband and son and is currently working on her second novel. Overwinter is her first novel and was published by Hachette India.
Soaring into heaven moment:
For me, such a moment often comes from a sensory experience; typically, a quite ordinary sensory experience: the sound of light rain, the taste of good meat, the smell of pine, the feel of my son’s chest against mine. These experiences tend to circumvent thought altogether. They strike at one or more of the body’s sense organs, which instantly triggers that “soaring into heaven moment”. They are, very simply, sensations generating sensations.
And then there are sentences, those exquisitely strung sentences by such writers as Kawabata and Sebald, that may not send me soaring heavenwards, but their sonority and insight and clarity produce in me an equally powerful effect: a feeling of plenitude.
That infernal fire time:
It is that long and painful time when an idea begins to form, you sense it grow within you and your body feels like it’s changing. You must carry it to completion, but there are so many things that can go wrong between now and then.
The purgatory point:
The novel is over, the hard work, the hard years are over, and then you wait. You wait for an agent to respond, then you wait for publishers to respond to your agent, then in comes the editor and you wait for her feedback, then … you get my drift. And, of course, if you’re lucky enough to be one half of a two-writer household, you wait for responses not just for your own work, but for your partner’s too. Fun, fun, fun. Or purgatory.
Three years, three drafts and 60,000 words thereafter, would you do this differently and again?
What I’d do differently is change my posture. Take it from me: three years slouched on a couch, laptop in lap, will damage the strongest spines. Would I do it again? I wouldn’t write Overwinter again. I couldn’t possibly; I’m no longer that person who wrote that novel. But write other novels? Yes. Again and again.
What does Ratika Kapur the writer
Fear the most?
Certitudes, the kinds of certitudes that calcify your mind, that lead to smugness, that keep you from the sort of free thinking that is fundamental to writing.
I’m terrified of how such certainties – often borrowed blind and always absolute – insidiously make their way deep into your consciousness and then come up for air in your work.
Desire the most?
Certitude, of the other kind. I spend some fraction of time earmarked for writing wondering whether I’m truly any good as a writer, whether there is any real point to my writing, and so forth, so a little more of that wondrous stuff called self-belief would, I suppose, be nice, even if it only means a slightly improved daily word count.
Hate the most?
I hate hate. Seriously. There is no emotion more consumptive, more crippling than hate. It is, in my opinion, a writer’s greatest enemy. The generosity of spirit and humaneness that are essential to art – to any art – flounder in a climate of hate. I haven’t hated all that much, thankfully, and when I have, the target of my hate has largely been systems, rather than individuals. Even so, I know well how hate makes you small, so small, I know how it silences you, and some day I hope that I will hate nothing other than hate itself.