Saturday Features

‘Only a convinced writer can convince readers’

Jan 6, 2018-Columnist, novelist, screenplay writer, and also an actor Brazesh Khanal is a name well known in the Nepali media and the literary circle. While he might have become more particular about the projects he takes up of late, he has already written scripts for more than a 100 TV shows and films. Khanal also has two novels to his name: Yayavar (2013) and Juneli (2016). In this conversation with The Post’s Abha Dhital, the author talks about what readers mean to him, his writing processes, and why the writer’s block is not a myth. Excerpts:

When was it that you realised you want to write? How young were you?

I do remember it was in grade eight that I first got a story published in Gorkhapatra, but there is no timeline as such to when I realised I wanted to write. It was never deliberate or planned. I feel like it all came to me naturally. I grew up in an environment that saw frequent gatherings of writers at home. I must have gotten drawn to the art subconsciously before I even realised I could write. 

What drives you? What has been the biggest inspiration so far?

For me, my readers have always been my biggest inspiration. For a writer, the readers are the true source of criticism and praise. It is from the readers that you learn how well you have written something. I look forward to critiques. Constructive criticism has always inspired me to do better and helped me grow. 

How important is consistency when you are a writer? Do you have a set routine or a set number of hours that you dedicate to writing?

I have heard of writers who follow a routine. In my case, there never is a hard-and-fast timetable or a fixed pattern. The funny thing is, I don’t seek solitude like most writers do for writing. In fact, I cannot write in solitude, but one need not be surprised if they see me penning down my feelings or stories even in the most chaotic of environments. I don’t plan. I don’t know how much I am going to write at any given point. Sometimes, I write several thousand words at a go; other times I write not a single word in months. 

Is ‘writer’s block’ something you struggle with then, or is it a myth? 

I would not call it a myth. There are times when you get stuck and are unable to do anything about it. Sometimes you just cannot convince yourself to move forward with a piece of writing. Writer’s block is real for me. I have been working on the same novel for twelve years now and it hasn’t seen much progress because I am stuck. There’s this block I can feel and it’s stopping me from being able to connect my two extreme protagonists. I can’t think of a way to bring them together. I need reasons that can convince me. If you, as a writer, aren’t convinced with what you are writing, how would you ever convince your readers? Of course many easy ideas pop up in my head every now and then, but I cannot move forward until I find what I am looking for. Perhaps, that’s what the block is about. You are looking for something, and you don’t even know what.  

You have written screenplays and novels, and you are a regular 

columnist as well. Which of the three genres of writing holds the softest corner in your heart?

As cliché as it sounds: I don’t have a favourite. All genres come with their own set of highs and lows. They all come with their own unique kick. What I get in return after writing in one genre is different from the other and I enjoy them all equally.

Your novels are known for their boldness. What are the challenges of writing a ‘bold’ novel for Nepali readership?

What does ‘bold’ mean anyway? If you are referring to issues that we only talk about in hushed voices; issues that are often subjects of distortion, confusion, and misguidance; issues that are part of our everyday lives and yet not good enough to bring out in the open, I don’t see writing about them as a challenge. The society is drowned in double-standards, and tapping into what everybody already knows and feels does  not come across as challenge for me. 

There never is a hard-and-fast rule to how one should write or what will sell. But, is there a trick to storytelling?

There is no scientific method or mathematic formula to writing. There is no pointing out what is right and what is wrong. However, I suggest that keen observation is a must. There are several incredible stories peppered around us. We are surrounded by them all the time. The best ones are usually found in the least expected places, people, and events.

What are you currently working on?

Apart from the English novel under-construction, which I mentioned earlier, I am also working on a non-fiction piece. I am working on occasional screenplay projects but I have become particular about the works I take up these days.

Published: 06-01-2018 08:38

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