I remember Sneha’s instant three words with which she reacted when I first approached her for this interview and they were, “Are you serious?” she further added, “who am I? I am just another girl like you.” What she said wasn’t wrong but incomplete, I would say.
There’s a whole lot of virtues that stands her apart from others I know. And those are her energy, wit, confidence, dedication, professionalism, diligence, focused approach and most importantly, her command over English.
Her professional journey features the likes of Deccan Chronicle and the Times of India where she worked as a sub editor and a senior copy editor respectively. But what she enjoys the most is blogging/writing and it’s her love for the same that has already made her a published writer with her book ‘6 Degrees – Game of Blogs.’
She’s is the favorite blogger of her readers and has the potential to be the favorite of all the readers in the world. This interview of hers is a celebration of her achievements so far that will lead her further to the road of success and fame. Guftagoo congratulates Sneha for her book and wishes her good luck for her future projects.
Sneha Bhattacharjee Sinha’s blog can be reached at http://snehabhattacharjee.blogspot.in/
NaSa: How did your book ‘6 Degrees – Game of Blogs’ happen? Tell us more about the book and story behind it.
Sneha: The story behind this is as interesting as the story that appears in the book. 2014 was a year when I would spend time on writing blogs, and following blogging communities on the web. Not much but just one that I got really hooked to was Blogadda. It was one such event announcement that the website made that prompted me to register for it and subsequently, resulted in my being a part of one of the teams. The event, Celebrate Blogging, had several contests, of which one was Game of Blogs. The description was so intriguing that it made me – someone who had never written a fiction earlier – take an attempt in it.
Game of Blogs was a very interesting and first in its kind initiative. We were clubbed into a team of 10. Bloggers across India as well as abroad took part in it. A set of characters with a line or two about the story theme were given to us at the beginning. Each blogger had to churn out a story basis those characters, however, it would all happen in a continuous story flow format. So, if I started the introduction to the story, it was followed by a new blog post by the other blogger from my team, who took the story forward from there. It was not as easy as it sounds to anyone. We all were ten different bloggers from different parts of the country and with different writing styles. Though many of my teammates had written short stories and fiction on their blog, the need was to inculcate each and every team member into the flow so that the story reads as if it came out of one person. Though we had 10 members, right before beginning, one of our team members had to walk out due to a family emergency. If that wasn’t enough, my own stand in the team became dicey as I too faced a dire situation at home- my father’s whereabouts were untraceable in the Kashmir Floods of 2014. I still remember how sadly I had to write to my entire team announcing the issue and the fact that I would not be able to take part in it. The team was fabulous, our team leader and the other bloggers were really supportive and did not even raise any issue out of it. However, luck seemed to be in my favour. Just a day later, we were able to get in contact with my father and normalcy returned home. I sent another mail to the team saying all was well and asking if I could join them in this journey. They welcomed me with open arms.
We would spend hours on Whatsapp group discussing the story theme, on what theme we would base our story, how we will shape the characters, who will write on whom and how the story would follow. There were times we had conference calls as well. We were down to 8 members as while one had left early, the other team mate left due to work pressure in the middle of the game. Having conference calls was a task in itself. While two of the members were from Chennai, I was in Delhi taking care of my then newborn, one was in Mumbai and one in Pilibhit, the team’s leader was in Bengaluru, while the 8th member was shuttling between Mumbai and Qatar balancing his project and the blogging contest.
There were three rounds. Thirty teams. First round, all the teams were given the green signal. Second round saw a twist in the plot. Hence, we had to redo our story flow that could match with the twist given by Blogadda. End of round two saw 10 teams get through to the final round. In the final round too, Blogadda introduced yet another twist in the tale. But by then we were ready for it and weaved our story accordingly. Unlike Blogadda’s earlier announcement of only one team making the cut for getting their story published into a book, they changed it to three teams making the cut. Our team by then was so strong and so confident about its story getting selected, that we were sure to get our book published even if Blogadda did not select it. But god had different plans. We were the second team to make it to the top three teams to get their book published.
As far as the book is concerned, I would limit it to the fact that it is a murder mystery cum thriller that will keep you on the edge of your seat till you finish the book. Availability of the book at book stores is a question we have been ourselves asking Blogadda and yet to hear from them about the same.
NaSa: Editing, blogging, book writing, of these which type of writing you enjoyed the most and why?
Sneha: I have always been drawn towards writing. Editing happened when I pursued my PG from IIMC. Then working in newspapers obviously gave the edge. However, writing had taken a backseat for me until I took a maternity break in 2014. Till then, I had written feature articles for TOI in Chennai but they had become limited to music genre. My latest love is blogging but I don’t hold it separate from writing J I write what I love on my blog. My blog is a testimony to all that goes on in my mind throughout the day, night, week, month, year! 🙂
NaSa: Since when are you blogging? And how far you’ve come in terms of writing since the time you started?
Sneha: I was interested always in story-telling, doing stories that were interesting to read, something that the readers would identify with. I feel so happy when people read my blogs and remark, ‘oh this is exactly what I feel,’ or ‘you nailed it’ or ‘you write so well.’ I had started my blog sometime back in college but thanks to this maternity break, I returned full time to blogging. And , I don’t regret it. Though, I am yet to achieve what others have achieved by their blogs.
NaSa: When a painter sees something picturesque, it inspires him to paint, when a dancer hears some foot-tapping music, he finds it irresistible to dance. What turns on the writer in you?
Sneha: Everything. Though I hardly write like that. I feel a writer has to have an eye for everything around him/her. A writer should be an avid reader, a keen observer, ready to think out of the box, always up and running, spots story in every little detail that comes in front of his eyes, so on and so forth. My poems are a clear case of impromptu writing. The day I feel an urge to write, I would end up writing lines after lines. Then there would be days when I would feel so strongly about some issue, sentiment or philosophy, I would pen down my thoughts. Then there are also times when I would read others stories or articles or posts, and wonder wish I could write that or like that.
NaSa: Who are your ideal writers?
Sneha: My favourites are- Amitav Ghosh, Jhumpa Lahiri, Orhan Pamuk, Mohammad Hanif, Basharat Peer, Paulo Coehlo, Sadat Hasan Manto, Ernest Hemingway, and the list may go on. 😀
NaSa. The other day, I read a statement of a writer who said that he wasn’t at all into reading until he started writing. How important do you think reading is for writing?
Sneha: A very very very crucial aspect for writing is reading. Unless a writer reads, ideas will not form in the mind. You may have thoughts, but reading gives wings to your thoughts. I wasn’t an avid reader myself. My graduation days made me read novels and more novels. And, since then I haven’t stopped but sadly, yet to achieve my ideal way of reading books after books without a thought of worry. I wish I could spend my time just reading books, and being with my son and husband!
NaSa: What are your favorite books – all time and latest?
Sneha: I have many favorites. I will list a few here.
Shadow Lines, The Hungry Tide, Sea of Poppies – Amitav Ghosh
Curfewed Night – Basharat Peer
The Reluctant Fundamentalist
The Alchemist, Zahir, – Paulo Coelho
My Name is Red –Orhan Pamuk
For Whom The Bell Tolls- Ernest Hemingway
Five Point Someone, Two States – Chetan Bhagat
Chai Chai – Bishwanath Ghosh
The Millenium Series – Steig Larsson
Agatha Christie’s Poirot Series
Lowland, The Namesake- Jhumpa Lahiri
I can’t remember names of the book at the moment.
NaSa: Does fulfilling a mother’s responsibilities, in any way, come in your way of writing or vice-versa?
Sneha: As much as I would like to say no, that would become too ambiguous. Because, it is indeed a task to manage a child and fulfill your aspirations. As much as I had tried balancing it out when my child was small, it is becoming extremely difficult as he growing old. But I still try not to be bogged down, and fulfil my craze for writing. J Though I do have a smartphone but don’t like to write on it, I end up writing a couple of blogs these days via apps as that keeps me with my child at the same time, lets me do my work.
NaSa: What are your hobbies other than reading and writing?
Sneha: I love music. I am a trained Hindustani classical vocal music student. Sadly, studies, then job, then city change, then marital status change, everything has led to music taking a back seat in my life. However, I am trying my best to inculcate that in my life back again from this year. And, I hope to start podcasts or sound cloud channels as well. Don’t know how soon though.
NaSa: You are a Bong. And generally, Bongs are perceived to be intellectual and talented. Up to what extent you think your ethnicity or cultural background is responsible for your interest in writing?
Sneha: Let’s say Bengali as I know a lot many people who take an offence at being called Bongs. 😀 I am okay with anything as long as you do not put me in the same geography – called Kolkata. I know people tend to form this impression of Bengalis, that they love to read and write and that they are drawn towards it for their background. But, I do not completely agree to it. There are many Bengalis I know who hardly read a book, know very little about the Bengali culture or traditions but follow it for the sake of their parents. In my family, the stress had always been on education and it was my own interest in English as a language that made me move towards journalism and writing. However, this is something I have learnt from my own upbringing that inculcating reading habits in your child since an early age is very important and hence, have decided to follow that in my child’s case. I don’t want him to regret at my age that ‘I wish I had started reading earlier.’
NaSa: On a scale of 10, how do you rate yourself as a writer?
NaSa: Since you are a literature graduate, what do you have to say about the writing skills of writers with non-literature background like Chetan Bhagat and Durjoy Dutta?
Sneha: I will talk from the point of view of a reader here. I haven’t read Durjoy Dutta so cannot comment. But Chetan Bhagat is someone who , I feel, is responsible for giving rise to the likes of Durjoy Dutta. I call them wannabe Chetan Bhagats. I am not a fan of Bhagat’s writing as such but I did like his first novel, Five Point Someone. After which, I thought he lost track and returned with Two States. I loved Two States more because I could relate to it very well 😀
NaSa: What would be your dream achievement in life? How near or far you think you are from it?
Sneha: I am yet to achieve it. Something that would make me proud as well as make my family happy and content.
NaSa: Prose or verse, which is your personal favorite?
NaSa: I remember how writers once had this image of an unshaven, khadi-clad person with a pair of ‘kolhapuris’ in feet and a ‘jhola’ hanging on the shoulder. But these days writing can be a highly paying profession. Can you put some light on the factors responsible for the makeover of writing as a profession? What role you think Internet and outsourcing play to the money-making capacity of the profession?
Sneha: I think I am yet to attain that status to remark on the makeover of writing. But yes, definitely, the way internet has revolutionized the medium of reading, sharing, inculcating, listening – writers have got a plethora of options to choose from and share their knowledge with the rest of the world. IT depends on how you want to channelize your talent and how well do you do so without getting cheated.
NaSa: Can you briefly compare the present and future of blogging in India.
Sneha: From my understanding, blogging will be the most sought-after profession soon. It is something that can be done by anyone who has a flair for writing, and who can understand things and talk about them in a voice that connects with the audience. Blogging has moved way beyond the means to convey your opinions or thoughts. It is in that state where those who are really active will survive- like Darwin’s Theory? Survival of the fittest. Those who will be able to make money, get their blogs recognized, work on what will work and what will not, are going to survive. If you are sincerely looking to make money through blogs, it is time that you start being an influencer. Observe what is the latest trend, and how people are succeeding in that. I am learning each day and hoping that I will hit the jackpot soon too.