Long ago in my schooldays we studied the stories of Premchand in Hindi, and I realized what a great writer he was. Later I read more of his work, but a few words from one of his stories remained in my mind right from those days. The story was about a writer, who keeps writing though he earns hardly anything. His wife is constantly telling him to get some work, as finances dwindle and there is no food left in the house. Calmly, he ignores her, and remains bent over his paper, writing. One day, during one of her harangues, he raises his head and says: ‘The work of a lamp is to glow; the work of a writer is to write.’ [deepak ka kaam hai jalna, lekhak ka kaam hai likhna]. It was many many years before I became a published writer, but those words always seemed true to me. A writer must write, whether the writing is published or not, because that is the nature of a writer. A true writer does not write for fame or for money, but because they cannot help writing. Good, bad, indifferent, a writer goes on writing.
Even when in jail, Jeffrey Archer wrote for about four hours every day, despite all that had happened to him, and all that was happening around him. In prison camps Solzhenitsyn wrote on scraps of paper. And as I have mentioned in another post too, Yuri Olesha said, ‘Let me write fragments without finishing them—at least I am writing!’ You know you are a writer, when you just have to write. No matter what.