Posted in History, India, Writing

Independence Day–A country and one’s writing

Today, 15th August, India celebrates 68 years of independence. To what extent does the country or city in which one lives, influence one’s writing?

Much of my writing is specifically about India–India’s history, India’s religions and beliefs–but even when writing world history, India’s influence is there, though subtle and indirect.  It is there in my focus on other nations gaining independence after colonial rule, countries in Africa, Southeast Asia and elsewhere. It is there in my attempt to understand how the original inhabitants of the Americas, Australia, New Zealand, the Caribbean islands and some other places, lost their way of life, and almost ceased to exist. And in some way it pervades my understanding of wars, of the world economy, of society and so much else.

It is not just one’s country, but one’s family and education, one’s reading, research, study, ideas and thoughts, that create the backdrop against which one writes.

What do other writers think? What are your influences? Are you aware of them?

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Author:

A writer with eight published books and several articles, book reviews etc. I primarily write on history and religion, but would love to switch to fiction.

8 thoughts on “Independence Day–A country and one’s writing

  1. What a fascinating question. I’ve been mulling it over for a while. I’ve never thought much about what has influenced me, but I think I would say education, in the widest sense of the word. So that would include my family. But of course that means my country as well, because I’m a product of my environment. And my environment will have shaped my perceptions to a great degree.

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  2. I think that might depend on how one feels about those influences. Some people seem inclined to extend or challenge themselves by finding all sorts of ways to gain perspectives that are absent from their own environment. In modern parlance, “getting out of your comfort zone,” I suppose. (Or maybe they’re just plain curious?)

    While others prefer to keep to what they know. It may be that way with writers as well.

    But some influences will stick regardless, I think. I vaguely remember reading an essay by V.S. Naipaul on Joseph Conrad, where he touched on these issues in a colonial or post-colonial context. I’ll see if I still have it here. Of course, my memory of it may be completely wrong!

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    1. I was actually thinking of J Krishnamurti, a philosopher from India, and ‘the unconditioned mind.’ Can the mind ever be free of its conditioning and environment? And of course, these very thoughts arise out of the fact that I was once quite an admirer of his philosophy, hence out of another influence. Would like to read Naipaul’s essay if you can find it.
      One writes from what one knows, that is true.

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      1. Ah! I don’t think my earlier reply was quite clear. My poor spacing in the comment box!
        What I meant was, writers may fall into both camps.

        Some stretch themselves to write “what they don’t know” because they enjoy the challenge of writing as far as possible from their immediate experience. While others work more closely with their everyday environment.

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  3. Me again, after a hunt through my bookcase. The V.S. Naipaul essay is called “Conrad’s Darkness”, and I have it in a Penguin paperback called “The Return of Eva Peron, with The Killings in Trinidad”. The book is a series of think-pieces on what Naipaul refers to as “half-made societies”. The book was first published in 1980, and I read it in the early 80s – hence my hazy memory. I know I came away from it thinking about how a person can be so much the product of their own environment that, once out of it, they can lose their moral compass entirely. (Though I just had a quick read of the Conrad essay, and didn’t see quite that message there!) However, Naipaul quotes Conrad in another part of the book on this theme – “the safety of surroundings”.

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