Sandeep Kumar Mishra has cornered the market on literary straightforwardness. He writes personal but universal intense stories that simply must be read in a calm setting. Recently, he was long listed for the prestigious Commonwealth Award-2023. We caught up with him about his feeling on being on the coveted list and other things including personal and professional career.
Tell us something about yourself as a person, and how is he different as an author?
There is no difference between Sandeep as a person and as an author – you will find a punctual true self of me in personal affairs and same in my writing. I am always a learner, learning something new every day, from everyone – like right now I am learning a lot from you.
Do you have a writing regimen or are you a spontaneous writer?
To me, the ideas normally come at odd times, odd places, and odd occasions when my life asks me some questions which has been the case every day, every month or every year of my life till now. Mostly the ideas come to me when I am very tense or under a lot of pressure from external factors. I give me respite from the tension. When I feel helpless, it is a kind of defense mechanism for me. Till now whatever I have written is derived from my personal life.
Where do you write?
I don’t have a separate space for writing. I write in my drawing room where my daughter and son also share their daily routine, I love it. I head down there most mornings with a big cup of milk after the kids have gone to school, it’s my happy place. And my productive place too — my brain seems to click into work mode once I’m in there. I work on the sofa, or in bed or chair.
How has the journey been so far?
Very nice, as exhilarating as the journey of writing it. I always want to be an artist or writer but financial insecurity in my early days didn’t let me do any kind of creative work. In 2020, I published my first autobiographical poetry collection “One Heart- Many Breaks” which became bestseller and received many international awards. Since then I haven’t looked back. In 2022, a children picture book “The Brooch-A Magic Within” was also well received.
What are your next projects which you are looking forward to publish?
I am already finished two short story collections which are due to be published next month by Rudraditya Prakashan. The collection includes some of my best and award winning stories like “Dead Dreams”, A Father’s Son and “Revisiting A Broken House.” ‘Dead Dreams’ was long listed for one of the prestigious international story award ‘Commonwealth Story Award-2023’ and ‘A Father’s Son has also won awards and published in many magazines.
As a published author, which has been your most cherished achievement so far?
Last three years, my work has received or shortlisted for many international awards. Such as ‘Commonwealth Award-2023’ “Poiesis Award-2021”, “International Book Awards-21”,”Indies Today Award 2020”, Asian Anthology-2022, ‘Newcastle Story Award-2022.’ That is more than I would have thought of to achieve in whole life. My stories and poems have also been included in various universities journal and magazines. So what I have achieved in the short span of time is what other authors are not lucky enough to get in whole life.
Are you a fan of looking back at your old stuff, or do you like to leave it?
Mostly, I would not do that, because it’s deeply embarrassing, and also it’s like, I can’t fix it. You hope that you grow with every book. And so if that logic holds, then my third book should be a lot better written than my first book. I recently went back and read them all because all of them are being reissued. There were parts where I could see where I had grown. And then, there was also moments where I have a little bit more faith in myself. There’s a lot to be proud of in them.
What do you hope readers will take away from your books?
I think I always feel connected with the readers and my book takes readers on an endless road of self exploration. I always write about my struggles in life, mental health, depression, anxiety and disassociation from myself. Today’s modern life has become less or more same for all of us full of challenges. So they feel solace in reading about something which relates to their life.
How does it feel to receive such praise for your work?
A great sense of validation and relief. When your hard work and dedication is rewarded you obviously feel a sense of achievement. For me it is just a milestone on a long journey.
In conversation with R Sharma- Editor at Indian Poetry Review