I Kept Always Two Books in My Bag : One to Read, One to Write In - Palak Aggarwal

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1. Tell us more about your background and journey.

I always had thoughts in my mind. Thoughts, which I really wanted to pen down, but never had the right words to express with. Choosing PCM with Economics in class 11th and 12th further stopped that creative and “time-taking” process of writing (due to IIT JEE preparations, of course). I started writing in college due to the motivation of one of my professors, Mehul ma’am who probed me into this field due to the “hidden talent” that she found in me.

My first proper writing piece was a satire on the coffee culture of the 21st century, especially in the context of Delhi University. After that, I got selected for a research project on ‘Texts and Writing’ in Kirorimal college where I learnt a lot through the esteemed experts and the faculty. That was all the push I needed and rest is history. 

2. Who is your favourite writer and why?

I really love a lot of writers because of the horizon of thought processes, writing styles and experiences that they expose me to. But, if I have to narrow it down to one, my current favourite is Virginia Woolf. I was in awe of her writing when I read ‘Mrs Dalloway’ and I fell in love with her while reading her thoughts in ‘A Room of One’s Own.’ The way she has worked with the stream of consciousness method and her quote on the same,

“Life is not a series of gig lamps symmetrically arranged; life is a luminous halo, a semitransparent envelope surrounding us from the beginning of consciousness to the end.” has left a very deep impression on me which I might not forget for years. The visual approach and the imagination that she serves to the readers in her modernist texts are worthy of every possible appreciation. 

3. What piece of advice would you like to give to future aspiring writers and ones who are insecure about their art?

Make no mistake, I am no writer or even a designated person to answer this question in the professional capacity. But, as a young literature student who likes to read and write and with some of my pieces published in different platforms, all I can say is that when you feel strongly about something, just write it down. Don’t worry about it being “not good enough,” because the toughest part of writing, according to me, is actually writing it down.

So, consider 70% of your work done. All that is left now is editing, refining and referencing your writing. This is the best part because you get to brainstorm and find so many ways of saying the same thing. So, my advice to all is to write freely and not only imagining but believing that everyone is going to judge your writing but it doesn’t affect you. It is then that you’ll overcome your insecurity about your art and treat it like the precious thing it is because it is a part of you!

4. Which is your favourite book and why?

Owing to my background in diverse fields, I’ve read different books of multiple genres and I’ve got a list of all the books that I love, so it’s very difficult for me to just name one. But, to answer this question I’ll talk about that one book which has deeply impacted me and changed the way I think. I am talking about Bhagwad Gita. Despite being an English major, I deeply love Bhagwad Gita because of the lessons of life it gives.

I won’t go into the details because I’d be successful if you experience this book yourself. But, to illustrate my point, I’d highlight that my last answer talked about accepting the fact that everyone will judge you but you shouldn’t be affected by it, is one of the teachings that I’ve imbibed from the Bhagwad Gita. It talks about detachment, acting on your emotions, gaining perfection in your work and so much more. 

5. How can we encourage more young students such as yourself to take up leadership role? 

When one is passionate about something, it becomes easier to visualise that dream and to make it come true and when you take the responsibility of this, you automatically come in the lead role. If I talk about myself, the credit of whatever I’ve done goes to my inspiration, Dr Pawan Sinha ‘Guruji’, who has worked extensively to empower the youth so that they come in the leadership position and serve the nation.

So, under the right guidance, with the goal in your mind and passion, even young students can take up the leading role. Also, leadership is not about coming to the front while receiving appreciation, but to serve the team, guide them and taking responsibility for the mistakes. This is what servant leadership is. 

6. What have been your biggest challenges and learning from what you do?

I believe that whenever one tries to follow a different path or even a path that one is passionate about, there are several obstacles in the way. These obstacles can include your friends who will oppose you and your ideology or your relatives or even unknown people on the internet who don’t like what you’re doing. But, one learning that I followed is, “Each work has to pass through these stages—ridicule, opposition, and then acceptance.” This quote by Swami Vivekananda is what keeps me going. 

- Palak Aggarwal

Interviewed by - Priyanshi Arora

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