For author Ruskin Bond, stories are essentially inspired from his dreams that he jotted down and kept a record of.
One of his most popular short stories, “The Night Train at Deoli”, was in fact a reproduction of a dream, said the 81-year-old author who delivered this year’s Penguin Annual Lecture here this evening.
“Most of my early stories are based on my dreams that I used to record in my notebook. All the love stories were dreams,” he said.
Bond, who has had a vibrant literary career spanning over 65 years with several novels, short stories, essays and also some poetry to his credit, used the occasion to speak about “The Joy of Writing”.
“Yes, I enjoy being an author and writing stories, probably because that is what I have been doing the best, besides playing football. Except that at 81, I can still write but football…,” he quipped.
Bond, who admits to being a prolific reader all his life, emphasised that it was very important for a writer or those who aspire to be one to read voraciously.
“It is very important that you be a good reader, because you learn so much from books and also because you emulate your favourite writers,” he said.
On one occasion when he ran out of reading material at his solitary cottage in Mussoorie, Bond said, he had picked up an Oxford Dictionary and he was surprised how he ended up reading “page after page, learning new words”.
Correct usage of language and working regularly, he feels, are imperative to grow as a writer and helps develop a style of one’s own.
“Respect the language you write in. Do not be careless with your grammar and develop your own tone of voice. Develop a style that without looking at the book cover or reading the name of the author, a reader knows whose writing it is,” he said.
The author, who lives in Landour in Mussoorie, admitted to being “the most lazy writer” who is “always taking naps,” but emphasised the importance of working daily.
“I feel guilty if I go for a day or two without writing,” said the author who has penned over 500 short stories, essays and novellas and is the recipient of many prestigious awards including Padma Shri and Padman Bhushan.
Talking about what set him off on a habit of writing, he shared how as a child of 10 left alone at home while his father was at work, he would fill up his exercise books with little observations from his surroundings.
These jottings over time took shape of a diary or a journal that he continues to write even today.
This habit of writing a journal everyday, he said, has not only worked as a “kind of therapy” but has often acted as a bag full of stories for him.
“What you are writing today may not be useful to you now, but when in the future you can look back and create stories from them,” he said.