Rajeev Saxena was not a born writer. When a child is born, he or she can express themselves by crying, but can’t do so by writing. Rajeev still remembers his first contribution to a Hindi newspaper. When he was probably around 12 years old, there used to be a famous soap opera on Indian Television called Rajani. Back then, things were very different. There was only one TV channel in India, which was called, ‘Delhi Doordarshan’. You’d watch its programs on your black and white television sets, probably using a 40-foot antenna that was on your roof with the guy-wires that extended to your neighbors’ houses. Even then, the picture was not sharp, especially if you lived far from the capital, Delhi, since that’s where the transmission was coming from. That was one of the reasons why people of Delhi were proud of where they lived.
Rajeev’s family didn’t have television at home, and at the time, that was not something to be embarrassed about. Several of his friends, or he’d even say most of them, didn’t have one. In the TV serial, Rajani, the main character, Rajani, was a housewife fighting with government officials against the laxity of the government. Rajeev knows this storyline now, because he read it on the Internet. Originally, he knew vaguely that Rajni was a famous character on TV. It somehow became controversial, and eventually drew interest from all parts of Indian society. In the ‘Letters to Editor’ section in newspapers, there were so many people writing about Rajani that he lost count. But that gave Rajeev an idea. He read almost 100 of those letters, came up with his ‘made-up’ opinion, and sent that to the newspaper without watching a single episode of the serial. It was to his great pleasure when the letter was published in the ‘Letters to Editor’ section in the Jansatta Hindi Daily, a very popular national newspaper.
That was the start of his ‘Letters to Editor’ journey, which is nothing to be proud of, as he says. Anybody could send a letter to a newspaper, and as long it’s reasonable, they’ll publish it. It doesn’t have to be piece of fine literature. After some time, Rajeev wrote small articles in Hindi newspapers related to children.
And then, his writing stopped completely. Competition in his school was tough, and if he was going to be selected for the prestigious college at the Indian Institutes of Technology (IIT), there was no room for any fun activities. His hard work paid off, and he was selected by IIT for admission. Though IIT had a literary club, he never had enough time to participate in it. Once or twice, his articles were published in the IIT magazine, and then later in corporate magazines when he started his professional career. Nobody knew that he was an author, but there was an author in him.
How Rajeev started writing his book is also an interesting story. He founded a business that made customized windows coverings and bed covers. An end user could design these on the Internet and they’d produce it for them in their small workshop. Due to the high manufacturing costs and a lack of funding, the business didn’t last very long. The interesting part was that they got more orders that they could fulfill, but still couldn’t get any funding, because the idea was ahead of its time.
Then, he thought about documenting all the ideas he had about businesses and compiling them in the form of a book. He started it, but when he tried to get feedback, people said that this kind of book would be very boring. His ideas grew stale. He was told to write some fiction, some romance, something entertaining…something that he liked, and what readers would like. So, he threw out whatever he wrote and started from scratch, came up with a book called, ‘Pinto Has An Idea’.
While this book has a plot focused on the cities he was raised in, it’s a complete work of fiction. Because the story is about a scientist, he was able to plug some of his innovative business ideas into the story, though he has fictionalized them as well. His focus was on a couple of things:
1. The novel should not be just another engineering romance book, it should give a positive message to the society.
2. Since Pinto, the main character of his book, is a scientist, his focus was to bring out the innovative parts of his (Pinto’s) personality. That also acts as intellectual food for readers.
3. It should be humorous and entertaining. Readers should never feel that they are reading some heavy fiction. It’s both good and bad, but this is important for mass appeal.
Only readers like you can tell him whether he has done justice to his story or not.
How he found a publisher? That’s a story in itself. That story next time.