He surprises himself; all four books are published, two of them win awards.
Welcome to the multi-layered world of Anees Salim, the new age literary hermit. No book launches, no lit fests, no award ceremonies. No television interviews. Hardly any print chats either. His published words do all the talking. And Anees, endearingly humble, incessantly brave – ironical considering he avoids being in the public eye – opens a little window to his works, his world.
You are said to have written one book after another to kill the pain of rejection. Now that you seem to be winning one award after another, does it not wash away all disappointment? It reminds me of that Thums Up ad of the ’80s: first blood, sweat, tears, loneliness, then 30,000 cheers.
I did not expect to be this lucky after such a long run with bad luck. Even when I was being rejected I knew one of my manuscripts would eventually make it. But all of them getting published and two of them getting awards was a bit unreal for me. These recognitions have made me unnecessarily wary and self-conscious. Since I won The Hindu prize, I must have started at least half a dozen new novels and discarded all of them. Maybe uncertainties bring the best out of a writer.
With the benefit of distance in time, what could have led to some 25 rejections? You are said to have had a feeling of being discriminated against during the phase of rejection. Could you please elaborate?
Looking back, I realise what a complete novice I was back then. I did not have any knack for writing query letters and synopses. Sometimes I wrote rambling mails, sometimes curt ones. My contributions to slush pile must have been really big. I lived in a small town then, I did not know anybody important from literary circles. I wrote only to successful literary agents. I should have written to struggling ones as well, who would at least have read the manuscript to the last page before turning me down.
Yes, rejections made me really sour. I started to believe that they rejected me because I had neither attended any creative writing course nor gone to a foreign university.
An extract from the interview published in The Hindu.
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