(My maiden interview! Thank you, Women´s Web! This interview was first published here: http://www.womensweb.in/2017/04/tina-sequeira-author-of-the-month-april-2017/)
Tina Sequeira believes that each of us is a story-teller and has something to say; but – you do need to be a brave heart to put your story out there. A featured Women’s Web author in April 2017, she tells us her writing story.
With over 1500 women (and men) sharing candid stories, views and experiences here, our editors are picking some of the best contributors each month, as Featured Author of the month. Here we talk to Tina Sequeira, one of our 3 featured authors for April 2017.
Tina has a way with words, and writes effortlessly on a range of subjects, from movie reviews to poetry to parenting. She kicks the misconception that readers are only looking for stuff that gets done in under 30 seconds. Her 1500 word plus pieces have often found favour with readers, which just goes to show you – good writing is good writing, no matter how short or long it is!
Authors are often asked this question, but everyone has their own reasons, very personal to them. So, why do you write?
I have an overactive brain and imagination. In many ways, I am an over-thinker and writing comes to my therapeutic aid. On the one hand, I am still like a child in many ways, fantasising and making up images, characters and stories in my head and living a daydream, And on the other hand, a stark realist who deciphers the world and its happenings around and has a strong view and opinion to share. Writing comes as a welcome outlet both for my creative as well as intellectual pursuits. It satisfies both the child as well as the woman in me. Writing for me is what playtime and vivid exploration is for a child. Writing is also an orgasmic outlet for all those pent-up emotions, stirring thoughts and intellectual cravings.
When and how did you first begin writing?
I was a voracious reader, beginning as early as 5 years. The next natural course of action had to be writing. As far as I can remember, I started to write around the age of 12. It all started with the romantic idea or notion of maintaining a hush-hush secret personal diary..a journal. Looking back, I think that was a great idea to cope and get by the confusing and tough period of adolescence. I would scribble and doodle the daily happenings at school and home. Then I graduated to poetry, opinion pieces, grand plans for the future, my adolescent woes and complaints, how much I loved my family and more in my little diary. I drew random sketches along with my writings. It was a fantastic experience and I have never looked back ever since.
Do you have a muse?
My muse is the silence and the stillness of the night. Íf you listen closely, the silence is beautiful. This saying is most apt when it comes to my writings. There is a magic in the stillness of the night that is simply perfect for some serious rumination. It is when all the images of the day, flashback vividly in front of my eyes amidst the stark black backdrop of the night. The ideas, stories and thoughts keep spinning endlessly till I fall asleep. The next day, I have my work already cut out for me. All I need to do is gather those thoughts and breathe life into them with the written word.
Where do you get your ideas from?
All of the things mentioned. Life, in itself, is a grand inspiration. There are countless stories and real live action movies running and showing for free in front of our eyes. Either in our homes, neighbourhood, work places, or in the books and newspapers! Look around – There are real life heroes, heroines, villians, side kicks, comedians, more complex characters. And of course, there´s us. How can I forget! Shakespeare couldn’t have been more right when he famously wrote, “All of the world is a stage,and all the men and women, merely actors.”
When it comes to writing on/for/about women, what questions and issues drive you the most?
I am passionate about promoting fairness and equality between men and women in all aspects of life. I am a proud woman and mother of a bright young girl. A lot of things bother me about the treatment of women, especially in our country. I respect, value and understand the need and importance of Tradition. But, at the same time, I firmly believe that some traditions are outdated and can frankly, be done away with given the current age modern world we live in. I like to question through my writings, the validity and existence of certain traditions and customs in today´s world especially when it comes at the expense of a woman´s free will and well-being.
Another issue I strongly feel about is Rape. I am saddened and shocked at the apathetic attitude of us Indians towards Rape. Yes, it happens in other countries as well but the kind of victim blaming and bashing that happens in India is not seen elsewhere. Yes, that woman wore a short dress, went out in the streets at night. So, what! She was not asking for ‘it’ nor was she a prostitute looking to be laid. What gives anyone the right to rape or judge a rape victim? Also, the misconceptions about Rape and that too from the educated clan is worrying. It can happen to anyone from a 2 yr to an 80 yr old, in the confines of your own home, from a relative to a spouse etc. There needs to be a complete detoxification of mindsets when it comes to the general perception, attitude and treatment towards women in our country. We are treated like third class citizens in our own country. Even cows garner more respect and value than us. When the slaughtering of cows warrants a higher penalty than the rape of women or killing of female foetuses in the country, we seriously have lots to worry, be concerned and write about.
Anything you’d like to tell others who would want to write?
Just do it! Don’t think twice about it. All of us are story-tellers in the making with unique stories of our own. And, no one can tell our story like we can. The most important qualities to be a good writer is Authenticity and Courage. It is not about great language, grammar and all that jazz alone. Of course, those are important and if you want to improve the technical aspects of writings, reading helps a lot. But, great writing is a lot more than that. It is about stories passionately told in all its authenticity and honesty. Great writing doesn’t please. It provokes. Forget about your writing being liked or being popular. Great if they are! But more importantly, is the honesty with which your stories are being written.
Also, have the courage to be yourself. Writing is like a literary strip-tease till you are stark naked before your readers. You reveal your inner most thoughts, emotions, feelings, a bit by bit, with every teasing piece of your writing, to the whole world. Have the courage to be the real ‘you’ through your writings. Let not the thought of being judged freak you out or deter you from pouring out your soul into your writings. Your authentic self may offend a lot of people and they might reject you outright. But, they have no power over you. When you reveal and manifest your soul through words, you already have the power of truth on your side.
Remember always that there is nothing more powerful than the written word. It is, not for nothing, the saying goes “The pen is mightier than the sword.” Yes, writing is lethal and deadly. Because nothing can be deadlier that the Truth told. Writing is not for the faint hearted. It is for the brave hearts and authentic souls. But, let me tell you that it is the most liberating experience and feeling there ever existed. I promise, you won’t regret it! So, get your brave on and take the plunge. Just do it…the write way!