The fifth and final entry in this series is like the first one, a joint note of thanks to two authors, Nick Hornby and Kathryn Stockett.
Dear Mr.Hornby, Dear Ms.Stockett,
It is often said that books are of one of the many ways in which the universe speaks to us. Two of your respective books spoke to me and gave me a message at a time that I needed it most.
I read Juliet,Naked and The Help around the same time about two years ago, when I was in a confused, desperate place and was surprised to find directions to my answers in the books. Like me, the protagonists in both books were living in remote places to which to they had no connection, places which offered them nothing much in terms of work or friendships or intellectual stimulation.
I found it heartening that instead of cutesy happy endings, both these characters found the strength and confidence to move on to the cities and lives of their choice, and I believe that that their decisions influenced my own life decision to move back to my city and my life.
I thank you for the inspiration, the sense of connection and guidance that I found in your books. Someday I hope that my own books reach out in the same way to my readers.
A note of thanks to Alexander McCall Smith.
Dear Professor McCall Smith,
Your books have provided me with a tremendous amount of pleasure with good stories, wise observations and insights into the subtle nuances of human character, interesting anecdotes and facts about art, literature, history, science, philosophy and life. They have reassured me more than once that goodness and decency is natural to most human beings. They have often restored my faith in the world. Thank you for that.
Above all, I thank you for being such a wonderful role model. Like a traveller looking at the stars above, as I walk towards my writing career, I am grateful to have your example to look up to as a guiding light.
Thank you, Sir.
As a writer who grew up in Chennai in a Tamil speaking family, it is almost a cliche to say that your poems have influenced me. I was taught to sing your songs almost as soon as I began to speak and I grew up hearing them sung and quoted almost everywhere – on the television and radio, in school functions and in social events. When I was a child, you were so much a part of my life that I took your verse for granted just like the sun, the moon, the stars and the skies.
It was much later in life when I started to read poetry seriously that I began to realise the greatness of your work. While enjoying the crow poems of Ted Hughes, I was exhilarated to think of your verse that related the dark wings of the crow not to the apparent references of death and destruction, but to the divine presence.
Your complete works have been on my desk since I was nineteen years old. I have dipped into your poems frequently, savouring not only the beauty of your verse but also the way in which you present profound philosophy in simple language, your futuristic vision, the humanity that shines through your words and above all, the bliss of being a poet that permeates your work.
I find myself quoting you in my writing sometimes, as naturally as I write, for your words are a part of my language and my life.
It has been over ninety years since you passed. Your songs are still read, cherished, sung and loved by both the finest classical musicians as well as the semi literate peasants – like all great artists, you belong to everyone. I admire the way you continue to live and breathe through your verse.
Thank you for being as much of an inspiration in my life as the stars and the skies.
A note of thanks to Dame Muriel Spark.
I have reread your books over the years with increasing delight, marveling at your insights into the depth of human nature, your wicked sense of humour and your views of the world through many dimensions. Above all, I admire how easily you transcended labels of identity and came across as a consummate artist who joyously and naturally lived her art.
Many aspects of your books have inspired me, the most fascinating being how the boundary between fiction and reality overlaps in your novels, a concept which greatly influenced my first novel.
I admire you greatly, as a writer and as a strong, independent person who lived life on your own terms.
Thank you for inspiring me as an artist and as an individual.
I am writing a set of thank you notes to the writers who have influenced me the most as part of the Thank a Writer project initiated by the author Nathan Bransford.
It was tough shortlisting five writers alone. I am tweaking the rules a little. I will only be posting the thank you notes here on my blog rather than sending them to the authors. This is for various reasons, not the least of which being that three of the authors on my list now happen to live in the pages of their books.
My first entry is a joint note to two authors, James Hilton and Muriel Barbery.
Dear Mr. Hilton, Dear Ms. Barbery,
Ever since I first learnt to read, I have sought for answers to one of the first questions that was ever asked, the question on the meaning and the purpose of life. I have found the most thoughtful and inspiring reflections on this in your respective books.
I remember reading Lost Horizon at age 10 and being stunned into silence at the elegant prose that held in its depths the promise of answers if only I could comprehend it enough. I have read it several times since then and on each reading, have acquired a broader perspective into the things that mattered in life and how it was equally important to be able to let them go.
The Elegance of The Hedgehog which I read a year ago spoke to me from the same plane of thought, affirming that what mattered in life were the random moments of beauty that chanced upon one through art and culture and friendship. I know that it will offer me deeper insights when I read it again, which I will do, more than once.
As I continue to explore this question in my own writing, I thank you for these wonderful books that have instructed and inspired me tremendously in my quest.