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Swapnil Pandey began writing to document the ‘adventure’ that she says everyday army life is, and soon found herself enjoying it enough to turn a ‘certified author’ with a published book. She shares her story here.
With over 1600 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 Swapnil Pandey, one of our 3 featured authors for May 2017.
Swapnil describes herself as someone who is passionate about the community that the Indian Army is, and about sharing the nuances of that life, with the outside world. Living in this tight knit community, she finds inspiration easily for her writing. Her other big interest is Fashion, and as a self-described fashionista, that too fuels her writing. Here we talk to her about army life, inspiration and her writing.
Authors are often asked this question, but everyone has their own reasons, very personal to them. So, why do you write?
I have always been a voracious reader and then, I live in a community of warriors where there is always an extraordinary tale of bravery or romance. Some friends are posted at borders or someone known pulled off an extraordinary stunt beyond enemy lines. Sometimes I would come across exceptional ladies who haven’t met their husbands for two straight years or a lady who defied everything just to be with the love of her life even in tents. There are stories pouring in from everywhere around the corners of the Army world and so I write to bring out these extraordinary stories before people. They should know about it, right?
When and how did you first begin writing?
As I said there are stories everywhere around the corners of Army world so one day I decided to write to talk about this world different from rest of the world. And one day I established a blog and started writing about everything that interested me. It got a tremendous response, so much so that I have 1 lakh hits just in a year’s time. Then, I had witnessed an exceptional love story, so once my blog was established, I thought of writing a book on this love story and by God’s grace my debut book Soldier’s Girl : Love Story of a Para Commando got traditionally published too, and is now doing very well on Amazon. That’s how I turned out to be a certified author too. So yeah! I feel it was my calling and I was destined to be a story teller.
Do you have a muse?
LOVE is my muse. I find it a very powerful feeling. The power it holds to change lives or bring about apocalypses astonishes me way too much. Fortunately, I have never witnessed the darker side of it so I only have stories and emotions as extraordinary, healing or beautiful as love itself to share with the world. The way two people fall in love and create an entire new world on this planet is miraculous, right? It is just that we don’t realise it sometimes.
Where do you get your ideas from?
I live among the bravest of men and women on this planet. The best of men all so chivalrous, proud and dreaded – the Army officers! Their women are exceptional in the manner they lead their lives and support their husbands’ decision of protecting this nation and they do it with panache. Everyday life is just not ‘regular’ here but an adventure. Sometimes I have taught Kashmiri kids in the valley only to face the most astonishing questions or sometimes I get to meet an unknown warrior who has just got back after killing several terrorists or sometimes I met a ‘VeerNari’ who had just lost her husband for the country and yet she manages her child and house with exceptional bravery. Don’t you think it would touch anyone’s heart to be in such a world and witness exceptional stories every day?
When it comes to writing on/for/about women, what questions and issues drive you the most?
Women are the most amazing species on this planet. We are an interesting combination of so many things at the same time. Fun and fearless, beauty and wilderness, tranquillity and craziness and everything else like this. We are the lot of urban educated women each with a unique set of problems too. We are empowered yet exploited by our own people at the same time. The marriages which had fixed ways earlier are proving to be stoppers and pushers both for us at the same time. Education is broadening our horizons but sometimes it’s clogging our minds too. There are so many confusions at our generations. It’s like we are hanging in the middle of the 90s generation and the millennial ones. So most of my topics are focussed on addressing this issue of urbanisation. Apart from Army wives I also write about fashion, beauty, social issues, culture – all primarily centred on women.
Anything you’d like to tell others who would want to write?
Be consistent and persistent. There are no shortcuts in the writing world. Blogging is a must for any type of writer these days because it has the power to reach thousands of people and establish your audience base. Platforms like Women’s Web are a great boost – so try to participate in such communities regularly. When you start writing, start writing for yourself only and then slowly expand your topics but first establish your expertise and audience. Social media influencing is also another great boost for writers today. There are no limitations today and a lot of opportunities so don’t be bogged down and just keep on writing and presenting before the world. All the best!