We have with us Kamla Kapur, the author of the lovely book The Singing Guru!!! I’m so glad to have caught her for an interview on our blog!
- How did you start writing?
When I was eleven years old we returned from a family holiday and my father asked me to write about it. That’s how I got started. My first poem was a poem to my journal. My father had always wanted to be a writer, too, and did a lot of it after he retired from the army.
- A penny for your thoughts on Spirituality?
Spirituality is not something apart from life and living but interwoven into it at every step, stage, and moment. It is a way of life, a manner of living, a mindset, a perspective on your social, professional, and personal relations to others and to yourself. It is in how you approach your day, your job, your spouse, your children, friends and strangers, in how you think about your existence on this planet. It is the center from which you live, the heart of your being. It is not something you do only by going to a temple or church on Sundays now and then. It spans all the levels of who you are, from the mundane to the exalted. It’s in the Zen “chop wood, carry water.”
I believe that we have much to learn about this from the Masters. On the turbulent journey of life one often needs guidance. The word ‘guru’ means ‘dispeller of darkness.’ Every tradition has its guides. The prophets of all religions function as gurus who teach us how to live, what to think, how to behave with others. A guide is anyone who has traversed the path before us, knows the terrain, knows where the pitfalls are, can see further than we can, and knows the best course of action in conflicted and confused times. A guide does not want to harm us by constricting or limiting our potential, by setting us apart from others. We can, after we have tried them for their worth on the touchstone of love, trust them. Guidance can come to us from any source, any place, any person, if we supplicate and pray for it. It is never withheld.
- What are your views on the current religious tensions all over the world?
It is very tragic that humans can be so blind and foolish. Water is water whether you call it water, aqua, l’eau, pani, jal or any of the names for it we have in all the cultures of the world. But we fight with each other because our name for water does not jive with others. The Energy and Power we call God, Allah, Bhagwan, rab, Vishnu etc, etc, is One. Guru Nanak’s definition of a religious person is “one who looks on all as equal.” Brotherhood and sisterhood of all on this planet is Sikhism’s basic tenet.
I can only surmise that there is so much conflict because there is a deep necessity for violence in our nature. I am not justifying it, but pervasive it is does make you stop and think. You have to take a metaview of these unending phenomena of tension, conflict, war. If the Energy is One, then Creation and Destruction are two aspects of it. In the West these two are polarized but not so in the East. There is a wonderful story from the Indian tradition, from the Mahabharat, in fact, that I have recreated in my book, GANESHA GOES TO LUNCH, called ‘See Him in the Dark,’ on this topic.
And then there is also the possibility that as we evolve as a species and live up to our name of homo sapiens sapiens, it will decrease. This is certainly my hope.
4. What message do you have for your readers?
The message is interwoven in my books. I prefer to give my message through a story rather than prose.
5. How has your publishing journey been?
Difficult, conflicted, the source of much suffering in my life. In retrospect I can see that it all came from wanting too much too soon. The ego gets all entangled in the fruits of your action instead of the action itself (in this case, writing) and takes you through a hellish journey.
But I am at peace now. I just do the work. I am pleased my books have found their audience, even if its just a handful of people.
- How important is it for indie authors to rely on good quality editors and beta readers?
It depends on how long you have been writing for and how careful you are in your writing. Writing is at least 50% rewriting and constant revision. If you are the kind of writer that is not content with any sentence, paragraph, image, dialogue, or any part of the plot, of if a character seems unintentionally insincere, and keeps working at it till it satisfies, then the need for an editor is far less than if you write in a hurry and are in a toot to get it published. I have always slightly resented editors, although I have benefited from others as well. In general, it is always good to get a second opinion because you can get so caught up in your work as to lose perspective.
I believe that Time is the greatest editor of all. If you let something sit for a while you automatically get distance from it and can go back to it with a new, more objective eye. This is one reason why I work on several books at the same time, moving from one to the other after a lapse of time. The book I am completing now, MALINI IN WHIRLWOOD, has been in the making for 40 years! Yes, yes, I know how weird that must sound to young writers in a hurry to get published.
I don’t know what you mean by ‘beta’ readers. Do tell me! Here is an interview question for you!
- What more can we expect from your pen
I am finishing up Malini in Whirwood, which is the first part of a trilogy; I am half way through the second book in The Sikh Saga Series, The Dancing Guru. I hope to complete the series by the end of my life, if the Universe so wills. There are at least five more volumes in it.
Thank you so much Kamla, for taking the time out to spread such lovely wisdom through this interview!!!