Pens, Paws, and Claws would like to welcome Ajesh Sharma to the blog!
Tell our readers a little about yourself and your writing.
I was born in the Indian capital of New Delhi and finished school in Kolkata. I started my career in that city as a techie, designing software systems. I founded and ran a software products company for a decade before moving to Canada in 1997.
I started writing about 8 or 9 years ago and realized I didn’t know what to write and had no idea what my style or voice was. I then developed my blog, currently www.sloword.com, as a means to learn how to write, starting out writing poetry as well as stories from my life. I created multiple characters and tried different styles.
In 2014 I wrote a short story, which I showed a friend. She encouraged me to develop it and it grew into my biggest work so far, “A Couple of Choices”. This is a 3-Act play, self-published on Amazon Kindle in December 2017. I have also had a couple of short stories published in a couple of online magazines.
What writing projects are you currently working on?
One Bluish Egg – is my autobiography, up to the point I landed in Canada. It stands at around 72k words, but needs editing and some additional chapters. It focuses mostly on my career and the interesting people I have met and strange situations I have been in.
Angler on the Credit and Other Stories – A collection of short stories.
Seriously Awful Poems – is a collection of poetry, some very serious and solemn with some humorous ones mixed in.
Who is your favorite author and why?
I have many that absolutely did influence my days as a reader. James Herriot, the Yorkshire vet and his tales of the people and animals he met in his life was a well-loved and well-regarded author. Today, I would say that PG Wodehouse stands out as the ultimate in writing class. His wordplay, the classical references used to great effect to bring out the humor in the situation and his ability to construct a sentence are unparalleled.
Did you have childhood pets? If so, tell us about them.
When I was about 4 years old, I remember being taken to see a litter of guinea pig sized creatures. One of them came home with us. He grew fast. He loved milk and the sound of my mother pouring his milk out would see him racing away to the kitchen. He would then remember that he was not allowed into the kitchen itself, so he would come to a sliding stop just outside the door, panting with excitement. My oldest sister didn’t believe we needed a dog, so we gave him away, to a neighbor. We kids would walk to school and he was there in the morning, bounding up to the gate of his new house, barking greetings at us, growing up fast into the Alsatian he was.
What’s your favorite book or movie that had an animal as a central character? Why?
Animal Farm. The old horse, Boxer, to my mind, symbolizes the people who lose the most, yet are the ones who go to their doom still proclaiming their faith. I find that the saddest yet truest human frailty.
When did you know you were a writer? And how did you know?
Back in high school, in my final year, I competed for the school’s two-man debating team. I came third and thus didn’t make it. I was asked, however, to write an essay on the motion to help the team. I did and sent it in. I heard nothing more about it for a week. Then one day Hindi language teacher, looked at me, nodded and said “Oh, Sharma, I hear you write essays.. interesting.”
In my final year of school, I wrote a badly concocted extended skit for the annual teachers day celebration. It was a day when the students put up shows for the benefit of the teachers. This was banned by the Jesuit Rector on the ground that it may be offensive to some.
These two episodes stand out. Between 1978 and 2010, however, I wrote nothing except consulting reports. I read that and realize I never really knew I was a writer and still don’t!
What’s the number one item on your bucket list and why?
I’d like to see one of my plays on stage. By far, that would be fantastic!
There are other things, like visiting Bethel, NY to see the site of the Woodstock which I did 43 years to the day late. Also, last year, I walked across the Abbey Road zebra crossing!
What do your pets do when you are writing?
I don’t have pets. I do have a grand-doggie, a pug, who comes visiting sometimes. Usually, she is content to sit right next to me and snore away.
What’s in your “To Be Read” (TBR) pile right now? And how many TBR piles do you have?
The Collected Short Stories of Saki ( HH Munro )
Antrobus Collection by Lawrence Durrell
Collected works of James Thurber
I have only one TBR.
What are two things you know now that you wish you knew when you started writing?
It takes more than writing ability. The friends you think you had won’t usually be there to help mobilize support. At least, in my case, that it true. People will say nice things about your writing and gush about how much they loved it, maybe on social media, however, this doesn’t translate to exposure / sales. You need one or two very influential people in your corner to publicize your work.
Being able to market your work without self-deprecation and spamming is hard! Balancing self-doubt with a brazen sales pitch isn’t easy.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to be a writer?
I’m almost tempted to say “Don’t!”. But in all fairness, enjoy your writing first. You should be able to read what you wrote and like it. It should make you laugh, cry, drive some emotion. That means you’ve found your voice, usually.
What is one lesson you learned about writing or publishing that you’d like to share?
Read. Read a lot of different types. Read blogs, interact with the writers there. Explore, assimilate by osmosis so that your unique style becomes a part of you, unforced, natural and unmistakably you.
Ajesh Sharma, is a Canadian author and playwright. His short stories have appeared in The Telegram Magazine and Unbound eMagazine. A Couple of Choices is his first play.
He uses his blog, www.sloword.com, to showcase his love for wordplay and humor, his intense dislike for cats and his fanatical adoration of okra.
When not wearing colorful socks or attempting to play guitar, he tries to read, write, learn photography and spend time with one wife, two grown up sons, one daughter-in-law and her dog on the outskirts of Toronto, Canada.
He can be found here: