A Multifaceted Artist-Payal Sagar
Payal Sagar is a millennial mother, fine artist, interior designer, and soon-to-be author. She is a trained Kathak dancer and an art enthusiast.
After completing a Specialization in Poetry Writing from Oxford University, she is all set to release her debut book Paper Planes and Hopes. She wants to redefine how people perceive poetry. Her book is an amalgamation of various thoughts and feelings and aims to inspire people in the most crucial stages of their lives.
Team Storiyaan talked with the artist about her writing life and her upcoming poetry collection.
Questions and answers
You were into interior design and have been a fine artist. Tell us a little about that and how/when did you decide to become a writer?
I’ve always been inclined towards art. My early childhood was spent in learning Kathak dance form and fine arts, writing poems and thoughts, here and there in my teenage years. I believe writing is an inheritance from my father, who himself has been a brilliant writer that not many know of. As I grew up, I studied and worked as an Interior designer (a safer approach for my career). And soon found Fine arts to be a more soul-satisfying option. So I practiced it for years, and today, I specialize in portrait paintings. Writing came to me like an old friend. While I painted, I kept exploring words. And after quite a long time, it was once again a part of myself. Well, today, I have my collection of poetry coming soon!
What inspired you to write this book?
In April, last year, while I was at the gym, I hurt my lower back. At that time, I had a couple of paintings to finish and deliver, which I couldn’t complete- for me, painting takes multiple sittings of 6-7 hours each. As a workaholic, I felt trapped while sitting still. After two frustrating months of not being able to sit properly for long, one beautiful day, I stumbled upon my old written works. I was overwhelmed by emotions. A month later, I recovered completely, and today I feel glad about it as that accident reconnected me with my writing. After writing for a while, I could see the faint image of a book happening. It excited me, even though I didn’t know how, but I just knew it.
What were the difficulties and challenges you faced while writing your book, and how did you overcome them?
Initially, there was no such idea of getting published. With my meditation on words, I just kept writing for about six to eight months, until I had compiled more than three hundred pieces. My passion has got me far enough to think about publishing it. But, one cannot go about publishing with a raw draft. Redrafting is a robust process, and I, too, felt lost in the middle of it. Then I heard about a specialized Poetry Writing course from Oxford University, and I immediately signed up for it. Doing that was one of my best decisions ever. Everything I learned there had taught me to draft a publishable manuscript of the poetry collection. My publishers (Blue Rose Publishers) have been very supportive, as well. I had a distinct idea about the book, and my publishers let me have complete creative control. And so, what was a dream a year ago, is a reality today.
How did you come up with the title ‘Paper planes and Hopes’? What does it signify?
The Paper Plane is a symbolic view of launching oneself, starting something new, and creating something for oneself. One can begin the first time or the tenth time. And that is the idea behind it. For anyone in their twenties to forties, they should believe that they are like paper planes, a raw version of something bigger than they will become. I want to instill a spark of hope in any reader’s heart that it is never too late to begin, and that they can always believe in the future. A paper plane and my mind are somewhat alike- unafraid to go anywhere and be anything while having fun. Paper planes represent youth, freedom, and whimsical ideas. They also represent creativity and growth.
What do you want your readers to take away from your book? What do you want your writing to be remembered for?
We are all very capable of achieving what we want. When the spark of hope is lit up within oneself, there’s no turning around. I hope the insights in the book help loosen their knotted visions of life and broaden their ideologies. The book will hopefully reconnect the readers to the small things that are often overlooked in the broader idea of life. It is for people who want to have a grip over their thoughts and actions to succeed in life. Every page turned, the reader will find something relatable and motivating, to think upon and self-reflect. And hopefully, the book leads them to be happier in life.
Your upcoming book is a collection of personal poems, emotions, and thoughts. Was it challenging to pen it down for everyone to read?
When I started writing, it was supposed to be a private thing between me and my laptop. Writing is meditating and a solitary profession. Everything in the book is not based on my life. I make up a few things and mingle it with the elements of reality—an amalgamation of fiction and nonfiction. That is the best way to describe my writing. Over time, I got the idea of drafting a book out of it all. It wasn’t a tough thing to do as I am naturally very open-minded and speak from the heart.
You did a specialization in Writing Poetry from the University of Oxford. What are some things you learned there that you have implemented in your book?
I was fortunate to take up Poetry Writing from Oxford. It was an incredible experience as I was the only student from India out of the twenty-five students. It opened my eyes to a newer level of creativity with my words. Reading a different work by a different artist of a completely different background every day gave me a better perspective. I progressed. I may not be able to pinpoint the details that have helped me put this book together, but I am never going to be able to write the way I used to. My voice as a writer has changed. We spoke about things in the class that would otherwise be termed as nerdy. And it has altogether given me a newer and better experience.
Did you have any particular audience in your mind while writing your book, or was it more about your content being out there?
The age group of twenty to forty would find my book very relatable. The initial loose write-ups were written randomly, and my only goal was to get them out in the world. Then, it came to the drafting of my book manuscript. I worked hard, edited, and re-edited, keeping in mind the audience whom I wrote all this for. Hoping that they’d get the deeper meaning of the book while enjoying it thoroughly.
Tell us about the taxing toll writing a book demands from a writer. Does it ever feel exhausting, or has it always been energizing?
I had given myself a deadline at every stage in the process, spent sleepless caffeinated nights, and often fell sick. Since I always have a busy day, I wrote at night. That’s all because I was so driven, and it excited me to work towards something I loved doing so much. My husband has played a significant role in supporting me by cheering and being my rock throughout. And so I cannot wait for everyone to read my book!
One of your favorite poets is William Wordsworth. What is something about his writing that inspires you?
I like to know the life of an artist more than just the work. William Wordsworth is one of them who always noticed something aloof with the circumstances and the environment he was raised in. His work largely influenced it. In his time, writers followed a very distinctive set of rules to write poetry. It was very formal, and it had several literary devices that were hard to follow. William Wordsworth was one of those poets who broke the rules. The rules gave finesse and a precise understanding of poetry. But they also made the art of poetry look complex and niche. He instead made use of more straightforward language to broaden the scope of his words. He proved that following a set of rules to write poetry is entirely optional and not a compulsion. As like him, I like the idea of making poetry much more universal and reachable to a broader audience and not keep it exclusive.
Do you think free verse gives you more space for creativity and expression?
I have written several kinds of poetry- Ballad, sonnets, villanelle, etc. They all have different types of style, meter, and rhyming scheme. The set of rules helps us channelize our emotions well. I find it much easier to follow the traditional writing ways to have a definite perfect piece of writing. But Free-verse doesn’t follow many rules. It has a kind of uncomplicated texture and language. I just love how it can reach a non-reader and make it so easy for them to understand. It isn’t too lyrical or systematic. In the free verse, it is up to the writer to bring the best of the forms for expression. Personally, as a writer, I find free-verse, more thrilling, and challenging as it follows the rules that I set.
It took about a year to write your book and get through the publishing process. What kept you going all the while?
My book isn’t about myself, but it carries the essence of how I feel and function. I take inspiration from all the people in my life, the places that I have visited, and the things that have moved me. The ones who influence me the most in my life- are my parents, father-in-law, husband, and both my siblings. They all take care of different aspects of my being. It is the blend of their ideas that drive me. I’m also incredibly grateful to both of my families for their never-ending support and a special shoutout to my friends who have always cheered for everything that I did! I’m just so grateful for having all these people in my life.
You stated that the writer within you often wakes up at night. Then, who is Payal Sagar in the day?
I am a millennial mother who wants to do it all. Most of my day is spent trying to fine-tune my work and my daughter’s schedule—black coffee fuels my sudden bursts of energies. I love dressing up and going out. I’m a typical workaholic in her 20’s who cannot sit idly.
For the past couple of years, I’ve inclined more towards self-care. And that eventually turned me into a vegan. Tiring work and hustle will go on forever, so I use a strict fitness regime for my own mental and physical care. I love trying out new things. If something interests me and I fall in love with it, I never let go of it. Now when I look back, this quirk has made me go from Payal Dhakan to Payal Sagar and now to @p.s.whatilove!
•Favorite quote– Not a quote, but it’s a word, more powerful than any quote: ‘Try.’
• Pen – paper or digital typing-I’m a tech-savvy writer, Digital typing it is!
• Horror or grim reality, what scares you more– — I just can’t imagine myself living a dull, negative life. Grim reality would scare me to death!
• Describe your book in 3 words– Hopes to fly
• An author you’d want to be your mentor– To write, one needs techniques. But more than that, we need a substantial matter. I already have a mentor who is, by the way, a great storyteller, my five-year-old daughter. She has taught me numerous things which are far superior to any technique I could have ever learned from any author.