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Monday, March 2, 2015

The Story Teller: An Encounter

Today I chanced to meet with the Story Teller Jeffrey Archer at a book launch of his latest release MIGHTIER THAN THE SWORD at Crossword in Kemps Corner, Mumbai.

Recollecting my memory of seeing the 74 year old enter the Bookstore, an unending smile painted upon his face, grabbing the mike to say a humble ‘hello’ with a move so swift, seen only in 17 year olds. That moment or rather the act of humility displayed by a writer of such great stature and repute, will keep me thinking about him for years to come.

The many moods of Jeffrey Archer

As he spoke, I observed a pattern in his talks. His narration was righteous and honest by every means. The fervor and speed with which he fueled his speech was exemplary. He’d mock a lot, probably to keep the moments light and keep the momentum going. His ability to laugh at his own self and about things around which are so simple, yet so profound bowled me over.

In the 30 minutes that he spoke for, few things impacted me more than the rest. These few things will remain with me forever, in my mind, in my heart.

A friend of mine (who’d accompanied me) asked him, if there ever was a moment in his life when he didn’t have ideas to write about, when he felt as if there was a vacuum which he can’t really fill? Did he ever face such a situation?
His answer to the question above was that he could never feel like there ever was a lapse between his experiences or inspirations and his work. He said he was highly self motivated and drew inspiration from everyone, everything, everyday.

He said that writers can be made and writers can be many, while story tellers are born and few. These story tellers are gifted and thus lucky as he. As a story teller, he doesn’t have to look for ideas to write, they come to him naturally. But he sure does draw tremendous inspiration from those around him.

His first book NOT A PENNY LESS, NOT A PENNY MORE (1976), saw severe rejections by publishers as many as 17 times. Nonetheless, it remains the closest to his heart from all of his works.

The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexander Dumas is one of his favorite reads through which he gained inspiration to write, it is also one of my all time favorites.

“What lake-like eyes!” were his exact words as I went onto the stage to get a copy of the book signed by him.  I couldn’t help but smile meekly. With my signed copy of the book, I stepped aside the stage for others’ turns.

Encounters of this nature, with a writer you’ve grown up reading, who you’ve simply heard and read of, but never met with, always come in the form of a blessing too pure to be told. As hard I try, the magnitude of impact it had upon me cannot be described too well. 

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