We, at classywomen, are enthusiastic about talking to young change-makers who set an example for the young generation. Today we are in conversation with a popular youth author and speaker Stuti Changle. Her journey is a reminder that we must work hard to achieve the life that we dream about!
Ques 1 Did you always want to become an author?
Let’s start with the story of my life, I hope that my words will give you the courage to make a move.
When I was 2, I wanted to be an astronaut.
When I was 4, I wanted to be a doctor.
When I was 8, I wanted to be a teacher.
When I was 12, I wanted to be a writer.
When I was 16, I was sitting with a bunch of bright students in an IIT-JEE coaching class. While these students were going to make their parents and the country proud, I had no idea where my life was going to take me.
Now, let’s take a pause, you might wonder – What went wrong?
I wanted to be an astronaut because the stars would fascinate me. I wanted to be a doctor because it was the ‘in’ thing to do back in time. I wanted to be a teacher because my mom is a teacher and I’d love the fact that she added value to others and got immense love and respect in return.
However, I wanted to be a writer because I did not have any specific reason. I just loved writing and words came naturally to me. When I was 12, I wrote a poem, a day before the math exam as it rained heavily. Everyone appreciated, including me, appreciated my capacity to translate my emotions into words. Later, it also got picked by a local English Newspaper. The joy of being published was immense.
Ques 2: You’re an engineer and MBA too? How did that happen? What is the story?
But, in the days following the results of my board exams, my dad who is a mathematician at heart, and my relatives who were all becoming engineers, lured me into the perks of being a high-salaried employee and my dream took a backseat.
Royalties don’t pay the bills, they would say.
I went on to pursue Computer Science and Technology. After engineering, I had two options. I could either go for the job I had secured or pursue an MBA and double the numbers of my current offer letter.
I chose the latter. Also, it allowed me to buy some time and delay the decision of following my heart. Post-MBA, I could realize my aspiration of doubling the digits of my first offer letter. Woah! What a success. I patted myself on the back.
I moved to Mumbai, the city of dreams like a million others, only to see my dream of becoming an author shatter into a million pieces like glass.
Ques 3: When did you finally decide to become an author?
Three months into the job, I started to feel depressed, demotivated, dejected about life. So much so, that on one of the many sleepless nights that I survived, I wanted to die. I looked into the mirror and told myself, that from now on, no matter what the world says, I will be an author. I would write my first book.
I quit my job, booked the first train back to Delhi, moved into one of my college friend’s apartment, and embarked on a new journey, the journey to my dreams.
I started taking up freelance assignments in writing, and then, after six months I realized that we fight two kinds of battles in India.
Ques 4: What are the challenges you faced?
The first one is with ourselves, and if we win that, the next is with society. Everybody you meet asks you the same question – Hey! So you quit your job. Congratulations! Passion? How will you pay the bills?
Ques 5: Is writing even a career? Is speaking even a career?
To which I found an answer. I would tell them, it’s a lot more rewarding to fail at something you always dreamt of rather than failing every day at being yourself.
My mom, my biggest support till date tells me, that don’t listen to anyone, just listen to your heart, you will live with yourself till the day you die, nobody else would.
Ques 6: What keeps you going? Inspires you?
Meanwhile, I realised that travel was my inspiration. When society judged me, new places, new people, new experiences embraced me.
I wrote my first book, on the open road – three lives, five cities, one startup. On the open road is an inspiring journey of three souls who battle against all the odds and persevere to establish their startup. It’s a story of breaking free from the old routine lives to be able to embrace the new. It is literally on the open road as the three characters will set out on a journey from their respective places and it is figuratively on the open road as I believe that open road represents possibilities, when you are not a road that can lead to a mountain, a crossroad, a sea, anything, when you break free from the comfort of your everyday lives, you achieve the impossible.
Ques 7: What are the challenges you faced while publishing your first book? How did you overcome them?
I finished my novel in 2017 only to realise that getting published is the only thing to do now. I felt as if I had tasted victory. And defeated every opponent that I had met on the way. When I started writing out to publishers I never really heard back from any. And that’s what happens to any less known aspiring author in India.
After a few months of frustration, I decided to self-publish it and market it myself. I launched it through KDP or kindle direct publishing by participating in a competition launched by Amazon that year. After giving my best shot, I could not win the competition, however, two positive things happened. A. I could reach a lot of my initial readers. Positive reviews started to pour in, and I was happy. B. I won notable mentions in that competition which was loosely in top 10.
I accepted every failure that came my way as a challenge and strived hard to become a better version of me every day.
A few months later, my paperback became an Amazon bestseller. I won promising debut at Gurgaon Literature Festival.
Ques 8: What is your message for young girls who want to listen to their heart?
Everything falls into place if only you give your everything to it. You’d struggle no matter what you do, but its easier to struggle for your dream.
I sign my books by saying, ‘MAKE A MOVE,’ which ideally means two things –
1. Move from where you are, travel as much as you can, nothing can empower you more than the knowledge that you will get on the open road.
2. Move ahead in life, from where ever you are, move from a relationship that doesn’t comfort you, quit the job you can’t stand a single day, don’t pursue the subject you don’t want to.
I would like to sum up my story with three magical words, ‘Make a move!’
Author :- Stuti Changle