I believe that good stories is the best way to communicate ideas and concepts," says Harshajith Umapathy, the CEO and co-founder of Aris Bio Energy, a startup which works in the field of green energy.
Bedtime story telling for his son, nephew and niece, especially during holidays, has been a mandatory activity for him. The characters he created during these marathon story telling sessions are the ones, which finally took shape in his books. He has authored a five-part series The Vulture Catchers, published by Hello Parle in 2018. The books are a collection of short stories for children and revolve around four children with unusual names, who share a deep friendship.
In today’s times where children are hooked to gadgets, Umapathy’s stories carry a message to explore open spaces, the magic of friendship and staying together through thick and thin. He writes under the pen name of Harsha J. because “ my full name is just too long".
Other than his work in the field of green energy and writing, Umapathy likes exploring new cultures across the globe. “In each of my trips I ensure to block some time to meet and interact with local people and soak in the stories that shaped them," he says. This acts as fodder for his stories.
Day job vs writing
“My inspiration to write comes from experiences I go through and stories I hear from people. My day job gives me many wonderful opportunities to meet people, so I am not likely to quit that to only write," says Umapathy.
Writing for Umapathy is therapeutic and helps him to take a break from the routine work pressures. At work too, he says, he prefers to tell stories to make a point. Capturing attention, inspiring or building desired work culture is always easier when done through stories. “I am currently setting up a new company, which has no proven track record. It’s a story that I keep telling the partners, stakeholders and even prospective employees. Telling stories helps develop a strong connect," he says.
Umpathy says his writing rituals took a long time to get established. “I switched between laptop and paper quite a few times, feeling that I would be more creative one way or the other. It took a good three months to trigger the creativity and quieten my bias for addiction to keeping busy," he says. A morning person, he typically make time to write during the first few hours of the day. “I go on writing without interrupting my thoughts and maybe a week later, get to reading and editing what I have written. This gives me a free hand to keep thoughts flowing and add new themes," he says.
Kindle vs paper
He prefers reading a book at home. “A story comes alive in a book and has a distinct personality. Sometimes, I read more than one book at a time and keep progressing on both when I see the books sit on my table." He uses Kindle while travelling.
A writer’s challenges
His writing career had quite a few false starts and it took him more than five years to put out his first book. “I would start writing, it would take some shape and then fizzle off. Finally, I realized that unless I dedicated time and energy to this, my writing would remain a pipe dream. So I took a sabbatical to kick start my writing career," says Umapathy. He spoke with a few friends who had written books and they all told him that writing and publishing a book would take time. “I gave myself a year to make this happen, and managed to get the book out in 13-14 months," he says.
A writer’s challenges
“I read around 20-30 books a year. And few do strike a chord," he says. He is currently reading Gumnami Baba—The mystery of Subhash Chandra Bose by Adheer Som. A friend gifted him Paul Kalanithi’s When Breath Becomes Air which made him emotional when he read it. “I picked up Yuval Noah Harari’s 21 Lessons for the 21st Century too and I am still reading it," he says.
There are a few books he re-reads almost every year including Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist, The Goal by Eliyahu M. Goldratt, and Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead. “The Alchemist prods me to continue to dream and believe. The Fountainhead talks about a puritanical approach of being completely oblivious to the world, listening to one’s own heart and emerging a winner. The Goal is like a text book business fable that clubs great reading while teaching a very serious subject," he says.
Lately Harari’s books have inspired him. “Sapiens is a book I thoroughly enjoyed reading. The perspectives the author presents are unique," he says.
Author at Work is a series that follows the lives of part time writers who hold a corporate day job.