A Writer's Battle between Career and Passion
Updated: Jun 29, 2020
Divyansh Mundra's story of becoming a writer in his own words:
Our generation is obsessed with these three words - “Finding your passion”. I never understood it because I never found mine. I started out by falling in love with reading, which morphed into a love for writing. It became a hobby and then it became a job. And I am still falling in love with it.
I don’t think anyone ever finds their passion. It is a process, a battle between what society dictates you to do and what your heart ultimately does.
My name is Divyansh Mundra - I’m a novelist, a Tedx speaker, a CA dropout, and I’m currently working with the biggest media company in the country. Born in Rajasthan in a Marwari family - I was surrounded by Chartered Accountants. All my relatives, all my cousins, seemed to be pursuing this course. And as a guy with no clue about where his interests lie, I followed the path where everyone around me was headed.
I never was a bookworm and rather preferred to hide novels inside my books to show to my family that I was studying. But I used to score good marks. I did my XII in Commerce stream and secured 90% in Boards; enrolled for CA soon and once I left the comfort of my home and arrived in Mumbai for my coaching - my world turned upside down.
I had discovered a vendor near the place where I was staying with my friends who sold secondhand novels and I spent most of my pocket money on it. Soon I had completely stopped going to my coaching classes and I just read fiction day and night. It was also the time when I came across this website called Quora and I started writing there.
I didn’t even manage to get 100 followers for my writings on Quora in the first year. By the time I appeared for my CA final exams 3-years later, I had over 60 thousand followers and over 20 million views on Quora, and had penned an Amazon Bestselling novel ‘Secret of the Himalayan Treasure’ which I wrote while juggling with my CA Articleship.
The moment I started studying for CA, I knew that it wasn’t for me. I still strived through, cleared my IPCC (CA-Inter) exams and completed my articleship, but throughout the process, it was clear to me that even if I became a CA, I didn’t want to continue working in this field. So I had to develop my skills as a writer and try everything that I can to make a career out of it.
I built a huge online following for my fiction. Many of my Quora answers went viral and were shared across various handles and blogs. During the second year of my articleship I published my debut novel ‘Secret of the Himalayan Treasure’ and spent the next month marketing it using various innovative strategies.
Soon enough, the book was ranked at #9 spot on Amazon India’s Top 10 Selling Books and seeing it among some of the biggest names in the world of fiction made me think that this could be something. I was blessed to have an amazing team to work with during my articleship and all the CAs working around me motivated me to pursue a career in writing.
Soon enough, I found myself facing the classic debate - study vs passion. I decided to do both alongside; cleared the Group 1 of CA Finals and also published a second novel alongside, most of which I wrote on my mobile, hiding it between my CA course books so that my parents can’t figure out what I was up to.
Before I could appear for the last group of CA Final, some opportunities came up and I decided to drop CA to pursue a career in screenwriting with the biggest media company of India. And that is what I am doing right now.
Key takeaways which I felt about the Chartered Accountancy course -
It is a rigorous course but it comes with an undeserved pressure for most for being way too hard. It’s not. It needs a planned approach mixed with discipline and the candidates should explore other hobbies alongside just to keep themselves away from the monotony of studying 24x7.
The return on investment for the hard work that CA students do - isn’t that much. Of course the rankers can get placed with Big 3 Consulting firms with great pay packages, but for most of the freshly qualified CAs the pay is quite low.
CA students have no avenues to develop other skills - presentations, orations, activities that can help in building confidence. Thus CAs find it hard to adjust in the client facing roles.
Three years of articleship experience is a bit much, and makes it tougher for people who do not wish to pursue CA to switch careers - leading to the rut of appearing for exams and the cycles of attempts again and again.
Key takeaways about publishing in India -
Getting published by mainstream publishers is harder than clearing CA. They get thousands of unsolicited manuscripts every year and getting noticed by them is extremely hard.
Nonetheless, self-publishing market in India is booming. Amish Tripathi, Ashwin Sanghi, Chetan Bhagat, and some of the biggest names in the publishing world of India today started out by self-publishing.
Now vanity publishing houses have sprung up which can charge in lakhs to get your books out.
And there is Amazon KDP on the other hand which charges you a total of INR 0 and can make your novels digitally available in the biggest markets in the world.
Naturally in a world of options, visibility matters— and thus MARKETING is the biggest factor which can make or break your novels.
A hard fact though is that royalties are drying up. There isn’t much money in novels unless you’re really among the biggies. Authors get paid as low as 5-10% for their own books. It’s a mess.
Divyansh Mundra is one of the most followed Quora Writers (also the Quora Top Writer 2018) with more than 62,800 followers. Here is the link to his profile for inspiration - Divyansh Mundra.
He penned down his journey for all of us to feel inspired and find answers to questions like, "How do I find my passion?", "Does it even exist?". Hope his journey helps you figure out your own.
His work can be found here:
Secret of the Himalayan Treasure (Paperbacks & Kindle editions)
Gangs of Bombay (Kindle edition)
Ghost of the Indian Bride (Kindle edition)
Do let me know if you have a message for him :)