No one would be faulted for finding a retired naval officer odd among a group of writers, musicians, and artists. Most would agree that the creative arts and military matters hardly go together, and yet, as a specialist in communications, I was trained to write for absolute clarity in all reports and operational orders.
But then, I was also a misfit, and it didn't take long in the military to realize that. I was a dreamer in school and college, often lost in a world of fantasy and imagination. I was also audacious. I sent my first poem to the college magazine. When, later, I received a summons from my professor, I thought I was in for a serious dressing down. Instead, he praised my poem and asked me to take up authoring as a profession. In fact, I think he was also saying that the math and physical sciences I was studying were too much for me.
Another professor immediately countered, stating that writing alone would hardly provide a square meal a day and recommended I concentrate on studies and take to writing after making a career in some walk of life. I worked hard, topped the list in the university and won a commission in the Indian Navy.
The itch to write persisted, however, and I was pleased one day to accept a request to write an article for a brochure for the Navy. I chose a humorous story about the different ways an Admiral and the Navy function. The publishing officer liked the tongue-in-cheek article, but feared publishing it without the concurrence of the Admiral. By happenstance, I met the Admiral at a party, and he complimented me on my sense of military humor, kickstarting my career as a published author.
Health-releated events intervened, shortening my career in the Navy. I developed a recurring medical problem that made it near impossible for promotion. The moment I earned my pension, I put in my papers and persuaded my superiors that the Navy would function better without me.
After leaving the Navy, I joined the Mercantile Marine and served as a ship captain for eighteen years. I had plenty of spare time at sea and I could read all the books I wanted and hone my writing skills. I wrote and sold articles and short stories to a variety of magazines. Since I was earning well as a Captain, I didn't care what pubishers paid, but valued their letters of appreciation for my fertile imagination and thinking out of the box.
When my two daughters earned their Masters in Computer Science degrees in the USA and settled down in well-paid jobs, they advised me not to wear myself out at sea and retire to a comfortable life. Since then, I have made it a point to write a minimum of three thousand words every day on blogs, and refocused on publishing short stories and books on disparate subjects. It was during this time that I won the NaNoWriMo competition for three consecutive years and began acquiring other writing awards.
Life, however, never runs on smooth grooves. Just when things were going well, my wife for forty-five years was diagnosed with stage four cancer. For the next twenty months we fought a hard battle and just as we succeeded, or so it seemed, she, abruptly one day, breathed her last. In truth, she was my mentor, muse, editor and critic all rolled into one. Her passing sounded a death knell for my literary career, and my pen and keyboard remained inactive for a long time.
I eventually relocated to Orlando, Florida, where my two daughters live. I bear my loneliness well with the help of six grandchildren. Watching them tussel and fight amongst themselves, I threatened to write a book about them, and CAPTAIN RIDDLE'S TREASURE (Savant 2015) is the outcome. Everyone liked it so much, I even wrote a sequel.
It took more than two years for me to move on with my author's life. I am now writing again and already the words are rolling out as fast as they used to.
GV Rama Rao
Author of CAPTAIN RIDDLE'S TREASURE (Savant 2016)
In : Author Introduction
Tags: navy "naval officer" military "communications specialist" fantasy "indian navy" india admiral "mercantile marine" "ship captain"