I think editing the school magazine and writing for it was probably the single most satisfying thing I have ever done with my life. I was pretty serious about it, I did it with a lot of dedication, but I still had a lot of fun. I learnt a lot about teamwork, and about doing a team's work all by yourself. I got my sense of achievement, my sense of independence from doing all that.
I did this for about three and a half years. I started out when I was in the ninth standard. Gave it up for a while when my tenth standard board exams were round the corner. I missed it badly at that time. The teachers told me that I should concentrate on my studies for that "critical" phase. Well, guess what? I have never been the kind of person who actually concentrates on her studies. I used to study the subjects that I liked. The other textbooks I would leaf through when I felt bored of the Mathematics and the English. So I missed writing really badly. And since they wouldn't let me do much for my beloved magazine, I tried my hand at a publicly circulated magazine.
As soon as I was done with the board exams, I went back to it. Soon afterwards, there was a phase when I was the only student editor for the magazine, and I'd become so obsessed with the whole thing that I used to neglect my studies and everything else I could neglect, in favour of working for the magazine full-time. Aditi, who is my best friend today, was the illustrator for the magazine then. She drew a cartoon of me depicting my extreme obsession with the magazine. And we had it published in the very same magazine. I think I'll scan it and put it up here. This was a time when I used to write the editorial, the news reel, and a significant fraction of the articles myself. My biggest problem at that time was that I was basically an introvert, because of which, much as I wanted to, I could not motivate other people into writing articles. So it was mostly Aditi's cartoons and sketches, Shashank's science fiction, (Which, by the way, was a huge pain sometimes. I just could not decipher his handwriting, which, at times, seemed to resemble something written in Telugu or Kannada. And when I could, I had a hard time trying to make sense of whatever it was that he was trying to put forth. But, in the end, it was interesting enough to be worth the effort.) Manu Bangia's random fiction and Jayant's odd, geeky, logic-based articles.
When I was in the twelfth standard, and my board exams were nearing, I'd already made up my mind not to let my teachers make me give it up this time. I was in for a pleasant surprise. My Teacher-In-Charge at that time actually told me that she didn't want me to stop working with the magazine. This is one teacher who never taught me, but is generally the first one I look for whenever I visit my school for Alumni Meets or Fêtes. The other Teacher-In-Charge I had, who first asked me to take this up when I was in the ninth standard, is someone I somehow never happen to see when I go to the school. But she met my mother (who is, by the way, also an English teacher) at a workshop for English teachers last year. She still distinctly remembered me, after all these years.
Sumit, Jayant and some of my other friends from that phase still point out from time to time that I have still not let go of the tendency to correct people's spelling and grammar, which I developed at that time. Sumit certainly has every right to say so. There was a time when I used to keep in touch with him primarily over e-mail, and I used to send his mail back to him, with the spelling and grammar errors corrected and highlighted in red (or pink!).
During those three and a half years, I was completely sure that I wanted, needed, and was destined for a career in creative writing. I wonder why I became any less convinced of that fact somewhere down the line. Well, better late than never for the realization to resurface.