Q&A: Sharanya Singh, Author of 'Hamartia'

Sharanya Singh, hailing from Patna, is a 17-year-old author, poet, and writer. It is her ambition to work in the mental health field as a psychologist as well as to work at the international level, advocating for children, animals and the environment. She wishes to work for the betterment of the world forever and hopes to contribute to the making of a peaceful and sustainable world. She has recently come out with the poetry book Hamartia.

I chat with her about her book Hamartia, how the book came to be, book recommendations, and much more.

Hello, Sharanya! Tell us a bit about yourself!

Hello Ridhi, first of all, thank you for this opportunity. Now, about me. Well I am 17, soon to be an adult, and I am from Patna, Bihar. I love, absolutely love animals. In fact I used to have 5 pets. I love eating, and Indian food is my comfort food. I am also a serious mental health advocate, having suffered from mental health issues myself. I suffer from BPD, depression and anxiety and it has gotten better over time but there is still a long way to go. I write poetry and also some random prose pieces. I used to think that I am quite average at writing but I have realised, and on most days also believe, that writing or any creative pursuit cannot be average. It cannot be average because it is so subjective. So, if I had to summarize my personality or me in general – I love and feel deeply and strongly, and I think that may just be my thing.

If you could only describe your poetry book Hamartia in five words, what would they be?

Emotional, Vague, Impactful, Loss, Lonesome.

Now tell us a little more about the book! What can readers expect?

What can readers expect? Well, to be very honest I didn’t know myself what to expect while I was working on the book. It is not a mental health handbook. It does not tell you how you can help yourself. Hamartia is an insight into the mind of an individual who is spiralling, who is having a downfall. It is filled with emotions and twisted thoughts. It is sort of an inventory of the dark and light days of mental health. It is a book of my thoughts and feelings while I was beginning to feel the storm of mental health issues.

'Hamartia', published by Notion Press

What was the moment when the idea of this book first came to be? What made you pursue it?

These poetry pieces were not meant to be a book. I write, and I used to write with no set purpose in mind. My friends actually suggested that I should compile my poems. Since I feel strongly about mental health, the pieces were already surrounding it. So I did compile the poems. One day I took the poems I had written over 2.5 years, 2017 onwards that is, and chalked a rough manuscript. I had the name of the book with me already. That is another story. I wanted people to know that mental health issues are real and not theatrical. They are not meant for markets. They affect real people and real lives. Hamartia is, as I mentioned, an inventory of a troubled mind. It shows the twisted side of mental health and what it can do to a life.

What different themes and topics have you discussed in the poems in this book?

There is love and loss, there is separation, there is an internal tussle between feelings and thoughts, and the daily struggle of suffering caused by mental issues. There are also some joyous poems on childhood and home. It is a mix, a plethora of emotions.

When did you start writing poetry? Which poets have been your inspirations?

As much as I love poetry, I have not read ample poetry. So I don’t think I have any inspiration coming from a poet. I started writing poetry as a means to get these random thoughts that I had on paper. There was no motive or goal. I just wrote. Whenever I had an idea, which occurred at the weirdest times, I wrote. The first time I wrote poetry was when I was in 4th standard, for my school magazine. It was a poem on nature and animals. I wish I still had the poem. It was pretty cute.

How have you been coping with the current pandemic and what will be the new normal for you post it?

The pandemic has been exceptionally hard on everyone. For me, it was disappointing. I lost my last year of school. I missed seeing my friends often. But I also liked staying home. Honestly, a lot of difficult experiences have happened over the past year. It was good that I stayed home. After the pandemic, for me, it is college, travelling and more writing I hope.

Lastly, are you currently reading anything and do you have any book recommendations for our readers?

I hit a reader’s block a year and a half ago, and since then it has been a struggle. But I have been slowly getting back to it. I am reading a finance book at the moment because shamefully much I have no financial literacy. So I am trying to catch up on it. I am currently reading I Will Teach You To Be Rich (Second Edition) by Ramit Sethi.

The book ‘Hamartia’ is available online and at your nearest bookstore.

From Jammu, J&K; Studied in DPS, Jammu.