Today, we managed to grab a quick word with Kimte Guite, the author of 51 Accidental Inventions that Changed the World. We chatted about her love for literature classics, her obsession to read since her childhood, her love for the countryside and old Bollywood cinema.As a bibliophile herself, she’s also planning to organize book-readings in primary schools and her plan is to expand the project into a travelling library to spread the joy of reading. She is an Assistant Professor at Churachandpur Government College. She conducts small book club/book reading sessions as well. Get to know more about this creative soul as we chat with her!
Hi there, please start by telling our readers a bit about yourself!
Hello! I am Man Lun Kim and I also go by the name, Kimte Guite. That’s the name I use for my social-media handles. My hometown is in Churachandpur (Lamka) in Manipur. I am your typical tribal girl with a taste for all local cuisines and a heart that will never get enough of the rolling hills and green landscape of our northeast India. I am also a hard-core fan of classic Bollywood movies and songs! I’m talking about old, monochrome movies from the golden age of Indian cinema. And of course, I am a bibliophile. I love books, the crispy smoothness of new books and the dog-eared pages and warmth of the old, I love them all.
Would you like to tell us about your profession?
I am an Assistant Professor in English literature at Churachandpur Government College, Manipur. Teaching has always been my dream, I don’t remember ever wanting to do anything else. I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of introducing ‘Antigone’ or Shakespeare’s sonnets to my students. So, I feel blessed to be able to do that. I lived away from home for a very long time, first to study and then I also taught in Delhi University colleges for some years. I moved back home in 2018 and I can proudly say that my husband and I are now seasoned residents of our bustling town along with our four feline babies. I admit, being a teacher can sometimes be challenging but it is always fulfilling. For me, the reward is in seeing a young mind understand the beauty of a poem or a novel or a single line, witnessing that moment when the eyes light up with a spark of knowledge. It’s beautiful.
What first got you into writing?
What first got me into writing? Well, for one, it would be the liberating feeling of expressing myself.
Writing is a way of touching base with myself. I believe that it’s important to write, even if it’s just for ourselves or even if the words we write never make it to print. It’s like the songbird, it sings because it can, does it care who’s listening? I like the sense of control and clarity writing gives me as it also shapes the way I think.
I’ve realized that when I speak, the words are sometimes not enough. When I write, I can always go back and rephrase over and over again until I find that it’s ready, until I find that I am ready.
How have your roots and upbringing influenced your work?
Another factor that led me to writing is – reading. As a child, I was an avid reader. I loved spending time with my friends but what I cherished more was curling up in bed with a book. That was a bad habit though, the curling up part. I also loved playing house with my Barbie dolls. I’d dream up places and scenarios in my head and I think that played a great role in nurturing my creative imagination. When I was growing up, in the late 1990’s, there weren’t many bookstores or libraries in our town. But there was this one local store called ‘Lend-a-Book’ and the price for issuing a book was 2 rupees. My mother would give me 5 rupees every other day and I would issue three books for that amount. Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys, Archie, Tinkle, Sidney Sheldon, Danielle Steele, I read them all! After I ran out of books from there, I invaded my eldest sister’s collection when she came home for summer-break. That was when I came across, Wuthering Heights for the first time and that was it. I was hooked! That bookstore is long gone now but it has shaped the reader in me. It instilled an understanding of the magic of books and the worlds it can open up. What I write today is the culmination of various events in my journey through life and in no small measure due to that bookstore and my mother’s 5 rupees.
Where do you take inspiration from?
I think the inspiration to write comes from having something to say. By that I mean, having an opinion or perspective that is entirely one’s own. My father has always encouraged me to think for myself. He listened to me and many of my ideas were shaped and nurtured through my conversations with him. The first thing he taught me was that my opinion mattered. To have one’s own opinion is a very important foundation for a young mind. Once that foundation is laid on firm soil, the mind is free to dream.
Tell us about your book!
My book is titled 51 Accidental Inventions that Changed the World. It’s written for children with an average reading level of 8 years and above. It’s also adult-friendly! The book is about chance and accidents and what could happen when things don’t go according to plan. Fifty-one stories of how familiar things were invented and discovered – accidentally. The book is a result of my curiosity to know where things came from; ordinary things, familiar things that we use in our everyday; in other words, the things that we take for granted like paper, popsicles or sandwich! Every chapter has an illustration by Siam Dousel, a very talented graphic artist from Churachandpur. I don’t want to give spoilers before you get the chance to read the book but I can tell you this – when things in life don’t go according to plan, we shouldn’t be disheartened because who knows? The next great invention might be just one accident away!
What fueled you to get your book published?
The thought of publishing did not occur to me initially because as I have said, I write for myself. But something made me change my mind.
It sounds apocalyptic but I am alarmed to see our attention span getting shorter and adults and children alike are addicted to screen-devices. We are abandoning the art of reading! I want us to reclaim the habit of reading and as habits are formed early on in life, I thought, why not catch them young? Really, it is a small attempt on my part at baiting us away from our screens and getting back to loving books.
It’s about doing what little we can in the face of so much that needs to be done. However, my efforts wouldn’t have amounted to much if it hadn’t been for Rupa Publications and its amazing team. The kind of hands-on help they offer to their authors and their professionalism is exactly the kind of platform writers need. I am grateful for this opportunity to collaborate with them. If you want to grab a copy, then it’s available on Amazon and Flipkart.
Tell us some of the challenges and lessons you experienced along the way!
The biggest challenge for me was to find the right words. It’s like trying on several clothes to find a particular one that fits just right. Since my target-readers are children, the challenge was even bigger because they have a way of seeing through you. They have this intuition and you can’t bluff them. Your words have to be sincere and should draw them into the story or else they won’t let you waste their time. Another challenge for me was taking time to write. Since my thoughts flow better in the dead of night when there is no background noise, I had to sacrifice many hours of sleep to get my work done and it was exhausting. In the end, it’s all worth it though.
What tips would you like to give an aspiring writer?
As to giving tips, I consider myself an amateur writer because, should I be lucky enough to publish more books, it would be different from this one. The experience would be different and new as well. But let me try and give my two pennies worth. It is very important to collect as many resource materials as you can. One can’t have too many resources. It is also important to try and stick to deadline, set one for yourself and try and work within that. The key is to edit, edit and edit some more. Give a day or two to what you have written and then edit again. Most importantly, no one knows you more than you, so trust yourself to know how you want your words to be and the trick is to begin with the first word! Good luck!
Thank you Kimte, we wish you a bright future.
Follow her on Instagram for more.
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