Kanchana Krishnan of Literary Art Journal is one of the coolest strangers I found on Instagram this year. Forever reading, documenting and illustrating the books she read, her journaling method has kept me reading all year round (I even completed my Goodreads 2019 Reading Challenge!). In an era where everything is being digitised and people don't make enough time for reading, her page is a constant reminder to read more, and explore new worlds in the physical pages...
In conversation with Kanchana about the year that was:
The nicest thing you did for someone in 2019?
This year, I started actively including the phrase “Let me know if you need my help with anything” with whoever I interact with, be it at work or otherwise, and following through. The assurance that someone is there whom I can to go back to helps me a lot personally, and offering it to others has not only made me strengthen my relationship with people but also helped me grow as a person.
Also, I have been at the receiving end of some of the nicest things. One such example is this - I was having the worst possible mental breakdown at work. While I thought I might be brushed off or told that I am overreacting, I was lucky to have the nicest people around me who assisted me out of my breakdown. They sat down with me, had a long conversation about what was troubling me, and gave me the help I needed. More importantly, they listened and followed up to check if I was OK. More often than not, anxiety is coupled with crippling self-doubt, and a little bit of empathy can make such a huge difference in how you can make the other person feel.
The book that helped you the most in 2019? The Overstory by Richard Powers. The stillness, the calm and rage of trees through the generations, as illustrated in the story, changed something within me. I have started looking at these sentient beings differently; we have so much we can learn from them. After reading the book, I brought in as much green life as I could both inside and outside my place! Nothing brings me more calm than to wake up in the morning and look at them. The book is something that I read over a week but the essence of it is something that I carry with me every day. I am forever indebted to literature such as this that moves something so deep within you.
The song you heard on loop this year?
The film/TV show you fell head over heels in love with?
Bojack Horseman, hands down.
Your biggest accomplishment this year?
Overcoming the plaguing self-doubt and anxiety that I started 2019 with. I still suffer from anxiety, but it is more about what is happening outside of my control than doubting my own abilities and achievements. This ability to distinguish what is in my control and what is not has been the biggest learning or what I would classify as a personal win in 2019.
Your big 2019 takeaway?
It is completely OK to stay still and do nothing, it is OK to let the world go by and not join a race. Nothing takes more precedence than your mental health. Who are you creative crushin’ on lately?
Liana Finck! Her ability to convey the most complex feelings/thoughts through her art inspires me to no end.
A recent epiphany you've had?
I'm borrowing words from The Overstory by Richard Powers - "The best arguments in the world won't change a person's mind. The only thing that can do that is a good story."
What’s your number one bucket list item for 2020?
For a very long time, it was a recurring item in my life list to see Ludovico Einuadi live. (Hamilton, the musical follows a close second) My dream of seeing him perform his music live is coming true in Jan 2020. His music has helped me through one of my toughest lows, has been with me through my highs. Music has always been a shelter that I have turned to to nurse myself, but the opportunity of seeing him perform live truly feels surreal for me.
Any big projects planned for the new year?
My art has always been driven by words, poems, the books that I read. But in the times of such political unrest and climate emergency across the world and especially in our country, I want to refocus some of my energy into making art that addresses these issues, and amplifies the different voices that exist in our society. I want to read more diverse literature and make art inspired from these diverse literatures that often get sidelined by mainstream literature.
Rate 2019 on a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being Totally Sucked
I would give this a 6. Not the best of the years, but a lot of learnings that I will take forward to this new decade.
May the new decade be full of more art and literature, Kanchana. Thanks for answering these!
Follow Kanchana's Literary Art Journal on Instagram.