The Jakarta Post
For author Fahd Pahdepie, writing is not merely a passion. It is a way of life.
The eyes of the 29-year-old writer lit up with excitement when he greeted his audience, mostly women, during a recent meet-and-greet event in Jakarta.
During the question and answer session, a young lady threw out a question about his latest novel, Jodoh (Soulmate).
'What is the definition of a soulmate? How can we know that the one that we love is our soulmate?' she asked.
The answer is actually available in the novel.
Published by Bentang Pustaka late last year, Jodoh brings the reader into the love story of a man who tries to convince the woman he loves that she is his soulmate.
'About 65 percent of the content of this book is taken from my personal experience, while 35 percent of it is fiction,' Fahd said of Jodoh.
Fahd cannot deny that the novel is actually about the journey of his own love story, but he tells it in a witty way.
For example, he fell in love for the first time when he was in the first grade with a classmate at elementary school, a kind of experience popularly called cinta monyet (puppy love). They sat at the same table and he never stopped stealing glances at her.
The way she walked, ran, wrote, drew, smiled, laughed and everything else she did meant the world to little Fahd.
By sharing such moments in Jodoh, Fahd does not aim to influence elementary school students in dating. However, he wants readers to think that cinta monyet, usually seen by many people as unimportant and unserious, is probably a sincere love because it happens unconditionally.
He says the way adult people love each other is often not sincere because they set specific criteria, such as having a bachelor's degree and a proper job, something that children or teenagers would not ask or demand of their partners when they are in love.
'It is interesting to contemplate whether the man or woman we have married in life is our true love,' says the father of two who tied the knot in 2009 when he was 23.
Fahd hopes that Jodoh, which he wrote for a year while studying in Australia, can help singles find their love and end a messy state of mind caused by confusion, restlessness or insecurity.
'The target of Jodoh is young people who still question what the notions of love and soulmate mean. Love is complicated because it is about feeling. Meanwhile, the notion of soulmate is about decisions that we make,' he said.
Fahd, who has written more than 15 books, has worked as a productive writer since he was a senior high school student in Garut, West Java.
'For me, being a writer is not a profession. I write because I love,' he said.
He is not motivated to make money from writing and considers it a bonus if his work gets published.
For Fahd, writing is a larger-than-life activity that gives him space to express what he sees and feels in a real life and to play with his imagination.
Fahd only has eyes for writing and he is very serious in his choice. Last year, the graduate of Australia's Monash University, majoring in international relations, resigned from the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI) after having worked as a civil servant since 2009, a decision that at first disappointed his wife.
She later understood his decision after he explained that being civil servant was not his passion.
Fahd has received various awards, such as the 2005 Best New Writer award by Bandung-based publishing house Mizan for his first book, Being a Superstar, a motivational book for teenagers. A year before, UNICEF selected him as one of 20 writers for the UNICEF Young Writer Award.
However, learning is a never-ending process for Fahd, who is also a former lecturer at Muhammadiyah University of Yogyakarta.
He likes to discuss, read and learn from the work of other writers, such as the legendary poet Sapardi Djoko Damono, who was known for his skill in exploring simple words to deliver his ideas, and noted Muslim figure Emha Ainun Nadjib, who can drive his readers to contemplate their lives through his jokes and clever writing.
Currently based in Jakarta, Fahd now leads a communications consulting firm named Inspirasi.co, which also runs a website of the same title. The company accommodates the work of writers, designers, photographers, videographers and other workers in the creative industry.
Fahd is now trying to finish a new book slated to be released in the middle of this year.
He says that he is always curious about the response of his fans every time he releases a new book.
Fahd also has no special formula for being a productive writer. 'The recipe is reading many books and having enough sleep,' he says.
by Fahd Pahdepie
Bentang Pustaka, 2015
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