You are currently browsing the category archive for the ‘Being a Writer’ category.

I have put this off for several months now…by ‘this’ I mean – writing. Perhaps I was too glad about my second book, or maybe I started thinking I am not crafted for this (imagine how that obnoxious thought entered my mind, but it did!). At first, I told myself I am taking a well-deserved break (yeah right, what exactly did I do to “deserve” it? Sell millions of copies of my books?) Then, I thought that there is so much to do at work which I was carrying home sometimes, and then…well, there were excuses and more excuses. But I did write an article for a magazine in these past 6 months (oh now that counts!!!). Anyway, I am back to writing again. I am starting with blog but am going to follow-up with the book that lies unfinished for so many months (aah!).

Okay I think the writer inside me has so much to say that there are two threads going on here…let me just catch one.

To talk about the writing stuff, I was busy but I was also self-sabotaging, by telling myself how I should treat writing only as a hobby and it doesn’t mean much if I never make it big as a writer or worse, that I perhaps was not destined to. But now, I am past all that negativity and perhaps it is time to make another promise to myself – I will always be a writer, no matter what anyone says, no matter what I think and no matter how busy I get. Being a writer is my whole being, it is my identity.

Also, I am past the stage where I could run away from commitment. I am already into this for life. It took me 20 years to actually accept that I want to be a writer and I cannot give up just in 5-6 years! I have to try harder and I have to give it at least the same time as I took to tell myself that writing was my love. So there goes that.

Now coming to the personal stuff, I want to make an announcement. God is kind enough to me to have blessed me with two angels in my life, and perhaps He thinks I need more of His love, so there is another angel on the way…yes, I am expecting my third baby 🙂

Now, I have encountered raised eyebrows and stunned reactions to that in past couple of weeks. It was not supposed to be known so soon but due to some unexpected reason, it became known to people around me. Being an Indian, where most of the people my generation opt for a single child because of financial or personal reasons; also, those who go for a third are usually the ones who are still trying for a boy, I am probably one of the very few, who just want to have another one. I am blessed with a son and a daughter, so people usually don’t understand why I decided to have one more child. So the next thought that enters their narrow minds is – it must not be planned. And some of them (i.e. those who do not fit into family or friends category) even asked me this! And I had to make an effort to keep myself calm!

I think this is a good start or restart…good news and a promise to myself. And I end with a prayer to God “Dear Lord, bless us all; those who ask for it and those who don’t; those who need it and those who don’t; those who believe in the power of prayer and those who don’t; shower your blessings and love on us, as you always have.”

I did not intend to write a second book of short stories after I published my first, ‘Love, It Is!’ (Buy it here.) But then, one fine day, I promised myself that in the year 2013, I wanted to gift myself another book. I gave myself a deadline, since I did not want to let 2013 go by. I decided to use one of the auspicious dates in my life – 23rd June. And I announced it so that I was under pressure to complete the book by that date.

I knew I wouldn’t be able to write 15 stories like I did for the first one, but I also knew these stories would be bolder and better. I understood that when I hold myself back as a writer and do not write what scares me and aim to write only happy endings, I am not being fair to the writer in me. I have no right to hold back the thoughts and plots. I have to give in to the stories…to the plot and to the reality. And that’s what I did.

I wrote these dark stories that I had heard of or read of or saw a part of, in several years. I had many stories and situations in my mind, but I chose only a few, which had affected me enough to replay the events in my mind several times. I can still write many more such stories, but I did not want the book to be a work in progress for a long time.

Also, it is a very good feeling when you write a story that ends in smiles and tears of joy. You feel good about yourself and you feel glad that you wrote something that has the potential to give hope to someone. And you forget for a while that it is just a story and life could be so different and tougher. In fact, you feel in your heart that someone somewhere would read the happy story about love and will perhaps start believing in love or maybe believe more strongly.

On the other hand, when you write a dark story that ends in a different way than you would want it to or in a way that is unfair to the character you love so much, it is painful. You keep wondering ‘what if I tweak it a bit, just a little so that the X person is happy’ and you have to stop yourself from doing it just because you know that the story loses its essence. You have to force yourself to not meddle with the story or the characters. You have to give in to the weaknesses of those characters, because that’s how they are. Perhaps you created them that way, maybe you based them on someone you knew and that’s how they are in life. But as a writer, you cannot change the character just because you want to. Hence, writing a dark story is very tiring. It keeps playing in your mind and you have to silence the voice in your head which asks you to interfere with the writing and the writer in you.

This kind of stories affect people like me even more. I am one of those people who faint at the sight of blood, who turn away their face when a nurse withdraws blood from my child’s arm, who cannot watch a movie with gross murder scenes, who are affected for weeks when they read about an abuse in the newspaper, who cry for children who are subject to atrocities by their own relatives. I am one of those people who stop reading newspapers or watching news because it’s all so sad and negative.

So, it’s no wonder that I was able to complete only 7 dark love stories for my second book. But since I am that person who loves happy endings, I threw in a story at the last-minute which ends on a happy note, so that the reader can close the book with a sigh of relief. Oh there I go…revealed the plot of the last story 😉

The second book required more effort because of several reasons – the kind of stories, the timeline, the full-time job which (un)surprisingly got busier just before the book’s publishing date, and other miscellaneous factors. Yet, I finished on time, with one story more than the number I had in  my mind. That’s a promise fulfilled – a gift to myself 🙂

‘Love No More’ was published on 23rd June, 2013 (as planned) and can be purchased from Amazon at the following link:

Love No More  (Read and provide feedback)

Picture this. It is 15 – 20 years from now. When you look back at today, would you ask yourself the question “Did I settle for financial security? Did I know that I had the passion to be what I dreamt of being and yet I sacrificed that for a mediocre (or even high profile) job?” This question haunts me every single time I want to write something and I am unable to because of work or other responsibilities. I read the biographies of people I think as great writers/poets and there is a common element I see there. Except for a very few lucky ones, all the others had a tough youth, meaning they did not have a decent job, or financial means to even support them. Many of them just wandered around, taking up some what we call as ‘lowly’ odd jobs, until one day, the fate tested them for courage. They, of course, exhibited the courage (precisely why we have their biographies) and they were rewarded with what they wanted to be! The most important common element in the stories of these great writers/poets is – they did not settle. I am sure many must have told them they are wasting away their skills or life. Many must have discouraged them. Many must even have ridiculed them. But it did not bother them. They did not settle, despite all odds against them, despite everyone around them asking to.

I dread to think that I will answer that question in affirmative. Because I have been telling myself I have time, I will be 100% dedicated to writing after I am done with x or have handled my y responsibility etc. But what if I don’t have time? I keep postponing my dream as if I get to decide how long I am going to live! I keep lying to myself every day that I will succeed despite not giving it my 100%.

So what do I do? Quit my job, a well-settled life and devote myself to my dream? Is it that simple? What about the practical day-to-day responsibilities I have towards people I love?

What is a bigger remorse – shunning the comforts and try to act on my passion, which has a risk of being unsuccessful? Or settling for a mediocre life?

Writing, of course! Right? But…

Why do I write? There is no simple answer to that. I write because I love it; because it gives me a contentment I never imagined; because it is therapeutic for me. If I am happy, my joy multiplies by writing about it; if I am sorrowful, I find solace in writing. When I write, I may not be writing about the sorrow in the current time, but just putting down few meaningful words on a document makes me feel sane and makes me forget the pain.

We have always heard that love makes you lose sleep and appetite; writing does the same for me. If I feel like writing, I can start at 12 in the night, even after a long and tiring day; and I have to force myself to stop and get some sleep since there will be another tiring day to face. When I write, there is no hunger and no sense of time or place. Writing is another world for me, a world where I can control my negative emotions and generate more positivity.

As you day-dream in love, I dream about writing. I dream about a day when I could get up in the morning and just start writing, and continue till I feel like, without bothering about job, home, food, anything. My ideal day would begin writing while sitting under a tree, surrounded by a beautiful garden and a waterfall in the background. I crave for the freedom to pickup the pen and paper (or laptop) anytime a story idea struck me. I fantasize about the ability to go into the fiction world whenever and wherever I wished. I guess I am just in love with writing. And good thing about this love affair is that I am probably never gonna be at the stage of familiarity and boredom…there is so much to learn, to evolve, as a writer. This is just the beginning, for something which will never end since I will never stop learning as a writer.

Most of the time, while I am doing the household tasks, I enter into my fantasy world and start thinking about story ideas and plots. Most of those never make it to the paper. They just keep developing in my mind and stay there. Some are even lost. There are others which reach to the point of getting acknowledged in the form of a Word doc, but just lay there unfinished and unattended. But I write them because I know I will use them sometime in the future; even if I don’t, they help me in finding new ones and they serve as a practice for something I want to write about.

And most of the times, those stories that never make it to end or sharing with others, were actually not meant to be for that purpose. My stories give me a sense of relaxation which people usually find when they share with the closest of friends or with a therapist. I have my own counselor, always with me. I never need to take an appointment, I do not bother about the time limit, and I don’t have to care about the fees 😉 I have a very fulfilling relationship with writing.

Long back, when I wrote very rarely, I found the same fulfillment in reading. Sometimes, when I had nothing to read and I needed some therapy, I would read even my course books! Sometimes, I used to wonder if I was crazy, living in a fantasy world and finding contentment sharing with books, rather than with people. But it turned out well in the end. And I am still a lover of books, though my preference has changed a lot over the years and I no longer read any academic books to feel better 😉 Though I still read my daughter’s coursebooks sometimes, curious about what they teach now and how it is different. Though I prefer reading in English, I do love Hindi books as well, especially stories by Premchand. I am a true lover!

But now, I have two loves…writing joined the race long back, when I was just 10…but it was a close second always. Now, I cannot differentiate. So here I am, the lucky one, who found love, not once but twice. A love affair that never goes stale, partners that never become boring, activities that never become routine…and love that is different and better every day!

There might be thousands of writers out there, yet it is not easy being a writer. It requires efforts equal to any other art form or a serious job. You don’t become a writer by just writing once in a while and never revisiting your work. You become a writer when you absolutely love writing and manage to find enough time to do it; are constantly working hard to improve your skills; read as much as you can about writing so that you can do better; can find something interesting enough to write about, every other day.

Each small step you take makes a difference and takes you closer to your goal. And, the goal in question is always the same – being a writer and loving it for the sake of it! If you don’t love being a writer, you might as well not be!

Know it – that it is going to be tough. You have to sacrifice your sleep, TV time, internet-surfing time and all the unproductive stuff. You have to forget about the real world and get into your writing as if only that world exists. You have to write, no matter what. If you don’t have it in you…better quit and forget about becoming a writer.

First, you have to become a writer, then you can think of publishing, making money, being famous etc. But the work comes first. There is no other way to do it. There might be many easy ways to earn money, if that’s your purpose, being a writer ain’t one of them! Of course, you could make money by writing things that get the attention of mass…but that success will be as short-lived as a reader’s attention. I am assuming that most of the authors do not run after money and success…they just want to be recognized for being an author and for loving what they do.

As a budding writer, you must have heard this advice often – read a lot. And you know what, it’s true. Apart from writing stuff as often as you can (article, story, poem, novel, blog post etc), you must spend a lot of your free time on reading stuff others have written. You can stumble upon good support material for your writing, you will know what are the kind of works already present in your preferred genre, you can guess what kind of material is being read and is popular. And very important, you will be able to connect to other new writers who might be in a similar situation as you and would turn out to be a good help. Sometimes, you can spark a new friendship there! There are so many advantages of reading, especially in the current era, when Google is like a best friend to a writer. This is an era of information…grab anything and everything that is available on this magic land called internet and use it for betterment of your writing!

I have been writing for more than 20 years, but I took it up seriously only a few years back…I love it more day by day! As I get deeper into this realm of writing, I evolve and I learn, and I enjoy it even more. Writing can be learned/improved only by more writing. You have to bring yourself to a level where you are practically living in the world of writing – unless you see every single situation with a writer’s eyes, unless you are looking for a new story every single awake moment of yours, and unless every conversation you are a part of, instigates the author inside you…you still are not ready. You still have a long way to go.

I am not saying you should shun all your other responsibilities and just write, but the desire to do so should be fierce in you. There are situations in everyone’s lives which lead to postponement of your dreams, but if you can keep that dream alive till you are, you have potential to live it some day. That day will soon come. The speed at which it arrives into your life to become a part of you, depends entirely on how strong your wish is to make sacrifices in the present to give yourself that chance in the future.

Yes, being a writer, you will almost never see immediate results. Unfortunately, for some, they never come. But are you willing to take that risk? Are you ready to take a plunge in the dark, just having the weapon of passion with you and with no promise of ever making it big? If your answer is yes, my dear friend, you are absolutely ready. Just go for it!

Warning: The following is entirely a work of experience…of a budding writer. Any resemblance to any Indie writer is purely intentional.

Having said that, I am going to tell you a story. Some of you may identify with it; others might know someone who relates to it.

There is a new breed we have been hearing about a lot these days…nope, not vampires (though they are all over, everywhere!). This new breed I am talking about, like to call themselves ‘the Indie authors’. By definition, someone who is independently published, but in reality, someone who is crazy enough to believe in their love of writing that they are ready to put themselves out there…alone and vulnerable in front of the world of shark-critics!

Trust me I have experienced this…self-publishing is not an act of courage or belief in oneself…it is rather – a writer’s nightmare!

I actually have a few questions for this new species, and I speak on behalf of the omnipotent, forever-judging and Godly readers.

How dare these newly born authors think that as soon as they publish their book on the internet, people would start appreciating them and recognizing them? Do they really believe that they would become a household name in the world of writing, without any advertising campaign or over-the-top marketing strategies for book promotion? Are they descendants of Shakespeare to claim for fame through writing?

I would say these so-called Indie authors are actually fooling themselves. Aren’t they aware that a reader is not looking for a good book…they are looking for the best marketing campaign out there. They want to be flabbergasted by the promises made by a fresh book of a new writer. Do these writers even realize that when readers are searching for their next read, they might be visualizing how the book will look when they hold it in their hands to pretend to read on the way to college/work etc?

How naive it is to believe all those success stories of the self-published authors, when all of us already know at least one person who is still trying to make a mark even after publishing more than only one book, several years back? How gullible of them to actually trust the biggest lies of the publishing world – that a story which can touch a few hearts will go a long way?

And the most foolish thing of all to believe that social media (for instance, FB) was a tool in marketing of a book! Why would anyone want to share any links pertaining to release of a new writer’s book, when they are being asked to pay for the book? You are a budding writer…hell, you have an absolute need to let people read your book…so why not give it free? And to think about it, why would anyone spend 99 cents on something that has been produced by someone they know? Wouldn’t it be better to spend that money on some work which belongs to a stranger? That way, the book is just an object, which can be easily dismissed as bad!

Here are a few facts that these Indie authors seem to ignore:

Fact 1 – You are not a writer…yet. Just authoring about a dozen articles in a local magazine, writing and self-publishing your book, or spending months of efforts into your writing, doesn’t mean becoming a writer! A writer is someone who is famous, or rich, actually both.

Fact 2 – A writer has a huge readership, backed by the marketing campaigns, the controversial topics, semi-autobiographies (first insinuating at this and later denying it) and a story of success after long struggle. If you have none of these important, in fact, absolute essentials, of a successful book, then you cannot be a success. If you have a decent job, a loving family, and contentment by God’s grace and above all, no desire to write about politics, sex, religion or any scandals or controversies, you are doomed as a writer. Hence, automatically, you have lost the race before it even began. Who wants to read about simple stories… without any spice in them, not fuelled by scandals & controversies?

Fact 3 – Budding writers have absolutely no right to demand money for their work! So what if they price it as low as 99 cents?  Do they really think that pricing the book at such low prices will make it sell in huge numbers thus helping them find a publisher! Does that really happen in real life? Ahem, NO.

Fact 4 – This one is especially for Indie writers from India, whose potential readers are Indians. Any Indian should be aware of the fact that we Indians, as a race, love free things. After all, the best things in life are free! So, an Indian Indie writer should distribute at least the first dozen of their books for free…then only they should think about selling them. So what it took you years to write those stories; so what you spent hours in thinking about the plot; so what if it is an achievement for you to finally finish and publish your book? Why should we readers care about the efforts that went into writing? Why do these writers expect their readers to know anything about writing? Readers just read the stuff for free and then, criticize it for free! Yes, your friends might have encouraged you with their appreciations (of course they must have been reading them for free!) that doesn’t mean you are good. Is being a writer even a real job? It’s so easy to put down few thousand words together to make some sense. Isn’t it? And no one deserves to make easy money!

Fact 5 – It is so inconvenient to appreciate someone for something they did and it is even more troubling to support them, especially when there might be a possibility of them making some money out of it.

As a reader, I have an advice for these “Indie writers”…get a life! You are not J.K. Rowling…accept and move on. And if you are not able to sell your first book, do not waste your time in writing another one! Always remember – your first attempt at writing was not successful!

If you are trying to be a writer, along with a home maker, full-time working woman…it is got to be tough! But you have the passion, and you love writing…you are ready to make sacrifices – you can sacrifice sleep, your favorite TV show, your moments of rest, then you probably have enough opportunities to steal the time from the day. All you have to do is just lookout for the short moments of being alone. Then, grab them, and turn them into your moments of ‘writer time’.

Let’s say you start early like me. As soon as you are awake, switch on the ‘writer mode’ and while you finish the household chores, try to do the thinking part of your writing piece. Of course, you have to listen whole heartedly to the children; so when you need to, keep a book mark at the thought in that moment, and switch off the writer mode. I do it all the time. I can always go back to the same thought once again, start imagining the story exactly from where I left. This requires some practice, but as far as I know, if you let your thoughts wander away, you will only gain as a writer 🙂 Let the mind wander, just keep visualizing the work at hand and you will be fine. I have sometimes imagined the most impressive line/dialog or even the ending in this manner.

Then, when you have to commute to the office for longer than 10 minutes and you do not drive yourself, take out your laptop and start writing, whatever you had thought throughout the morning. If you do not have a laptop, pen down the words on a paper. I always try to keep a notepad with me, so that I do not miss an idea. I realized this the hard way! I understand, it will be a task to transfer the writing piece to laptop/PC later, but that would be less time-consuming if you have already composed. Also, while copying the work to PC/laptop, you could actually review it! When you are done, you will have the proof-read draft version and will not need to visit it again with the intent of correcting small mistakes! It is time-saving after all! I remember writing a story on the way to an interview, a poem on the way to visit someone. It is fun! If suppose you do not even have a piece of paper, just take anything writable (back of an ATM slip, tissue paper, even your palm) and note down one or two words that would preserve your idea and you can develop it later. This is one way of ensuring you do not have to bump your head to remember what it was that you wanted to write and losing the idea forever. Many writers will tell you that they have lost some wonderful ideas by not writing them down immediately. And with my experience I know that how much ever you scratch your head later on, sometimes, you cannot remember!

Sometimes, it might happen that however hard you try, you cannot do anything creative on the way. Well, I mostly force myself saying I have to do it since otherwise, I am not serious enough about my writing. Sometimes, nothing works, and then, I use that time to finish some task pending task from work and then, use the scheduled time for the latter  to write. And sometimes, I use the commute time to just relax, observe my surroundings and let my mind wander.

There was a time when I used to think I would either write the whole thing in one go or wouldn’t do it. I would sit down to write only when I had enough time to finish it. That was when I used to write poetry…and I thought a poem couldn’t be composed if you lose the flow. Well, I realized because of this habit, I ended up not writing many things I thought of. Hence, I changed my habit. But old habits die hard. Many a times, when I sit down to write something just before going to sleep and I tell myself I will write only for 40 minutes since I need to wake up early, I hardly stick to the time limit. When I finally switch off my laptop, it is many times over 90 minutes! So, I end up losing my sleep and bear the consequences the next day. But in the end, it is worth it. I feel productive.

There is another way I steal some time from my day. We all have those moments when you are preparing for a meeting and you realize that you are done and still there are 10 more minutes before the meeting begins. Steal those 10 minutes to write even a couple of lines, or use them to read through what you intended to read for the purpose of reviewing. Though it is not much you will achieve within just 10 minutes, but think how those minutes will accumulate into hours over a time period!

Then, there are those times when you are cooking and you are waiting for the curry to cook and you need not do anything in those 15 minutes, well, write! Or when you are watching your favorite show or movie on TV, you can use the breaks, which are mostly unproductive, to write. Perhaps you do not have enough time to write on the laptop, then write on a paper. Again, think of the cumulative effect of those few minutes you steal from your day on a regular basis.

So as many writers must have said it before, I am going to repeat. Writing is a hobby and you write because you love writing, but you are not writing for the purpose of not getting read. In fact, every writer writes for getting read. In order to achieve that, you need to finish the task – a blog post, an article, a story, an essay…it needs to be complete before anyone can read it. To complete it in one go is not possible, even with a short post/story. And you might not have enough time daily in your routine to fix a schedule of work for yourself. However, you can steal time – little bit every day and still get the work done. Don’t we finish our office deadlines? Today, I got up 40 minutes later than my usual time and I still managed to send the kids to school at the same time! I am sure we all have had such days, but we still manage to make sure that we stick to our time lines for all the regular tasks, so why not for your writing? Try making a habit and stick to it most of the time. When you are able to accomplish even a single task, you will be motivated to practice this more.

But there is one thing about stealing the time – you should not define any rules for it. You cannot tell yourself that everyday at such and such time, I will write for 10 minutes. It is good if you can stick to the rule, but with stealing, there is always an unpredictability associated with it. Hence, it might frustrate you if you try to make any rules around it. It is better to just find some time any time of the day. That way, the zeal also remains intact; routine can be boring. You need to be flexible enough to understand and identify the days when you are more motivated and utilize them to maximum while the days when you don’t feel like writing, you could use to relax or read or research.

This technique of stealing is not only for writing, you could use it for so many other things in your every day routine. Try it for a week and see how much you gain out of it…

Your thoughts?

My Books

Read the review Love No More (Love, It Is!)

Read the review Love, It Is!

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 278 other followers