Of course, I was an early reader and writer.
No shit, Sherlock!
Though my early attempts were rather laughable, they make for great anecdotes! Get this, at one point, I hand wrote a newspaper about the goings-on of my home and was selling it to my family for 25 paise a story. I think I set a precedent right there.
I wrote poems, which rhymed but never actually said anything. There was even a soon-abandoned novel – about someone using scorpions as a murder weapon to kill people (I had just discovered what scorpions were and they both horrified and fascinated me). It was, of course, full of plot holes: the ten-year-old me was definitely no master novelist.
All said and done, writing has always been therapy: a way to empty all the garbage in my head. I’ve kept a journal regularly since I was 21. But my fiction – both short story and any attempts at long-form – continued to feel half-baked and superficial for years.
This changed when I returned to Delhi, following 15 years abroad. Adult life in India, with all its peculiarities and challenges, somehow shifted something in the way I wrote, or perhaps it was age and experience.
Don’t get me wrong, like many writers, I regularly suffer from imposter syndrome, when I read the work of writers I admire. But then I have to remind myself that writing and stories are an integral part of who I am – and that while not everyone will enjoy what I write, that is okay.
Getting something published – even in e-book format, is one of the most terrifying things. First of all, you must place something you have toiled over in front of a stranger’s eyes – and then lay it bare to criticism and judgment.
Then you have to promote yourself and the book, all the while battling that little voice in your head that keeps whispering “what if everyone hates it?” Self-promotion for me, like many writers, feels unnatural and contrived. But at the end of the day a book is a product, and if we don’t tell anyone about it, how will anyone read it?
I had great publisher partners who gave me guidance along the way, answering loads of stupid questions, and doing an amazing job with the edits. I also had a friend whose been through the process who has been a constant source of advice and reassurance.
These stories were all started at different points in time, and I first started revisiting them in late 2017. There is a lot of joy in re-writing older work. I found I was able to add a lot of substance that was previously missing, though it took a lot of reworking to get them to where they are today.
Solitary Confinement was inspired by the way we see the events that happen in our lives, and the narratives we create, and how they impact us.
Spilling Over the Edges was in some sense a result of my own battle with guilt, and perhaps my feelings of inadequacy, and not quite being comfortable in my own skin.
Senseless Worries was written at a time when I was contemplating the dynamics of friendship and neediness, originally for a short story course I was taking online. I’ve changed much of it since.
The Mirage actually started as a result of a writer’s meetup I attended in Delhi, as a result of a free writing exercise. It was actually triggered by feelings of self-doubt in previous relationships due to gaslighting type effects – and the result of not being sure of what’s happening and whether it is right or wrong.
The Storyteller was written as an ode to the city of Delhi, originally as a contest entry, but later withdrawn (the said contest was quite suspect!) It is also a personal tribute to storytelling.
All five of my protagonists are flawed. They make mistakes, things do not happen to them. And that’s what our lives are, in a sense: imperfect, bumpy, inconsistent and unpredictable. We don’t always do the right thing, and because of this, we must deal with the consequences of the wrong thing. And that’s okay.
We look at mental health, stability, happiness, and positivity in a very tunnel-vision type of approach. Perhaps this is enhanced now by social media, but in a sense, the expectation to conform has always been there.
We feel this pressure to achieve, to have our shit together, and to be winners at everything. But sometimes, in chasing after these things, you slip into your own darkness. We tend to struggle against this, banishing thoughts we deem negative, pushing them so far down that we don’t need to think about them.
But that doesn’t make them go away, and it’s these very thoughts, that I wanted to explore in this collection. What each reader gets from this might be different, but if you are all able to walk away having resonated with one of the many emotions I poured into this book: my job is done. Happy reading!
This blog was first published by Readomania here: https://www.readomania.com/blog/the-journey-of-my-ebook-debut