Saturday, June 22, 2019

On Writing & Other Things

Dear Lord, has it been almost a year since I updated this thing?

Jeez. I guess I've had a lot going on.

Oh, who am I kidding. I'm just busy with work, and then updating silly things on Facebook these days. It's like something I read in Deep Work by Cal Newport, about a guy who said he could be writing 10,000 emails in a year that didn't eventually matter, or end up with a bestselling novel. Ironically, I couldn't deep enough into Deep Work. Must try and finish it...tomorrow!

Okay, but speaking of Novels hopefully which will be bestsellers....

So this little beauty of a cover will be on the shelves next month, along with some half-day decent writing inside it  ( at least I think so).

Apart from that, what's going on? Hmmm. Well, I'm working in the food industry now and am a few months into a highly interesting job marketing none other than pizzzzaaas, which is just so much fun! That's been keeping me terribly busy, and I've realized that ever since I've gone back into mainstream marketing leadership roles over the last few years, I've had hardly any time to write. This book, Those Days in Delhi, was written originally several years ago during the time that I was on my sabbatical.

I really am amazed by how much I wrote during that sabbatical. Even the sequel to my first book, 'Just Married, Please Excuse' could be out sometime next year IF I get around to actually working on the draft that I had created back then. Happily, my editors have already expressed interest in this sequel and that should theoretically provide me with a lot of motivation to work on it. But I think I have something else whirling around in my mind, and am yet to kick myself hard enough on the butt to get moving on it. From past experience, this will happen when it happens. Or then again, it may not.

At this point, as far as the writing goes, I can pause and take stock -

Just Married, Please Excuse ( 2012)
Sorting Out Sid ( 2014)
There's Something About You (2015)
When Love Finds You ( 2016)
Peanut Has a Plan (2016)
How I Became a Farmer's Wife ( 2018)
Peanut vs. The Piano ( 2018)
Those Days in Delhi ( 2019)

I know what you're thinking. Don't say it. You're thinking 'Hmmm. And what were you doing in 2013 and 2017?'

Just kidding. I remember good ol' Arco of HarperCollins saying to me in 2012 'When it comes to creating a social media presence, do it for your author profile, not for your book. After all, by the time you're 40, you'll perhaps have written five books.'

I'm 39 years old now. That's eight books in the Indian market. It's not meant any financial success at all. In fact, here's what young Peanut had to say about it a few years ago -

 That's right. She wrote 'My Mom is an author and a famous one. We're not really that rich like I expect other famous authors to be.'

Nice, Peanut. Real nice.

She wasn't exactly accurate about the famous part either. Over the years, my books would have reached a few tens of thousands of readers, and look how prolific I've been. But over time, I've also lowered my expectations of money and fame from writing. In fact, it serves me greatly in my professional sphere to be able to keep my author-identity and my work-identity separate. And not worrying too much about marketing and sales when it comes to my own creations is a real relief in so many ways. I wouldn't say anything cliched like 'It allows me to focus on the art form itself' - writing is merely self-expression for me, a great release, and more than anything else a way of just sharing my own imperfections with the world; which I hope in turn helps at least some people also look at their own imperfect lives with a little more humour and kindness and understanding. I think that's enough for me.

What else? Since last year, what has transpired? Vijay is still at it with his farming, resilient in the face of all the strange vagaries of nature, local panchayats, and what not, with some ten acres that he purchased in some obscure part of MP. The kids are doing well - young Peanut is now almost as tall as me ( I cannot believe how time flies), and Pickle and Papad are long-legged bratty pre-teens as well (gasp!). My sister and brother-in-law moved to Dublin, of all places, just a little further along from Gurgaon where they were our neighbours - we visited them last month and the place is just so nice. Wouldn't mind living there, if you ask me. The work scene is interesting and challenging, to say the least, although I will tell you that I can make a fantastic pizza now thanks to three weeks of in-store training ( with many of my friends remarking this is the longest I've ever spent in a kitchen). Music continues, and this year I am apparently going in for a vocal exam - the first I've ever given and my teacher is pushing me straight into Grade 5 (!) - I might fail, but I think it will be fun anyway, since Peanut and I are practising together. The piano and guitar haven't seen much progress, but I've decided that since I have trouble meditating, I'm going to be pretending my music is meditation. Well, it is really. Weekend Zumba and Strong by Zumba continue, although that's sporadic. I think it's largely thanks to practice during my sabbatical that I genuinely don't think any of this is too much. Okay, that's a lie, I have been feeling really frazzled of late, but I feel that it's not so much the doing of all of these things; it's in the thinking about it in a judgmental way 'Didn't practice today...what's the point...when will I ever finish that..and what about....oh dear.' You get the picture.

Sometimes I look at back this video and want to kick this happy smiling sorted version of me in the shins. But then I remember how I was genuinely so excited  to share this idea with the world - the idea that you can do so much more with your life. My happiness actually shines through in this talk, and I meant every word.

By the way, just because I felt like I had a little extra time on my hands, this year I also have got got trained and certified to be a coach. You know - the life coach, executive coach variety? I've currently managed to do about 25 hours of coaching, and am aiming at accreditation sometime next year, but not putting any hard timeline around it yet. I have 6 coachees from different walks of lives and the weekends that I get to sit down with them for an hour or so each are amazing; this simple thing about giving someone the space to just talk and be themselves, it opens up so many insights and is as fabulous an experience for as it seems useful and productive and sometimes, fascinating for them. I feel as though sometime in the future I'll be doing something serious in this space.

Finally - yes, I turned 39 this year. I'm much older and a little wiser than when I started this blog, oh, 12 years ago! And this year I did the best possible thing by way of gifts - I threw myself a party (okay, Vijay did all the actual work), but I curated a list of books that I wanted my friends to give me and each of them sent or bought me 2-3 books - I've got a very, very rich library of books to go through this year. It's such a win-win. They didn't have to think much about what to get me; no clutter in my house with vases and sweaters; no heartburn about getting the wrong gift; no wastage of money because the average outlay was a few hundred bucks. I just wish I'd thought of this several years ago. There's nothing like a great bookshelf to make some people happy.

Which brings it back nicely to the theme of books. I don't know when I'll write next. I don't know what I'll write next. But I do know that I'd like to just do it my way. 'Those Days in Delhi' is an unusual book in itself, very different from my previous ones. It's set in Delhi of the nineties and is a pretty personal tale, told with humour and love, and I'm hoping it resonates with a large number of people, who will relate with the trials and tribulations of growing up as an awkward, middle-class kid. It may or may not sell a huge number of copies. I just hope it makes a number of people laugh and maybe sniffle a little as they are transported back to their own days of summer holidays and peacock feather hunts and climbing mango-trees and being the misfit in middle-school. That's actually enough for me.

Until later.

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