This is the story of a book. The book that almost didn’t happen.
So on the first day of this year, my father and my husband went to a store and picked out a notebook for me. “Here“, my father said, “For you to start writing your first book on.” I thanked him profusely and said I would do my best, and lovingly caressed its glossy white pages. It was my father who’d always had faith in me and my writing. More than that he had lofty dreams. Dreams that included the Booker Prize and what not. Even as I dutifully promised him that I would start scribbling on the notebook, a part of me never really believed I would do it.
I remember that sunny day, after my parents had left, when the husband and I took Miss Munchkin out to Dubai Marina Walk. I remember sitting in that Costa coffee shop, contemplating which words to put down on paper. I sat chewing the end of my pen, now and then randomly scribbling my thoughts, realizing after a while that an idea had been simmering and bubbling for a long time inside me without my being conscious about it. The more I started putting words on to paper, the more the idea started taking solid shape. But even then it was just that: an idea and a few pages of random scribbles on a notebook.
Until one fine evening when I came across a short story a brother had posted on Facebook. It was a well-thought-out story, and showed his clarity, but something about that story called out to me. Until then I had always been scared of writing fiction, because I had always assumed that fiction was not my forte, but that evening, I decided to translate the idea inside my head into something more. I needed to find the right words, and I needed to start typing them. Soon.
That short story and a phone call to a friend was what brought the book to life. Once I started typing it out, I got hooked. Literally. My husband had always had this picture of a “cool” writer in his mind, the kind of writer who drinks coffee, wears glasses and sits with her laptop. Unfortunately, the reality was not quite as… glamorous. I realized I was writing all the time. Typing out on my phone, scribbling on my notebook, plonking on the sofa with my laptop. After running around the house chasing the little one for the whole day long, cleaning, cooking, singing, dancing, standing on my head if that’s what she wanted, when I would be dead tired and ready to call it a day, my night shift would start. After putting her to sleep, when the house would be all quiet and the only sound that I would hear was the boom-boom of the nearby Barista Beach Pub, I would sit down and write until my eyes would start watering and the words would run dry. Even then, sometimes, right after I would go to bed, I would be struck by inspiration, and I would then get up to change a particular sentence, or write down a particular scene, just so I would not forget about it in the morning. Then again there would be days when I would sit down and wonder who on earth would even be interested in such random ramblings of a newbie writer.
Days melted into weeks that melted into months, and I was nearly three quarters done when we decided to move to Singapore. Right when I had attained that sweet utopia where I had a semi-fixed routine, and words were my friends, and I could manage around 2000 words a day, everything came to a screeching halt. We packed our lives in Dubai. I bundled Miss Munchkin up and took a flight to Singapore while the husband stayed behind to settle things. Between the time we left Dubai and the time we were partially settled in the new house and had a working internet connection, I had lost touch with my book. I had forgotten how my characters felt like, and the words, whenever they came out, didn’t seem right. I was almost ready to fold my cards and give up.
But then, very, very slowly, the book crawled to its end. The day I wrote the last word of the Epilogue, I sat down and cried. I called up my parents and told them that for whatever it was worth, I had finished writing the book, and could call myself an author.
The next step was obviously to find someone to publish it. That’s the thing about being creative: unless you send it out for others you don’t get validation, and unless you get validation you can’t call yourself an artist. The actual writing was still under my control, but beyond that was not in my hands anymore. Enter again my guardian and friend, the one person who’d been constantly there for the 4am phone calls, to assuage my insecurities, to keep chasing me across the rainbow, pushing me towards that pot of gold. He told me about Readomania, and once I learned more about them, I knew I had found the right people for me. I love their philosophy, love their passion, and most of all, love the fact that they build a relationship with the author first and then the book. So yeah, a month after I sent them my sample manuscript, and then the complete manuscript, I received a mail from them saying they would love to publish me.
*cue fireworks and booms and fizzles and more fireworks*
Look, I am not delusional. I know the book might not even do that well; it might crash and get lost for eternity, but hey! I will be a published author and for now I am basking in that glory. The book is scheduled to be released in April 2017, and we’re still very much in the nascent stage, but I am already planning about holding events and going on a book tour and signing books… Sigh! A woman can dream right?
Wish me luck, please?
P.S. The photo is that of my study. I’m hoping someday this will be famous. Har di har har!