What do you do when a seemingly harmless email pops up, asking your permission to publish your story?
First, you check the date. Nope, it ain’t April 1st. Then you pinch yourself. Having screamed out aloud, you then trawl the emailer’s online presence. Once satisfied with the credentials, you then succumb and open the gateways to the dreams, that you didn’t know existed!
Five years back, if someone told me, that I would be a story-teller one day, I would have wryly remarked, ‘that’s a tall story’. After all, I’m not trained in the subtle nuances of this tricky language nor did I harbor any dreams of getting published. Ever! Mind you, I had even declared Florence Nightingale to be a promiscuous one! Well, I thought, that was a terrific adjective.
But when Readomania gave a new direction to the meandering Moi, I started moonlighting seriously as a tale-spinner. Taken up by my giddy new avatar, my mater and pater took their roles of direction-givers very seriously. I would often get FaceTime lessons from them on sentence formation and grammar intricacies. I finally drew a line when my daughter threatened to do the same.
I learnt early on in life, ‘either you like it or lump it’ and the easiest way to cope with life is to laugh at it. I started dabbling in funny pieces, as they resonated with others.
Readomania ran a couple of story-contests where the requisite genre was humor. I wrote a small story based on the ladies around my condo.
This time the Gods and their Goddesses were solidly on my team, though I hadn’t promised them any special services of 100 laddoos or 10 coconuts. This story struck a chord with Readomania and a germ of a novel was born.
And a meeting with the head-honcho, Dipankar Mukherjee, was set up at a happening coffee-shop.
I still remember the first time, I was going to meet Dipankar. I was figuring out mentally, ways to sound intelligent. This was a novel idea you see! I had to assimilate so much and I was barely equipped. Meanwhile, my excited young daughter came running and offered me her school notebook (with the school logo, picture, and postal address) to take notes. My husband sagely suggested taking my red pen along.
(I also moonlight as a tutor! I tell you, it is all about confidence! With a straight face, you can pull off so many fast ones on the unsuspecting public 😀 )
If only I had recorded Dipankar’s absolutely nonplussed reaction for posterity! What violent churn of emotions went through his mind as he saw me plot-plotting with a red ink pen in a school notebook! Must have had a second thoughts about the whole deal surely.
Now that the story was progressing well (on paper that is), a laptop was the next natural acquisition. I wanted the best ( My dear Mac-Air, my partner in this writing journey) and I wasn’t settling for a gift. After a slog at work, with my husband playing the Santa, on a cold Christmas afternoon, we brought her home.
The setting was ready, yet there was barely a skeleton of a plot.
How much could you stretch a 200-word story? Stretch I did!
Having wound the story up at 22k, I felt I had arrived. Dipankar was patience personified and it was back to the drawing board. Apparently, I had to add more 😀 So I took expert advice.
Deepti Menon and Vasudha Chandana Gulati read the first draft and gave their inputs. Arpita Banerjee was extremely supportive during the initial stages. Indrani is probably the nicest editor one can ask for. I’m sure Gods were remembered by all of them, at various stages. (My dear supportive fellow Readomaniacs )
It was a tremendous learning experience. Multiple layers were added and characters with enough back stories surfaced. Slowly the story began to stitch itself seamlessly.
During these iterations, for a while, my magnum-opus remained just that.
‘A work in progress’! (just like me)
While the rest of the world zoomed ahead brilliantly, inflicting me with those eternal existential dilemmas.
What is the worst emotional hara-kiri an author can do to self during this waiting period?
Get those very colorful and lyrical invites to the book launches of friends, foes, and countrymen, just to add some gravitas ( more like filling the seats actually ). Talk about rubbing salt on the wounds!
Vexed, I continued to attend those book launches, looked wise, picked up a copy, made some noise about how well my 9th draft was coming along (if someone asked, that is) and dragged myself home.
I became an expert at grinning and bearing it. ‘Someday I shall prevail!’ was my clarion call.
Destiny was with me. And just like that, one fine day, the editor sent a cryptic mail – ‘This is good to go’.
And that’s When AJ Bani Author!
A long cherished dream was finally a reality. I made it!
I don’t know what tomorrow holds nor do I want to unduly worry about it. I want to savor this moment, cherish and lock it up forever. Right now, I feel at the top of the world.
I keep my fingers crossed and pray that the world embraces ‘When Padma Bani Paula’ like Shah Rukh welcomes his heroines – Dono Bahein Poora Phelake :D
WPBP – my second chance at acing Karma!
My labour of love has reached many homes
Now please utter those three super magical words.
‘Bought Your Book’ 😀
Please click on the link shared below 🏵