THE TRAVAILS OF AN ASPIRING AUTHOR
It all started with ‘Nothing’ you can say and ultimately nothing happened.
Am I confusing you? Forget it, it’s nothing. But seriously it all started a couple of years ago when I was having coffee with a friend at a restaurant. During the course of our conversation he asked me –
“So what have you been doing till now? When you retired last year you told me that you were planning to write a book and have it published. What happened?”
“Nothing”, I said.
“What do you mean nothing?”
“Yes, I am writing a book. It’s nearly complete”.
“Oh! I guess it is should be a romantic thriller”.
“No. It’s actually ‘Nothing’”, I said.
“What do you mean? You just told me that you were writing a book”.
“Yes, the name of the book is ‘Nothing’.”
“My God!” he scratched his head in exasperation. “If it’s nothing, what the hell are you writing about?”
“Well, it’s about ‘Nothing’. I have nearly completed the first draft. If you want to see it, I shall mail it to you”.
He nodded, finished his coffee and walked out. I presumed that he had said yes, so I sent him a mail but I am still to hear from him.
Actually it all started after my desperate attempts to read Sartre’s ‘Being and Nothingness’. It was too heavy both by content as well as weight. Ever since it has been sitting in my bookshelf and looking down at me as if in contempt. I decided that the only way I could get it out of my system was to write a book myself. If someone could write something about nothing then why shouldn’t I?
Few days in to my writing, one day my wife found me sitting at the computer and staring at it. She asked “What are you doing just sitting there and staring at the computer?” I replied “I am writing a book and now I am just thinking”. She looked at me strangely and then asked “You never told me. Anyway what are you writing about?” I replied “I am writing ‘Nothing’”. She did not reply but switched off the light leaving me with my computer and the desk lamp on. She then said “Anyway, I am going to sleep and you can continue writing ‘Nothing’”. So now you know how it started.
That was just the beginning of my travails. As I continued to progress in my quest, I was many a time besieged by delusions of grandeur – a successful author, award winner and bestseller. I even thought about how much I would be offered by way of advance for my next book. At last it was over, I mean ‘Nothing’.
I was now ready to get my book published. I was told that there were two ways of publishing, one the traditional and the other self publishing. On the advice of some of my friends I opted for the traditional publishing as it did not entail expenditure once the publisher takes up the book for publishing and the entire distribution and marketing will be done by them. But again I was advised to have the manuscript read by a third person other than the family, to get a proper feedback on the contents.
I thought that was not difficult as I had several of my friends who I knew would be willing to that. So I sent it out to two of them. They are still to get back to me. Now looking back I presume they were in a quandary as to what to give as feedback, but it is also possible that they never looked at it. But anyway I thought that fortune favours the brave and walked into a publishing house only to be told that I may go back and send my manuscript by post or mail it to them. Of course they were courteous enough to ask me whether it was fiction or non fiction. I said that I would decide and then send them. Actually I did not know where my book would fit in. I guessed that ‘Nothing’ should be fiction and accordingly chose the genre. Don’t you agree?
To cut a long story short six months later my manuscript was returned. I was told that even if it had been accepted I would have to wait in the queue before my book was taken up. My agony was cut short. But I did see a light at the end of the tunnel. Yes I could go for self publishing.
I did it with the basic package to cut down my expenses, as I was confident of my editorial skills (not realising that I was the author and not likely to improve the quality of the manuscript) and marketing (oh yes I was sure that with all my friends in the social media networks and the readers of my blog, I could do a decent job). I forgot to add, that there are any number of self publishing houses, who are only too keen in publishing your work as long as they make money out of it for the rest is your responsibility. But they did help in making something out of my ‘Nothing’.
I forgot to mention that in the process of editing my book I think I did a fairly good job of it for I was able to reduce it by about fifty pages. If in the process you ask me what was left I can say ‘Nothing’. I must have read the book at least twenty times before I decided to call it off. I was overcome by ‘Nausea’ as Sartre would put and for the first time I understood what ‘nothingness’ was. A few more attempts at editing and I would have been left with nothing. I was also reminded of the time when in the process of trimming my beard and the hair on my head i ended up near bald ( not that there was much of it) and a french beard.
Well then came the next part and I thought that should be easy. I announced in my social media network that my book was at last published and requested all my friends to purchase, make a review and post it on the site. There was a tremendous response from my friends on the social media network. I had more number of likes than the number of books sold.
But I was a satisfied man, as at last I was successful in making something out of ‘Nothing’ and I don’t mean money, for I am still far away from breaking even.
At the end of it all I sang –
Nothing comes from nothing,
Nothing ever could
So somewhere in my youth or childhood,
I must have done something good.