CONFESSIONS OF AN AUTHOR
Of late there has been a disquiet surrounding me. The atmosphere is stifling and I gasp for breath. It is not a physical ailment I know, for it was only last week that I had been to my physician and he certified that everything was fine. I have been staring at the computer for half the night and not a single word has found its way on this expanse of white in front. May be it’s the Writer’s Block once again. So I found the only way to break it is to write something even if it is incoherent. You are the best judge. I had for long rejoiced and reveled in the achievement of having at last become a published author. It does not really matter that it was self-published. You see there was no real choice here. But I was happy that I had the book in my hand and it was even more gratifying that some people did buy and say nice things about it. Well I really liked what I had written for I had put my heart and soul while doing so. May be that was a mistake, for now when I delve deep into my being I find that I have nothing much to explore within. The process of writing was the process of living and that’s what I experienced with my first book. But then it dawned on me that I would have to continue writing if I had to continue living. That said, the question before me was ‘What do I write?’ That shows that I have come a long way in the two years from the time when I wrote ‘Why I write?’
Today I felt happy. I found my book on the coffee table in my relatives place. After all any visitor to her house would have at least out of curiosity picked it up and wondered what it was about or who the author was. I thanked her for having given it a visible place in her living room. I was sure she had not read it and I was not wrong. But I was happy it was not confined to a place along with the old newspapers.
A good friend of mine over the years, called up to tell me that she had at last purchased the book and finished it within two days. She said she liked it. But when I asked her to make a review and put it up on the site, she had only this to say “I have known you for such a long time and could connect with a lot of what is written there. But it is not possible for me to write a review for it could be a very biased view and therefore not an honest one.” I respected her view point and did not pursue, but still I could not understand her logic.
A debutant author and one who gets his work self-published looks for ways and means of getting people know about the book. Apart from the social media setups he looks to his friends and relations for support. He does not have the luxury of funds to have his book on the shelves of a bookstore or for promotional marketing campaigns. I have earlier moaned about getting more number of likes on the social media than the number of books sold. I could emotionally blackmail some of my friends into buying the book, but most of them have been shy of putting up reviews. As for relatives, the really close ones in the inner circle, I am sure that except for one or two none of them have read it though I have found a copy in each one of these households. When some asked for a copy, I just told them to go online and order for it if they were really serious. I said there are no freebies.
Sometime ago there was a large gathering of colleagues in Mumbai which I could not attend as I was preoccupied. They were gracious enough to hold a book launch and I did connect up through Skype with them when they did that and thanked them. It was a wonderful gesture on their part and everyone applauded. There were about eighty of them present. That was all. Nothing more happened. The few who had purchased it had done so earlier, of course by now you should have guessed how.
Why all this castigation from my side? I have at last arrived at a sense of propriety. I have accepted that’s how it is. Each one of us is busy with our own problems, with our own priorities. Ever since, I have been at peace with myself. Now I do not talk about the book when I meet people, except when they ask me about it and I tell them where to get it.
Now to the question which I raised in the first paragraph – ‘What do I write?”. I found that I lack imagination. I am unable to disentangle myself from my immediate surroundings and the exploration of the meaning of life. Connecting with a large number of authors through social media especially, I have found that the predominant genres resorted to are Sci-Fi, Paranormal, Vampire and Murder mysteries. Writing Sci-Fi and Historical fiction requires tremendous amount of research and imagination which I found I was not capable of doing and as for the others I am still not tuned to them. I have concluded that I am better off writing immediate and direct experiences, for that is charting out a way forward for me to understand an individual’s place in this world. Well you may ask why publish the book at all, if it is all about understanding myself. I might as well write it down and keep it to myself and read it whenever I feel in the dumps. You are right to say so, but I also write for some people out there and that’s why. I also confess that it feels nice when you know you have connected on the emotional plane. May be it is also because I have started writing at a relatively older age and these are the thoughts that occupy my mind day in and day out. I have been discovering (like I said in my first book) that every person has a story to tell. May be I tell it for them as I see them, though of course there is a possibility that they may see it differently. I have stopped writing about a possible future, I write about present reality. But perhaps I shall one day write about how to change the present reality to a possible future.
Some of my friends and a few reviewers have asked me whether I planned a sequel to my first book ‘I am just An Ordinary Man’. I could not answer them then but when I look at what I have written subsequently I might as well say yes. The thrill of living is in experiencing, the thrill of a journey is the journey itself. Life is one long journey to a destination. It might involve a series of journeys, a series of destinations to reach the final one. So that could be the answer to ‘What do I write?”
Ultimately I did find my calling. While the first book was an inner journey, the sequel would be a journey out into the external world where lay many lives that needed to be understood, for only then would my comprehension of what life and this world is about, would be complete. While the first one was all about introspection the second one is about being part of a larger process, a process of experiencing. No knowledge of life is complete without introspection and experiencing. This book is all about that. This is a book of ‘many lives’, simple ordinary lives, nothing dramatic or sensational. It is about people whom we have met sometime, somewhere; people who have left an imprint on our minds. It is about people of whom we have heard and cherished their memories. There is nothing like a better life, a life is a life and has to be lived within the constraints of each individual’s boundaries that define the circumstances of his birth, where he has had really no choice and the subsequent choices he makes to deal with the vagaries of a life that is indeterminate.