Monday, May 31, 2010

The Lonely Life of an Indian Writer

I am sometimes envious, sometimes jealous of all my writing friends abroad, especially the American ones as I am more in contact with them. No offence meant writing friends, you guys have been amazing, generous and have accepted me whole heartedly in your fold.

Why am I  envious of them? Let me tell  you all a small secret. In my last post ‘How Much Criticism to Take?’ I have written about Critique Groups, Beta Readers, and Agents. I have learnt about these from all my blogging friends. I had no prior information about any of these except agents.

In India as far as I know none of us (writers ) belong to any Critique Group who meet regularly. We are bereft of the insights offered by members of a Critique Group( people who are traveling the same road as us). The first time I heard about a Critique Group was from my  mentor and writing friend Lia Keyes. She asked me during a late night chat if I belonged to any such group. Until then I was not even aware of it.

Well, as for Beta Readers, I had not heard of them until Robyn Campbell mentioned them during one of our frequent chats. If you ask me who gets to read my manuscript first, I would say no one. The first person to read it is the editor of the publishing house I send the manuscript to. If my manuscript sucks then it’s the editor who tells me that.

I don’t think any of my writing friends in India belong to any society for writers. Another writing friend Elizabeth Varadan has been constantly urging me to join SCBWI. I beg forgiveness for being ignorant about this society that has jumpstarted the careers of several writers. It was Elizabeth who sent me the contact number of the Indian chapter of this society! I had no clue about this society’s presence in India, so did the other writers I spoke to.

As we send our manuscripts directly to publishing houses in India due to lack of agents, I have learnt a lot about them from my writing friends abroad. Lia Keyes and Birgitte Necessary have generously volunteered to Critique my work ( synopsis).

From the moment I have started blogging, the stony path of the writing life has become less lonely and more pleasant. I have picked several sweet companions along the way: Anne, Jody, Lydia, and Victoria who leave such encouraging comments that I am inspired to blog more frequently. I have shamelessly lapped up all that they have generously shared in their blogs. From time management to synopsis writing. From contests to agent information. I am waiting to share all this information with my writing friends in India.

My non writing friends in India too have been extremely generous and supportive: Anitha, Pallavi, Heera, Bharathi, Padma and Pradeep constantly urge me to give my best.

Love and hugs to each and every one of you who has supported me.

Thanks to all of you wonderful friends, we(writers) have decided to start our own Critique Group in Bangalore. As of now its all in the discussion stage. Let’s hope people join.

Are you grateful to someone who has walked alongside you in your writing journey? Who has eased the loneliness? Is there someone you want to thank?


  1. What a lovely post, Rachna! Thanks so much for being the warm, delightful person that you are.

    I think starting a critique group in Bangalore is a GREAT idea! What will you call yourselves, I wonder?

  2. Hi Lia... thanks for your wonderful friendship. I am learning loads from you and everyone. I will cherish all the writing advice you constantly give me.
    We haven't decided about a name for the critique group as so far we are still discussing things. If you have any suggestions for names please let us know.

  3. Dear Rachna: I was immeasurably warmed my your recent blog, where you have actually thanked each and every one of your mentors - which shows that you are not only a very grateful person, but that you are a person imbued with humanism and an appreciable attitude. I would like to appreciate your attitude as a fellow writer who responds and interacts with other writers and accepts praise in the right spirit without becoming conceited. If you do join a Critique group in Bangalore, I would love to join. Thanks. Wish you all the best. Keep writing, Heera Nawaz.

  4. What a lovely post! Rachna, you are truly a generous and gifted writer! Its not everyone who can publicly acknowledge and thank people.

  5. How generous of you to publically thanks us for doing simply what friends do! I know I have benefited from all the tips writing friends have passed on to me, whether groups to join, conferences to attend, or simply newletters and articles passed on to me. In fact, thank YOU for putting me in touch with publishers in India!

  6. You are so sweet! Writing can indeed be a lonely business, and though I've had writer friends in my town that have been warm and welcoming, it is my blogging and online community where I have gotten a great deal of support I never thought I'd find. I really feel like I'm in this village of writers who all support each other, through good and bad times.
    You are very welcome, and I look forward to you meeting even more like-minded writers!

    I would urge you to look at the people who comment on my blog. They are the ones I feel closest to, whom I visit and who visit me often. Take a look at their blogs, and if you like what you see, follow them and they'll follow you. It's a great way to build up your following and make some more new friends!

  7. Thanks Lydia...I have met you all wonderful writers when I started blogging a little more than two months back. The support I have gotten from them is overwhelming.

    I will definetely check out the people who comment on your blog. One word to describe your blog is cool.

  8. Lovely post, Rachna. Imagine how much more lonely it would be without the internet - no wonder lonely writers starved in their garrets! LOL
    I still want to have you as a guest blogger on my blog - did I send you some questions a little while ago? Can't remember now. :)

  9. Aww!~ You are So sweet! I think I sense a revolution coming on. Do you think maybe you could start up a writing chapter in your community? I think you could make huge strides for other writers right there in India. What a blessing you'll be!

  10. Sheryl....the internet is really a blessing. We are connnecting with other writers all over the world. Without it we would never have met. have not sent me any questions yet.

  11. Anne..A few of us are interested in starting a Writer's Club in Bangalore(India). It will be nice to help and support other writers.

  12. I'm really impressed with your taking initiative to start a writer's group and meet! Even though I'm in America, I don't belong to local crit. group. I still get most of my support online. My local friends all support me tremendously, but it's really through the internet that I've gained my closest companions and encouragers on this journey! I'm so grateful for it! And I'm so glad I met you! :-)

  13. Thanks Rachna...You have been a great friend too,always supportive and kind :)Our journey has been together right from childhood....and wish it will continue till we get old too :)
    All the best and keep writing great stuff...

  14. Rachna, I am so PROUD of you that you are starting a local group. I know it will be a success. With you at the helm, it has to be.

    Thanks for mentioning me. I love you girl. And would be glad to look at your query or whatever you would like me to look at. And you know why? Because I really love you lots and KNOW in my heart of hearts that you love writing and are serious about this. You have supported me too. Thank you my sweet friend. =)

  15. Hi! I tried to leave a comment earlier and it wouldn't take so I'm going to try again. But the earlier one was better:) LOL thank you for visiting my blog. I have learned so much from online and wonder where I would be without my blogger writing friends! I'm so glad you are meeting the people you need to meet to share that information. If I can be of help, let me know:))

  16. Hi Rachna. Came here from Lydia's blog. I live in India too, but I am blessed in that when I started writing, I found a bunch of like minded souls with whom I started an online critique group. Without them, I would never have had the courage to keep writing.
    Of course, none of that helps in navigating the publishing maze that is India! But since I currently feel that the best place for my manuscript is the re-cycle bin, I guess I am not too badly off.

    Would like to stay in touch with you.