Friday, April 21, 2017

My Deadline Has Waved Goodbye To Me

I had set a strict deadline to finish a book, so that I could revise and edit it in time to participate in a twitter pitch party. The deadline came and went, waving a mocking goodbye to me, and I realized that I was not even halfway through the project, though I managed to write a few pitches for it.

I postponed the deadline by two months. As this particular deadline is looming large, I realize that I still have a long, long way to go. If I do a rushed up job, I know I’ll be doing injustice to the project, as well as to myself.

This has made me push the deadline by a few more weeks. I am not sure that I’ll meet that deadline too.

I feel bad that I won’t be able to complete my book for that particular pitch party. I’ll have to wait a few more months for it to come again. By then I’m sure the book will be more than ready. I’m very angry with myself for this slow writing. But summer always has that effect on me. It makes me sluggish and grumpy and very lazy.

But luckily for me I have another book that I may be able to polish for that particular pitch contest. This idea has cheered me up quite a bit. Fingers crossed so that I am able to achieve this particular goal.

How are you all at handling deadlines? Are you able to meet them? Or like me do you keep postponing them?

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

IWSG Post - My Panster Woes

We are already in the 4th month of 2017.  This year too like its predecessors is flying past at an alarming speed, leaving many of us writers stranded with our writing goals. A couple of my deadlines have whooshed past me, mocking my laziness.

 It’s the first Wednesday of the month, time for our monthly IWSG post. IWSG (Insecure Writers Support Group) is the place we writers hang around online, sharing our writing insecurities, anxieties, worries, clearing our doubts and learning from each other. As all the writers are at different stages of their publishing journey, there is a wealth of information on the IWSG website. we post on the first Wednesday of every month. To read the other IWSG posts, click here.

We all must thank Ninja Captain Alex J Cavanaugh (author of the Amazon Bestsellers: CassaStar, CassaStorm, CassaFire and Dragon of the Stars) for starting this wonderful group, which works as a major stress buster for us writers.

This month I have given myself a strict deadline of finishing a manuscript I had started sometime back. For that I have to write fast and I am actually pansting quite a bit of the story. I haven’t done any heavy duty plotting and have only a rough idea of what the ending will be like and what the major turning points will be.

This panster way of writing is giving me anxiety attacks, as I like to have a plot outline in mind before I start telling the story. Though between plot points I give myself the freedom to move any which way, but whichever direction I take, I know where I have to reach because the next major plot point is waiting for me.

I am wondering how other writers are such amazing pansters. How do they write without any outline? Can anyone give me any tips? I am eager to read all your IWSG posts and see what writing worries are bugging you this month.

April 5 Question: Have you taken advantage of the annual A to Z Challenge in terms of marketing, networking, publicity for your book? What were the results? 

I have not used the A to Z Challenge to market my book or for the publicity of my book. I have done the Challenge just once and my book didn’t get published in the year I participated in the A to Z Challenge. But it sounds like a good idea for book promotion!

Friday, March 31, 2017

Wading through 100 pages of Research

Writing a book on Ganesha and Kartikeya has made me do such an extensive research that my mind boggles when I see the 100 pages of Hindu Mythology staring at me. As this is one of my most ambitious projects I don’t want to goof up by getting the facts wrong and incurring the anger of people. 

 As I write fantasy, I don’t do much research except to check for some facts and that takes barely a few minutes. For my last book on dogs I did quite a bit of research but definitely not 100 pages. And that was because I am scared of dogs so I needed to get their body language and behavior right. I also watched a few videos on You Tube to see how dogs walk and their expressions etc.

But writing a book on Hindu Mythology is not for the faint-hearted. The internet is brimming with information and it took me several days to download all the information I would need. Now I have a huge pile of printed pages to wade through.

One good thing is happening, as I am reading the pages, lots of character details and subplots are popping up in my mind. I’m just on page 17 and already I feel I can make this a series or atleast a trilogy. And ofcouse with all this reading there is the added bonus of getting better acquainted with our Gods and mythology.

How much research do you all do? Do you think such an extension research is required?

Friday, March 17, 2017

Is it Necessary for Writers to be on so many Social Sites?

Everyday I see that more and more writers and other people have joined so many social media sites: Blog, Facebook, Pinterest, G+, Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr, Goodreads, Snapchat. I am astounded at the number of applications people download on their cellphones and the id’s they create on so many sites.

 It’s mindboggling to have so many accounts on different networking sites, to update them, follow people, see their updates, comment, like and share. Where does one get the time to focus on their work?

I’m a lazy social networker. If I am tweeting regularly, you can rest assured that I have ignored my blog and FB page. And If I’m blogging regularly, it goes without saying that my Twitter and FB accounts have been sent on a short holiday. I’m personally unable to handle so much social media all at once. My MO is a little at a time.

As it is I feel I am losing my writing focus from the past few weeks. And as I review books for the newspapers, I have a steady list of books on my desk at any given time. And on top of that if I had to handle an avalanche of networking sites I would go bonkers.

Whenever I see other writers managing so many different accounts and quite well at that, I feel a little envious and I wonder how do they do it? Do they have a secret ability that I haven’t got? Are they better multi-taskers than me? How are they able to juggle so many things, and work on their books, unlike me?

I barely manage to meet my writing deadlines, almost always missing my personal writing goals for the day. I sometimes feel I should just deactivate my 3 accounts for a few months and get some serious writing done.

How do you all cope with so many social media sites? What is your routine like? Any tips for a hopeless creature like me who is unable to manage her Facebook, Twitter and Blog and work on her books at the same time?

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

IWSG Post-Have you ever pulled out a really old story and reworked it?

Two months of 2017 have waved goodbye to us. Looks like this year is in a tearing hurry to be a blip in our lifetime. It's time for another IWSG (Insecure Writers Support Group) an online group of writers posting on the first Wednesday of every month. IWSG posts give us a chance to discuss all aspects of writing which we are unable to discuss with non-writers. It’s a relief to discuss the worries, anxieties, fears and insecurities which haunt our writing space. Other writers who have undergone these feelings and overcome them help out with their advice and tips. Check out the IWSG website for amazing writing tips. To read the other IWSG posts, click here.

If we mention IWSG, can Ninja Captain Alex J Cavanaugh (author of the Amazon Bestsellers: CassaStar, CassaStorm, CassaFire and Dragon of the Stars) be far behind. This wonderful group is his brainchild. A4 (Amazing, Adorable and Awesome Alex) has ensured that we writers retain our sanity by giving us a chance to let off all our writing steam (stress, doubts and worries) in a healthy way through these posts.

March 1 IWSG Question: Have you ever pulled out a really old story and reworked it? Did it work out?

Yes, I have pulled out a couple of old stories and reworked them. But to be honest, I lost interest midway while revising one old story and had absolutely no interest while tackling the revisions for the second story. I thought I was wasting my time, I felt it would be better if I spend that time working on a new story. I also felt that both the stories sucked and they were full of cliches and the writing was so crappy that I wanted to hide myself in that dusty drawer out of embarrassment.

I am eager to read all your posts to see how you all tackled your older stories which were gathering dust in drawers.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Can writers survive on income from their books?

As writers we all are so focused on our novels, that we seldom think of anything else. Ours characters, plot points, story arcs and chapter endings absorb our mind to such a large extent that we have no mind space for anything else. And once we are done with the actual writing, then our critique partners and beta readers come into the picture. After that we bury ourselves in the revisions process. And once the book is ready to travel out into the world onto its steady legs, we get immersed in the submission process. Instead of the current heart throb of the nation, we see dreams of agents and six figure deals, and if we are lucky enough maybe we even attend the premier of our book made into the movie, in our dreams. Writing our books takes a long time. Sometimes we work for more than a year or so on one single book.

What I am trying to say is that if we were to survive solely on the royalty from our books, we all would be on a perpetual diet, as our book/s income is nothing much to write home about. So, we all have a part-time job or a full-time one (where we write in our free time) that pays our bills. Most of the writers I know do a lot of odd writing jobs to supplement their incomes.

I was teaching creative writing part-time in college and I also write features for newspapers and do book reviews for two newspapers as well as create course material for Oxford University Press.

I am aware that almost all my blog buddies write books, but what I want to know is have you ever written for different mediums like the television, movie scripts, websites, school textbooks, newspapers, magazines, websites, video games, teaching in schools and colleges etc?

What do you all do other than writing books? Do you have a job and write in your free time?

Friday, February 10, 2017

My New Obsession – A T.V Show Called Zindagi Ki Mehak

I have said time and again that I hardly see T.V (I would rather read a book), as most of the shows being aired have never struck my fancy, neither do I have the time nor the energy to invest in a daily soap, where the villains and vamps rule the small screen, making things difficult for the lead pair.

But all this changed last year when I saw the promo of a new show called Zindagi Ki Mehak, when I was chatting with my mother while she was watching her favourite show. Something about the promos attracted me, and I decided that I would watch this show when it started. So on Monday 19th September, I sat down in front of the T.V. at 8 p.m. and started watching my first ever show.

The serial started off very well, it was about following your dreams and women empowerment. The heroine/female lead is a doll who has wriggled her way into every viewer’s heart and when the male lead made his entry, the entire female population of the country sighed collectively and went into a mass swoon. The story was fresh, there were no villains and vamps, and the lead pair has a sizzling chemistry that burns up the small screen.

The reason I’m discussing this show is because as a writer I’m constantly wondering that if this was my book or story, how would I tackle this plot point (which in television language means a track) and I also had no idea that when the makers mention an upcoming twist in the daily soap it means that a new track will start. My television knowledge has come via Amrita, a girl who would reply to all my tweets whenever I tweeted about this show.

It’s the story of this simple, middle class girl Mehak Sharma who loves to cook. She is forced by her aunt to join India’s Super Cook where she meets the celebrity judge Shaurya Khanna, a leading hotelier of Delhi and also one of its most eligible bachelors. Both of them are not aware that they chat frequently as FB friends, cause they haven’t revealed their real identity online. In due course they fall in love and their wedding ceremonies start.

When Shaurya ran away from his wedding, leaving his bride at the mandap, I joined the other fans in creating an uproar online. Plenty of Shaurya bashing started. My main concern was that this was sending out a wrong message, that a guy can fake love to a girl and then ditch her at the altar once his selfish motive (in this case a recipe book) is fulfilled, without feeling guilty.

Everyone who watches this show discusses it passionately online, and has an opinion on how the story should move forward, including me. Sometimes I wonder are we as viewers getting too opinionated and interfering with the story and spoiling things for the writers. Isn’t it a writer’s prerogative of how a story should move forward? The other day I had a strong pang of anxiety when I realized that as a writer would I like to be told how to write my story. Definitely not. I would welcome feedback but certainly not interference. I do feel that the male lead’s character is being butchered and it's going to be an uphill task to redeem his image in the viewers’ eyes. I hope the writers have a reason for it and the solution.

Okay, there are certain stereotypes of the suffering girl and the humiliation piled on her, the insults on her middle-class stature, body shaming her, jilting her at the altar, that makes me want to give the male lead and the writers a good shake, but at the same time the female lead is gusty and is always quick to get back on her feet after every fall and more often than not gives back as good as she gets.

I was just telling a friend that I feel I should just enjoy this serial, without screaming instructions over the creative teams’ shoulder or try to tell the writer (via telepathy) how to take the story forward. Have you had this problem? Do you keep thinking that if this was your story in which direction would you take it? Do you find it difficult to switch off your writer’s mind when you watch TV shows?

Picture Courtesy. I have taken the photograph from one of the fan pages.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

IWSG Post – How has being a writer changed your reading experience

You guessed right, it’s the first Wednesday of the month, time for our monthly IWSG (Insecure Writers Support Group) post. Check out the IWSG Website for wonderful tips.

This amazing online group was started by Ninja Captain Alex J Cavanaugh (author of the Amazon Bestsellers: CassaStar, CassaStorm, CassaFire and Dragon of the Stars), because he believes that writers should have a place where they can talk about their writing insecurities, anxieties, worries, clear their doubts and learn from other writers. To let the writers let off a whole lot of writing steam, he chose the first Wednesday of every month. Trust me when I say this, we all feel a couple of kilos lighting after the ISWG post as so much of our frustration and anxiety is eliminated.

And to make things easier for us, this adorable angel, announced that every IWSG post will have a question which members can either answer in their post or can even make it the topic of their post. Blessed are we writers to have such an angel in our writing lives.

The February 1 question is: How has being a writer changed your experience as a reader?

If I have to answer this question honestly, I would say that being a writer has ruined my reading experience (this has also a lot to do with the book reviews I do for 2 newspapers). And the more I’m writing the more fussy I’m getting as a reader. Earlier I would read and just enjoy the story. Nowadays, I analyze it so much mentally, trying to see how I would have tackled it if it had been my story. Infact every aspect of the book is scrutinized by me: the plot points, character arcs, the sentence structure, how each chapter ends, how the scenes are described etc.

I feel I’m using my reading as a writing exercise: how to write better. I’m constantly trying to learn from other writers: what to do and what not to do in a story. Sometimes, I feel I’m unable to read for the sheer joy of reading books. Nowadays I’m just not able to get completely involved into a story. I just hope this is a temporary phase and I get back to my earlier voracious reading without overthinking.

I’m looking forward to reading all your posts to see how being a writer has changed your experience as a reader.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Change in my Blogging Schedule

When I started blogging on March 22nd 2010, I used to blog twice week: Tuesdays and Fridays. Slowly over the years I reduced it to once a week, restricting it to Fridays. And when I joined IWSG I skipped the first Friday as I had already posted on the first Wednesday.

I’ve restricted my blog to my writing journey, talking about all aspects of my writing, editing, plotting, querying and other writing related stuff and I seldom discuss random stuff on my blog. I’ve realized that over all these years I think I’m running out of topics to blog about, often repeating something I had already written about a few years earlier.

And from the past few months I’ve realized that I’m quite late in returning comments. I don’t like doing this, as I consider blogging all about interacting with other writers and bloggers. Returning comments is my way of forging a relationship with them, showing that I care about them as writers and bloggers and that I’m interested in their writing journeys and celebrating with them when they get an agent or a publishing deal or when their book is launched.

Now I come to the all important question. To cope up with everything I’m doing should I further reduce the number of days from four times a month to thrice or twice a month, until I catch up with all the pending work? That way I’ll be able to visit all my blogging friends. I don’t want to completely stop blogging, and I love my IWSG posts. I actually look forward to it.

What do you all advice? How do I balance my writing, reading and blogging? Shall I reduce the number of days? Or take a blogging break (which I don’t want to do). I need all your suggestions and help with this dilemma.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

IWSG Post- What writing rule you wish you had never heard?

Happy New Year everyone!

It’s the first IWSG of 2017. IWSG aka Insecure Writers Support Group is a fabulous online group of writers posting on the first Wednesday of every month. In the IWSG posts, we writers talk about all our writing related worries, anxieties, fears and insecurities. This group is like a discussion forum where other writers who share similar worries help us out with their advice and tips. Check out the IWSG website for amazing writing tips. Read the other IWSG posts here.

When we talk of IWSG, how can we forget Ninja Captain Alex J Cavanaugh (author of the Amazon Bestsellers: CassaStar, CassaStorm, CassaFire and Dragon of the Stars) for starting this awesome group. On the first Wednesday, when you say a blur in the sky, it’s just our blogging superstar with his guitar, trying to visit as many blogs as he can, all over the world.

The IWSG question of this month is ‘What writing rule you wish you had never heard?

Infact, I want to say that I wish I had never heard of any writing rule whatsoever to start with. Stories don’t follow a set template, that this incident should happen by the fifth chapter, this one by the ninth and this one by the fifteenth. All these rules simply stress out a writer who writes in an unconventional way. They start thinking they are doing it all wrong. Or they worry that they aren’t following the set method.

I always get concerned about the rising stakes bit. Sometimes it’s not possible to increase the stakes immediately. And we can’t always have the threat of death hanging over our characters. I personally feeling writing is all about instinct and pacing and ofcourse character development.

I’m looking forward to reading all your posts to see which writing rule you all wish you had never heard.