I have been most fascinated by past life regression of late. My family sighed and looked the other way and waited for my latest OCD to pass over. Don't you want to know who you were in your past life, I asked of M. He looked up, the harried father of two, my husband of ten years and showing every bit of it and said, I have enough happening in this life. He did have two children hanging on each arm as he said that so maybe he does have a point. Well, it's not like my current life is devoid of excitement. Just today, I struggled with working mom angst as Ragini once again got the infamous ek sau teen bukhaar and Padma did the same and I had multiple client meetings to shuffle. Oh the excitement. Still, it would be nice to know if I were always an INFJ and type A. An introverted cave woman would have a lot of opportunity for peace and quiet, for example. And I wouldn't mind a spot of French chic in a past life either. So I've been trying to regress into my past lives via YouTube. Yes, there are videos that can help you do that. Except that I keep falling asleep before the good stuff can happen. Most annoying.
The first thing I did was to take the damn book picture off the header. You wouldn't believe the pressure one is under when a book comes out, to market it. I suck at it, as was evident by the several gauche attempts at it over the last three books and also, why the hell would I be a writer if I were good at being out there, selling things? In my old-fashioned mind, the two don't go together. At every book event that I manage to appear at, at least one well-meaning friend sidles up to me and whispers conspiratorially - look, you need to make a lot more noise about these events than you do. The UP-waali in me wants to whisper back - agli baar loudspeaker lagvaa denge but you know me, polite to a fault.
I went for a bookstore tour where book store owners used to get all glassy-eyed when they saw me, trying very hard to place me but failing. I would invariably have to jog their memories by mumbling something about hee hee, funny novels and they would shout - arrey chhotu, madam ki book nikalo and out would come a dusty copy of BUV, to be duly signed by me and to be relegated to its original place in the dust. I would feel sorry enough for it to buy it myself, if it didn't make me look weirder than I do already.
Book agents? Even to my mathematically challenged brain, it makes no sense. Let's just leave it that, wink wink (but a depressed wink wink, ok?)
All of this was enough to throw me into the doldrums, specially after Tuki came out.
What's wrong with the old model, I whine to M. I write and the publisher sells. They are dying, he says, and proceeds to regale me with ultra-depressing figures about the book business, comprising the death of book-shops and such like. Well, then, what is a writer, not successful enough to have the publisher backing their books to do?
His suggestion was to throw money at the problem but may I permitted to be dramatic for just a moment - it kills a bit of my soul every time I need to plug my work. I guess no publisher wants to look at an author who wouldn't put armies behind their social media effort (goodness, how I have come to despise that word) but I think I am done with that.
It's a free economy. Shy writers wanting to be successful. Lo and behold, wherever you look, book marketers are sprouting, complete with rate-cards. One admires their spirit at a purely academic level, some of them are just college kids, all fire in the belly and a desire to be the next big thing. The soul dying problem exists, though.
I think I have a solution at long last. I am going to take the Ruskin Bond-esque approach towards the entire thing. I am going to retire to a cottage in the hills and spend my time dodging fans lurking outside the garden. I shall surface once every few years with an award-winning book.
The only problem is - how do I write like him?
All these years on Facebook and I still cannot bear to share random details of my life there. But I have written reams and reams here and back to it again, as we can see. What is it then? Secure in the relative anonymity? Or was it really always just about the writing?
As I near the two year anniversary of not having written a single word, I may be arriving at yet another mid-life creativity crisis. One thing is for certain, there is no answer to this whole work vs writing dilemma. Or none that is evident to me at any rate. I thought I could do both but have of course been proven wrong. I also thought that a room of one's own and money in the bank was the answer but I suspect that with interest rates being where they are, that might need a bit of a rejig. So here I am, thirty seven years old, grey now liberally peppering my hair, three novels on the shelves, none in the pipeline, a job that keeps me occupied through my waking hours, two children who tell me I should finish office work on weekends so that I can stay at home Monday through Friday and no sense of what I want to do next. Suggestions are welcome. Open your hearts.
Well, not so much Dilli ki gulliyan as a bookstore in a mall but you know what I mean. Toh, meherbaanz and kadardaanz, I will be celebrating my birthday working really, really hard. Launching books, talking with this lady here, and so on. Khair, please do come if you happen to be around.
I am also reading from Tuki's Grand Salon Chase at this other event hosted by the Delhi Book Lovers Club on the same day! Busy, busy. This one's in Nehru Place. Drop by?
We are hosting a small event for the launch of Tuki's Grand Salon Chase this Saturday. On the menu: chai, biskut, gup-shup, a reading by my dear friend and all-around amazing woman Kiran Manral and hanging out with friends. No celebrities, no champagne, no life-changing phenomenon. Come, say hello if you are in Bombay. You know I'd love to see you!