Thursday, November 10, 2011

On what it means to be an author

There is no denying it. My life has completely changed over the past four years.

Earlier, whenever I met people and they asked me what I do, my replies would vary from working in an MNC, teaching at a school, running my own art classes, running my own thinking workshops for children, teaching the underprivileged kids English and Math or conducting workshops at schools.(I have done all of those at different points in my life)

But these days, I am a full time writer. (My third book has already been written and will be out in Feb/March. I have already started working on my fourth too). And yes, getting this much success (my second book has consistently been on Hindustan times top ten fiction, it was number one on flipkart best-sellers and even made it to India today lists) has definitely changed my life.

Eighty percent of the people I now meet have either heard of me or of my books. Has that changed me as a person? No! But has it changed how people react to me? YES!

Typically there are two reactions:

1. Their eyes light up, they are over joyed and they feel they are encountering a real celebrity. "Oh my God, I have heard of you!" they exclaim. They stare at me, studying every feature, looking me up and down, while I squirm inwardly and hope that every hair is in place and that I have not suddenly sprouted a horn from the middle of my head.Then they tell me that they have never met an author before and that I am a very interesting person. I thank them politely, secretly wondering what it is that people find fascinating about authors.

2. If they haven't heard of me, they usually ask what I write about. I proudly tell them (oh, I don't miss a chance to boast about my books ;-) ) that both my books are best-sellers, a third and fourth are on the way and blah blah blah. (Well, they asked!) They say 'Oh I want to write a book too.'
I secretly wonder if they even know how many words it takes to write a book! I wonder if they know what  writing an interesting plot, creating believable characters whom you grow to love, writing dialogues that sound real, creating scene after scene to tell your story and then finally getting publishers  and readers to absolutely love what you write, even means. I truly do not want to discourage them and so I do not tell them it is bloody tough to write a book. Writing a book is like standing totally naked under the glare of a hundred harsh tubelights for the world to stare at, and they are free to make any darned comment they like (they paid for your book, didn't they?). It means exposing yourself completely. (any piece of writing that you do does reveal a lot about you as a person). It means developing a really thick skin to negative comments (oh the unbelievably cruel things some people say about my books--it is indeed very hard to just brush it off) and above all, believing that what you write is really going to matter. It is bloody tough.
So I politely smile and say to them, " Oh, that is nice," and I suddenly become interested in something else.

Then there are a third category of people who suddenly re-surface in my life after 10/15 years, thanks to Facebook. "Oh, we never knew you  had it in you to become a best-selling author," they say. ( I too did not know, else I would have written you a notice asking you to treat me with a lot more respect, thank you very much!) Some people from this category, ask me if they can tell their friends that they know me. I truly do not even know what to say, so I ask them to go ahead.Secretly, I am totally flabbergasted, flummoxed, perplexed even. Honestly I am just that same person you used to know all those years ago.

So now, I have finally understood why writers become recluses, why writers do not want to meet people,  and why writers want to run away to a place in the woods and why writers behave in varying degrees like Jack Nicholson in 'As good as it gets'.

But the good part is all the wonderful, warm, deeply moving letters and mails I get. People write to me saying I am an angel, saying my writing gives them hope, saying that they are eagerly awaiting my next book and saying that my words truly changed their lives. Oh, I do love to hear positive feedback. (and I do try and respond to each and every mail at least once..how can I not respond when someone has taken the trouble to write and express and tell me how much my book means to them)

There is only one thing that makes all of this worthwhile--- YOU who are reading this.



 
And I thank you from the bottom of my heart.




Much Love!
Preeti :)

______________________________________________________

You can interact with me on my Facebook page.  I reply to almost all comments and I check it very regularly. I do read all the comments left here too  and manage to reply most of the time even if slightly late :)

28 comments:

  1. Though I met you after you had written your first book and after I had been reading your blog for a while I don’t think I fall in any of the categories you have mentioned. I gelled with you because we share the same love for books and writing and you came across as a very warm person. Honestly if you hadn’t been half as nice I would hardly care even if you were a big author!
    But I do feel extremely proud and happy to know you (and yes sometimes I do tend to brag to people that I know the author of Life is what you make it personally :P )
    Carry on writing Preeti … You Rock ! (and please don’t become a recluse.. honestly if you do that you’ll just miss all of us too much :P )

    ReplyDelete
  2. Those third category of people - not just writers or famous people - everyone faces them. I just found out today that someone used my reference and dropped their daughter off at my daughter's daycare, and I don't even know this person - sigh!

    The first one - hey you are so charming :)and no doubt, fascinating :)!

    The second set of people - many people aspire to write a book. I find nothing wrong in it. If they judge writing as easy, that's bad. But expressing their desire to write is okay (my opinion :)).

    I totally enjoy blogging my motherhood these days....and as I read more n more, I feel after few years, I can maybe write and get published - I would LOVE to be a travel writer. At this point however, what I do is challenging as well as satisfying for me, and there's plenty of opportunity to grow and design something wonderful...plus I'm good at it so I don't have to stress or lose my sleep over it, which is important for my work/life balance.

    Sorry, longish comment!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Ruch: you are an exception!!And exceptions prove the rule! :) (and i just remembered i was supposed to get back to you on that thing u asked about pondicherry--i completely forgot! Hope u had a great trip.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Shachi: I agree there is nothing wrong in expressing your desire to write a book!! But many make it sound like 'Oh i want to eat a pizza today for lunch" and they dont think writing is REAL WORK. (I have a problem with that)

    :D

    heh heh ..

    and I am sure u will achieve all your dreams!

    ReplyDelete
  5. It will surely be a great experience to be a full time writer, when writing is your passion.. So happy to see you enjoying that passion and making us wait for your next book(waiting is always boring... :-p). Wishing you all luck to become a great writer(u already is..) and hope you will keep in touch with us, how much ever heights you reach... Love you always!!

    ReplyDelete
  6. @Preeti - Pondy deferred till January !so ur inputs are still welcome !

    ReplyDelete
  7. Well... I started reading you I think way back in 2008... and I read your books too. But I have not met in person :( Then maybe my eyes will light up at meeting a celebrity ! :D :D

    But, its amazing that you are on your way to the 4th book! Kudos...
    PS: Do let me know when the third one is released.

    ReplyDelete
  8. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  9. And my best wishes to you form bottom of heart!.
    Propaganda's of "we should do" is common...but you have done it Preethi. Am happy for you.
    Cheers,
    Sush

    ReplyDelete
  10. Sushma:Thanks!

    Aathira: will click a pic when your eyes light up ;-) :D

    ReplyDelete
  11. Am thrilled to read this post - the warmth, the candor and the feel just seeps through these words straight to our hearts.

    CONGRATS! Its great that you are happy and enjoying what you are doing. As some one who has always yearned to be a full time dedicated writer I agree that it involves amazing dedication, hard work and total commitment and not every one can actually get there.

    But most importantly, keep writing what you love and not what others expect you to write. Just be the way you are and keep us happy for u!

    ReplyDelete
  12. well...i have nt read ur books till now..about to start with life is what u make it...my brother got this book for me....
    one day i was just reading ur wiki n then started to read ur blog......n after that day.....m reading n reading n reading...... really enjoying ur blogs like anything....n deseparetly want to read both the books b4 third one get released...... :-):-)

    ReplyDelete
  13. An interesting classification of your readers Preeti. The success of your novels is a result of both your immense talent and ability to connect with your readers and weave an interesting tale, as well as the Lord's blessings.

    It is through your blog that i have got to know you as a person. Would love to meet you some day. And yes, looking forward to your next books. All the best !

    ReplyDelete
  14. Abha: A clarification--i have NOT classified my READERS..I do completely value my readers. I have classified people based their reactions when I say I am a writer! And I think my success is only because of my dad.

    Krishna: order them--NOW! :) They are both on amazon :)

    Swapna:Thanks so much!

    ReplyDelete
  15. Lovely picture there to end the post! I have had the privilege of meeting you twice. Yeyyy!! :D

    And did my eyes light up when I first met you!? I don't know. You should tell me :) I was definitely over joyed!

    ReplyDelete
  16. Nice post as always, I am wondering if people would react differently after reading this..... and/or would you write differently after reading reader comments :-)

    ReplyDelete
  17. I read your Blogs!
    I read your blogs!
    I read your blogs!

    During my recent trip to India I tried to get a copy of your book in Salem and Coimbatore but not Available. So let me continue to be a Fourth Category!!!!!!!!

    All the very best Preeti. Whenever I am here I feel, I knew a wonderful family.Hugs to your angels

    ReplyDelete
  18. Wow! another book. Great Preeti.

    ReplyDelete
  19. I am in the fourth category till the time Amazon starts selling your books here too- I kinda maile dthem suggesting a few Indian authors- one of them being you (;))
    You always make me smile..... sometimes there's something Ive experienced too- so its a relief to think that Others also have wierd relatives.. hehehe
    I'll add a fifth category who love to ask this question to everyone they meet irrespective of what they do - "Kitna kamaa lete ho?" LOL

    ReplyDelete
  20. Eve: Oh my relatives are all very very sweet..It's just some 'friends' :) Glad i make u smile!

    Bimal: yes!!

    Maddy:Yes! Yes! yes! :) Best is 'dial-a book' or flip-kart when you are in india..Do coimbatore and salem have crossword or landmark? And btw my books are available on amazon too!

    Bala: Oh no, i will continue just the way I write and these comments are not for my blog readers! I have merely observed how people who meet me react. :)

    Varun: I think my eyes lit up when i met YOU!!! You are truly one of the NICEST guys I have known! :)

    ReplyDelete
  21. Just happened to read "Life is what you make it". I just intended to flick through the pages; just had 'stolen' it from a close friend when the courier guy came to deliver the book. But i ended up reading the entire book in one stretch !! Well done. :)

    ReplyDelete
  22. Haven't been able to read anything since you have this new look for your blog....it is so frustrating! Wondering how others are managing to read.

    ReplyDelete
  23. Is anyone else having trouble reading my blog?

    Nilu: You are the first one who has told me so! everyone elese seems to be able to read it and everyone said the new look was lighter and it loads well on their phones too!! Which browser do you use? Maybe it has something to do with your cache? Try clearing cache.

    Arjun:Thanks a lot :)

    ReplyDelete
  24. Preeti, I loved it! You never fail to bring a smile on my face!! Keep going strong and keep writing!!

    ReplyDelete
  25. Clarification noted :)

    The bond you share with your dad is indeed touching. I am sure his blessings will always be a part of your life.

    ReplyDelete
  26. so happy to have stumbled upon your blog
    this was a great read esp the bit about friends who resurface after 10 years on FB & say oh we never knew

    ReplyDelete
  27. The reason I find authors fascinating is the trouble they take to complete their thoughts. Some times I read an essay and think I thought about this once, but this person has taken trouble to use that idea and put it on paper, which needs more work, lot of research etc.

    ReplyDelete
  28. Hi Preeti, I love how your writing and thoughts are so crisp and you are able express with so much simplicity. That to me is the beauty of your blog & books. I am sure its nowhere close to eating a pizza :-) for lunch. Maybe your overall simplicity makes ppl think its easy and effortless.

    Anyway, you know, there have been times when I have liked your article so much that even if i didnt stop to leave a comment, I want to let you know that I have forwarded it to more than a couple of my friends/relatives because I thought they should read it and it makes me happy when they read you and reply to me saying 'thanks, this is what I needed to read at this point in life'. I think you should know this :)coz that thank you note is for you!
    I only wish you the best for I know you can take care of the rest. (the rhyme wasn't intentional:)
    Cheers!
    Tara

    ReplyDelete

Thanks for stopping by. I really appreciate your leaving a comment! Okay--I appreciate your leaving a comment if you have something nice to say ;-)