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.