Friday, May 29, 2015

Growing and Glowing as a Writer!

I am participating in the Writing Contest: How Writing Has Positively Influenced My Life! Hosted by Positive Writer

I write because I love writing! Because I love to think about writing. Playing with words. Crafting a story. Trying to create interesting situations. Talking to my characters. 

I am introvert person, and I am glad I write because writing has given me the freedom and ability to express myself. To express my thoughts and imagination in words.

I am a voracious reader. I have always been. But, writing was not something I thought I could do. Although I have an always occupied mind, always churning with some thoughts. Dramatization of some situations with quirky dialogues were something I used to do in my mind but it took many years to discover a writer in me.

For me writing was something you can call serendipity.  I discovered a writer in me by chance. I put few words together to create a poem and it got published. I was surprised. ‘Okay, it is just a simple poem. I can’t write an article.’ I had said to myself.

Then I wrote an article and it got published in a national magazine. “Okay, it’s just an article, based on facts and research. But, writing a story is tough. I can't do it.” I thought again, suspecting my ability. Then I wrote a short story in Hindi. It got rejected and I was proved right. But, then I wrote the same story in English. That had been approved by Delhi Press. I was pleasantly surprised when I crafted a 3500-4000 words story and it found a place in a best-selling anthology.

So, basically writing has taught me to trust my ability. Made me believe that you can achieve if you try. If you try, there are two options: You win. You lose. But, if you don’t even try. There are no options. You lose.  

Ignore those who laugh at you and your failure. Make time to do what you love or love what you do and devote. Remember, the last laugh will be your’s.

Two years back, even though I was a published writer, I couldn't bring myself to say that ‘I am a writer’ if anyone would ask. Seriously, it felt odd. But, then my inner voice said. “Published or not published, if you love writing, you are a writer.” And, now I don’t hesitate to call myself a writer. If you will not respect yourself as a writer, who is going to do that?

I strongly believe that “Creative Writing is like meditation” It has filled my mind with myriads of positive thoughts, and these positive thoughts are so strong that if any negative thought gets access in my mind, it cannot stay for long. 

I am a very patient person. But, writing has made me even more patient. It has made a careful learner. I am stubborn when it comes to being hopeful. And, I think it’s good to be stubborn. I am too stubborn to give up on my writing although I have had those painfully hopeless moments when I (almost) thought to quit writing. 

But, NO! I won’t give up on writing. NEVER!

The main reason of that hopeless thought is Rejection. Obviously, I am not the best. I fail sometimes. I fail to impress people with my writing. Sometimes, fail to bring myself to write. But I have realized that fear of criticism and rejection is not good for the creativity. It disrupts the creative flow as you tend to think about your failure. So, I have developed a fear-less mind about my writing. I have started to believe (strongly) that criticism is a tool that sculpts your writing. Rejection is that light that inspires you to make your words shine.

Creative Writing has enabled me to see things differently, always searching stories triggered by keen observation. As Maya Angelou has said that “There’s no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you” and, how true it is! It’s painful to bear those whirling, jumbling ideas. It seems that these churning ideas would produce hundreds of stories. Only if we can! I wish our brains had a save button. Sigh!

Imagination is a wonderful experience, and it can take you anywhere. Unlock your imagination and let your creativity flow, you will be transported to another world. A beautiful world.

And it is very important to give your thoughts and imagination a free flight. 

Writing has inspired me to organize my thoughts and ideas. Like many other writers, I do it by jotting down my ideas. The main problem is that many brilliant ideas strike at absurd hours. But, I try to jot them down as soon as they flashed no matter how weird the time is.

Writing has inspired me to dream big. It has widened the horizon of my thought. Really, reading and writing sharpen your insight. I have learned that apprehension and inhibition resist good writing. One needs to shed them to grow as a writer.

So, basically, writing is a great learning experience. And, learning is joy. I want to savour this joy and grow and glow! 

Friday, May 8, 2015

Author's Interview: In Conversation With Shuchi Kalra

She is a best-selling author, and a successful freelance writer, published in magazines like Femina, Woman's Era and Good Housekeeping. She runs a very helpful website for freelance writers. If romantic comedy, chick-lit, or well-written light fiction is your genre, you must read her debut book 'Done with Men' (a novella).

Here, I am in conversation with Shuchi Kalra, author of a successful novella 'Done with Men'

Welcome to my blog. Please tell your readers about yourself and your interesting journey of      writing.

Thank you for inviting me over!

I like to think of myself as a thinker and a dreamer. I live in my own idealistic little world and am cruelly jolted back to reality every once in a while when earthly responsibilities beckon. I am a proud military wife and mother to a beautiful daughter. I have been writing professionally for over ten years now, and I also run a small firm that goes by the name of ‘Pixie Dust Writing Studio’.

I have always found solace in writing, even as a child but my journey as a professional writer began in 2005, when I was working as an Optometrist at an eye hospital. I took up some academic writing assignments just to escape the drudgery of 9-5 (which was more like 7-9 at the hospital where I worked) and it was only when I received my first payment that I realized that I could make a full-time career out of this. I quit that job, took the plunge and kept at it.  Looking back, I feel so glad that I did. I wouldn't trade my career and lifestyle for anything else in the world.

Do you find any difference between creative writing and freelance writing?

Well, I try to approach both kinds of writing with the same systematic discipline. Creative writing is definitely more satisfying but it is the freelance projects that bring in the moolah! J

Ha! Ha! Yes. Okay, would like to ask about your writing process. Do you plot the entire story before writing or just go with the flow?

I usually have a basic premise in mind but I don’t really create detailed chapter outlines. The process is spontaneous, and for the most part even I don’t know where my characters will end up and how they will respond to a particular situation. I like to walk and grow with my characters.

How did Done With Men happen? I mean from freelance writing to writing a novella.

Done With Men was a stroke of destiny. Naheed Hassan, the founder of Indireads, had approached me sometime in late 2011 to work for them as an editor. We got talking and then she suggested that I write a book, a chick lit to be precise, because she believed I had the voice for it. Before I could make sense of things, the contract was signed and I was on my way to becoming an author. The interest part was that I had signed the book contract even before I had a synopsis of the story! So in a way, I kind of made a backdoor entry  into the world of publishing.

Where do you get your ideas from? Are they inspired from real life?

I spend most of my time in an alternate universe and a lot of awesome stuff happens there.Of course, I do draw some inspiration from real life as well. I like to observe people, get to know them at a deeper level, understand their quirks, hear their life stories and learn how a human mind functions.

According to you, what ruins a story?

Bad writing. I can, for once, overlook a weak plot or flat characters but I find it impossible to go beyond a page if the writing is sub-standard.

Is there any particular genre you find difficult to write? If yes, which one? 

I don’t know if it will be difficult because I haven’t really tried it yet, but I’d really like to see if I can work my way around horror.

Would you like to share something about your future projects?

Ahh…I thought you’d never ask! My next should be out by the end of this year. It is a rom-com (more rom than com) with a spirited plus-sized protagonist. While it is primarily a romance, the story touches upon body image, fat shaming, social stereotypes and how challenging it is for anyone who doesn't fit the mould to navigate the society.

Being a mother to a toddler, how do you make time to write? In other words would you like to share some time management tips?

Surprising as it may sound, I started writing more prolifically after I had my daughter. Though she takes up most of my time, she is also a constant source of inspiration. In fact, I wrote DWM when she was barely an year old and I finished the first draft in three months flat. It is a different matter that I had to type away on the phone while feeding her or lulling her to sleep! I don’t make any conscious efforts towards time management – I just know what I have to do and I prioritize my tasks accordingly. If you are really passionate about something, you’ll make time for it no matter what.

Very well said! Writing a book is a huge task but getting a suitable publisher is the toughest nut to crack. What’s your take? 

Yes, that’s unfortunately true. Competition is stiff and everyone and their cousin is writing a book these days. It isn’t uncommon for potential literary gems to get lost in the slush pile given the number of submissions publishers are bombarded with each day. I have realized that it helps to have a literary agent back you up. My second novel was placed with Fingerprint Publishers by Kanishka Gupta of the Writer’s Side. Getting an agent to represent you is tough too but once you are signed on, you have everything sorted. And that means more time and energy to devote to your writing.

Any words of encouragement for aspiring writers who crave and struggle to get    into the ‘published author world’?

I am just one book old so I’m not sure if I am the right person to dole out advice,   but I would just say that don’t wait for the perfect moment to write that book cooking in your head.Set a routine, write a few words everyday and FINISH that first draft. Don’t waste time on fancy words and expressions when you are writing – just let the story flow. You can edit and pimp it up later.

As you are also a successful freelance writer, please share some tips for  beginners?

Whatever you do, it is only your work that will make you stand out. There are no shortcuts around that one.  The kind of jobs and the rates offered to you are going to be proportional to the quality of your services. If you want to command a premium price, learn to deliver a premium product. Treat freelance writing like any other business and do whatever you can to improve your writing skills. I have always been stressing on the importance of building a strong portfolio because that is the only way writers can project their worth in the market. Bottom line: Write prolifically and write well!

You are a travel writer. Do you believe that travelling has a special impact on writing?"

Maybe not in a direct way but it does give you a deeper perspective on life and the world. The more you travel, the more you discover and learn about yourself and things around you. For me, travelling is a necessity and a constant source of inspiration.

It's an absolute pleasure to have you here! Thanks for your precious time. I wish you all the best for your future projects!

Thank you Tarang!