As I write this, I’m kind of hoping that atleast a few of my friends on the blogosphere might have, over the course of the previous month (Nov), wondered briefly, as to where I’d vanished.

Friends, fellow bloggers and bloggerati , a few words of caution – What follows is a somewhat long winded explanation of my disappearing act.

First of all, this happened…

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The Write India Season I Grand Finale – The Authors and The Winners!

Which led to the launch of the book ,”Write India Stories, and marked my debut as a published author!

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Write India Stories (Available on Amazon)

And then , BAM, comes this ….

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Mock,Stalk&Quarrel – A collection of satirical tales (Available on Amazon)

That was my second time being published!

And just when I thought, my cup of happiness was brimming over and couldn’t hold another drop, comes THIS!

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NaNoWriMo 2016 Winner Certificate

 

I could actually depart for heaven today and not be bothered too much about it! For that is how elated I am right now!

The WRITE INDIA FINALE:

The culmination of WRITE INDIA Season I – a year long, Nationwide Short Story competition, organised by the Times Of India group, was nothing short of SPECTACULAR! It was only to be expected, for this initiative was the first of its kind, where 11 of India’s Bestselling Authors came together in an attempt to discover new writing talent. The idea itself, the brainchild of Ms Vinita Nangia (Associate Editor TOI & Write India Director) was flawlessly executed by her enthusiastic team ( Gunjan Verma, Kalpana Sharma and Surabhi Rawat) and elicited an amazing response.

With over 30000 entries pouring in over a period of 11 months, I can only imagine the kind of hours the Write India Team would have put in sorting, reading, re-reading and shortlisting the winning entries! And such was the success of the Write India campaign that people were actually left high and dry when it ended, and couldn’t wait for the second season to be launched! I don’t think anything this phenomenal has happened to the Indian writing community in ages!

And if winning Season I wasn’t reason enough for me to rejoice, there was this very interesting Write India Workshop and a star-studded , dazzling Grand finale in Mumbai,  that  had me struck dumb…

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Write India Workshop at TOI office, Mumbai

The Write India workshop was great fun with interactive sessions dissecting the very art of story telling – the actual processes involved, the technical aspects of structuring  a story, fleshing out of characters, language, narrative styles  and other nuances.  The sessions were deftly handled by Mr.Dipankar Mukherji ( of Readomania fame) , with Ms Madhuri Bannerji (Best selling author and columnist) , Mr.Mahendra Jakhar ( Author of ‘The Butcher of Benares’ and Screenplay writer) and finally, the Man, the Bankster – Mr.Ravi Subramaniam, himself giving us valuable insights into the writing and publishing world.

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Mr.Ravi Subramaniam at the workshop

Mr.Ravi Subramaniam’s session really stood out as he painted a vivid picture of the publishing industry, sprinkled with liberal doses of juicy anecdotes! We really couldn’t get enough of him!! . Rather than glossing over the facts (which would have been easier) he chose to give us honest facts, figures and numbers. The facts , although  a tad grim, made us ‘newbies’ more aware of the stark realities of the industry.

The workshop in addition to being extremely rewarding made me realise a couple of things:

-That an author, even a Bestselling one at that , could be warm and down-to-earth . Mr.Ravi Subramaniam, totally shattered the preconceived notions that many of us had about Bestselling authors, as such.

-That friendship that starts online can evolve offline. People who had been mere names and photographs on Facebook and Social media, after the workshop, suddenly turned out to be remarkable real-life friends with whom I found that I shared much in common.  So happy to have connected with the other winners and co-authors… The very fact that we continue to  be regularly in touch over our Whatsapp group, ‘The Write India Family’, as we fondly call it, goes on to prove that online friendship can actually evolve into  ‘real’ friendship!

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When online friendships evolve offline 🙂

The Grand Finale was held at the spectacular St Regis Mumbai.( I think I need to write an entire blog post on how gorgeous the place looked!) It was a splendid affair, one of its kind, really, with 9 of the 11 Bestselling authors flying down especially for the Book Launch.

With so many celebrity authors in the same room as me, just a few feet away, talking,laughing and interacting with one and all; It wasn’t at all surprising that I was hyperventilating ,for most part of the event!

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The Best Selling Authors with Ms.Vinita Nangia at the Grand Finale 

It was especially gratifying to meet Jaishri Misra Ma’am, who chose my story as the winning entry for her passage . A down-to-earth,warm person, who had a lot of encouraging words to say about my story. (I really couldn’t have asked for a better mentor!)

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That ‘hallowed’ moment, with Ms Jaishri Misra!

My journey with Write India is something that I shall cherish forever. At the risk of sounding clichéd, let me say this – Even if I hadn’t hit jackpot with any of my stories , I still would have been pretty much pleased with myself, for Write India taught me that I  cared about the art of writing a lot more than winning.

So winning or losing wouldn’t have made much of a difference, because by the end of those eleven months, I was so neck-deep into writing, that I simply couldn’t stop!

Then came the second book launch of the month – Mock,Stalk&Quarrel –  This was yet again a crowd sourced collection of satirical short stories, that emanated from a nationwide short story completion by Readomania. 29 voices – indulgent, tolerant, amusing, sarcastic and witty – form a part of this collection. You really should check it out sometime.

My confidence at having my stories published in two brilliant anthologies, made me a bit ambitious . I had at some point decided that that buckling down to pen a full fledged novel wasn’t exactly my cup of tea. But then it struck me, what is life if you didn’t challenge yourself? How long can someone possibly bask in the aftermath of achieving a milestone? Shouldn’t one be moving forward and tackling newer challenges?

I had succeeded in taking the leap from being an amateur writer to a published author, so why not go on to the next level and see if there was much more than a couple of stories  in me?

And so, I took the NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) plunge and attempted to bring out that first draft of the  novel that I’d been wanting to write forever, but never had the courage or conviction to do so.. And I’m so glad I did. Although today, my novel is far from complete and might even  end up  getting nowhere, it shall remain a testimony to the fact that  I tried… And that means a lot to me.

In the words of Paulo Coelho, “When you really want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.” .

Well, It happened with me and I’m sure it WILL happen to you.

Let me just sign off on that parting note, before I get all emotional.

Over and out.

 

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