‘I’m yet to write a book.’ was the statement I would make to innumerable people who asked me when I was taking my writing to the next level. So when ‘Canvas of Dreams’ finally happened, it was like a dream come real. Writing a first book offers tremendous experience, exposure, learning and insight for a first time novelist. I know, this ‘first’ experience will never come back. And so, before I move on to doing hopefully bigger and exciting things, I want to reminiscence on the five unique learnings I made in the process.
You’re not directionless without a destination
When Canvas of Dreams began, I just had the plot in mind. Yes, it did have a beginning, middle and a blurry end. But as I took the path, and judged the various permutations and combinations, I realized that there wasn’t one but many paths that could be taken. I just had to reach out to the ideas out there, and pull them into my words. And so, Riya shaped her own journey, and finally the ending. The first thing that I thus learnt was not to be afraid if I wasn’t sure of my destination. It was really the journey that mattered. And I learnt that I could tell a story in not just one way, but many different ways.
Support comes in strange ways
My earliest sounding board were my sister and niece, and then a reluctant husband was pulled in. While these people offered me the direct support to build a story, help came in varied ways from across quarters. Colleagues at work were willing to hear the particularly tricky bit where I’d get stuck. Professional artists offered valuable insights. And yes, the support wasn’t always positive and reinforcing. The toughest part of telling a story, is to have it shredded with practicality and undressed before you. So there were times when friends would just tear down my plot with sheer practicality. It would be offending and hurtful, but then, support is not just about a ladder for you to climb. It’s also about pointing out to the snakes en route.
You need to marry your manuscript
I’ll admit the blatant truth here. I didn’t spend as much time with my husband in the past year as I did with my manuscript. I was labelled anti-social by a select group of well-meaning people 😉 and my kids went around telling everyone that all their mother does is work on the computer. In short, I literally married my manuscript. The ten months that I spent on Canvas of Dreams were perhaps the time when I really slogged like never before. I’d wake up at 4am and sleep at 1pm, just to finalize a conversation, shape a plot and give it direction. I wouldn’t call it hard work, for I enjoyed it. And I know today that the story is what it is, thanks to the hours, effort and love that I put into it.
Rejection is success
Oxymoronic though it may sound, rejects are the stepping stones to success. They mean that you learn what won’t work so you can create the kind of stuff that will. And it is the kind of stuff that writers have to constantly bare their souls to. It is not easy when publishers reject the work you poured out your life and soul over, but what a reject can teach you, a professional course in writing cannot. However, you must be willing to take that lesson and then, use it well.
Each of us has stories within us, stuff that the world is waiting to hear. Before you write off your own story as average or boring, give it the benefit of doubt. Share it with a trusted few, and get feedback. Long form of writing always has its ups and downs, but then once you’ve finalised and finished it, that will be one bit you’ll feel happy about having created. While the moolah may still take its time reeling in, you’ll love the attention you’ll get. Truly, there’s no high like writing a book.