This, dear reader, is the story of my book.
Not the story of what happens in my book, obviously. For that you’ll have to buy a copy and read it (and preferably write me a fan mail because that’d be awesome). No. This is the story of my writing a story and that story’s journey to becoming a book that’s actually published and all that. Yeah. Read up.
‘Thank you for the mail, but I will not be taking on anymore projects for some time now,’ I typed and reluctantly hit the send button. It was January 2012; I was pregnant and working long hours on the laptop was a constant reason for the husband and parents to shake their heads in disapproval. Mom shoved newspaper articles under my nose about how laptop radiation was bad for the unborn baby, and husband was a little short of making me swear against it. So grudgingly I agreed to stop working for awhile. But then, what could a very pregnant, internet addict do in a small town anyway, I asked. To this, the very supportive husband answered, ‘Well, the girl can write the story she always wanted to.’ Well played darling, I thought, and opened a word document. And then I wrote.
After the first few chapters, I re-read my story and saw two problems. 1.) It wasn’t going where I thought it would go; it was like the story had a mind of its own, and 2.) It was awfully raw; it needed a lot of editing. To 1, I just said ‘Oh well’, forgot about the rough plot I had in mind and wrote whatever the story told me to write. And for 2, I prayed hard to the Editing Gods, and began writing in a way that I hoped would be less chaotic for an editor.
Strangely, mom and dad weren’t complaining either. The long-hours-on-laptop were crushing my soul and hurting my health when it was for work. But now that I was writing a novel, it was okay, because apparently I was fostering creativity in my baby. For two months I wrote like a woman possessed and then, just like that, I was done. The process of writing the story had been unexpectedly simple.
Completing the story felt good. I mean, having brilliant plot ideas or starting a potential literary masterpiece is nothing if they are abandoned. But finishing something that you are happy with – that has to be some sort of an accomplishment, right? So I was euphoric, and secretly feeling superior to most people because hey, I’d written a book!
But it wasn’t a book yet, was it? It was just a story and not another soul had read it yet. Mainly because I didn’t let anyone – you see, it was my metaphorical baby and all that, and I loved the story to bits, but letting someone read it seemed a bit intimidating. What if they didn’t like it? What if they did? What if they gave me expectations? I didn’t want to expect anything because I’d heard horror stories about the publishing industry in India. You know, how they tell you, ‘No one’s going to entertain you if you don’t have the right connections.’ Or that ‘They only publish their relatives and friends, even if the work is terrible.’ And oh, the best one – ‘You want to be published? Do you have money to offer?’ Scary, I know.
Then, almost a week after I had finished writing, I suddenly decided to try my luck. What’s the worst that could happen, I asked myself and geared up. Westland was the obvious choice because – Immortals of Meluha, obviously. I was in love with the Shiva Trilogy, like everyone else. So I sent sample chapters and a rough synopsis to Westland and voila, within two weeks they told me that they loved it and wanted the entire manuscript. I sat for five hours straight and edited the entire story. Er, I mean manuscript.
Then I sent it off and promptly started to day-dream about my name on those jazzy bestsellers-of-the-decade lists.
Then I got a mail from Westland. My book was going to be published, after all.
It took a day to sink in. Everything had fallen into place. Within the next few days the author contract arrived, and the editing process started. It felt bizarre. I had barely overcome the giddy feeling when suddenly the back blurb needed to be written, proofs had to be done and the cover design had to be finalized. Quickly, the release date arrived.
I had not announced the news on social media though. For some reason, I felt uncharacteristically modest. It wasn’t until the book in all its brilliant-cover-page-design glory was showcased on the Westland website, that I finally shared my news.
‘My book is up for pre-order. Overwhelming. Can’t wait to trace a finger over my name on the book cover. It will be orgasmic, yes?’ – I tweeted.
It was re-tweeted like a hundred times. I shared the link on Facebook and was overwhelmed by the response. This was new territory. This was, in the truest sense, awesome.
You will find that my book tells you how courage is a prerequisite for an Army wife, how strength is her biggest weapon. And in a very filmy fashion, courage is what saw me through those scary stories about publishing, and write my first mail. It was strength that fuelled me. And well, it happened. It sure is a happy save-the-day ending, but the struggle to reach there is what makes me who I am. Courage, like you’ll read in Soldier & Spice: An Army Wife’s Life, is what counts.