Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Of being nothing and more

I am nothing and half a housewife. Thanks to the house-help. So I have enough time to lavish on the internet. It's a luxury, few of my breed can afford. I'm grateful.

Now for a reality-check. After reading the snappy introductions of various writers/authors on the web, I wondered how I would introduce myself when my first novel came about. From corporate honchos to scholarly aficionados, there's a sub-world out there, scribbling and scrabbling away at their creative nuts
(the walnut shaped thing inside our skull?). Are college degrees and achievements-of-leisure, qualifiers that help you to be included in the may-be-considered list? Would my introduction have an impact on the future of my book? Before that, would the introduction itself win over the icy-cold hearts of the bigwigs in the business and make them want to know me more, know my book more? If everyone is writing fancy introductions and fancier blurbs, would a homemaker's labour of love, induce enough excitement? Drifting in a sea of accomplished faces, what hope could a non-trophy wife nurse of making it to the land of Yo. I don't know. All shots in the dark. However, it does make me wonder how important is it to market a certain image in this business of make-believe?

Recently, I happened to read a novel written by one of the supposedly fastest-selling authors of India and published by Penguin. Despite the disgust it caused for lack of any beautiful literary moments, I held on right till the end, just wanting to know what is it that made it so appealing to the publisher. The sexual content is floosy bait, which I doubt would make the sharks bite.The story was so set in bollywood-style shenanigans that it only seemed like an amalgam of bits and pieces of hackneyed commercial Hindi cinema. The only thing that added any flavour, or crude spice perhaps, was the element of incest that may have, on a very repugnant level, generated interest. Well, whatever works! It's sitting there on the shelves, sticking out its coated tongue at me.

The point here is, what makes the chin to turn up, eyes to pop and cause an erection...er...of the backbone. Of course, way before one thinks of a literary masterpiece, one needs to think of how to position and project that masterpiece and its maker, and create a collective reading mind that would be ready to devour it without too much analysis.

I met a new author recently and asked him a very obvious question. What was your journey like, from the moment the prize-winning story idea caught you, right till the time you signed your first copy? The answer was dismally spontaneous. "A downward graph," he quipped. "However, I must admit that while my entire personality may have undergone a skewed change, what people admire today is the refined, polished version; even if unreal and exaggerated; of what I and my writing was intended to be."

I didn't believe him. To me, it was just an exaggerated account of the pains of writing for the business. I have written my first novel too and am awaiting my moment. Of course, I may have lost a few friends during the process ( the ones who claimed to be closest to me and gave up on me during my darkest hours of creative-stupor), gained oodles of weight by spending back-breaking hours at my PC, and consequently ran into some rough terrain in my marriage, but it's part of the no-pain no-gain equation. And there's the satisfaction of having brought out the best in me, at whatever expense.

Wait....the phone is ringing. Be right back!
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O.K. So, it was my literary agent. One of the reputed ones in the business. He just bit my head off and suggested a complete turn around of the story. Not enough sex, not enough scheming, conniving villains and not enough tear-jerking moments of repressing pain for the protagonist, is what he said. Besides, the writing is too literary for public consumption. What would make it sell? "Simplicity," I replied, rather simply. He didn't think the conversation deserved a polite, formal end. I wondered if my life, as a housewife, was also rooted by the same monotony as that of my novel? Is simplicity my dead-end too?

I know, eventually, I might trade simplicity for non-linear play and sensuality for crude sexuality. Whether in my book or life and in which, first; I don't know. Because that's what works. In books as well as in life. And that's what sells. And at the end of the day, I do wish to get published and have people reading my books. So, that's it.

And yes, I think I know what my introduction might be.

- A vain-brained prude,
who is dying to exude.

Oh, it's battering hail on my window-sill. Someone heard!
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6 comments:

  1. Jaspreet your blog is quite an introduction of what is to expect in your upcoming literary work. Certainly a high quality prose and poetry filling every bit of the mind space like fresh air, leaving you gasping for more...:-)Look forward !!

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    1. Thanks, Mandeep. This was heart-warming. I hope I do not disappoint.

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  2. Never trade Jas! I love all your words, and I know I'll love your book. People who cave prostitute the craft. Writing a story is a labour of love, not only a quest to make an agent a buck. You stick to what you do so well my friend.

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  3. You're a God-sent, Jo. I'll give it my all.

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  4. You made me laugh and dig deep into the feelings too. Love you loads Jas!

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