Perfect quote – It aptly sums up the motive to pen my novel.
Why write at all? You cannot inhale and not exhale.
You cannot eat and not poop.
You cannot read and not write. (Did I just equate writing with pooping?) Yin & Yang. Reading is a passive, pleasant passion. Writing is challenging, invigorating, and pathologically addictive!
Profession vs Passion: I’m a Pathologist by profession. I dissect dead bodies and diagnose live diseases under the microscope. But human beings hold deeper mysteries beneath the visible surface. Mind, emotions, and idiosyncrasies – those are beyond the scalpel, but not beyond the pen’s might!
I decided to use my profession 2 ways. One, to fund my passion. Two, to stimulate both halves of my brain – the rational and the creative. Yin & Yang again.
Flexing the muscles of Time: ‘Work expands to fill the time required to complete it.’ As a corollary, I coined a new quote – ‘Time expands to accomodate passions.’ I used the free moments between lectures, demonstrations and diagnostic tasks to create a mental skeleton of my chapters. At night, post work, I fleshed out the skeleton into full-fledged chapters.
My childhood habit helped – I am used to studying for all exams with music playing in background. It trained my mind to use conscious & sub-conscious together.
Using my endorphins: Gym sweat (toned my muscles & honed my novel plot), yoga serenity, swimming euphoria, meditation peace and music. They all contributed to produce the feel-happy hormones.
They helped me vault over the scary days when I couldn’t proceed beyond doodling, when I asked myself ‘Who on Earth wants to read this stuff?’, when politely worded rejections sneaked into my Inbox, when my Editor snoozed 6 months on the job, when they asked me to prune 140,000 words down to 80,000 words, when they messed my word.docx to ebook conversion with bloopers like –She laid Sanskrit instead of She learnt Sanskrit!
Indie path? Yes, I toyed with the idea when rejections dampened my enthusiasm. Thankfully, Leadstart Publisher finally kickstarted my literary journey. However, the journey gave me many pleasant side-effects as below.
1. I learnt the 30 x 10 rule (The ideal word count per page is 300 owing to 30 lines x 10 words each). Thus, you can calculate your book pages (and book cost) based on manuscript word count.
2. I consciously learnt technical stuff about WordPress, Twitter and Goodreads with a firm eye on book website (I finally decided to include book related info, anecdotes and quotes as a subset Category within WordPress itself. Why let go of existing blogger readers?)
3. I devised the 3 week rule (lock away recent chapters, ignore them for 3 weeks, and then read them anew. It really helps to discover errors, flaws and loopholes in manuscript)
4. Designed my own Facebook Page.
5. Made a ‘Zero budget’ Youtube trailer myself.
(If Chris permits, I promise to tell the ‘How-to’ tale in my next post)
(Permission GRANTED – TSRA :D)
6. Blurb lessons: I created an elaborate blurb – 3 punch quotes by my 3 protagonists, followed by a brief character sketch of each. I used italics for quote, bold font for protagonist name and another lovely font for their character sketch. Guess my woes, when I saw online a jumbled up version of who-said-what with nil formatting?
Lesson learnt – KEEP IT SIMPLE. Don’t use a mixture of italics, bold and multiple fonts, especially if the online formatting magic wand lies with the Publishers.
Book cover design: I learnt that cover page needs to echo the 150-word blurb in a 15-second visual; just as the blurb echoes the 96,000 word book.
Idea: Put a miniature copy of your cover page on book spine. That’s the part scanned by most eyes on book shelves!
Coming to my opening line, the motive behind my novel. Its premise is Indian epic Mahabharata. Misclassified under Mythology, I prefer to call it Itihaas (History). Created by genius seer Ved Vyas, it continues to fascinate, puzzle and inspire writers since 5000 years ago.
Its gem, the Bhagavad Gita produced starkly polar interpretations – Robert Oppenheimer for atom bomb and Mahatma Gandhi for Non-Violence!
Its protagonists – The enigmatic Krishn who spoke Gita wisdom and the compassionate warrior Arjun who sought its wisdom. Draupadi, the feisty Queen who was the constructive destroyer via Kurukshetra battle.
The Mind = for cool analysis, meticulous plans and innovative ideas.
The Heart = for passionate emotions and inspiration.
The Hand = for skills, finesse and valor, the doer.
Krishn was the mind, Draupadi was the inspiration and Arjun was the executor of their combined vision.
Relevance of Mahabharata today: Composed 5000 years ago, it teems with miracles, boons, celestial missiles, demiGods and devils. Yet, what remains as crux and core of the story are the visceral emotions – lust, betrayal, courage, compassion, love, hatred, jealousy, ambitions. Cutting across geographic borders and across time.
In today’s strife strewn world, when more and more (nuclear) power rests in irresponsible hands and too much technological knowledge rests within unstable minds. It is as relevant today as 5000 years ago. The eternal dilemma between the Hand that asks, ‘’How many millions should die for the sins of a handful?” and the Mind-Heart that declares confidently, ’How many times should the sinning handful be forgiven for the sake of the millions who follow them blindly?”
To get a glimpse into the Truth, or its perspectives, I present Arjun: Without A Doubt. (Genre- Mythology/ Epic/History/Fantasy)
Goodreads Giveaway: Currently ongoing (for US only) till 1 August.
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