Monday, July 30, 2012

Behind the scenes - a story, a learning to share!

It is inspiring and heartening to see some of my friends publishing books these days.  Three friends as I recall.  It is great to get your first book published - I admit, would really want to be there;  The feeling of elation is like that of graduation.   It is great to see your first piece of work hit the stalls.   Good to see the paperback, smell the pages, see people picking up from the shelf, browsing through it and reading.   As I admit, I am yet to reach there.   As they say, this is the feeling of a champion, that only champions can feel.

The story of how each story is written
and published itself is an unique
As professionals, most of us keep our struggles and our secrets to ourselves. Sometimes, the story of how a book is made itself becomes a story.  And the experience is a treasure.  To cherish.  As one would look back the route that one had to take, the calls one had to make, the refusals one had to bear, the pep-talks of the near and dear, it is a road, worthy of taken.   This road is unique.

I have been chatting with some of these friends in terms of how one deals with a first-time manuscript, approaching a publisher for a first time.   Should I share my story online? How to deal with copyrights?   How to discuss payment terms?  The responses, I admit, are tad, pricey and guarded.  I beg to differ with these responses.

The basis of this is the fact, that I am an avid social networker.    I share my feelings without hesitation, as one can easily learn by communicating, sharing like how children do?   Should children learn everything first hand.   Yes.  That is what I would do as a first-time writer.   But, if somebody has got the experience, why can't they share it?  Especially once a book is published?

The runner community shares its experiences
tips, leads - which helps novice runners
grow and run better 
I am not seeking advise on how I should do things, but some leads which might help me construct my case easier.  Fair ask, I say, what do you? It would do a world of good, when a growing community in India, especially people who are aspiring to write in English in this country get support - like contacts, leads,which would do a world of good.

You don't need to look far ahead to build a community.  Just look at my other interest - running.   There are enough running communities, that would pull a lazy bum like me out of the couch to hit the road.   Just do it!  This camp, that run.   This race and that training - in Mumbai, Bangalore and Chennai!   Don't run like that.   Contact this sports doctor if you have an injury.    If running in India has grown in the past 5 years, it is because, there are people who are willing to share.  Narratives of how somebody ran his first marathon. Photographs,experiences.   These are stories, experiences - read about them, one's mundane mind gets spiked!

Likewise publisher details.   We know, we all know, that publishers vary in quality, content and intent.   For struggling authors- writers, playwrights, poets in us - this would be a key fact.    There are self publishing channels also, I gather.

So, the successful friends, among us, your struggle and journey itself would make a story - a legend.  Like the great writer you are, write about it and share it!

 - Ashok Speaks 

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Why a woman - for my first story?

I am not well today - with a sore throat and occasional cough.  Got to be cautious these days.  Also it is embarrassing to see myself coughing in a meeting.

However, to put this nest time to good use, I would be writing the final piece of the third chapter.   And at the same time building the manuscript of the forthcoming book.   All of you would be aware of the story line.  But a small inspiration of how a woman as the inspiration behind my first book.
Archana - the strength of
my first book

Well, not yet a book.   I belong to a category of 'unpublished authors'.   Let that be.   I used to write random blogs, stories, based on incidents.  My first series was 'the Heir of the Hair raiser'.   The positive and encouraging feedback from my reader-folk inspired my second series ' the vendor bogie and vada plate'.  Then the third series ' in the driver's seat'.   In these series, I had created characters - of different strength, color and backgrounds.   One of those committed readers, a good friend took time to give feedback - as we do now, character analysis.  He said ' that one - the owner, Archana Solkar stands out.  Her character is deep.   Other protagonists are great, but she really is different.'.

Helen - a face that launched
1000 ships
Now, as I look back, two booklets later, I admit that Archana has been an inspiration.  Like such characters in the epics.   How did I realize this?  This movie 'Troy'.  It is makeover of the Illiad, written by Homer, the great blind poet.  The story would not have become an epic without Helen.  The epic was set against a background of strong nations and men - fighting for power and glory.  Here was one woman, for whom Paris of Troy fell for.   Then Agamemnon launches an all out attack seizing on a personal issue of his brother.   Then there are various heroes and Gods - Hector, Achilles, Paris, Ulysses,  Zeus, Apollo, Athena but no one triggers the story like Helen does.  Her abduction by the Trojans set the stage for the epic war.   Hers was a face that launched thousand ships. 

Abduction of Sita launched
the Ramayana war 
Look at close quarters.  Ramayana.  This would have a regular emperor- father-son melodrama until,  the abduction happens.   Yes, like any epic, there are interesting narratives along the way.   Conveniently, Rama is sent on exile.  Sita has been the faithful wife.  The epitome of beauty and chastity.   The first quality triggered the problem.   It created the scene of an epic war- that saw Gods and kings, demons and monkeys fight.   Her second quality was challenged - and that became the powerful epilogue.

The pawning of Draupadi and her  vow
to avenge her shame
launched the Mahabharata war
Mahabaratha - the greatest story ever told.  Complexity, timelines, plot, the frame tales!  Heroes of ages bordering senility ( Bhimshma) to milk-teeth stage ( Abhimanyu).  From the greatest macer ( Bhima vs Duryodhana) to the archer (Karna vs Arjuna) - to the greatest Divine ( Krishna) to the cross-dresser ( Shikandi), the story has an impressive pantheon of legends.   The plots intertwine endlessly.  But it is the woman who is the trigger of the epic war.   While the war was between the kin for the kingdom, the loss of dice, and pawning of Draupathi aka Panchaali, and her vow to wash her hair with the blood of Duchasana is the standing trigger point for the war.

In all the three epics, amid the great characters of warrior-hood and bravery, the trigger of the plot from a good story to a great epic is a woman.  Undeniable.   Now, back to Archana.  My story is not an exact epic.   But, it is Archana who is the RCC for the building that is my story.   Well, you see my point, don't you?