How I wrote my first book!

woman writing

Innumerable posts are written by established authors on how they managed their corporate life and writing aspirations. Well, I have a job too. Not a 9 to 5 one, it’s 24X7. I’m a mother, a wife, a homemaker and I am an author. Negotiating your way through domestic hurdles is no less of a mine field than corporate quagmires. If you think the boss from hell, spiraling marketing targets and meetings are difficult to deal with; try the domestic circus. It’s no less mindboggling.

As a freelance features writer for the past two decades I figured juggling home and writing should be child’s play. Right? Wrong. As all freelancers will tell you work is sporadic and one has long spells of nothing to do but make cold calls. More than hard work, it was a fabulous excuse to stay away from the kitty party gang in the building.

When I started writing my first novel in Jan 2014, I soon realized I had stepped into a hurricane. More like the eye of the hurricane. And by this I don’t mean sorting out characters, fleshing out the story and etc…I mean dealing with people at home alongside spinning the yarn. If you think conference calls, board meeting and monthly targets get in way of the sensuous scene you are itching to write; try dealing with the local plumber, carpenter or worse, courier fellow who decides  to ring the  bell just when you sit down to write the scene that’s  been playing in your mind since morning.  And the reason you couldn’t write it out isn’t because you have an office to go. It’s because… (pause, take a breath)…the maid bunked. Tiffin boxes had to be packed. The dog had the ‘I need to pee’ look. So you tell the idea to hold on, (I jot it down on my mobile phone notepad. I don’t depend on my memory.) At least with the job you bring home a pay check but being a housewife is a thankless job. To have to shut the laptop because the washing machine isn’t working, the presswala has misplaced your husband’s black trouser (yet again) and the kid needs new sketch pens to do the school project; it can turn the most benign person into a serial killer. I wanted to kill. All I wanted to do was write, why was the universe conspiring against me?

Here’s what I did to get the book out of me…

EARLY BIRD GETS TO WRITE

It took me eight and half months to finish the first draft. I woke up at 5 am, made a huge mug of coffee and wrote. They say the first novel just gushes out of you. It’s true. I couldn’t sleep. So decided to write rather than toss and turn in bed. Also, I told myself that this is the most important thing I’m doing and I don’t want to get to it at the end of  the day when I’m brain dead having dealt with maids, grocery shopping and etc. The family – husband, son and dog – wake at 7. So I wrote.

EVERY PLACE IS A WRITE PLACE

From 5 to 7 is only 2 hours and that’s not enough if you want to have the first draft ready in 8-9 months! Even when I’m not writing on the laptop, I’m writing. In my head, throughout the day.  As I walked Archie (the dog). Waited in my car at the traffic light. As I chopped the salad, stirred the curry and sometimes while doing the groceries. I would keep thinking about the scene, the characters, the dialogues, how I want to change them…I would quickly jot few things. Sometimes I would lean against the shopping cart and write out an entire scene allowing other surprised shoppers to go ahead.

I stopped watching TV. I met my friends less, much to the irritation of some who thought I was avoiding them.

TACKLING HOUSE GUESTS

Just because I’m writing the story that doesn’t let me sleep, eat or breathe…doesn’t mean relatives wouldn’t visit. And they will want to go Lajpat nagar for shopping, Dilli Haat or even the nearby mall. When this happens, deal with it as an adult. Lie and run!! The freelance thing I mentioned in paragraph two came in handy again. I shamelessly pretended to have a string of meetings for the day. I packed my laptop, sat in a café and wrote. I found one where my friends or family weren’t likely to turn up at and hammered away at the story.

HUBBY DARLING!!

Now this one is tricky to deal with. Just three words: indulge, indulge & indulge. Help him focus on a hobby. Encourage him to learn a new instrument, if he is musically inclined. Find groups in the neighbourhood where men play football, cricket and push him in that direction. Golf is a great option too. He will be up at crack of dawn and return by 12, dog tired; while you write.

When sports or music didn’t work out for me, I nudged him towards the ultimate man toy. He bought a Harley Davidson. I gave him the thumbs up as he tried on ghastly leather jackets, helmets, foot gear, even a skull printed scarf and what not. All the while telling myself (under breath), “Keep quiet, woman. He will be out every Sunday from 5 am to 11. Sometimes he will be gone for overnight trips. Think of the number of chapters you can write if you had the whole weekend to yourself!” Bless you Harley!!

MOM DEAR!!

Selfies with daughters notwithstanding, every woman fights the toughest battles with her mother. And I’m no different. Mommy dear called to tell me I didn’t return her call. She called to tell me I don’t listen to her and sound absentminded when she speaks. Then she called to tell me that Riya calls Pipi ten times in a day and Tuki calls kakimoni seven times in a day. Mommy, mommy, dear mommy. What do I with you? What do I do without you? I silenced her with just one sentence. “Ma! I’m dedicating the book to you.” Need I say more!

Irrespective of whether you are a working person or homemaker, single or married, with or without kids; writing isn’t easy. Chasing any dream is the toughest thing in the world. You’ll go mad, curse the world for the injustice of it all, hate yourself for putting your dream before others; and there will days when you will just sit and weep. You will get rejected, you will question if it’s worth it, you’ll fight with your spouse and your kid will complain you haven’t made his favourite lasagna in a long time. But trust me, it works out. I believe life tests you and your commitment by hurling obstacles in your path. The Fiddler on the roof does His thing to challenge you, to see how badly you want it by planting hurdles – domestic, corporate and others – in your path.

So the domestic drama goes on in my life. Maids, plumbers & electricians continue to whip up mayhem. Sandeep cancels a biking trip leaving me shame faced with guilt ruing that I wouldn’t be able to write. PTA has to be attended. Mom has threatened she’ll never visit me again because I write all the time and when I don’t, I run off for business meetings (wink, wink!). The promise of dedication placated her only for a day and half! But I have stopped getting annoyed. I just take a deep breath and tell myself, “This is my day job. Being a mom, a wife, a homemaker. Deal with it and then go write.” If you’re passionate, really insanely passionate about something, you’ll find the time for it.

Harper Collins is publishing my first. I’m now writing the second novel and I just finished getting the living room re-tiled. The bathroom is next. I don’t wait for Life to test me. I take the madness with a tall glass of chilled Chardonnay, then rave & rant…and of course write about it!!

30 thoughts on “How I wrote my first book!

  1. Loved the piece. Congratulations on your first literary baby. This gives me some peace – that madness happens in life and it is only I who can curve out a calm frame of mind just to write. Wish me luck.

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  2. Reblogged this on Write & Beyond and commented:
    Wonderfully said Kanchana! This is the story nearly every writer, and homemaker trying to write can relate to. Having seen you do this closely, I know how much you have put into keeping it all together. And am now ticking off the days to my champagne shot on your book launch day . Lovely writing , this piece. Not a word extra, not a beat missed. Perfect.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Great Kanchana! I am facing a situation something like this but in the reverse. I am a practising surgeon, the sole bread earner who has been bitten by the writing bug lately. I have been encouraging my wife to join one more jumba class ( she goes to one, thrice a week!) and more kitty parties as well. I don`t mind when I foot her mobile phone bills that is spiralling up every month because she says to keep her sanity intact, she needs to talk to people, the bill is not her headache! I am happy, I am in right company.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I can totally understand what you go through. U might want to listen to those phone conversations…great ideas for stories in girly talks!! ha, ha. all the best with your writing. thanks for reading and liking.

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  4. Can relate to every word of it – beautifully penned..
    Cobgratulations on your book once again and look forward to it.

    Tks for inspiring me- in my case- as now- only me has to be blamed for not sitting on my writing desk enough to move forward.

    Best

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Wow! I am so glad to have read this fantastic post….straight from the heart 🙂
    Congratulations for your first baby and all the best for the second one.
    Truly inspiring 🙂
    Hugs,
    Gayu

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  6. Awesome, Kanchana. That made for a great read. Through the humor I can sense the struggles and pains that have gone in this baby every step of the way. Congratulations. So happy for you that your work will be published by HC no less.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Blog posts like this make me believe that I am not fighting a lost battle (that is if you are okay with me comparing writing to something so belligerent). Thank you for sharing your little breakdowns, and inspiring me to create a breakthrough as you did. All the best for debut novel – please, let it be about a stay at home mom making it big in publication world! I need to read that book!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you shweta. just one line about my novel – Sometimes you need to forget everything to recognize what matters most!! Intrigue much!! wait for it. thanks once again for reading and liking.

      Liked by 2 people

  8. I sit here in a spa resort reading your post. Very happy for you.
    Wish you all the best with the sales and promotion.

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  9. Fantastic post Kanchana! I can so relate to it. I was a housewife too when I penned my first three novels. I think the frustration of being idle (besides cooking, cleaning, taking care of hubby, 2 kids, a few cats, relatives and friends) poured forth as novels. I used to wake up in the middle of the night to write without disturbance. And family members could not understand why I got angry when I was interrupted – again, again and yet again 😀
    Congratulations on publishing your first and all the best!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I know…I can almost a person’s head off if interrupted while writing. you have multiple books to your name…WOW!! that’s so awesome. this is my first, which should be out by next summer. just can’t wait to hold it in my hands!! thank you once again for reading and liking it!!

      Liked by 2 people

  10. Congratulations.. you nailed it finally..
    ..Perhaps to accuse the family is not fair.. they would’ve supported you anyway.. it is your desire and discipline that did it, not because you tricked them..

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  11. Hey Kanchana, Congratulations for your first book and best wishes for many more to come. Thanks for sharing such a hearty slice of your life with us, it’s really motivating. Look forward to reading your book!

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    1. thank you meenakshi for reading & liking my post. look forward to sharing my book with all of you. it’s expected to be out in summer, 2016.

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  12. I can almost sense the excitement in your choice of words, Kanchana. My best wishes for your first ‘literary’ baby. My ‘literary’ baby is being a difficult child and is starting to make me second guess myself. But I’m sure I’ll come through. Or I hope so. Thank you for this insight. And I look forward to visiting here often.

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  13. Am I glad I read this! It was a replay of the mayhem in my part of the world. And I am taking copious lessons from this page. Most times I sit in front of the screen and struggle with the domestic management overshadowing the written words. Congratulations!

    Like

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