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There’s something beautiful and freeing about creating a book as I have learnt. Here’s my experience of writing books.
I first began writing at the age of twenty. After college sessions, I secretly spent long hours over the computer freewriting my first novel. I was recovering from a bad relationship. Writing allowed me to loosen up and heal myself.
I fell in love with words and sentences because they let me create a world of my own. Excited by the idea of seeing my name on print, I sent my first book to publishers. Back then in 2008, I didn’t really understand what editing or formatting meant. In the years that followed, I published three more novels that helped me grow in writing.
The birth of my son provided me with the opportunity I had been waiting for all my life. I found the chance to quit my software job to focus on writing. It still didn’t happen right away.
I struggled with mild postpartum depression, questioning my abilities as a mother. Meanwhile, I juggled home and motherhood as I made time for freewriting sessions during naptimes. With a toddler in my life, I had to deal with sick days, tantrums, and unpredictable routines.
Still, with immense support from my spouse, I was able to write at least four days a week. My husband provided tremendous support by taking care of our son and cooking meals. In my experience, when it comes to pursuing dreams, family encouragement matters a great deal. I could enjoy the best of both worlds – I could watch my son grow and also work on my dream novel.
Usually, I try to write for 30 minutes in the morning, before anybody wakes up. This is also the time when I turn off mobiles, TV and disconnect the Internet on my laptop. It’s easy to get distracted while writing as this only hampers my writing schedule.
In my spare time, I spend a lot of time reading interviews of writers to understand how they write on a daily basis and how they dealt with rejection. When I can’t work on a novel, I follow timed writing for five to ten minutes on any random topic that helps me refresh my writing.
Many websites offer writing prompts that are helpful. I maintain a weekly journal where I document my writing experiences or any problems that I face. And I also maintain a motherhood blog where I document my hilarious experiences as a mother. All this helps me keep my writing muscle in shape.
In 2017, I signed up for an MFA program in creative writing that helped write on a daily basis as I continued to sharpen my writing. In the program, I got the opportunity to read work from writers coming from different parts of the world. Initially, the feedback I received for my writing broke my confidence but it was a learning experience that helped me grow as a writer.
My latest release ‘The Chennai Killings,’ a crime thriller was developed mostly through my second pregnancy. The plot idea came to me in 2016 when my husband read headlines about the infamous Swathi murder case that rocked Tamil Nadu. He pushed me to develop a story.
I did a lot of research online to understand how people got motivated to commit murders and what pushed them towards it. In my experience, character development and plot sketching are very essential to begin a story. At times, I allow my characters to surprise me while writing the book.
Eight months later, I was ready with a draft which I thought was perfect. I sent out my finalised draft of ‘The Chennai Killings’ to publishers but got a pile of rejections. It’s usually difficult to deal with rejections but it’s a matter of giving time for yourself to move on. Usually, I give myself a day or two to brood but quickly return to writing my next story.
I moved forward and finally found Pirates Publishing House. Mukund Sanghi, the founder spoke with me several times over the next few months and helped me identify loopholes in my story. I had to almost rewrite my entire story and redefine the characters which was the hardest part.
When you first write your draft, it’s easy to get attached to the characters and sentences. But a writer should never hold himself from rewriting. William Faulkner said, ‘Murder your darlings.’ You must be ready to remove entire chapters or remove characters if they don’t push the story forward.
Editing the manuscript is another important process in creating a novel. No matter how many times you read your work, there will always be glaring errors that won’t be visible to your eyes. I usually read a draft twice on the computer then print out the entire thing and then edit with a red pen. Once I am done, I enter the changes into my computer. For ‘The Chennai Killings’, my editor and I ran through the entire draft at least ten times before locking the final script.
The hardest part was going through periods of self-doubt and lack of motivation. Because writing is a lonely job, it can become overwhelming at times. In such times, I shut down my computer and take a walk or become busy with lifely chores. Reading work written by other authors also helped me. I agree with Stephen King when he says – “if you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.”
Picture credits: Photo by Ketut Subiyanto from Pexels
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