Summer has rolled in all of a sudden here in Kerala, erasing the wintry chill without a trace. Even the night air is warm and the days are burning sunny. At times, cool breezes blow in and one such breeze held this awesome news that an author can only sometimes dream of!!!
Sandcastles was published on November 30th, 2018 - just eligible by hairline luck to be submitted for participation in ARL Literary Award 2018 - a new award launched in 2018 for various categories like Best Author, Best Debut Author, Best Poet, Most Popular Book, Most Influential author etc for books published between January 2016 and November 2018. Sandcastles being a debut novel, I submitted it under Best Debut Author Category and Best Author Category, to test myself. Well, guess what?
Sandcastles has secured a place in the ARL Literary Award 2018 for Best Author Longlist announced on February 10th, 2019!!!
Can you believe it? Sometimes I can't but maybe, you should check out the book for yourself and decide. ;)
I will be back soon - as soon as possible, that is - with some points on writing. Day before yesterday, I had an interactive session to talk about my journey to Sandcastles in the monthly meet up of The Wordsmiths Club in Calicut. In the quaint seaside Bokchoy Beach Cafe, overlooking the Calicut beach, it was a warm gathering of word lovers. However, time
constraints made me skip elaborating on writing techniques and much more.
So, soon I will be doing a few posts on what I think can push you into writing better, writing regularly and effectively. Let's see how it can fare. Yeah?
Reading Now: The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah
Writing Now: The Storyteller
So long! Have a great week !
Last year, I took a sabbatical from Facebook, called it a 'virtual detox' and it went on for 7 months. I had written about it in a post about writing here - how it helped me - yeah, it helped me finish half of the first draft of the second book. Later, I had set out on an editing spree with my mentor, kneading, cutting and shaping Sandcastles into a readable,
I had a huge break from that work in progress - the second book - and it really just got stuck for me. For months, I simply didn't even open the file. I wanted to but couldn't.
Often, such writer's block is a lack of courage and sense of direction. I was overwhelmed. I knew the ending. I knew how it went that way. I just had to fill in the pages to reach there as best as I could. But I couldn't write. I let myself loose - tried not to force-write. But once my debut got settled and finally found a home, I began thinking - what next?
I had excuses not to write. I had excuses for everything. I let myself believe those excuses. And then, I realized, excuses were just justifications for lack of priority and not lack of time. And when it comes to writing, I cannot think of it as anything less than a priority. Writing is important to me but I was not getting it done!
I opened the file. I have had change of thoughts and scenes over the time. Even writer's blocks cannot actually interfere with the streaming of the story images in the head. I had to get it out if I wanted to get it read. I discussed the prospectives with my ever-supportive mentor and editor-in-one friend, Prof. Varghese C. Abraham.
This past week, I have been editing and making changes to it with my newfound brilliance. Lol. Yeah, right, wiser as we grow older. :D
Today was a lovely Sunday - one of the most satisfying one I have had in recent times. Low carb cooking is really easy on me. I spent double time on laundry, the semi-automatic washing machine giving me time to edit the manuscript written so far. Around 51K words had been down in it during the virtual detox time. Now it has dropped down to 49K. Now building up again.
And these days, I spend as little time as possible online and definitely, it works. It is a whole globe of distraction away from your brain. But just now, I realized a few things about my writing journey that called to be shared.
1. The writing journey of the first book and that of the second are totally different. A lot of factors differ. Especially the level of passion. Writing is always a passionate affair for me but when I wrote my first book, there was a blissful oblivion, a race against the destiny. I wrote to find the story. I wrote to know what happened to them and that will be obvious to the reader. I was halfway through the book when the real twist of the story flashed to me. It was like being let in on a secret. Discovering a hidden truth. Unraveling it as I wrote. I think that propelled my writing forward.
As for this book, I already know what happened to everybody. I have even the end written (which will change. Sandcastles no more has the same beginning I had written in the first draft - LOL!). I just need to tell the world what happened and why and how. I find myself having to settle down with a sense of purpose now. Nevertheless, it is a story I need to tell and that is keeping me at it. But before I opened the document this time, I made a few changes to the story-line, changed the setting and decided to add and take a few aspects in the story. So, now, it feels like I have to discover how that makes the characters behave. Voila! So, take a detour when you are blocked, writers out there!
2. I chucked my side job - content writing - to become a full-time writer. Horrifying? True that I can't go on an online shopping spree like before when I feel depressed. But that's good - I'm running out space in my room.
The reason was, being a job that took my writing skill, it really meddled between passion and profession. One was love and the other was duty/responsibility or whatever it is. I was constantly in emotional dichotomy. I was always told passion cannot feed me but it looked like for the time being, I had enough food around me.
My medical practice doesn't interfere with writing. It gives me some extra time which may not be easily available at home as a family woman. But when I had pending works and deadlines and when it called for my creativity and writing skills to complete them, it really took a toll on my creative writing.
I realized I was doing neither of them well.
I had to make the cut - now or never. I chose writing over money. I know it is a test of luck but I was more concerned about the test of faith. I had to have faith in my own words. I resigned from the job because whenever I opened worksheets, I felt bad that I was not writing what I wanted to. And whenever I thought of writing my book, I was using the job to excuse myself from my own passion, feeling guilty. I have decided to take my passion as my profession for real now, apart from medicine and psychology.
So here I am, not dichotomied anymore. I killed my excuses and opened my manuscript.
And it feels like heaven. For once, I have done the right thing by myself.
I have taken the writeous way. :)
The only regret is I should have done it earlier. But then, better late than never!
What has been that one decision that changed your life for the better?
Let me know. :)
Reading now: The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn.
Just look at that. How the girl rains the sand over her sandcastle. How the sun rises behind her. How lonely she looks. How lovely the cover looks...
This is it materializing. One dream down. 😊
Thanks to some people who made this happen, especially Mr. Devbrat Dubey of Turquoise Publishing, who extended me the traditional contract , believing in my writing.
My author life story is gonna come up here over a few posts. The series will talk about writing techniques, editing tips and some things that a new writer will want to know on the journey from manuscript to book.
Meanwhile, why not pre-order your copy while it is on sale at the publisher's website? Click on the button below this post. If you dig signed copies or reside abroad, kindly get in touch through contact page with your address details.
Show me some love, yeah!
I am almost talking about revision.
After five years and four rounds of that, this is a friendly definition for revising your writing. This is an abrupt post after an immeasurably (because I don't want to count back) long episode of zero blogging. I was never good at that in the first place. Add to it my hectic, haphazard life (aka backbreaking routine).
I assume that I have a pretty good excuse though.
I have written the most in the past one year since major life changes like marriage, motherhood, medical career etc. From April 2017 until New Year 2018, except for an occasional peep for security reasons, I took a big break - a virtual detox - from Facebook, quite infamous for killing creativity and fuelling poor productivity (realized only when you do geroff), and boy, did it do me a world of good!!!
Amidst all my crazy routine, I wrote more than half a novel, learned the art of micropoetry (that you can find on my Instagram profile @sanarosewrites) and edited my first manuscript with my mentorly friend to the finl draft.
So, seriously, now I have a couple of things I can tell you from my observations:
So, because it is late here and because I'm sleep-deprived always, adieu until next time.
It's fun to dabble with some art once in a while. So, I did this slight makeover to the website today to fix a few technical errors, update the stuffs, links etc. And also to change the header image to one with better clarity.
So what do you guys think about this new look? :) Fresher?
The former look had a dark look to it. Now, that's not me.
It's getting late but let me know how the site looks now.
Meanwhile, about the blog at the end of this website named 'The Writeous Way' is still under planning. Hence, no updates and in the midst of it, I landed a content writing job at a great digital marketing agency. Now, dreams of books and getting published apart, that is one dream down.
And I realized:
Most of the unhappiness in the world is coming from people who are in the wrong jobs or fields.
I derived it from how happy I felt when I am doing something I love, at the professional level. So far. Not that I was ever forced to pursue something I had no passion for. But yes, settling for something, choosing something and achieving something have all the difference in the world.
Okay, right now, I am thinking why I have not been writing here often enough. I have been busy. The kid is rampant often and my days are defined by the volume level of my worried screams and the number of heartbeats I miss. I guess that's pretty clear for an excuse.
The other excuse being it's almost midnight and my little bubbz is being my mommy (putting up with my crap, staying up with me) and well... doodling all over her limbs with a ball pen!
"When the soul was wanderlust, there was only one way to move on - taking the journey. The walk in the desert was a blend of reality and surrealism. Every poem an oasis, but every page a mirage. This shiny blue mirage that drew me in to dive in and quench my parched soul..."
Mirage is love from a safe distance, beauty from within, a relief to the believing eye. Mirage is what keeps the journey going on, for the sake of love and hope. Mirage is 'reflections untouched'...
This is what I think of The Mirage. :)
This is a quick and short announcement post. The Mirage is out. :) Get your copy on Amazon.com. More links later. I got the opportunity to contribute a poem to this lovely book. Thanks to the author Nithin Jacob for that.
No - not a weather update. :)
Finally, the clouds are here, rain-laden, showering upon the parched earth - not voluptuously yet, but with sun-breaks. My own smile blooms in the cool breeze that seeps in through the windows, the cool moisture that makes me feel purified. The air is washed clean. The nights have a lovely chill. I can only say so many words about how much I love the Monsoon. :)
Monsoon is here, but, oh well, I am going through a poetic drought. Seems like I poured out my soul in April during the NaPoWriMo (National Poetry Writing Month) and since then, it has slowed. Must have written atleast 50 poems in April! But then, the break could be a much needed numbness. Or just plain good old Happiness. The turmoils have calmed down. I might as well find new pastures to explore. And graze. Well, mentally and insight-fully. I have yet to come up with something for a poetry anthology by June 10th.
The Songs of Motherhood series I am writing is awaiting another poem, while I am chasing my increasingly fast, quite stubborn but sweet little toddler around the house. I would compare the process to the typewriter that moves tuk-tuk-tuk to the right, is pushed back to the left for the next line. Being specific is a great thing, but when a toddler is specific, there is only so much you can do. She just turned 21 months old.
Recently, I got an invite to contribute a poem to a poet friend's upcoming collection titled The Mirage. NJ (Nithin Jacob) is a poet who wears his heart in his words - no facade between them. And his first novel is coming up, too. Soon. The Mirage is due this month. :) My poem 'The Elysium' comes in it.
A little slow on reading but still on Em and the Big Hoom.
Have been working some.
Watched The Green Mile, Into the Wild (2007) and Forrest Gump recently. And the classic American Beauty (1999) this afternoon.
Into the Wild needs a whole another post for introspection and discussion. Hopefully, the next. :) American Beauty and Forrest Gump, too. But I am sure my thoughts on them are not necessary because they are already established as classic, I was just a little late to catch them.
Next on the list are Blue Valentine (2010), Spellbound (Alfred Hitchcock's 1945 movie) and some fun ones like Laggies. Between, yes, this is still a writer's blog. I'm just warming up and will surely get there soon. When I have the news rolling in. :)
P. S. Repost because the Weebly Android App didn't work right. Had issues with editing, date, etc. So back to the laptop.
Last week, I finished editing the third draft of my novel. The editing was a targeted one - killing more than my darlings. For those who are struggling with their own fiction book drafts will know what I mean. If I had known what a double-edged blade the word count was back when I had begun the story, I would have had less to massacre. But a few things I know now are real good things. :)
The darlings are often flab.I am sure a lot of the good bits in a story often dissolve in the process, but then we all are pretty emotional with our first drafts. The task was daunting, more so for me because my word count was herculean. It was a highly emotional, foolish, 250K words long first draft. And I did a wipe-out in three drafts and brought it down to 140K words. I have stopped at that because I am still its author and to shrink it further, it needs a second eye - a more objective one. Albeit, the work I did on it is not slight and I am proud of myself about that. And all along, I have kept the plot in tact.
April came with a lovely news. A cool online journal accepted my poem for publication in their Spring Issue 'Love and Ensuing Madness'. I had already shared the news about my poem 'Valentine Box' appearing in the 'Rat's Ass Review'. For those who missed it, here's the link to the journal's page with my poem.
And then came the acceptance email from Ashvamegh International Journal of English Literature. As one of the two featured poets of the journal's May 2016 Issue. All five poems that I had sent them for publication have been included. And then again, for anyone who missed the announcement, you can read it here: Sana Rose - Featured Poet for May 2016.
A PDF copy of the May Issue of the Journal can be downloaded from the link below. Or feel free to visit the website at ashvamegh.net and get it from there while you checkout the previous issues.
What are the books on your to-read shelf this season? I have a couple of classics and literary stuffs and some women's fiction, too.
Currently reading: Em and the Big Hoom by Jerry Pinto
To read this monsoon:
To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf
Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
And a few other ebooks, too. :)
I'm having more fun than ever now. The baby jargon has developed into baby words and the toddler-on-the-loose is all the more specific and noisy. This summer was way too sticky, melting warm and I feel exhilarated to see the heat has toned down considerably. I hope it will be raining cats and dogs by the time I am back with next post. :)
Until then, adieu!
Finally, that email has come. :)
It was quite unexpected, because Poetry doesn't sell.
However, some people do work for it. And keep up the hopes. And my second collection of poetry 'The Room of Mirrors: Reflections in Verse' is finally with a publisher.
I don't want to flaunt my rejection letters, or say I received a hundred and one of them. I have been rejected, yes. But I believed that what mattered was that the book was out there for poetry lovers to read.
I had decided that I would do an ebook of it as well, just like my first book (which became an E-book not from rejections, but from termination of the contract for good because poetry deserves better) - in case it was rejected again and again. My poetry was changing, and this collection would get old in no time.
But just before the inevitable sigh of disappointment, I got it - a very positive letter from the editor of a good literary publisher with markets I adore.
The manuscript is going into their editing process shortly. Cheers to poetry and those who value it!
I have been in a very elite mood, and for those who have been stalling, here is a word - because I just did it!
P.S. If you would like to take a look inside my head - the poet, writer and art lover - and if you're on Instagram - give me a visit : instagram.com/sanarosewrites - and follow me if you think my gallery is worth revisitng. :)
So this is it. The makeover. Welcome to the revamped website!
Join me on Facebook to follow my writing journey everyday. And you can get snippets of poetry in images on my Instagram page or in the Gallery in the menu.
Meanwhile, I will just wind up this welcome post by announcing that the FREE EBOOK WEEK for March 2016 is on from tonight. You can either email me here or write to me on my Facebook page linked on the right with your email address. The first five to intimate will be sent the ebook of The Torrent from My Soul: Poems of A Born Dreamer as a link to download.
Today, from the muse:
Until next time, hopefully with more words and news. :)
This is Sana Rose for you, ranting about Writing, Motherhood and every little thing in between that makes her wonder.