Acquaintance: Oh, anyone can write.
Acquaintance: I mean it's nothing much trouble, right?
Me: Oh, really? *wondering whether to throw the Wren and Martin at her*
Acquaintance: It's something people can do. Talent does not count.
Me: I think I am going to go now. *and mentally kill you around fifty times in my head*
And that my friend, is the sad reality of the Indian publishing world. Publishers don't seem to be looking for talent. They seem to be looking for stories which "sell". So pot boiling masala mixes which have grammatical errors that will make any Grammar Nazi cringe every two seconds, are what you are going to find in the "Indian Bestseller" and "Indian Quick Reads" section.
And you will go, "If that can get published, why wouldn't I?"
Sad reality is: one simply does not get published with the drop of a hat.
I am used to rejection letters. I have been receiving them since I was fourteen years old and began approaching publishers. By now, they have become a part of my life. I laugh at most of these letters because they usually tell me things like -
"Sorry. This doesn't suit what we are currently looking for."
"We regret to inform you that your story wouldn't suit the demands of the target audience."
Or better yet, "The story format isn't what we presently have in mind."
Brilliant. Didn't you see the format ALL those months ago in my first three chapters and despite that you wanted to have a look at the entire manuscript?
When I recount these misadventures to my friends, they usually have bewildered expressions on their faces and ask, "But who reads those ridiculous books?"
Oh well, someone surely does. And experience has taught me that those who deny reading these books in public actually have stacks of them in their book shelves at home. It is simply ridiculous the way the new publishing houses have mushroomed and everyone today wants to be a writer.
Chetan Bhagat may have started the trend of the IIT-guy turning into a writer, but the way some people have been following his footsteps has actually made me laugh.
I'm sorry to break it to you. But just because you have a pen and a journal, doesn't mean you are writer. (Just like every fool who owns a DSLR thinks they are a photographer.)
Just because your girlfriend left you for another guy, doesn't mean it has to be the story the entire nation needs to know!
Just because you made mistakes in your life, getting everything wrong - from the color of your t-shirt to your career choice - doesn't mean you have to immortalize that story on paper.
And my favorite: college dramas....just because there are stories set in the IIT, doesn't mean you have to tell the stories from your college days as well.
Is it too much to ask to want to read something original once in awhile?
I have loved writing since I was a child, and I work really hard to improve my writing every day. It is nothing short of a shock for me, when someone tells me, "But you know...your writing has grammatical errors." If my English teachers told me that, I would believe them. However when this accusation comes from people who write things like, "Writing my fourth novel in Macbook...happier then the last time!" and "We like to publish your book", you are simply in for a rude awakening.
The saddest part of our messed up publishing trends is that the ones who write exceedingly well are often passed up, for the ones who will "sell". Ones who have friends circle big enough to ensure their books would get cleaned out of the online stores in 24 hours.
I had once asked a fellow blogger (who writes exceptionally well) why she doesn't try to get published. She said the way the audience seem to lap up pot boilers made her fear that her book wouldn't do well. She even told me why despite putting my best foot forward, my book wasn't going to work in the Indian market.
"You don't write in Hinglish. You write proper English....the audience for that is very limited."
Kind of the same reason why we lost out on a competition last year too, isn't it?
I learned a lesson after my first book got published: that's just a stepping stone. So what you got published? Your book needs to work. And how do you make it work? You send out review copies, you make sure you are clogging everyone's newsfeed and so much that, that they pick up your book out of sheer annoyance of seeing the posts all over the place.If they remember you, good for you. If not....well, better luck next time. But good luck trying to find a publisher who is willing to sign you on, after they see you already have a book published. (And a book they probably haven't heard of.)
Nevertheless, at times, we are able to break barriers against all odds. And we will find someone who will believe in us and our books.
In the meantime, I am going to continue laughing at the new books that keep clogging my newsfeed. And if I get another friend request from someone saying, "hi, I am also fellow writer. Myself ________. Be friends on fb?", I'll probably ask them to go buy a Wren and Martin and leave me in peace.
Writing might be just a hobby for me. And for some people, it might be a way they pass time.
But I take it pretty seriously...and unlike the rising trends of today, I believe in writing stories I actually want to tell...it will take me longer to climb up the ladder of success. But if I get these laughs along the way, I don't think I'll be complaining much longer.