Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Boulevard of Broken Dreams

This is the last post of this one-month challenge that I took up to make my already difficult life more miserable. Or so I thought. But honestly, it just became a part of my life- like I would check my mail first thing in the morning and get a cup of coffee, I would also post something. Probably a few times, I struggled, wondering what I can write about, but once I opened that blank word document, it wasn’t a problem anymore. It was easier than I thought I would be, it was more fun than I thought it would be and yes, it was definitely more rewarding than my work! Anyways, it’s now over and it’s time to move on (all FIVE readers can heave a sigh of relief).

Now a lot of people have asked me, why this sudden urge to post everyday, why this sudden desire to get noticed (I even signed up for a twitter account) and why this sudden obsession with my online persona? Some readers went so far as to accuse me of selling my soul to the devil (and I don’t disagree with them). Of course, I can be politically correct and say it was ‘passion’ or ‘a challenge’ or ‘something I did for the love of it with no ulterior motive’. While all of them are true to some extent, the real reason is more practical. I don’t know if it’s exactly a ‘diplomatic’ thing to declare on a public forum, but at least two of my FIVE readers want to be writers some day, and I hope this post will give them some idea about the jungle out there, because, guys, even I have been there and done that. And will continue to do so…

So here goes, the bitter truth behind this blogathlon (apart from love and longing and the other mushy reasons):

A couple of months back, I finished my first full length novel (all 77k words) and about a month back, I sent out the proposal to half a dozen publishers. While I would be the first one to declare that it wasn’t a literary masterpiece, it was pretty much just another story of just another MBA girl: a novel set in a premier B school of India, written by a young girl and written for the other young people. I thought now that my work is done, I might as well indulge in some brand building and increase my next-to-nothing readership, while the publishers take their time to get back to me. Once I have THE BEST PUBLISHER knocking on my door, I would also have the LONGEST fan following who will obviously pay through their nose to buy my book. (I was beside myself with joy and patting myself for my brilliant social marketing skills apart from my inherent gift for writing).

So it was quite a shock when the good ones didn’t bother to respond to my proposal and the better ones sent a rejection mail declining to publish it. Surprise surprise!! But the ugly one gave me hope: too soon!! Now without taking any names, I would just say it was a fairly well-known Delhi-based publisher, and once I got the acceptance email, like any wannabe writer I was very excited. The fairly innocuous reference to “subject to certain conditions” failed to deter my enthusiasm. And the terms WERE fairly innocuous, if you take the larger picture: they just wanted me to contribute towards publishing. While the sum was not too significant (much less than my one month’s salary) it just didn’t feel right. I reasoned that it was a small price to pay for a dream (imagine MY book adorning the shelves of Crossword) but that was precisely the point: my dream was not so cheap that it could be bought for such a small price… Was it about principles? Being an unknown wannabe author, could I afford to even have principles? Was I being too idealistic? I don’t know; but it just didn’t feel right…

So I obsessed for a couple of days, and then on Friday night, I wrote the hardest mail of my life, before I became too weak, gave in to temptation and changed my mind:

“Dear so and so,

Thanks a lot for sending me the terms of the contract. While I am very grateful that you have decided to take a chance on a new author like me, I regret to inform you that I cannot convince myself to accept the same. Please understand that while the financial implications are not important, I feel that you do not have enough faith in my script to whole-heartedly commit to it. I would not like to begin a professional relationship on such a foundation, and I would not want my first work to be anything close to a vanity publishing deal. Being a writer is a dream for me and I would not like to make any compromises. I already have a day job for that.
However, if you really see any commercial value in my work and would like to help me improve on my script, I would be happy to work with you. But if not, I will wait for the day when you can consider my work purely on its merit.

Thanks again for taking time out to consider my proposal. I look forward to working with you in future.
Regards”


I slept really well that night, though it may be at the cost of a dream.

I may work in an investment bank, but I haven’t sold my soul for money… not yet.

I may be hungry, but I am not greedy…

17 comments:

Carpe Diem! said...

:O ::Salut::

You have a fan already! (And you've had her for a month now. :))

Good luck with your dream! :)

@nkur said...

Proud of u!

Heathcliffs Girl said...

:) So what you probably should do is find an agent first,Siyahi is a good place to start and she is lovely. You just need to send her some excerpt and see what happens..

Akshay said...

good decision, keep it up...was looking fwd to see all 31 posts for the month

Neil said...

The mom article has got to be your best post on this blog but this runs a very close second. Excellent way to sign off on the month of writing.

Bandna said...

Make that SIX! I have been reading your blog regularly and you are fantastic!

Nefertiti said...

@carpe diem
thank u... n u r one of my FIVE readers...
@nkur
me too, not that it makes me feel good...
@HG
thanks... now tips from the writer herself!!! been a long time since i saw u on this blog. welcome bck!
@akshay
what do u mean? keep it up? u think this will keep happening? how mean! n i started posting on June 27. so it's been a month.
@neil
u just like long depressng posts. end of discussion n nice knowing u.
@bandy
loser woman... u r no longr in company D. so dont waste time reading crap. do somethn useful

Akshay said...

u know wat i meant...i meant 'the spirit' after everything...keep working on ur book(s),towards ur dream...hv patience...all the best!

Nefertiti said...

@akshay
The only 'spirit' I want now is lots of alcohol. n patience, yes... that's something I have learnt from you...

Dahlia said...

I read you blog too, btw. So you seem to have more than FIVE readers :) Congratulations on completing your month! Great to see that atleast SOMEONE can make resolutions and keep them!
And what you did about the book is.. different. I don't know whether I'd be able to do it if I was in your shoes. Proud of you.

Nefertiti said...

@dahlia
u mean ur weight loss resolutions year after year in school that you broke repeatedly? :) dont worry... u still look beautiful
n thanks for reading...

Shalzz said...

Ok, am happy if you are at peace...u know my moral instincts are kinda blurred, so cant really tell if you did the right thing or not..but yeah, it should feel right to you. After all, this is your dream. Don't want imperfections on its execution! love ya :)

Nefertiti said...

@shalzz
"Imperfections on its execution"... you make it sound like som sort of terrorist opration!!!
n i love ur hairstyle :)

Anonymous said...

Am proud of you!!
But..did ur email actually read that.?

Nefertiti said...

@anon
thnks! n yea, pretty much...

Nitesh said...

congrats on ur work, you have a gift many wish to have, try and make it available to others, just a suggestion - try self publishing it as an ebook, google abt it and u will know what i'm talking abt

Nefertiti said...

@nitesh
hey thanks for dropping by... sure self-publishing is an option i plan to consider. m sure it will have enough takers :)