19 March 2008

We remove the shroud of mystery and actually talk about work type things

Sorry for being all vanish-y and AWOL, but creative genius (well, the downside of creative genius anyway) was happening and I had masses of edits to do on the book, which was hopefully, the LAST of the massive edits. Man, it's time for me to write something new now. I have been so embroiled in this one with its characters and world and people, I feel like I'm rising out of this fog to learn that maybe I have other worlds to write about too. Also, I haven't been feeling particularly like writing lately, I don't know why, just general meh-ness.

So, today, I thought I'd talk about the book a little bit. I've had some emails and some comments asking about how it happened and so on, and besides now that it's almost here, I feel READY to talk about it.

Back in 2005, a publisher approached me saying she had read my blog and would I be interested in writing? I have been writing, you must know, since I COULD write, so yeah, the story for the book was something I had been toying with since college. Growing up in urban India, being young in a world that seems so international and yet, at the heart of it is so traditional too. I wanted to talk about the India that generally doesn't get talked about, away from mango pickle and elephants and arranged marriages. But at the time I only knew vaguely what I wanted the actual story to be, so I said, "Okay, let me get some of it done, see if I can actually make a commitment to writing a book and get back to you.' I took two weeks off at the end of 2005, spent the entire day in front of my computer, not leaving the house at all, and I got a fair chunk done. Things were falling into place. I had a main character I liked very much, her world, her history, her friends all got done quite easily and in January 2006, I signed with Penguin.

I didn't even have a title. The word file was called terra firma, but obviously, I couldn't call my book that. I was toying with You Should've Been There when one day I was at Shakti's house, eating cheese toast and I told her and her husband about it and she thought a little and said, "How about You Are Here?" And I loved it. I also love the fact that Shakti is so in my book, as in, she is tied up completely with my memory of how I got the title and it makes me feel a little bit as though it's a tribute. I wish she could've been here to see how everything turned out.

The second half of the book took a lot longer. I didn't have my own laptop in those days, and I was living with Small so I didn't go home often enough to write regularly. I had my cousin's ancient laptop and I got two chapters done on that and it crashed. Note to self: always make back-up copies. My parents gave me a laptop a little later, the pride and joy of my life (and tc's, he loves to walk across the keyboard right before I've saved anything. I swear, he recognises ctrl + s) and I recreated the two chapters I had lost, plus a good chunk of the rest of the book. It took me about a year, and I only had the time to work really late at night, say 1 am to 4 am. I was an insomniac so it worked out for me. A lot of the book reads like that, like it's a conversation people are having in the middle of the night, where your voice is husky from talking so much but you keep talking and talking and talking anyway, because you feel so intimate about the person you're with.

After the book was FINALLY done, right before I moved to Bombay, I was given a huge set of edits. I printed out the first lot and carried it around with me on the train and while I was waiting for people and just worked with a pen, till it was over. That was fun. I liked to see how a formless (well, kinda formless) mass of words took on structure and narrative and a linear storyline. I tended to write all over the place and some of my favourite parts were a little confusing because the reader couldn't easily make the jump between one paragraph and the next.

That wasn't the only round of edits though. It was only the basic one, inserting and deleting things. I got a much more detailed set in January, which dealt with the little things. Make the character go to the bathroom, for instance, when she has a conversation outside the loo. Add a chapter. Stuff like that.

Edits, I don't mind telling you, are a pain in the ass. After a while you get so bored of reading the same thing over and over and OVER again, that you never want to see it anymore. I just want it out now! I'm horribly procrastinatory over chores I'm not very fond of so I just looked at them and sighed and did other things for a bit till I absolutely could not put it off anymore.

And FINALLY they're done and finally it's out of my hands (I hope) and finally I can begin to attempt to write book two. Which will also be fabulous and I'm super excited about it. I love to write. I'm happiest when I write, it's like praying for me. When I write, I'm like a different person, the kind of person I'd like to be. It may not be excellent writing, but I love doing it.

56 comments:

  1. Yaay... Dedicated lurker here. I think I have posted one comment before. So finally it is done and ready, huh? Can we see the cover? Pliss? :D

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  2. hey!i cant wait for your book to be out...i absolutely love the way you write..its so candid and relatable...when's your book releasing?

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  3. Have been reading your blogs only for short period of time, but I really enjoy it immensely. Really waiting for your book and hopefully it would be as delicious as your blog. :-)

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  4. hey..happened to read your blog while blog hopping :) Keep up the good work! Looking forward to your book..cuz I love the way you write..

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  5. Congratulations. Very happy for you. Thinking of how proud you must feel typing this post out, coming this far.

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  6. Awesome! Congratulations! I'm sure it'll be fabulous :)

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  7. hey...checking your blog often recently,though I hit it first a month back...
    and wishing you all the best and success for your maiden delivery...:)

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  8. please do tell when the book is releasing!

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  9. awesome! Congratulations! regular silent visitor here... and I must say I am a huge fan of your writing... keep up the fantastic work!

    cheers!

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  10. loved the post. after a long, long time. it feels so much more like you than most of your other recent ones. and good luck with the book. you already have thousands of people just waiting to get their hands on it.

    :)

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  11. this one i am definitely buying :) and that shall decide whether the second one is worth spending money on :D There!! That's a lot of pressure, eh?

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  12. Only a few days before I came to know that you were a writer and then this post about your book... some coincidence. Best of luck!

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  13. good going :)
    I presume the 'arrow' still points to where you are ;)
    Launch invites, yes?

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  14. one of your nicest posts in awhile.. totally agree with the last paragraph..

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  15. Hey!!!

    I have never missed a blog you wrote so waiting for your book to release. Can your fellow bloggers get a discount??

    PLeASEEEEEEEEEEE!!!

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  16. When is the book coming out?When and where is the launch?

    Somehow this post reminds me of stuff Neil Gaiman says when he talks about the writing process.....

    great stuff.

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  17. So very excited about it, and so happy for you! BUT. I do book reading at launch, yes? Yes?
    (I don't much care about the conflict of professional interest it might cause, obviously).

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  18. hey,
    i had asked about the processes that went behind the book.
    Thanks for acknowledging that request.

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  20. When is your book book comin' out ?? Seriously, I'm DYING to read it now :)

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  21. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  22. Wow ! You gonna be a bigg(er) celebrity soon.. kitne ka bet?!

    Will it be released in US for desi fans of ya here?

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  23. WOW! Ain't you a lucky girl thinking about a second book? It would be like a dream come true for me! I'm JEALOUS!!!

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  24. good!! now hafta wait till ur book comes along!! :)

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  25. can't wait for it.......oh ur gonna have a launch party! and some other journalist chick just like u were 3 years ago will attend ur launch and drink free booze..haha...
    question- does the book have a north american retailer? i live in canada, please tell me i dont have to fly to india to pick it up!

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  26. thank you all :)
    it should be out in july *fingers crossed*

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  27. Ok..Junky Book in July.....

    Ooooooooooooopper Sentence whip up Me and apart my body from easy chair.......

    consider as A nine days wonder reply..do u f...?..

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  28. heyy dats sounds gr8... will surely buy it(usualy gos 4 free ebooks,he eh)....a nice post aftr a while....esp d last para....yea true ,writin has d same effect on me....hop itll be out in july.....best of luck!!!!!!!

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  29. Yep, it's like painting for me - an excellent form of meditation (for me).

    What's the picture on your book?

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  30. hi eM, I've not been reading ur blog regularly, but I love it each time I read a post. U write so well, just like you might be talking to someone! It's a gift, and I do hope the book is a huge success. Will buy the first one, like Nags said, and decide if I will buy the second or not. Please make sure you let us know the release date.

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  31. In a world where books like 'The Pocket Guide to being an Indian Girl' exist (I swear it does!!), your writing I'm sure will be a very, very refreshing read. Let us know when it's out in the stores.

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  32. Dear Please write all the good things of India in your comming books. People like you can make India more famous by exploring its greatness.

    We must proud of our country as it is really great.

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  33. i cant wait to read abt postmenstrual woes and obgyn escapades, did u have to write a proposal to the publishers? can i see how it looks like please?
    M

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  34. I prefer the sound of "You Should've Been There"...

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  35. waiting for it to be released - would love to read what you wrote :)

    good luck with all the edits!

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  36. "What's the good word?"
    hmhm.....I guess u dint missed out this article...in TOI's life this sunday...did u?

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  37. Hey Meenakshi,

    Great reading about the novel. when will it be out on shelves?

    best

    J

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  38. I loved your description of the process. You do write well, so am looking forward to the book. :)

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  39. great! i remember someone bursting into malayalam literary scene, first as a Under-21 and then as a dribbler of football and words. god bless you, child.

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  40. Greatness and congratulations! Look forward to the book. Have been reading your blog for a bit now. Good luck from another dedicated lurker.

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  41. Wish you all the best for your upcoming book

    Hema

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  42. Whoa! What can I say? First it was you then "the stuff white people like" guy who got a lucrative book deal, you go bloggers!

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  43. Since the mystery girl is out, more of her at http://www.flickr.com/photos/reverses/33352612/in/photostream/

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  44. hey.. how abt a book reading session for your blog readers... just kidding!!
    think abt it though!!

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  45. yay!! cant wait for this one to hit the bookstores!! well done eM.... cheers!! lets drink to this!! virtually!!

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  46. Hi..I've been reading your blog on and of for about 2 years now..never left a comment though.Really looking forward to reading your book though..and keep writing.Love reading your stuff.Can I request an email when you have the actual launch...

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  47. Publisher asking to write a book that he/she is ready to publish; writing half of the book in one sitting--I think the process is much easier than I had undergone. Maybe I did not have material rich enough to attract the publishers drooling. Even with a foreword from Mr Ruskin Bond, I did not get a publisher; I had to self-publish. You are very very lucky, Meenakshi. I envy you :) May God bless you.

    Nanda
    http://remixoforchid.blogspot.com
    http://ramblingnanda.blogspot.com

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  48. Saw (and also read) ur blog for the first time. Happened to see u in a joint in mumbai and looking at the excitement of my friend cudnt resist the urge to find a few facts about you.

    I sure am not disappointed. Whats with the book? Another waiter rant in making?

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  49. "A lot of the book reads like that, like it's a conversation people are having in the middle of the night, where your voice is husky from talking so much but you keep talking and talking and talking anyway, because you feel so intimate about the person you're with."
    I love this! :D makes so much sense.

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  50. Hai........Though i knew about u since long through a magazine, i happened to go through ur blog now. its interesting and exciting.eagerly waiting for the release of the hard copy.
    tk cre

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