19 March 2008
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.
7 March 2008
Oh for fuck's sake. It was a little ol' interview, which the interviewer assured me would be "harmless" and as far as the transalated version I heard about, it WAS pretty damn harmless. But, for the final time, I'm not from Kerela, my dad is. I'm not from Andhra Pradesh, my mom is. I'm from Delhi, yeah? That's the only city that can lay claim to who I am and what I do. So, I'm sorry that my anscestors and yours came from the same place, I don't!
Phew. Now that we've got THAT out of the way, what's up? I've been easing up (very slightly) on the socialising, so I have no hectic party stories for you. One amusing encounter with some Russians who were in town doing a documentary on Bollywood, and I went on about how I ALWAYS wanted to visit Moscow and he (the only English speaker in the group) said that any time I was there I could look him up and so on. I love meeting people from other countries and extracting invitations like that from them. And poor things, they have no choice, do they? It's been a pretty international couple of weeks too and now I have similar options almost all over Europe and some parts of North America. Now to find me someone from Japan.
The fourth date has been followed by a fifth and sixth and I suppose I should blog about him at some point but you guys know that as SOON as I blog about someone, BAM, three posts down, they're history. Let us get past the dreaded one month mark and I'll tell you all.
I've been thinking a lot about getting a hobby. Seriously, I have nothing to do. Work and party, work and party, man, there's got to be more. See, writing used to be my hobby, but I don't think you can call something your hobby if you're making money out of it. I'm thinking something that involves a level of physical skill like pottery or bartending or baking or something. Except all these things cost quite a bit of money and I may suck at them. I could dredge out my old sketch pad and charcoal pencils (bet you didn't know I used to do that, eh?) but meh, I was only average at those things. Besides, I don't think I need yet another solitary activity. Maybe I'll join the gym. Get rid of some of that vodka weight and actually do something, but see, the IDEA of gymming is always so much more appealing than the exercise. Pilates? Something? Anyone know of a relatively low cost but fun hobby I could do? Otherwise, I'll have to resort to singing again and the world does not want that.
And (since this is such a random post) my favourite songs to sing at karaoke night (Monday's at Soul Fry! Fun!) are Like A Prayer, I Will Survive and Bohemian Rhapsody. I'm such a chick. So if you see someone with out of control hair (damn you humidity!) warbling into a mic and grasping at a drink with her other hand, it's probably me.
A more structured post next time, I promise. I have two all planned out. Don't go anywhere.
1 March 2008
I had fun.
I think I’m going to stick to writing about whatever I feel like writing about, despite the many comments indicating I should do otherwise. So, I went to the Rolling Stone magazine launch at Hard Rock the other night. It was a very spur of the moment thing for us (me and two friends), I just looked up and asked one of them whether she’d be open to crashing a party. We were at Zenzi and it had been looking like just another night at Zenzi, not many people we knew, you know, not much cash, she had just recovered from the flu so she wasn’t drinking at all, and we felt like we wanted a change.
She nodded eagerly, we got into my car and got to Hard Rock where it was packed. Even outside. I had warned the ladies that there might not be a chance of us getting in but we decided to try our luck anyway. I got up to the people checking the guest list and said, “Hi, I’m eM? Press?” “Go right in,” she said, putting down her impressive looking walky-talky to write down my name, “Are these guys with you?” So all three of us breezed in and I have never seen Hard Rock so crowded. And really hot. I began to wish I was wearing shorts and a tank top.
But the line-up of bands was really good, I think everyone they featured in the first issue was playing. (The Indian guys, I mean). And I ran into lots of people I knew, so it was good times.
Post the Hard Rock, where I was beginning to wish I hadn’t got my car so I could drink freely, I went to get Kalyan from the airport. We dropped off my friend and then went to the Taj Landsend for pizza. It was that kind of evening, full of unplanned things, which is my favourite kind.
And then I woke up the next morning and realized I had lost a day. See, normally, I don’t go out on Sundays, but last Sunday I had been speaking at Kitab and then wound up bumming around town and then had a really, really random evening at Toto’s. So, I stayed home Monday, which completely fucked up my clock. Has that ever happened to you? Yesterday I wake up going lalalalaa, Wednesday, and then it turned out to be Thursday. It was most disorienting.
Gah. I really must stop going out so much. I think I should just stay home with my cat and a book.
I’ve been happy though, this last week, happy and contented, so I just thought I’d share, hold it down for a moment, pin it to a piece of paper and label it, so I can file it away under ‘Happy Weeks.’ There haven’t been that many, but now I think I’m actually beginning to get the hang of it.