What can I write about my big fat experience on getting published? Firstly, it is so much more fun to narrate it as opposed to actually living it. Working on your first book can be an incredibly terrifying and challenging experience, especially when stringing together every single sentence that goes into its making can be an arduous ordeal that begins to feel like you are attempting to scale Mt. Everest armed with nothing more than words (which have the alarming tendency to pull out of your reach just when you need them) and wit (which you assure yourself is something you actually possess not something you imagine you do). The torment is exacerbated when it entails fighting debilitating insecurity, crippling uncertainly and chronic fear every step of the way. Occasionally there is the sanguine belief that a chapter you have just completed is pure genius but the feeling vanishes after the first reread. I could go on of course, but recollecting past traumas can oftentimes recreate the trauma resulting in an uncontrollable urge to reach for anything that is sweet, deep fried or both and that is hardly conducive for good health or an enviable body.
Of course, the terrors and tribulations of the writing process pale in comparison with the horror show that is getting published. In a nutshell, it feels like swaddling your new-born whom you love to pieces in cover letters and sending it to reputed publishing houses to be mercilessly scrutinized, desultorily examined, callously ignored, and ruthlessly rejected. Rinse and repeat. Having been put through the wringer once too often, with your self – esteem in tatters, you catch yourself contemplating the merits of flushing yourself down the toilet and putting an end to the unceasing misery.
At the precise moment when dejection has climbed to dangerous levels, there is an email in the inbox from a self-proclaimed self – publishing giant offering you the chance of a lifetime! Which of course is to pay for the privilege of getting published. The stink of fraud is a formidable thing and you fight the urge to sell your kidney on the black market to raise the money demanded, having deluded yourself into believing that you could be the next self – published phenomenon right behind E. L James. Fortunately good sense kicks in and you decide to send temptation into the spam folder and sign up for kickboxing classes instead. After all, something drastic needs to be done to preserve the remnants of your sanity. Besides shrinks charge a bomb and you can’t shake the feeling that Freud, Adler and Jung would have retired in despair after being attacked by the bats in your belfry.
Then one fine day, when you are considering a change in career ruminating on whether waitressing in Manhattan or joining the bomb squad would be a better fit, the Holy Grail is suddenly within your grasp. An acceptance email has arrived from a legit publishing housing and you are over the moon with unspeakable, almost vulgar joy. Your belief in God and Satan, Astrology, Palmistry, Tarot Cards, Green Parrot Fortune Telling, Voodoo, Black/White Magic, and Shamanism is fully restored and you feel on top of the world. Nothing can stop you now! FAME, FORTUNE and glorious SUCCESS are going to be your lot in life. You can feel it in your bones! And to paraphrase Harry from Harry met Sally – when you realise you want to spend the rest of your lives with these three sultry sirens, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible.
So you wait for the magical change in your hitherto humdrum existence. Then you wait some more. And wait and wait. Finally, the editing begins and studies had they been conducted on this particular field would reveal that this is akin to having a root canal and your haemorrhoids removed at the same time. Going over the manuscript with a fine – tooth comb and discovering to your chagrin that no, the friendly editor certainly does not think your baby is perfect, can be somewhat disconcerting to say the least. Then there is the proofing to be done and you go back and forth till you are convinced you are caught in a dastardly time loop that is going to play out over and over again till the end of time. Finally, the publishers slap on a beautiful cover which may or not be exactly as you envisioned, since though you were told your inputs are invaluable it turned out it mostly wasn’t and the book is off to print.
When the book/baby is finally in your arms, the delivery pains fade into the dim reaches of memory and all that remains is pure exhilaration. Your happiness is complete and you are already toying with the idea of doing it all over again even though the three sultry sirens are still being coy and playing hard to get. But you are determined to seduce them and become a household name with their help even if it kills you. That ought to be a sobering thought but it isn’t, simply because you believe or need to believe with all your heart that ultimately it is going to be worth it.
Anuja Chandramouli is a bestselling Indian author and New Age Indian Classicist. Her highly acclaimed debut novel, Arjuna: Saga of a Pandava Warrior-Prince, was named by Amazon India as one of the top 5 books in the Indian Writing category for the year 2013. Kamadeva: The God of Desire, Shakti: The Divine Feminine, and Yama’s Lieutenant and its sequel are her other bestsellers. Her articles, short stories and book reviews appear in various publications like The New Indian Express and The Hindu. Her latest books are Kartikeya: The Destroyer’s Son, Prithviraj Chauhan: The Emperor of Hearts and Padmavati: The Burning Queen.
An accomplished orator, she regularly conducts Story Telling sessions and workshops on Creative Writing, Empowerment and Mythology in schools, colleges and various other platforms.
This happily married, mother of two little girls, lives in Sivakasi, Tamil Nadu. She is a student of classical dance. Currently, she is hard at work on her new book with her two trusty aides – caffeine and yoga.