Tag Archives: writing

My Big Secret – Part 1

This is big! Most of my feelings, thoughts and life experiences end up in my blog. However, this big secret I have kept from you for over a year now. It all started quite innocuously while I was still in Washington. I had landed this long-term subbing position at an elementary school while we were contemplating moving to India in the summer. One morning I walked into the classroom to find all the 4th graders (usually a groggy and unfocused lot) chatting excitedly and poring over some picture books. I turned to the teacher with a quizzical expression on my face and she smiled and said, ” It’s author day today. A local author will be coming in to talk to the children about what it is like to be a writer.”

I didn’t quite know what to expect, but was happy for the kids who were going to get a break from their regular school day routine. The whole school assembled in the cafeteria/auditorium and a man in his late thirties or early forties took the stage. His name was Paul Lewis and he wrote children’s books. Paul never thought he would be an author. He loved to draw and paint when he was in school but his career didn’t start out as an illustrator or writer. Paul used to be a substitute teacher in Washington and one day he went to a school and guess what? It was author day! By this time I was sitting up straight and really paying attention.

To cut a long story short, Paul connected with the author who encouraged him to use pictures to tell a story and then come up with the words. This was easy for Paul because pictures came easily to him. Pretty soon he had a picture book and published it.

We had to break for lunch and I stood around wondering if I should go talk to him. You see, I had been walking around with a book inside me for several years now. A book about Dadima and this was the ultimate wake up call. Big nudge from the universe. Call it what you want. But it couldn’t be a coincidence. It was as if Paul was talking to me. I was a substitute attending author day at a school, like he did several years ago. Talk to him, my inner voice was saying. But my nerves got the better of me and I quietly walked to the lunch room and proceeded to eat my lunch.

A few seconds later the door opened and Paul walked in. He pulled up a chair at the table where I was sitting. The universe was really shoving it in my face today! I started talking to him and told him about my book and he was quite chatty and helpful. I really don’t remember much of what he said but I do remember him saying not to become a writer just to get famous or rich and to just do it for the sake of the craft.

My subbing gig ended in a few weeks and I was busy posting stuff to sell on Craig’s List. I spent most of my time on the computer replying to e-mails from potential buyers. But I still had a lot of time on my hands. That was when I started writing my book (April 2015). I figured if I could write a chapter of 1000 words and wrote 10 chapters in all, I’d have a 10,000 word manuscript ready in say a year or so.

I started in earnest and finished nearly four chapters before we relocated to India. Another four chapters were done over the course of the year and early 2016. Then I got busy with my job and never really got around to finishing the last two chapters. My dear friend S kept egging me on to finish it and I typed up the last three chapters (I added another chapter) by the end of July.

I wasn’t sure what to do with the book now that it was written. Do I publish it? How do I go about it? No clue. Two days after I wrote the book a friend suddenly mentioned my grandma out of the blue and told me she loved reading stories about her. I told her she was in for a surprise as I had just finished writing a book on my grandma! She wanted to pre-order  the book. Another sign, this time telling me to get the book published.

Later that week I attended a book launch at the Odyssey book shop and then another the subsequent week. And then a contact on Facebook launched her book of short stories in Malayalam. Really got me thinking about publishing my book. So that’s my big secret – that I wrote a book and might publish it. I have no clue how I could have been tight-lipped about it for so long. Would you read it? Would you like an e-book or paperback? Do share your ideas. Without you and this blog I never would have in a thousand years attempted to write a book. So thank you dear readers and watch this space for more about my journey through the publishing world.

There is another big secret I have to reveal and it is totally unrelated to this one so I’ll save it for the next blog post – My Big Secret – Part 2.

Step by Step Approach to Incorporate Gratitude in Your Life Every Day

You all know what I have been through for the past several months and I will spare you a retelling of the dismal details. In the midst of the dark days of my soul, a dear friend L called me. She was doing this exercise in gratitude every day where she would write and give thanks for something that she wanted but was yet to manifest in her life. It was something she had picked up from the book, “The Secret” by Rhonda Byrne. And most importantly something that I had told her to do a long time ago.

I laughed at the irony of it all. When the time came for me to use gratitude, I had forgotten and had to be reminded. So much for practicing what you preach. Anyways, I was very thankful for that conversation with L and I rang off after promising to write in my gratitude journal. I religiously wrote – I am thankful for a new and wonderful job, for over a month. The universe responded and I landed a job. You probably think it’s too simple or too random. But that is not the case.

My friend L told me that two of her friends who were struggling with some issues had them resolved after practicing gratitude. Gratitude multiplies the gifts of life. Never underestimate the power of gratitude. It is a high vibrational energy that evokes many blessings. So here are some steps to get you started:

Start Small

No matter how bad things are start being grateful for the smallest things. For just being alive or having food on your table, or having a family or a job. If someone does something kind for you say thank you and mean it. If something good happens, however small, say a big thank you to the universe. Stuck in traffic? Be thankful you have a car.

2. Gratitude for Blessings Yet to Come

Sometimes you badly want something but for some reason it doesn’t happen or it seems like you are pushing it away subconsciously. This is when giving thanks for the very thing you want as if it has already arrived, helps. Do it for a month without fail and notice opportunities that show up.

3. Be Clear and Make a List

Writing things down brings it from the subconscious to the conscious and from the unmanifest to the manifest. I know people who have written love lists and manifested partners of their choice. I had written exactly what kind of job I wanted and I even spoke to some people about it. Many believed it was impossible, given the economic downturn, recession, crazy work hours and what not. But I didn’t buy into it. I kept believing that the perfect job would show up and it did. It is all I asked for and more. Little miracles start happening when you fill your heart with gratitude. You have more to be grateful for because the universe does love a grateful heart.

4. Think Big and Impossible Dreams

What you have read in my blog is just a glimpse of what I have been through. Some of it I don’t wish to share. But all you need to know is that it has been no joy ride. And after that if I can tell you that you too can achieve your wildest and IMPOSSIBLE dream, then believe me. Because I’ve been there and I’ve done that and I know for a fact that nothing is impossible for the universe. Don’t put a limit on something with unlimited potential. Now for that beach house with a Zen room decorated in white and purple with windows opening to the ocean – aah!

5. Be Patient

It is all about timing. Divine timing to be precise. Don’t be discouraged and don’t quit. Sometimes the blessing comes in the 11th hour, when you are hanging on to your dear life. For me the last 7 months have been a lesson in patience. Keep the faith and keep that gratitude journal going and I promise you the heavens will open up and shower you with blessings.

Hunger for Approval

I caught myself the other day counting the number of likes on my Facebook page and it looked like I just needed five more likes to hit 100. It was a big thing and I wanted to make a big deal out of it. So I went about looking for images of the like button with the number 100 next to it. I didn’t find any, so I simply posted a message on my page about reaching 100 likes. I imagined that I would get a tsunami of likes and comments and praise.

Next day when I opened my Facebook page I was in for a big disappointment. Only nine people had viewed my post and there were ZERO likes and ZERO comments. My heart sank to the bottom of my soles. Then some better judgement set in and I decided to be happy that 100 people had liked my page – whether or not the 100 people knew that did not matter. It hit me like a ton of bricks that the very thing I despised about Facebook was the thing I too was hankering after. Approval in the form of likes, comments, shares etc. Later that day when R sent me the link to my blog published in the Indian Express I resisted the urge to blow my own trumpet on Facebook. I quietly sent it to my close friends and family via e-mail.

Even before the advent of Facebook, people constantly sought approval from loved ones, colleagues, mentors and friends. If a new haircut did not evoke the right response one would feel dejected. Big project at work completed but boss says nothing. No bonus. No graduation party. No promotion. What? It is as if our whole life revolves around getting, gifts, rewards and accolades for performing duties or jobs. So much so that we rarely enjoy doing anything that has no obvious reward.

As the world gets more connected and souls get more detached, we still cling on to the need for approval. Enter Facebook – where you can post every little triumph and every selfie you click and bask in the admiration of all your contacts. To some extent I justified my need to post on Facebook. As a writer I have to share my writing with my audience or stay a closet writer. Earlier, writers had to wait weeks or months for mail from readers and even to get their articles in print. But these days publishing is done by the click of a mouse and feedback is almost instantaneous. We want more of it and seek it out unashamedly.

I tend to judge my piece based on the response I get, which is quite silly and isn’t the purpose of my blog. What I write may not resonate with all 100 (oops! did I just let that slip again?) readers, but it has its purpose. I recall my early days as a blogger, so unsure of myself, so needy and bashful. I relied solely on feedback from my readers. I lapped up all the praise I could get and that fed my confidence as a writer. I was incredibly grateful for the gift  and I knew every one of my readers personally. All that has changed now. I don’t know half my readers and yet my insatiable hunger for approval remains unabated. More more is the mantra. Never enough! enough! My cup is full.

It is not easy to rid oneself of this disease. As babies we are constantly seeking attention and as kids we are taught that good behavior is approved by authority figures and bad behavior is punished. We get conditioned to expect rewards or at least approval for all the things we do right. Looking outside for approval diminishes the quality of our work because in essence we are trying to please someone else. The joy got from that is fleeting but when we create for our own pleasure it is much more satisfying.

I am not there yet, for the pull of the world and its playthings are strong. But I see the madness and I see the pointlessness. I straddle two worlds, unable to shut the door on one or the other. But someday I will. Someday.

Signs I Can’t Ignore Anymore…

As my long-term subbing assignment was nearing its end, I was plagued with questions about what I would do with my time. My future lay ahead of me, glimmering with innumerable possibilities, enough to confuse and confound me.

One day I walked into the classroom and was told that it was author day at the school. A famous children’s author was going to give a talk for most of the morning. I did not think much of it. Even thought that I should have simply taken the day off, for there wasn’t much work to do, except sit in the old gym and listen to a man talk about his books. Anyway, I was already there, so I simply followed the class to the gym and settled down to listen to whatever he had to say.

The author, Paul Owen Lewis lives in Washington and is a very gifted orator. A few minutes into his talk, he had all of us spellbound and hanging on to every word he uttered. He didn’t always know he wanted to be a writer. He practically stumbled upon a writing career when he was a substitute teacher in a local school. They had an author day at that school – you can imagine what was going through my head – this is no coincidence! He thought it was pretty cool to write books. Paul loved to draw and was pretty darned good at it. The author spoke about different ways to write stories. All stories did not have to start with words he said and this struck a chord with Paul. He loved telling stories through his illustrations. The rest is history. He now stood before us as a famous published author of children’s picture books.

He also compared the process of writing to putting the pieces of a puzzle together. You may only have a few pieces to start with but you can always find connections and link the pieces together. The idea appealed to me. Thinking that I needed a logical story line that flowed from one scene to another from beginning to end kept me going around in circles. In the planning stages nobody has the complete story or knows how to put it together. I only had a bunch of disorganized ideas. I had to put them down on paper and try and connect the pieces and add details to my story.

The morning session ended and I saw some teachers and students go up to the author, talk to him and pepper him with questions. Something within me was urging me to go talk to him but I quietly followed the kids back to class. A few minutes later I was back in the teachers lounge taking my lunch break. I was almost done when the author walked in. He smiled and asked if he could sit at my table. I nodded. I told him how much I enjoyed his talk and also added that the kids loved it. I blurted out everything about my dream to be a published author. He listened quietly and good-naturedly answered my questions while trying to chew his meal.

I knew wannabe authors like myself probably run up to him all the time asking for favors, tips and publishers’ contact details. Maybe that was the reason I did not approach him in the old gym. But when he sat by me at the table, I could not hold myself back anymore.

I knew this was a colossal nudge from the Universe. The term ‘in your face’ comes to my mind. I have seen signs before, subtle, faint, quiet whispers or visions that were sometimes hard to decode. But this time around the Universe gave me direct and perfectly clear orders. It didn’t get more direct than this. Or so I thought until later in the week another sign showed up. I was talking to a new friend I had made, who had just started reading my blog. She really liked the way I wrote and just like that out-of-the-blue suggested that I should write a book. She even mentioned an Indian author who grew famous through her blog and then ended up writing so many best-selling novels. I had heard of this author and even read her blog. I had even harbored this silly idea that if she could do it so could I.

Anyways, that’s what it always remains – a silly idea. I might get all fired up to write a scene here or a scene there or research a few publishers. Or follow an author’s blog as he tracks his word count and daily writing process. But soon enough the fire dies out and my enthusiasm flags. I just felt like I did not have the juice to see this thing to the finish.

The very next day, the Universe deciding that it was not done with me, but definitely done with my excuses, set-up this chat session with my cousin S. She is an aspiring writer between jobs, mulling about her future. Coincidence you say? I think not!

She said to me – I spoke to my cousin yesterday and he told me to write a book. I gasped at the impossibility of what I was reading. Those of you who were with me from the beginning know that I wrote my first ever blog entry after talking to my cousin. He asked me to write and some force outside of me took possession of me and before I knew it I had written and published a note on Facebook. In two months I had my own blog and three years later I still have so much to say – something I had never imagined possible!

Three years later the Universe wanted to remind me of that leap of faith, to get out of my own way and just do it. Just write and see where it takes you. Don’t worry about selling the book even before you type it up.

Paul Owen Lewis said to me – if you are looking to make money or become famous, don’t do it! For me it is more than that. It is about reaching out and touching someone else. It is about sharing life’s ups and downs and knowing you are not alone. So I’m going to do it and I know I am not alone because my cousin and every one of you reading this will be cheering me on much like you did ever since I started my blog. And for you – yes you! I am very grateful.

 

 

 

Manifesting Dilemmas : Be Clear or Stay Open to Possibilities?

I have spent a few years using the law of attraction and know for sure that it works. But I have not been able to break it down to a science because it works in mysterious ways that defy definition. The first step in manifesting anything is to ask. Get really clear about what you want before you ask. Describe or visualize vivid details about the outcome. Be specific.

Another school of thought believes that we should not limit the limitless universe by giving it specific directions. Be open to receiving what you ask for or something better. So which one works you ask?

For me manifesting has been a feel your way as you go kind of experience. Some things have been easy to manifest while others felt like I was up against a wall all the time. Sometimes being specific keeps you stuck on one thing and blind to other possibilities or even to other means to reach your goal.

If you are very sure about what you want and have already done the groundwork for it, then being specific helps. If you are not really sure about what path to take and have too many factors that influence what you are trying to manifest then being open helps. It is a form of surrender. Here God or Universe, you take charge because I have tried and failed many times over and ultimately you know what is best for me.

I wanted to make a career out of writing, but it is not something you jump into and become instantly successful. Writing is one of those professions that takes time – time to get noticed, time to build an audience, time to perfect your skills. So I never really made any money out of my writing. I started my own blog and posted guest blogs. But part of me wanted to have a real job – a job that pays. So I kept applying for writing jobs with no success. I was ‘stuck’ with my one specific option for making money.

At some point frustration took over and I stopped applying for writing jobs. Still later desperation kicked in and I started applying for all kinds of jobs. I became an open vessel to whatever the Universe was going to give me. And ‘whatever’ happened to be a job at the school. It kept me busy and I still had time to write. On a whim, I started to write for content mills – don’t judge me, I had to start somewhere! I had to let my ego die again to gain experience even though the pay is something most writers would frown upon. After a few months the pay is better and who knows it may become a reliable source of income for me.

So my point is this – be specific but be prepared to explore new means to your goals, even ones you may not consider. When I wanted to be paid for my writing I wanted it to show up as a 9 to 5 job, like the one I had years ago as an editor. But the Universe knew that as a mom something more flexible would suit me better. Something that could be done from the comfort of my home, with my kids doing homework in the background. Maybe 10 years ago a 9 to 5 job would have suited me fine. But now my circumstances have changed and so have my priorities. Kids, home and family take priority. Cooking a fresh meal takes precedence over deadlines. So the Universe gave me a job at the school so I could come back home with the kids. Our vacations overlap and I don’t need to put them in summer or winter camps.

In the end, I guess the Universe knows best. Accept what shows up or that which is obvious, instead of being stuck and it will take you places you never knew you could go. Success isn’t a destination. It is a constantly evolving path with milestones littered along the way. Wishing all of you reading this, success is manifesting your most cherished dreams. Thank you for your continued support in 2014. Good luck and a very happy new year!