Friday, February 17, 2017

Can writers survive on income from their books?

As writers we all are so focused on our novels, that we seldom think of anything else. Ours characters, plot points, story arcs and chapter endings absorb our mind to such a large extent that we have no mind space for anything else. And once we are done with the actual writing, then our critique partners and beta readers come into the picture. After that we bury ourselves in the revisions process. And once the book is ready to travel out into the world onto its steady legs, we get immersed in the submission process. Instead of the current heart throb of the nation, we see dreams of agents and six figure deals, and if we are lucky enough maybe we even attend the premier of our book made into the movie, in our dreams. Writing our books takes a long time. Sometimes we work for more than a year or so on one single book.

What I am trying to say is that if we were to survive solely on the royalty from our books, we all would be on a perpetual diet, as our book/s income is nothing much to write home about. So, we all have a part-time job or a full-time one (where we write in our free time) that pays our bills. Most of the writers I know do a lot of odd writing jobs to supplement their incomes.

I was teaching creative writing part-time in college and I also write features for newspapers and do book reviews for two newspapers as well as create course material for Oxford University Press.

I am aware that almost all my blog buddies write books, but what I want to know is have you ever written for different mediums like the television, movie scripts, websites, school textbooks, newspapers, magazines, websites, video games, teaching in schools and colleges etc?

What do you all do other than writing books? Do you have a job and write in your free time?

Friday, February 10, 2017

My New Obsession – A T.V Show Called Zindagi Ki Mehak

I have said time and again that I hardly see T.V (I would rather read a book), as most of the shows being aired have never struck my fancy, neither do I have the time nor the energy to invest in a daily soap, where the villains and vamps rule the small screen, making things difficult for the lead pair.

But all this changed last year when I saw the promo of a new show called Zindagi Ki Mehak, when I was chatting with my mother while she was watching her favourite show. Something about the promos attracted me, and I decided that I would watch this show when it started. So on Monday 19th September, I sat down in front of the T.V. at 8 p.m. and started watching my first ever show.

The serial started off very well, it was about following your dreams and women empowerment. The heroine/female lead is a doll who has wriggled her way into every viewer’s heart and when the male lead made his entry, the entire female population of the country sighed collectively and went into a mass swoon. The story was fresh, there were no villains and vamps, and the lead pair has a sizzling chemistry that burns up the small screen.

The reason I’m discussing this show is because as a writer I’m constantly wondering that if this was my book or story, how would I tackle this plot point (which in television language means a track) and I also had no idea that when the makers mention an upcoming twist in the daily soap it means that a new track will start. My television knowledge has come via Amrita, a girl who would reply to all my tweets whenever I tweeted about this show.

It’s the story of this simple, middle class girl Mehak Sharma who loves to cook. She is forced by her aunt to join India’s Super Cook where she meets the celebrity judge Shaurya Khanna, a leading hotelier of Delhi and also one of its most eligible bachelors. Both of them are not aware that they chat frequently as FB friends, cause they haven’t revealed their real identity online. In due course they fall in love and their wedding ceremonies start.

When Shaurya ran away from his wedding, leaving his bride at the mandap, I joined the other fans in creating an uproar online. Plenty of Shaurya bashing started. My main concern was that this was sending out a wrong message, that a guy can fake love to a girl and then ditch her at the altar once his selfish motive (in this case a recipe book) is fulfilled, without feeling guilty.

Everyone who watches this show discusses it passionately online, and has an opinion on how the story should move forward, including me. Sometimes I wonder are we as viewers getting too opinionated and interfering with the story and spoiling things for the writers. Isn’t it a writer’s prerogative of how a story should move forward? The other day I had a strong pang of anxiety when I realized that as a writer would I like to be told how to write my story. Definitely not. I would welcome feedback but certainly not interference. I do feel that the male lead’s character is being butchered and it's going to be an uphill task to redeem his image in the viewers’ eyes. I hope the writers have a reason for it and the solution.

Okay, there are certain stereotypes of the suffering girl and the humiliation piled on her, the insults on her middle-class stature, body shaming her, jilting her at the altar, that makes me want to give the male lead and the writers a good shake, but at the same time the female lead is gusty and is always quick to get back on her feet after every fall and more often than not gives back as good as she gets.

I was just telling a friend that I feel I should just enjoy this serial, without screaming instructions over the creative teams’ shoulder or try to tell the writer (via telepathy) how to take the story forward. Have you had this problem? Do you keep thinking that if this was your story in which direction would you take it? Do you find it difficult to switch off your writer’s mind when you watch TV shows?

Picture Courtesy. I have taken the photograph from one of the fan pages.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

IWSG Post – How has being a writer changed your reading experience

You guessed right, it’s the first Wednesday of the month, time for our monthly IWSG (Insecure Writers Support Group) post. Check out the IWSG Website for wonderful tips.

This amazing online group was started by Ninja Captain Alex J Cavanaugh (author of the Amazon Bestsellers: CassaStar, CassaStorm, CassaFire and Dragon of the Stars), because he believes that writers should have a place where they can talk about their writing insecurities, anxieties, worries, clear their doubts and learn from other writers. To let the writers let off a whole lot of writing steam, he chose the first Wednesday of every month. Trust me when I say this, we all feel a couple of kilos lighting after the ISWG post as so much of our frustration and anxiety is eliminated.

And to make things easier for us, this adorable angel, announced that every IWSG post will have a question which members can either answer in their post or can even make it the topic of their post. Blessed are we writers to have such an angel in our writing lives.

The February 1 question is: How has being a writer changed your experience as a reader?

If I have to answer this question honestly, I would say that being a writer has ruined my reading experience (this has also a lot to do with the book reviews I do for 2 newspapers). And the more I’m writing the more fussy I’m getting as a reader. Earlier I would read and just enjoy the story. Nowadays, I analyze it so much mentally, trying to see how I would have tackled it if it had been my story. Infact every aspect of the book is scrutinized by me: the plot points, character arcs, the sentence structure, how each chapter ends, how the scenes are described etc.

I feel I’m using my reading as a writing exercise: how to write better. I’m constantly trying to learn from other writers: what to do and what not to do in a story. Sometimes, I feel I’m unable to read for the sheer joy of reading books. Nowadays I’m just not able to get completely involved into a story. I just hope this is a temporary phase and I get back to my earlier voracious reading without overthinking.

I’m looking forward to reading all your posts to see how being a writer has changed your experience as a reader.