First, let me assure you all that I am alive and well, and thank you for your concern.
Sometimes, I do take breaks from writing – but this wasn’t one of the usual breaks. Nor was I going through one of my periodic cycles of clinical depression. No, I wasn’t arrested and renditioned to some charming prison where I was waterboarded and stress-positioned, et cetera, either.
So why haven’t I been online?
Simply put – I was going through a personal identity crisis revolving around my life as a writer and cartoonist. And the trigger was a rejection slip.
A couple of years ago, I’d finally finished writing a novel called Fidayeen. This was my third completed novel, and in my opinion (and of a select circle of friends who read and commented on it) it was good. Certainly it was the best novel I’d written, much more streamlined than my first (Rainbow’s End) and more serious than my second (The Call of the Khokkosh).
Now, I’m no longer a beginner at the game of trying to be published. I know that it’s almost impossible to be published – no matter how good you are – unless
1. You have an inside link to the publishing industry – one reason why almost all Indian authors these days are media professionals, and/or
2. You have a story which “sells”.
Of course I’m no media professional, but I thought Fidayeen – which features jihadist terrorism in Kashmir – would sell. So I did send it off to some Indian publishers (the mainstream ones). I got rejection slips from all, except one – and that rejected it after a few months.
Then someone let me know about an agent. I sent it to him and he said it wasn’t saleable without rewriting. He’d be glad to tell me how to rewrite it – for a “reading and analysis fee”, of course.
Screw that. I’m not going to fall for these transparent attempts to rip me off.
Anyway, I then sent it to a New Zealand e-publisher. She sat on it for nine months and then – after repeated emails from me – informed me that she was rejecting it. I’m pretty sure she never got around to reading it – nor did anybody else.
So, I reached a point where I began questioning if anybody really cared.
Some time ago, I was a member of a website called Multiply where I had a hell of a lot of readers, and I used to get a lot of feedback. Some of it was favourable, some not – but it was always interesting. Well, Multiply folded for reasons which had absolutely everything to do with the owners’ greed, and left us bloggers stranded high and dry – bereft of the online network of friends we’d spent often many years developing. Suddenly, I found I had almost nobody willing to read anything I wrote.
I’ll just mention something here – to me, believe it or not, writing doesn’t come easy. In fact, writing is pretty goddamn hard, In order to write something, I generally have to give up reading, rest, sleep and exercise to sit pecking away at a keyboard – and half the time I’m not even satisfied with what I spend hours or days writing. And, then, you know, I don’t exactly react with joy when I get almost no views or comments.
So, I asked myself a question I’ve asked before: Do I really want to do this?
And my mind answered: No.
So I stopped writing. Completely and absolutely. I didn’t write, I didn’t go online, I didn’t do a damned thing along those lines. Instead, I slept. I read. I worked out. I went on a vacation with my girlfriend and slept some more and had a fairly good time. And I came back and went back to work – and I still had no desire to start writing again.
Then I began to get depressed.
There’s a thing they say – that writing isn’t something you can stop. If you do it, you’ve got to do it, whether you like it or not, because it’s a monster which has you by the throat and will never let you go. I resisted it for a while, but I think at the back of my mind I knew I’d have to start again someday.
So...here I am.
I actually started writing several days ago, and I’ve got two stories half-written; but they are on my laptop, and last night my laptop’s LCD screen went kaput. It’s in for repair but will take at least two days (and possibly five) before I get it back. So, in the meantime, I’m filling you in.
Let me just say something – anybody who has ever read me – I appreciate it. Thank you.
I hope you’ll continue.
And, let me repeat, I’m back.
Let’s get on with it, shall we?