I have been on twitter since 2007, early enough to get my own mononym (yes that is a word) handle – @laxmi. As you can conclude then, I am somewhat of a tech-geek. The double whammy is that I also write fiction, where my protagonists are almost always teenagers. Naturally, I shun the company of ‘grownups’ – aka serious, well-dressed people who talk about cooking, arts, culture, politics – preferring to hang out with their kids so I can speak snapchat, being emo, and why growing up sucks. So, it came as somewhat of a shock to realize that I am old-fashioned in at least one area of my life. My writing. Or, more precisely, the act of writing.
It hit me a few weeks ago when I was at the London Book Fair. As an Indie writer who believes in the power of independent publishing, my first port of call was the Author HQ where all things Indie were being discussed. Or rather all things related to art of selling books as an Indie were being discussed. The talk passionately dwelt upon mastering the Amazon algorithm, keywords, discoverability, getting reviews, importance of your cover, of writing as many books as possible in as little a time, so you build a body of work, so you could sell more books.
Somehow it didn’t hold my attention. I agreed with everything being said, and acknowledged that all of it was important for selling a book. Yet, I wanted something more. So I walked across to another discussion, where authors were talking about their lives and their books. I heard from the electrifying Carmen Boullousa, a leading Mexican poet, novelist and playwright. She talked about her love for cooking, and how for a long time she denied herself that pleasure, for she associated cooking with female subservience. Coming from a traditional Indian family where my mum spent the better part of my teenage years in the kitchen, whipping up freshly cooked breakfasts, lunches and dinners for her family, I totally got it. And then she delivered this stunning one-liner:
“If I talk about my current project it just gets putrid.”
That was my most basic fear right there.
And yet, I often break my cardinal rule about talking about my current novel in progress, because I know I can use it as ‘content for social media to spark off a conversation’.
So why do I do it?
To sell more books of course.
But then, why did I get into writing in the first place? Was it to sell books or … or to understand myself and to unpick my relationship with the world? That was it, wasn’t it?
I write because I am insecure, because I am haunted by my childhood fears, because my life’s experiences still chase me. Because, I spend all my waking moments thinking about the ifs the buts and the whys of the future, even as a Ferris wheel of memories flashes through my subconscious mind in sleep.
And yet too often, instead of retreating into myself to write, I put myself out there to tell the world about my writing.
As I write my fourth and fifth books, I want to capture more and more that emotion of what I felt when I heard Carmen talk about her experiences. That feeling of being afforded a precious view into the lives of others; of this connect inside of me, when another hidden part of me reveals itself to my conscious mind.
I realized then that when it came to the process of writing, I am very traditional. I want to simply focus on getting better at the art and science of building my characters and revealing plotlines and by doing so understand my own motivations in living life the way I do better.
It’s very closely summarized by Rob Parnell in his book The Writer and the Hero’s Journey. Rob speaks about how all writers are heroes of their own stories, and how the act of writing a novel is actually a quest for a fuller appreciation of the purpose of life in general.
That is it for me.
I also know when I complete a novel, I do need to be out there to take the story and and the characters to the readers. Certainly with Ruby Iyer, I feel a responsibility towards her… that I owe it to her to put her in front of as many of readers as I can reach so they can understand her and what she stands for. It helps to take myself out of it though, for I am better at marketing someone else than myself.
For more about the importance of being an Author Entrepreneur read my blogpost here.
Laxmi Hariharan is the author of The Many Lives of Ruby Iyer which debuted #1 Amazon Asian Lit, and the bestselling Ruby Iyer Diaries. She has been a journalist with the Independent, a global marketer with MTV and NBCU and blogs for the Huffington Post. London is where she creates. Bombay is what fires her imagination. Find her Instagram | FB | Blog | @laxmi
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