The perils of writing a book – Indu Balachandran

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By Indu Balachandran

After you write a book, you get asked some very difficult questions. So if you’re planning to write one (who isn’t?) be well prepared with some smart snappy answers…♥

“How do you feel after writing your book?” was one question I was all set for. “I feel like Leanna Shuttleworth!” was my well-prepared and unique answer. (Leanna who? Ok, you may be excused for not knowing that Leanna Shuttleworth isn’t another author, but the youngest British woman to have climbed Mt Everest). True, 3145 people climbed Mt Everest before her, but that didn’t stop Leanna from feeling heroic (like I did) after completing what seemed like a real mountain of work…

However no one ever asks me this important question. Instead, some people ask me this strange one: “How long did it take to write your book?” “Oh, about 4 kms…” I say, with a thoughtful expression. (I swear that’s how long my handwritten notes and manuscript would stretch to, if I laid out each page end to end.)

“Is this book autobiographical?” many nosy people ask, just because authors often write in the first person. Yes! I proudly like to say, hoping it adds to credibility, empathy, and the authentic ‘voice’ we seek for our novels. Great. But what if your mother ends up reading this interview? What about that totally hot scene you described between the protagonist and her boss from Pages 62 to 63? Hold on! I need to ask E.L.James how she tackled this question, after she put out that shady novel –and I shall get back to you…

“What’s your next book?” is a scary question, when the reading habit is dying everywhere, and you are thinking, the only way to make any money from writing is by writing ransom notes. So I’ve decided that my next book is going to sell like hell, just on the strength of its clever title: “How I conquered the British Vampire”. I have no clue what it’s about yet, but am sure millions of crazed teen girls will rush to buy it, as vampire fiction is always a rage.

Ok, ok… you must excuse us writers the occasional trick to get you to read more, because there’s an entire publishing industry that’s dependent on us to keep them off the streets, begging for food and sleeping on, what else? Newspapers. Using unsold books as pillows.

In my childhood, the reading habit was inculcated early, and we all contributed to Enid Blyton’s retirement fund by faithfully buying every single chronicle of the Famous Five. But I’m not quite sure about younger generations … I mean look what happened to a pal of mine who gave her nephew a book for Christmas. The lad spent hours trying to find out where to fit in the batteries.

Wait! I think I’ve wandered off the main topic … as many authors do round about page 75 – so let’s get back to the subject of being an author, not a reader.

Well, here’s something that Prime Minister Benjamin Disreali once said about what turned him into an author. “Whenever I want to read a good novel, I write one”.

I wonder if all Benjamins are so delightfully arrogant — as this trait also appeared in another Benjamin – Franklin. Not content with flying kites in the storm and discovering electricity, Franklin published books too. But many a would-have-been author got responses from him like this one: “Many thanks for your book. I shall waste no time reading it.”

Well the two Benjamins have passed on, so if you’re still brave enough to write your book, and even face questions, go right ahead and follow in the footsteps of any great writer you admire.

Or following Leanna Shuttleworth’s footsteps up that famous mountain may just be the easier thing to do.

Indu Balachandran grew up in Bangalore, India on an unhealthy diet of Mad Magazines. A degree in Economics led to a bank interview, but insanity prevailed, and she ran away to the world of Mad Men. A 30-year career in advertising at JWT followed. Her best-selling first book, Don’t Go Away, We’ll Be Right Back: The Oops and Downs of Advertising, featured in prominent best-selling lists. Indu then quit advertising to follow her pet passion, travel writing, and has reviewed eco-friendly destinations all over India, and popular UK destinations for Visit Britain. The Writers’ Retreat is her second book (originally titled Runaway Writers in its Indian version).


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    Jayraj Rau

    August 11, 2017 at 12:21 pm

    Superb one InduBee!
    Don’t stop.

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    August 11, 2017 at 2:40 pm

    Wow Indu….continue to do what you like best.

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    Stanley Carvalho

    August 12, 2017 at 3:49 am

    Wooo Hooo Witty Woman, she how high she flies!

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      August 12, 2017 at 10:39 pm

      Stanley n June! Hope we meet up in London 🙂

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    Sandhya Ravi

    August 12, 2017 at 10:10 am

    Indubee – one other peril is you will drive the doctors out of business 😊 Inducing laughter – the best medicine

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      August 12, 2017 at 10:36 pm

      Sandy, no better bedside comic than you :-! Indu

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