…that’s my goal for 2009. Losing mummy tummy, shedding that extra flab with regular exercise, spending quality time with family are resolutions which are passe now for me. Anyway, who cared about calories burnt after the first fortnight of the New Year…breaking resolutions was as much in vogue as having a wish list ready before the year began.
When careers change and one transitions from a full-time corporate job to freelancing, priorities re-align as do goals. For the first time in all these years, last year I targeted a few things (if only as a mental note) I wished to achieve before the year ended. My goals for 2008 were:
1. Get published in a magazine
2. Learn how to drive a car
3. Self-sponsor a trip to Bahrain
At the end of the year, I could cross off items 1 and 2. With 4 pieces published in a travel magazine, 3 in a national daily, 70 research articles for a industrial info website, and a few more copy-writing work, it was a good start to my first year of freelance writing. The sponsor part of item 3 was met though the trip didn’t materialize for whatever reasons.
Here I am, in 2009, writing down where I would like to see myself at the end of the year. One lesson learnt from past experience is that it doesn’t help to have a generalized goal. Having a target defined quantitatively and qualitatively makes assessment all the more easy.
December has clearly been the month for “Education”. A 2200-word piece on “Earning and Learning” describing part-time work options for students pursuing higher studies in US, UK, Canada, Australia, Germany, Ireland, and New Zealand is ready to be published in a travel magazine. In yet another assignment, I was to work on a series of 8 articles relating to US on how to choose a school for graduate and post-graduate education, how to select a major, trade schools, hot careers of 2008, online schools vs local campuses. I completed a part of it before turning down the rest for whatever reasons (read: lack of time). There’s only so much one can do in 3 hours set aside for writing every day. And I’m just done drafting another 2,300 word article on “Studying in Canada”. With an overdose on studying, my head is spinning with names of Universities, tuition fees, statistics, visa regulations, and Ivy Leagues. On the bright side, I’m glad this has been a busy month for writing. That ofcourse does not necessarily translate to a good paycheck.
Signs of recession impacting the publishing industry are all too evident now. I’m waiting to be paid for an article I wrote last December. And the number of unpaid for articles just keeps increasing month. Hopefully, it will be a fresh beginning next year and finances will get sorted out.
For three years from 2004, I subscribed to the Femina, a women’s national magazine in India. I occasionally wrote letters for the “You to Us” section on issues that I felt strongly about. Being an ardent Formula One fan, I felt hurt when the October 2006 issue ran a feature on Fernando Alonso, that year’s world champion and also the year Michael Schumacher retired.
It was just before I left for the delivery of LG that I wrote a letter to them. I forgot all about it and in the months that I wasn’t here, a pile of Femina had gathered that I neatly stacked away on my return to read later. There are still about 10 unopened issues. This Saturday, with V away for a haircut and LG sleeping, while cleaning up the cupboard I saw this stack of Femina and set aside the bulky 48th Anniversary for reading. Within minutes, I was lying on the couch browsing the magazine. A few stories later I was in the You to Us section reading Reader’s letters (wondering who reads that?). Before moving on to the next feature, I took one last glance at the winning entries as I usually do. Nothing seemed familiar. Then I see the name spelt exactly as mine and what a coincidence I thought to be from Pune as well. It all came back to me; I vaguely remembered sending a letter before I left for my delivery - this was over a year and half back. I re-read the letter and realized it was mine - the passion for Schumacher and apathy for Alonso was unmistakable. The letter had appeared 2 months after I had submitted and was awarded a Mexx watch which obviously never reached me.
I’ve tried reaching Femina in vain. Doesn’t matter - it’s been too long to even follow up now. But I’m happy and that’s what counts Every time I see my name in print, it’s like scoring cent percent in school.
A very small publication catering to the residents of the this small town in Southern U.S. announced the theme for its January issue as “Birth” and invited stories for its feature section. This is one area I could just go on and on until someone said, “Enough.” But, no one said then while I spent a night to submit the story within deadline.
A week later, the editor politely replied that as much as she enjoyed the story, she thought it wouldn’t be an ideal piece to be published. I took it in my stride - my first rejection. Moreover, it was written in haste and was high on emotion.
I was working on my assignment for the writing course and had to submit 3 pieces. I thought this rejection was an ideal candidate for the assignment to hear from my tutor who is forthright in telling stuff as it is, and I love him for that. I sent in my assignment on 30th and his comments arrived yesterday. The rejection didn’t hit me as much as his comments on the piece. He wrote, ” Please don’t take this personally. But every woman goes through this and has a similar story to tell. You need to look a t a different angle and there’s a beautiful idea sitting right there on your article. Why don’t you instead work on that?”
He hit the nail on the head. I mean the world is inhabited by close to 7 billion people. And, we all just didn’t pop out. Every mother’s tale is important and interesting only to her. so, it’s best kept to myself. Lesson learned.
Don’t ask me where I’ve been. We’ve got one piece of junk for a laptop that’s ready to be tossed into the dustbin any minute. Compounding to this problem is the now-on, now-off broadband connection from BSNL. By some stroke of good luck, if both these are functioning, then my Dear Son feels moms are meant to be playing with kids all day, so he plugs off my laptop. And, the boys have been taking turns in falling sick for the past ten days - it’s tissues, salt water gargling, sneezing and getting high with cough syrups time. That should explain my blogging absence.
Anyways, so I got back from the dark ages today and was casually checking Little India. Guess what? My article Raising Your Multilingual Child has been published. Those of you who know me, if you are wondering if it wasn’t soon enough for us to have a daughter after Lil’ General, don’t worry, it is only one for now - I have my hands full with Lil’ General. Ananya was the name I had chosen if we had a daughter, hence its usage in the article.
If you are here looking for information on how to get published in The Times of India, then you are in for a disappointment. I’ve spent every waking second trying to get information on how to make an edit page submission to The Times.
Alright, here’s the deal. I am very new to this writing game and I am not familiar with the unwritten rules; so I play by the book and deal in black and white. Now, you know how it works in India; until you’ve tried a zillion times for anything, success is not guaranteed.
I’ve had success in getting my work published to wherever I’ve sent so far. So, why The Times now, you might ask? Every evening when my husband returns from work, he looks at my distraught face knowing what I’ve been up to and asks, “Again? today, too? Why? Why just The Times? There is Mint, DNA, Hindustan Times, The Hindu, Deccan Chronicle and rattles the list.” I sigh; if you have to ask you wouldn’t understand. Call it my obsession or whatever you want. My morning starts with this paper everyday; it has been that way for the past 7 years of my life which makes it difficult to just turn away and give up in a day. Getting a work published in the edit section of Times of India is my dream, even if it’s just for once. I know what you’re thinking - very ambitious indeed for a person who started writing just a few months back. So what, I’ve had no rejections so far. I have a piece ready to be submitted to Times and my gut says, it wouldn’t get rejected. I’ve closely observed and analysed every single column submitted in the past five months and I feel I am ready to try it. Read more
It was an anxious moment where every cent was counted and every click contributed to breach that first milestone. My first check from Google gets dispatched next month; it happened faster than I thought ..I first signed up for Google Adsense three years back and then deactivated it within three months, for no apparent reason. Just didn’t see money coming in ever and it was such a waste of time to log in and see if there were any clicks at all. And, then it all changed this May with traffic increasing on both mt sites - this one and LG Rules. So, I decided to activate it again and see if it meant anything. It did; it took close to five months to reach that first milestone.
The last few dollars took for ever, some days going by without any click despite the reasonable traffic and I was on an edge wondering if it had something to do with the design of my template. Most of my visitors come through Search Engines, very few being regular readers. If you are wondering if any of those tips to make quick bucks and increase adsense revenue helped, then the answer is not really. All of them say the same thing; write everyday - choose your words right, pay attention to SEO; blend your template; just worded differently. You just got to experiment until you figure out what works best and give it time.
To my regular readers : Thank You!
Every time my article has been published and I’d got to know, I’d call up dad at work. His voice said it all as to how proud he was of me. Dad is a man of few words. The one who has encouraged me in all my endeavors silently pushing me to give in my best - be it trying for a new job, freelancing, trading or now writing.
I know he reads my blog regularly now. I have never cared so much about who reads my blog or what they think of it as much as I have begun to now. He has raised the bar for me by reading my blog. I care about how I churn my articles now because there’s a standard I want to meet and wouldn’t want to wrote carelessly anymore.
Dad, any day, writes thousand times better than I do. He never knew he had it in him to write, until one Sunday in August, 1988 when a colleague of his approached him to write an essay on “Energy Conservation” for his daughter who was taking part in an Essay Competition in school the next day. What was strange is his daughter and I studied in the same school and shared the first two ranks amongst us every after year. So dad decided to write the essay but instead asked me to participate. If there was one thing I have been good at like all the other million school going kids in India, it was at rote learning (for the record, I don’t take any pride in that and wouldn’t ever want LG to pick up that). I churned out the essay word by word the and went on to win the competition. Prizes in elocution, debates and essay competitions followed for the next three years.
The proudest moment for dad came in 1991 when I went for the State Level debate on “Natural Disaster”. I regret not saving those sheets of paper on which he wrote. To this day, I don’t think I can ever write such a to-the-point, well researched essay on any topic with all the information I need being just a click away. The school did not sponsor beyond the district level. So dad bore the expense which was a LOT those days to take me from Gulbarga to Bangalore. I didn’t win against contestants who were much older than I but the journey was an experience I will cherish forever. Every contestant had his/her school teacher on the stage changing slides for them as they spoke, for me dad was with me on the stage. I was nervous but he said I was good, which was bigger than any prize that I would’ve got. The stage was mine but the words and research were dad’s, the encouragement and practice those of mom. Looking back, I guess I am fond of writing because of what I saw in dad, the writer who never wrote professionally. I would be more than thrilled to see him write professionally and getting published.
Once upon a time, not so long ago (to be precise 12 years ago), a gang of girls - A,C,L,M,R,R,S went to the same college for their undergraduate studies. They came from different places, some from different countries with starkly varied family backgrounds. Over the four years they spent at college, they grew close to one another many of which were circumstantial (you know how college friendships form). They were 7 in number (and I believe one of them reads this blog occasionally) and not all of them were close to one another while they lived on campus. I say their friendships were circumstantial like A and L slept next to each other - I mean in adjoining beds and shared bedtime stories for a year - yea yea they had a paucity of beds, A and C went to the same class for 3 years, M and S went to the same class, A and R traveled home together and the list goes on..and somewhere down the line the web was formed because of one’s association with the other and the seven got acquainted with each other. This is their brief history.
It has been a good eight years since they passed out of college but have stayed in touch with each other, sometimes through e-mails, sometimes through phone calls. They all stay in different timezones across the world with the population in US slightly heavier than that in India. All married, busy with their professional careers and families. I think it is amazing to keep the group thread of yahoo e-mails alive and going this long. Whats the big deal you might ask in this age of instant access to anyone and staying connected 24*7? That’s precisely the big deal - the intent to stay connected in this use and throw age keeping the goodwill going. These group e-mails have brought so many good news along the way - weddings, birth of the next generation, family marriages, graduation ceremonies, kodak moments and those-little-happy-moments like i bought this car, I moved into a new house kind of stuff. Each of them might not know the daily grindings of other’s lives but all the big stuff is shared.
Why this post? Because, I have personally failed at the art of writing these good personal e-mails that I admire. I look at awe sometimes the length of e-mails and think to myself, “Wow, there is so much to tell and to write. Isn’t there anything exciting happening with me?” The truth is, there is. But, it is at times tough to connect with friends you’ve not met in ages that makes you wonder if this stuff is to mundane to write about, or if you are bragging too much about what you do, do they know the history of what I’m writing now or am I revealing too much about someone other than us that is going to get controversial. Oh believe me, I’ve burnt my fingers bad which is perhaps why I limit myself to the one or two liners. In short, it is an art to write sweetly revealing so much you need to and I need to get better at this to keep these friendships for a lifetime. Some friendships are meant to be ..
Updated on 19th August 2007 : A member of the gang of girls - C, wrote to me with her opinion. It would not do any justice to this post without posting what she wrote so here it is..
It is very hard to draw the line between sharing without over-doing it as well as expressing yourself while not offending someone else. Esp. since all of us are no longer young/in college. We have families and people whom we are extremely sensitive about – even about the smallest of careless comments. We have all grown up to be people different from whom we were and whom the other used to know (and be able to gauge) so well!But it still is great that we are in touch and can share so much! Here’s to one great group of friends - Cheers!
Two articles getting published in a month has given me such a high that I can’t compare this feeling with anything else in recent times. This time it got published in The Hindu’s opportunities and there is a link online too, unlike the earlier one. The article titled Five tips to manage notice period woes was published last Wednesday but I hadn’t bothered to check it then and saw it by chance yesterday…It has been up there for a week. I saw the first link on Hindu jobs and thought to myself, this kinda sounds familiar and before I could reach to the end of the article to see the author’s name, my net connection died, which is nothing new. So I hastily called up V who was in the midst of a conf call to check it for me. What I didn’t realize was it is a jobs site and he was at work. Anyways he confirmed it was mine.
I spend a fortune on phone calls calling dad at work, mom at home, father-in-law at work to tell them about my article being published, when I don’t get paid a penny. Never mind, maybe someday I will.
Oh btw, if you are at work, you wouldn’t want to open the link.