The Things I Learned About Myself After Becoming A Published Author

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As I sat down to write this blog post, I realized the title is all wrong. It should be ‘The Things I Learned About Myself After Completing My First Book’.  You see, I’m a published author, but my first book that came out in print is a poetry anthology, a collection of 61 famous love poems and which doesn’t sound like a lot to my own mind because last two years I have spent writing my upcoming literary mystery ‘Tied to Deceit’. But as it will be publishing in a few months (June 2018), I decided the title of my post was apt.

 

I’m arrogant…

Writing my novel was a gruelling process: I forced myself to sit down and think: write, cut and edit: rewrite, some more edit, and cut: rewrite, rewrite, and rewrite until I took my manuscript to 130, 000 words and then some more painful cuts, rewrite, edit until I took it back to 85, 000 words finished manuscript. It was exhausting.

Writing a book is a gruesome process…just on its own. I did all this while taking care of my household chores and two young children and managing a move to a new house in a new city. All this makes me feel extremely proud of myself because there are not many people who can do that. I have always been a haughty person, but now I feel awesomely good about myself, I feel proud.  And that’s quality of someone who is pretty smug? Isn’t it?  Writing does that to you.

 

I’m tough, and I know how to deal with pain…

By the time, you finish your first draft it should be a time for celebration, a few days’ work left to get your manuscript ready for publication. But that’s not how it happens. After I had finished celebrating and jumping up and down with excitement, the time arrived when I had to start polishing my manuscript. As I started working on more edits, I realized I have to part with some of my best written words: I’m not talking about just a few lines here and there: I had to cut whole paragraphs, full chapters.

Imagine you are in love with these two chapters but to continue the story, one has to be taken out. Your creations, the words you spent hours working on has to go. That’s awfully hard. It breaks your heart. It is painful. But you do it, despite everything. You learn you are one tough cookie: you are strong.

 

Confused? Me?

 

If there was one thing, I had understood about myself before I decided to become an author ― I knew where I stood on a specific matter. I could make up my mind in a jiffy, take a decision, and stand on it (For as long until I take a new one and overwrite the earlier one…at least!).  I had no patience with people who take days to make up their mind about something. I constructed a plot, formulated it based on one idea about the story, and despite temptations on the way, I stayed single-minded.

But after I finished my book, I learned I could no longer be proud of my ability to take quick decisions. I have ‘Tied to Deceit Final Edits no.  1 to Tied to Deceit Final Edits 27’…yes! 27 copies of the manuscript sitting on my hard drive (I’m not counting the other 8 first drafts). Now don’t imagine number 27 is final for me. Number 27 is the one, when I decided enough was enough and sent the copy to my editor for copy editing/proof reading. Every time I read my manuscript, I cut, edit, rewrite.  The most bothersome thing is I will continue to feel the urge to do so even after the book comes out in print in June of 2018 (At least there I know where I stand!), because that’s how I feel about my poetry anthology as well. So yes, I learned I’m one of those confused people who never can make up their mind about a particular thing. It was a revelation!

 

I’m courageous…

After I finished writing my book and put up another one for publication, I took to social media and announced my newly achieved author status to the world. I put my writing up in front of others, shared the thoughts I had in my head and bared myself to their scrutinizing eyes. And that, in itself, is courageous.

 

I know how to take rejection…

Writing is a gruelling process. Completing a book is exhausting.  But the hardest part arrives when you start making queries to literary agents (The times have changed. The publishing house wouldn’t consider unagented queries). You are proud of your work. You think your book is awesome. The agents tell you the same (few of them who care to reply) but they have to let you go because they already have their hands full. You are rejected…again and again. I learned I could take rejection gracefully. Their rejection failed to make a dent in my infinite creative ego which stayed intact despite everything.

 

People are too sensitive and I’m wickedly awesome…

After I had started sharing my writing (not my book-related) on my personal social platforms, I learned I couldn’t put another word on paper without hurting someone’s sentiments. Imagine yourself proudly announcing your LGBT inclination in front of a LGBT rights opposition activists or vice versa. There are people who will object to all of your opinions, your personal beliefs, your thoughts, and troll you if they differ from theirs. Fighting back is easy but staying silent and not let it bother you is difficult. I learned I couldn’t care less about their opinion.

 

If you are a writer, and you have worked tirelessly on your manuscript giving it your best shot, you are awesome, but I probably don’t have to remind you that because you already know it😊

 

Neena lives in Edmonton, Canada with her husband and is a full-time mom to her two children and a daring German shepherd.

Neena has compiled ‘YOU left me, sweets two legacies:Famous Love Poems’, a collection of 61 famous classic poems under her pen name Avira N.

AVAILABLE AS E BOOK & PAPERBACK ON

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YOU left me, sweets, two legacies:Famous Love Poems-a perfect anniversary, valentine gift!

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A perfect anniversary, valentine or just a simple romantic gift, YOU left me, sweets, two legacies is a collection of 61 classic love poems from famous poets.

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Here are few of my favorite poems from the book:

 

I Shall not Care by Sara Teasdale

When I am dead and over me bright April
Shakes out her rain-drenched hair,
Tho’ you should lean above me broken-hearted,
I shall not care.
I shall have peace, as leafy trees are peaceful
When rain bends down the bough,
And I shall be more silent and cold-hearted
Than you are now.
***
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Heart, we will forget him! by Emily Dickinson

Heart, we will forget him!
You an I, tonight!
You may forget the warmth he gave,
I will forget the light.

When you have done, pray tell me
That I my thoughts may dim;
Haste! lest while you’re lagging.
I may remember him!

***

Buried Love by Sara Teasdale

I have come to bury Love
Beneath a tree,
In the forest tall and black
Where none can see

I shall put no flowers at his head,
Nor stone at his feet,
For the mouth I loved so much
Was bittersweet.

I shall go no more to his grave,
For the woods are cold.
I shall gather as much of joy
As my hands can hold.

I shall stay all day in the sun
Where the wide winds blow,
But oh, I shall cry at night
When none will know.

***

From the blurb:

“love is more thicker than forget
more thinner than recall
more seldom than a wave is wet
more frequent than to fail”

– (E E Cummings)

Love is always kind. It is enduring. It does not bear a grudge. Love always trusts. It is never selfish. It is unbound. It is hopeful. It always defends. However, love, as we all know, is a two-sided thing; with the joy comes the pain!

“The hottest love has the coldest end.” – Socrates

Whereas the joy of love comes as a swift flowing river, the pain when arrives, is always more intense, more unbearable, and sharper – the river of joy comes first and then follows the vast ocean of pain. Love and pain – these are the two powerful emotions that almost all of the classic poets have touched in their work.

A collection of sixty-one love poems of the most influential poets like Emily Dickinson, Christina Rossetti, E E Cummings, Sara Teasdale, Amy Lowell, Robert Browning, John Clare, Percy Bysshe Shelley, Ella Wheeler Wilcox, and Elizabeth Barrett Browning, YOU left me, sweets, two legacies is available both as paperback and eBook and is a collection to savor.

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The Thrust by Jo Nesbo: A Brilliant Beginning Marred by Incredible Plot Twists

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Despite a brilliant beginning, Nesbo’s ‘The Thrust’ ended up three stars for me.

But first a little bit about the story. Harry Hole hunts down a serial murderer who targets his victims on a dating site. Harry Hole who is no longer with police force get involved in the investigation as there’s something about these murders that catches his attention, something in the details that the investigators have missed. For Harry, it’s like hearing “the voice of a man he was trying not to remember.” Now, despite his reluctance, despite everything he risks, Harry throws himself back into the hunt for a figure who haunts him, the monster who got away.

I haven’t read many of Jo Nesbo’s books probably because of gory details when it comes to violence especially the killings in his writing. The Thrust was no different when it comes to gruesome details of killings of victims but otherwise, it was a brilliant book until the author get caught in prolonging the suspense element toward the end and ended up adding a-bit-of-too-many twists to the plot that it all seemed forced, stretched far beyond incredibility.

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But Nesbo didn’t stop just there. After all the not-so-believable twists and turns and revelation of real culprit, he threw in another culprit in the end (There is this vampirist; the puppet and then there is this puppet master. I don’t want to spoil it for future readers but those who have read it know what I mean.)

 

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The last 60-70 pages are totally unnecessary. Instead of tidying up, these last pages emphasized all the loose ends in the plot. The ending could have been cleaner, sharper, to-the-point and thus, not spoiling the brilliancy of this multi layered story.

Neena lives in Edmonton, Canada with her husband and is a full-time mom to her two children and a daring German shepherd.

Neena has compiled ‘YOU left me, sweets two legacies:Famous Love Poems’, a collection of 61 famous classic poems under her pen name Avira N.

AVAILABLE AS E BOOK & PAPERBACK ON

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What it Means to be a Supermom?

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“Definition of supermom: an exemplary mother; also :a woman who performs the traditional duties of housekeeping and child-rearing while also having a full-time job”

 

Last month a wonderful full-time mom of a toddler was sent this excerpt from Merriam Webster Dictionary because she chooses to call herself ‘a supermom’ despite being a ‘stay-at-home-parent’ and hence, the sender wanted to educate her better on the definition of ‘supermom’.

 

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Now the mom in question; she is kind of mother who spends hours playing, teaching new things to her baby. Literally! The toddler who has just turned three is almost ready to start reading (that tells extent of her involvement in child’s life). She’s educated, a professionally qualified woman who choses to sit at home and be there for her child instead of leaving him to servants/day cares.

 

Being an only daughter of her parents, she was spoiled rotten while growing up and wouldn’t even pick a glass of water herself to drink. But as a mom, she cooks homemade puddings and soups, has shifted her routine, changed her life style to suit that of her child’s. And she’s not someone who enjoys sitting at home and just taking care of a child. She has aspirations. She has ambitions to fly and do stuff of her own. She would like to pursue her professional career. She would like to go outside and make a mark of her own. But there is this child who needs her more. And she is happy just being a mother at the time. The initial years of a child’s life are so crucial. Those are the years which form child’s basic character.
“It is a fundamental truth that the responsibilities of motherhood cannot be successfully delegated. No, not to day-care centers, not to schools, not to nurseries, not to babysitters. We become enamored with men’s theories such as the idea of preschool training outside the home for young children. Not only does this put added pressure on the budget, but it places young children in an environment away from mother’s influence. Too often the pressure for popularity, on children and teens, places an economic burden on the income of the father, so mother feels she must go to work to satisfy her children’s needs. That decision can be most shortsighted. It is mother’s influence during the crucial formative years that forms a child’s basic character. Home is the place where a child learns faith, feels love, and thereby learns from mother’s loving example to choose righteousness. How vital are mother’s influence and teaching in the home—and how apparent when neglected!”
― Ezra Taft Benson
The biggest sacrifice is the one when the best thing a woman could do is to go outside in the world and do wonderful things of her own but instead, she chooses to sit at home and gets another human being ready for doing wonderful things. As an educated, a professionally qualified person, I understand how hard it could be for an educated woman to choose that path solely for well-being of a tiny new life.
I’m also a full-time mother and I love being a one. I have Masters in Business Administration, have B.Sc. and also B.Ed. But I love staying at home and just being lazy. I enjoy cooking and baking, keeping my house clean, be there for my kids when they come back from school, and I’m addicted to words, to books and sunny days; the simplest things as I’m a simple person and for which I have been taunted, laughed at. Did those taunts make any difference to me? No, not at all! Because the people who utters those things, I understand, are definitely narrow…sort of pig-headed (Guess what? They are raised by a full-time mom!What a shame!).

 

 

Now I don’t think I’m sacrificing anything by being a stay-at-home parent because I take comfort, take pride in being the one. But I know there are many others who would rather go outside and pursue a professional career. And those full-time moms are the ones who make the biggest sacrifices when they choose to sit at home, take care of their children and be happy.

 

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Now if we come back to earlier definition of ‘Super Mom’ in Merriam Webster Dictionary, a thing to note is that all Merriam-Webster dictionaries trace their lineage to Merriam-Webster, Incorporated, which is an American company that publishes reference books.
In 1960s, the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) had gathered increasing support with the rise of the women’s movement. ERA is a proposed amendment to the United States Constitution designed to guarantee equal rights for all citizens regardless of sex; it seeks to end the legal distinctions between men and women in terms of divorce, property, employment, and other matters (*source wiki). It was reintroduced in 1971 and passed both houses of Congress in 1972. That’s when it was submitted to the state legislatures for ratification.
The word “supermom” was used for the first time in 1974. Its origin in post second-wave feminism society of 1970s United States at the time when women’s career-oriented way of life was trending, was not merely a chance occurrence. The majority of the women in those times viewed the pursuit of a professional career along with managing traditional homemaker’s duties as a challenge.
According to Collins Dictionary, the word “supermom” stands for an extremely capable and busy mother.”
Definition of ‘supermom’ in Collins is more in context with today’s times. The pressure on women- to prove themselves professionally no longer exists (superwomen squeeze), especially, in developed countries nor does the ‘superwoman syndrome’ and ‘superwoman complex’; where a woman has high expectations from herself that she can and should do everything.

 

But sadly, the closed-minded people out there lack the ability to understand this kind of concept; the very simple fact that every mother: working or not, is indeed a ‘supermom’. Poor bigots!

Neena has compiled ‘YOU left me, sweets two legacies:Famous Love Poems’, a collection of 61 famous classic poems under her pen name Avira N.

AVAILABLE AS E BOOK & PAPERBACK ON

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“We Need to Talk About Kevin” – A Powerful Book About Ugly Things

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“You can only subject people to anguish who have a conscience. You can only punish people who have hopes to frustrate or attachments to sever; who worry what you think of them. You can really only punish people who are already a little bit good.”

― Lionel Shriver, We Need to Talk About Kevin

Those lines summarize the whole personality of Lionel Shriver’s protagonist Kevin in We Need to Talk About Kevin.

“Had I catalogued the downsides of parenthood, “son might turn out to be a killer” would never have turned up on the list.”

What happens when you give birth to a child who doesn’t have any conscience, any emotion to speak of, and who is downright evil? You got to recognise the abnormality and get medical help (that’s the best one can do as a parent). But, in ‘We Need to Talk About Kevin’, Eva Khatchadourian despite recognising the tell-tale signs, failed to do anything about it and lost everything that was life. Franklin, on the other hand, seemed blindly oblivious to his son’s faults and failed to see the things shaping toward a doomed end. Kevin, he was evil: born that way. Some kind of medical help could have helped him (or may be not). But Eva, I disliked her as a mother: for being so cold and aloof; for seeing Kevin for what he was and not doing a single thing about that. Although, in the end my heart cried for her as well (what else a mother could have done?).

 

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If you are a parent, do read it. Once, at least. But I warn you it is a powerful book about ugly things – difficult, depressing, dark, and soul-dampening. It will stay with you for a long time.

Neena has compiled ‘YOU left me, sweets two legacies:Famous Love Poems’, a collection of 61 famous classic poems under her pen name Avira N.

AVAILABLE AS E BOOK & PAPERBACK ON

Thomas Hardy – The beauty of his writing and the gloom

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My first book by Hardy was Tess of the d’Urbervilles and the last one Jude the Obscure and then I knew I wouldn’t read another Hardy for a long time.

During late 1800’s, Thomas Hardy was the sole British author who dared to tackle several sensitive issues in his novels like sexual morality, legal status and holiness of marriage, the loss of religious faith, a person’s lone struggle to fight the isolation when he/she choses to go against the larger, accepted social norms (Sue in Jude the Obscure). I admired Sue Bridehead in Jude the Obscure for her unconventional ways but that was the extent of my admiration. His protagonists are born with bad luck and they carry it throughout their life with them like a lucky charm. In normal stories, some bad happens and people learn from their failures and rise again. In Hardy’s books, if something bad happens, you got to keep a box of tissues ready because that’s just the beginning. The worst is going to arrive soon and Hardy wouldn’t stop at that; Hardy is not the type of guy who would just stop at the glass half empty. He has to empty the glass completely.

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Despite loving his writing, his honest elucidations on things, I couldn’t just take anymore of his gloomy reflections on life, on love, on everything. But his poems…I love these. They are lovely. Maybe because a poem is so short and in a few, plain words explains all that which seems totally inexplicable!

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Here are three of my favourites.

A bleak take on love and a doomed relationship, Neutral Tones is a Thomas Hardy in every way —beautiful and soulful.

Neutral Tones

We stood by a pond that winter day,

And the sun was white, as though chidden of God,

And a few leaves lay on the starving sod,

—They had fallen from an ash, and were gray.

 

Your eyes on me were as eyes that rove

Over tedious riddles solved years ago;

And some words played between us to and fro—

On which lost the more by our love.

 

The smile on your mouth was the deadest thing

Alive enough to have strength to die;

And a grin of bitterness swept thereby

Like an ominous bird a-wing….

 

Since then, keen lessons that love deceives,

And wrings with wrong, have shaped to me

Your face, and the God-curst sun, and a tree,

And a pond edged with grayish leaves.

………………………….

‘Thoughts of Phena, At News of Her Death’

Not a line of her writing have I,

Not a thread of her hair,

No mark of her late time as dame in her dwelling, whereby

I may picture her there;

And in vain do I urge my unsight

To conceive my lost prize

At her close, whom I knew when her dreams were upbrimming with light

And with laughter her eyes.

 

What scenes spread around her last days,

Sad, shining, or dim?

Did her gifts and compassions enray and enarch her sweet ways

With an aureate nimb?

Or did life-light decline from her years,

And mischances control

Her full day-star; unease, or regret, or forebodings, or fears

Disennoble her soul?

 

Thus I do but the phantom retain

Of the maiden of yore

As my relic; yet haply the best of her – fined in my brain

It may be the more

That no line of her writing have I,

Nor a thread of her hair,

No mark of her late time as dame in her dwelling, whereby

I may picture her there.

……………………..

The Darkling Thrush

I leant upon a coppice gate,

When Frost was spectre-gray,

And Winter’s dregs made desolate

The weakening eye of day.

The tangled bine-stems scored the sky

Like strings of broken lyres,

And all mankind that haunted nigh

Had sought their household fires.

 

The land’s sharp features seemed to me

The Century’s corpse outleant,

Its crypt the cloudy canopy,

The wind its death-lament.

The ancient pulse of germ and birth

Was shrunken hard and dry,

And every spirit upon earth

Seemed fervourless as I.

 

At once a voice arose among

The bleak twigs overhead,

In a full-hearted evensong

Of joy illimited.

An aged thrush, frail, gaunt and small,

With blast-beruffled plume,

Had chosen thus to fling his soul

Upon the growing gloom.

 

So little cause for carolings

Of such ecstatic sound

Was written on terrestrial things

Afar or nigh around,

That I could think there trembled through

His happy good-night air

Some blessed Hope, whereof he knew,

And I was unaware.

Neena has compiled ‘YOU left me, sweets two legacies:Famous Love Poems’, a collection of 61 famous classic love poems under her pen name Avira N. The book is:
AVAILABLE AS E BOOK & PAPERBACK ON

 

The Stories That Left Me Exhausted: Say You Are One of Them.

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There are stories you read that make you aware that you’ve known nothing, you’ve experienced nothing, you’ve suffered nothing. The stories that make your own sorrow look so meagre you feel ashamed to have named those feelings ‘sufferings’ at all. When you think your heartache is biggest of all, you come across a book, a story, a piece of writing and it makes you aware that your misery is nothing at all. There are people who have suffered more, suffered greatly, suffered ceaselessly, and have suffered pure evil.

Say You Are One of Them was one of those books that changed my whole perspective about life. This was the book that changed my thinking, taught me to differentiate between the real SORROW and a mere DISCOMFORT. This was the book that taught me to appreciate my life — as it was, as it is — a good life. This was the book that taught me to be happy because I had so much to be happy about.

In each narrative, each told from the perspective of a child from a different African country, Akpan: intense and vivid and yet simple, portrays the terror, the fear, the dreadfulness of the mundane details of everyday life. Say You Are One of Them is a collection of five stories — two of which are long enough to fall in the category of novella — of family and friendship, of betrayal and redemption. Akpan simply and straightforwardly emphasizes the tenacity and perseverance of fragile children. The horrors that each of those small children go through exist outside the realm of anything logical.

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All five of book’s stories are captivating, but “Fattening for Gabon” is the one that left a lasting impression on me. It’s one of the longest as well: over hundred pages and resembles a dark fairy tale in its slow and sinister build up toward an evil climax. The protagonists, a 10-year-old boy who, along with his 5-year-old sister, are sent to live with their uncle because their parents are dying of AIDS. Uncle makes a deal with devil and sell them to become merchandises in human trafficking network. Since an emaciated body will not achieve much at market, both of them are fed on feasts for the slave trade. Akpan uses a first person narrative in it; the story is told from the perspective of 10 year old boy and that’s where it drives its power as well. There is a strong disparity between the child’s utterly dim perceptions of what awaits them and us readers’ adult awareness that something evil is lurking in the shadow.

I read this book before I become a mother. And I’m glad for that. There’s no way I would pick a book where small children are sucked down into horror of pure evil and the evil triumphs.

It left me depressed — for weeks. It left me exhausted and spent. I remember finishing it and then I went on to read Mists of Avalon which was equally exhausting but in a different way. I remember I was in this gloomy mood for weeks. I don’t remember how I came out of that melancholic slumber. I must have read something funny like The Princess Bride or something utterly sweet like Anne of Green Gables. Be careful if you decide to read this book. You will not forget it for a long time and you’re damned to remember it.

Neena has compiled ‘YOU left me, sweets two legacies:Famous Love Poems’, a collection of 61 famous classic love poems. The book is:

AVAILABLE AS E BOOK & PAPERBACK ON