Showing posts with label Blogger. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Blogger. Show all posts

Decoding Amit Sharma, the man behind False Ceilings.

When you are part of the blogosphere, you discover a person through their blog. You end up associating them with emotions their words conjure. When I finally met Amit after years of following his blog, I had a stupid grin pasted on my face. Don’t blame me, blame him for writing a hilarious account of how a Gurgaonite enjoys monsoon amidst puddles and waterfalls while river-rafting in his car.

For those who do not know Amit, behind the easy humour lies a sensitive man with a dogged determination to bring his passion to fruition. In his case his first novel ‘False Ceilings’ that he wrote during his years in Manchester. If you are familiar with the functioning of the publishing world, you will be aware that the agony, heartburn, sleepless nights begins after you have submitted your manuscript. That’s when all the hard-work begins and only the fittest can survive the ‘agnipariksha’. I have yet to ask Amit if at any time he felt like Sita wanting the earth to open up and swallow him alive.

Good thing is, I have asked a few our friends to ask Amit a few cringe-worthy questions. I believe this exercise will help him trim down his list of Facebook friends.

Purba Ray: Once your book was out, you would have obviously asked blogger friends to review it. What were the weirdest reactions you got when you asked them?

Amit Sharma: To be honest, most of my Facebook and blogging friends were genuinely happy but there was an eccentric, unpredictable category. There was one guy who asked for a blurb so that he could decide whether he was interested or not. No congratulations, no hey-how-are-you? Just a cold reply. I sent him the blurb anyway. As expected, he refused as he didn’t fancy the genre. Then there were some who behaved as if I have asked them to kill the Queen of England. I was so amused by the airs and the noses pointed to the sky that I wanted to capture the moment somehow.

Besides my FB friends, I also approached a few bloggers unknown to me and book review websites. A majority of them never replied back, even after three follow-up mails. Piece of advice – If you are sending out your book to a reviewer you don’t know personally, read his previous reviews. A person who is physically incapable of moving his mouse pointer beyond a three star rating for any book on Goodreads (including the classics) will land your book in you-know-where. And some reviewers write such tacky reviews (and even have the audacity to ask for money) that you would be better off without them.

Kanchana Banerjee: Amit, you’ve dedicated your book to your demons. That’s quite a strange dedication, especially for the first book. Can you explain this? What are those demons and did writing the book exorcise them?

Amit Sharma: There is one character in the book that is based on my life experiences (clichéd, I know). But there is a point in the book where our paths fork out. He goes towards becoming someone that I always dreaded that I might turn into. And I go towards the real me who walked out of the abyss and refused the misery. It wasn’t easy to write him or any of the six main characters as the story is 60% true. Their relationship, their poison is true. I fought those demons to complete every page. And when I wrote the last page, it was like nailing a coffin shut. I always thought that I would never find enough courage to pull everything out of me. So, when I exorcised those demons, I laughed heartily and dedicated the book to them.

Growing-up With A-Musing

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'This post is a part of #UseYourAnd activity at BlogAdda in association with Gillette Venus'.

Five years back when I left my job as a high school teacher, my friends thought I was mad. A part of me believed they were right. I had no idea what I’d do next, just an overwhelming desire to live life on my own terms. I’d be lying if I said it was I who took the decision. But when your work starts making you bitter and not better, it’s your nearest and dearest ones who intervene and force you to take a long hard look at yourself. In my case it was my husband.

At 40, I joined a dance class and learnt to pirouette, plié, jump and leap with girls younger than my daughter. I learnt driving yet again only to not drive, yet again. I reconnected with my school friends and finally got down to doing what I wanted to all my life – write. The first time I took time off work was when our daughter was born. I was naïve enough to believe that between my new found role as Mother Dairy and changing nappies I would find time to pen my thoughts. I did manage some juvenile poetry where I mostly end up wondering if I was wasting my life. I think this is one of the reasons why we are so apprehensive of being alone with our thoughts. Our mind, a repository of our fears, throws back at us some unpleasant questions that we avoid by keeping ourselves busy.

When I finally got solitude and plenty of ‘me time’, I was so ecstatic that instead of fighting my inner demons, I chose to write how it felt unshackled from the monotony of my nine to five life. At this point I had no idea what a blog was. When I finally compiled all my write-ups that I had written for other sites, I ended up creating a separate blog for each of my posts. Yes, that is how naïve I was. All I knew was, I had to write like I was talking to my impatient friends whose attention I had to grab by sounding as funny as possible. I wrote about the much dreaded ‘auntydom’, ‘a mirage called marital bliss’ and my life through the eyes of a much married woman trying make light of her experiences in a jungle called Delhi. To say that I was shocked that scores of men and women, including a group of friends in a college in Lucknow related and avidly discussed my writings, is putting it mildly. It required immense will-power not to do a happy jig when I started getting fan mails.

I didn’t start writing to prove a point, to earn accolades. I write because it makes me and hopefully others happy. It helps me connect with so many talented people who I would not have met otherwise.

Is it time to RIP blogs?

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I’m what they call a veteran blogger. It’s a kinder term for Aunty. I was sacrificed at the altar of Auntydom barely a few months after I’d swirled my toes before jumping headlong into the pool called blogosphere. Four years into blogging and I now realize why the sobriquet of a veteran was thrust on me. Most blogs do not survive beyond a year or two. They flap around, create a lot of splash before they sink to the bottom with exhaustion.

It’s not easy to maintain a blog. Besides having the ability to articulate your thoughts with tolerable vocabulary combined with net savviness, you have to be your own editor, PR and publicity manager. You cannot sit on your high throne and expect readers to land at your doorstep, drawn to your “brilliance”. You have to venture out and seduce them and continue to tantalize them with quality stuff to make sure they do not leave in search for meaner and greener pastures. It’s not like a marriage where once you’ve said I do, you live happily ever after with your can of beer, iPhone and cricket. You have to constantly work out those grey cells, continue reinventing yourself, occasionally shock and challenge the living daylights out of your readers with your unorthodox views and lull them into believing you’re the best thing that ever happened to them.

To cut it short, blogging is a lot of hard work. Add to that the allure of sexy young nymphets like Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, Pinterest, Tumblr and their sundry cousins that promise you instant orgasmic fame without demanding too much of your time, commitment and grammar, it gets even tougher to stay faithful to Srimati Blogeshwari. Little wonder the restless and the impatient are happy to file for divorce, preferring the comfort of friends with benefits.

Like any other medium, blogosphere’s natural selection ensures that only the fittest survive. Like any other relationship, your blog demands your attention and love. You either chicken out or give it your all. It takes a talented, motivated individual to maintain a successful blog.

For most of us, blogging is not just our personal space where we share our thoughts with like-minded people, rant about issues that bother us, or make others laugh with anecdotes from our life. It’s our passion, something that gives meaning to our lives and makes us believe that, in some insignificant way, we are making a difference is someone else’s life. You start from scratch, with no ‘useful’ contacts, relying solely on your talent and dedication, reach out to thousands and hope what you have to say resonates for a while.

Mad About Me.....

When Bryan Adams wrote “18 till I die” it was with him in mind.  A finance guru nurturing his myriad interests in amchi Mumbai – life is a celebration for him.  Today in honour of A-musing turning 1, he descends from his pedestal (or rather the golf course)  to take pot-shots at me.  Presenting what goes on in Madhusudhan(Mad) Menon’s mind........

Maxmayur is a lucky man. He beat me to the punch by interviewing the eastern sun before I woke up. And he being a recognized blogger got access to the award-winning celebrity blogger. I am sure he was assisted by the Blogger Gods. While licking my wounds, I decided not to feel sorry for this perceived blogger apartheid, and do my own interview. So what if she is not available for the interview? I have read all her posts, and feel I can answer all my questions, on her behalf without inconveniencing her and insisting on her presence. So the interview, with apologies to maxmayur, and the famous A-Musing blogger went like this:

Me: Madam, can I call you madam?
Purba : Of course not. That is what you call school teachers and the ones who run bordellos. I have also heard that that is what they call the fearless leader of the party that rules our country.

Me: Then, is it ok to call you Behenji?
Purba: Arre, are you insane? That is what they call Mayawatiji, the fearless leader of our downtrodden.
Me: Then maybe I can call you Purba ji?
Purba: I hate the Jee word. It makes me sound like a scam..2G, CWG and Blogger G

Now I already am at my wits end. I rule out Mataji, Rayji, Bloggerji etc. Now I have a brainwave.

Me: Why should I call you any names? Let me just ask my questions then. How do you select what you blog on?
Purba: That is a trade secret. It is like asking Coca cola for their secret recipe. But I will tell you this much. I have my eyes and ears in very high places. The last post for instance was inspired by a late night telephone caller from Lucknow. She was upset about the media furore over her simple desire to keep her footwear clean. And I felt that nobody should be deprived of his right to remove dhool from her Bata sandals.   

Me: How did you get started on blogging?

Purba: Arre, Menon...what kind of a blogger are you? If you are one, you should know how one starts. The problem is not how one starts, it is where you finish that is important. I always think of the end before the beginning. And if you know your Indian philosophy, the beginning is the end, and the end is the beginning..
(Now I feel like calling her Guruji, but am afraid to start on that track again)

Me: Have you ever suffered from writers block?
Purba: What is that? No blocks. Only blogs.  Anyway if there is a block, one can always bypass it and I’m not suggesting surgery!


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