Mr. Rao, what made you write your first book?” the young man asked me at a gathering where I was the chief guest giving a talk on Fatherhood last month.
“After my return from my visit to Mount Kailash, many people, especially women, were very keen to know about the experience. I decided to pen down my experience, and that is how it all started,” I said.
Back home, I thought more deeply about the meaning and purpose behind my taking up writing.
I’ve never thought of myself as a writer. Many writers say that they always wanted to be a writer. They dreamed of being a published author. Research has found that of every 1,000 people that set out to do so, only 30 complete the task. The odds of an author publishing their work are between 1% and 2%. So effectively, only 0.003% of the people end up with a printed book.
So, what made me write my book?
The fact is that something changed in me after I went to Mount Kailash. I felt like sharing what I had experienced. It was as if, like a magnetically controlled instrument, I was puppeteer-ed into picking up a pen (keyboard in my case) and made to write 65000 words about the holiest place on the planet. It is as if God decided I needed to write about my transformative trek around Mount Kailash, the abode of Lord Shiva.
It may be hard for my readers to believe, but I am convinced God called me to communicate.
What is my biggest takeaway?
The creative writing process is gratifying, irrespective of reader response, critical reviews, and book sales. It is gratifying reading through a passage or a chapter that had taken so much work and, in the end, feeling like I’d touched upon something beautiful and true. Our lives are so often confused and tangled webs of meaning, so there is something deeply satisfying about sharing an experience and capturing a moment that serves as a hopeful milestone for the journey.
I am leaving behind a legacy. My book will outlive me, and its influence will continue for generations.
Have I become an expert writer?
No. I am no Chetan Bhagat or Naipaul.
Am I ready to release another book?
My second book, Myopia, is about my late blind daughter and is in the final stages of getting completed. This book, too, was a calling from a higher force to share what I learned about life and the unique needs of the parenting journey.
Within six months, I had about 70000 words. Then I circulated it among my friends and relatives and got their feedback. Almost everyone liked it. Some gave negative feedback. Negative feedback is a gift.
Receiving critique can sting a little. But to offer that kind of insight takes time, attention, and guts—no one likes to give negative feedback. The ones who provide, though rare, it to you do it because they care and believe in you.
You’ll never do it if you don’t commit to writing time. Put it into your schedule, daily or weekly. And stick to it. Also, make a timeline for your book. Create weekly milestones so you can hold yourself accountable.
Everyone has a writer in them. I started with writing 400 words daily (about two pages in a printed book). The first 25000 words were easy, but soon I began cooking excuses. But I determined to spend at least two hours in front of the computer, even if I had to stare at the blank screen. My mind became obedient.
Then I sought the services of a professional copy editor. There are many steps involved in creating a book.
Finally, my book “Inner Trek, A Reluctant Pilgrim in the Himalayas” had 49000 words. I realized that behind every book, apart from the author, a team of professionals put their hearts and souls into it. Inner Trek is my story, but I cannot say it is my book.
My book is neither a best-seller nor has sold only a thousand-odd copies. I did not write for money or fame. I will be okay with people liking the book and buying ten copies for their friends. You can order my book on my website, at amazon.com, or at amazon.in.
Why am I sharing this?
I’d like to tell the world that there is a writer in everyone.
This is my public announcement as a writer about writing.
“Everyone has a writer in them – sadly, only a few people choose to share”.
We all write, don’t we? Notes, emails, social media updates, etc. No matter how tiny, each piece of writing is an opportunity to share our thoughts and create something that didn’t exist before.
Each of you has a story that the world needs to hear.
So, pick up a pen or open a Word document and start. One big stumbling block for most of us is the inner judge evaluating our work and pointing out all its flaws. The Judge says, “Many people who know me will read this, and they expect BIG things”. This inner judge is difficult to get rid of. Remind yourself to stop striving for perfection and comparing yourself with the professional writers.
Happy writing, my friends. Good Luck.