So you want to be a writer?
No, that was not me guffawing, just a nasty cough…. please excuse me. Well, if I received a rupee from every person who nodded a ‘yes’ to my question, I’d be a wealthy man. I’d also welcome him to the Club; that exclusive Club of a zillion members of wannabe authors who dream of writing that bestseller which changes the course of history (oh yeah, sure!), or imagine a queue of publishers banging on their door or see themselves pontificating on a TV chat show, basking in the warmth of their new found fame.
Dream on. After all, there is no harm in wishing.
I’ve grown long in the tooth nursing those dreams. I’ve always dreamt of being a writer right from my schooldays. I’d read voraciously and write occasionally then – for the school and college magazines – stuff like that. But then I got busy with life and my writing had to take a back seat. Fed up of writing reports, emails and memos at work, I resumed creative writing a few years ago – mainly short stories and poems. I have in fact quite a large collection of stories accumulated by now, since writing is now my main hobby. I keep writing, keep approaching publishers and keep getting polite rebuffs or just plain ignored. But Never Say Die is my motto. So I write some more. The Circle of Life goes on.
Self-doubt plagues me often, as it must. Am I not good enough as a writer? None of these publishers seem to think so. I started more than a year ago to seriously pursue publishers. My scorecard remains blank. A couple of them did not even bother to acknowledge my introductory mail. Another one, who I met across the table, told me that my stories did not ‘excite’ her enough. Hmmm…No, I’m not misinterpreting that. Another editor mailed to inform me that there was no market for short stories, unless I was a known author. Huh? And how do I become a known author if my short stories don’t get published, ma’am? Catch 22.
To be told by editors half my age that they would not be able to accept my work is depressing and frustrating, to say the least. I sometimes wonder how they know it all. Would they be able to write a collection of stories or a novel themselves which is worth publishing? Who are they to pass judgment? As they say, if you can’t write or make a movie, become a critic. But I’m just venting. I know their job is not to write, only to gauge the suitability for publishing.
There is this Delhi-based editor whose email ID I managed to get last year. He works for one of the really big publishers. I contacted him on email. He was kind enough to respond; said he would have a look at my stories. I sent him a collection. A couple of months later … really long months, by the way… he contacted me and – wonder of wonders! – He actually liked ‘some’ of the stories. Then he selected a few, suggested to me that I break up the collection, and asked me to write some more to complete a new collection. I did that over the next few months and was quite pleased with the way the new stories turned out, to tell you the truth. I contacted him again, informing him that my revised collection was ready as per his guidelines. He asked me to send it over.
That was November 2017. I haven’t heard from him since. Not a peep. Not even a pink slip. No rejection, no acceptance. Just left me hanging in limbo. I do send him gentle reminders every couple of months, even suggesting that if my work has been rejected, it’s perfectly all right but I need to know. No answer.
I have befriended him on Facebook and make it a point to ‘like’ every post of his, just to get his attention. Pathetic, isn’t it? It does annoy me, but I make it a point to be in raptures about anything he has to say on FB. You can’t blame me for not trying enough, can you?
That’s the status quo right now. I wait, and I write some more. For write I must. And I wait some more. The Circle of Life goes on…
Beetashok Chatterjee is a ship’s captain by profession. He joined the Merchant Navy at a young age and loves being at sea. However, when he is not, he lives in New Delhi, India with his wife, son and daughter. His hobbies include writing, listening to Western music, reading fiction, watching cricket and Hollywood/Bollywood movies.