This evening I went to see a fascinating movie Julie and Julia. The movie depicts the lives of two women who are lost in the jungle of life. It is a movie about how these two seemingly ordinary women find their ultimate passion, their ultimate goal. As I was watching the movie, I couldn’t help but think about myself, yes about ME! I couldn’t help but think how for long I have been indulging in an intellectually abstemious diet which lacked completely the nutrient I call the ‘Metamin’. In a second I realized that I have deliberately stopped thinking about myself as a person, and as a writer. However small and insignificant I might be, I still deserve one blog, one write up, wholly dedicated to my small journey as a struggling writer. Like Julie and Julia I too felt like “drowning” at one point of my life, I too was “lost” and yet, after a period of considerable struggle, I could find a ray of light, even if it is a faint one.
My little journey began when I got married to my childhood love and disembarked at the O’Hare Airport, Chicago on May 18th 2006. I was then in my early twenties, newly married. I had no idea what I was up to. I didn’t know what to expect from an immigrant life with a dependant visa in my passport. I could do nothing—no job, no study—nothing. When my friends in India were basking in the glory of their new jobs and bold career decisions, I was being merely a homemaker. Being a homemaker label on you is popularly held as some kind of an offense; people have pestered me with innumerable queries as to how I spend my time at home. “Must be painful for you?” “Why don’t you get a job?” are some of the queries I am now used to hearing. So there I was, lonely as a winter night, totally dubious about the prospect of having a career, trying hard to get an admission at some universities, but nothing was working out. I was depressed, shattered, and friendless. Then I took to writing – I had always loved writing something creative. Even if I never thought of taking it seriously, I decided to spend the ocean of time I had writing some meaningful stuff. When I was in India, I wrote a short story “Dead Madonna”, and read it to my then fiancé, now husband. He was ecstatic, even though now I regard that story as an immature experiment; he told about it to everybody and had encouraged me to start writing seriously. Now, when he saw my current situation— my intolerable state of coping with a new country and a new community where every one I see around is working, he gave me the idea of repeating the writing experiment again. I still remember the terrible bouts of loneliness I had when I would spend my days crying for help, and there would be no one beside me to soothe except my dear husband. I took his words seriously and wrote couple of poems and started dabbling in writing.
One night, as I opened my email, I found an unexpected email from the editor of DNA-ME. She had written in her email that my short story, Dead Madonna, had been published in her magazine. I was ecstatic! It was a moment I would never forget in my life. That was my first big publication, I couldn’t believe my eyes. My husband spent the whole night even calling up folks back in India who had the idea that I was a failure! I jumped and cried, called my parents, and showed everybody the story. That was my first life changing incident that led me to believe that may be I can write! The following day I activated my comatose Sulekha blogging account and decided to pour some energy into it.
From then on, I began to write, and believe me; I never knew where the ideas came from. The plots of my initial writings came almost like some sudden storms in a tropical country. My hubby bought me several books on writing style and technique, and inspired me to read them and talk about what I learnt from them with him after he is back from work. Even though he is a scientist, he listened to my creative ideas, and even inspired me to submit my works to some magazines in the USA. I was not confident, and I detested the idea of criticisms and rejections by magazines in USA who have this highly competitive submission process. But he was all encouraging, he told me about his PhD research experience in this country – how his advisor taught him everything from designing an experiment to conducting the challenging research work by overcoming occasional failures, and finally, presenting the results in a written form of a peer reviewed paper. He was so nice to me and he still is, more than my parents, my friends, my relatives who at one point had the idea that an ordinary woman like me with average education could never make it to the point I have reached today. It was my husband who taught me to think big, or at least to aim for it.
I began trying my best to write. I started reading seriously the text books for the MFA courses in top US universities by myself, rather devoured them. I spent hours thinking about what I read and how the book influenced me. Although I became socially less active, and some time even little moody, today I think those books have become an intrinsic part of my life; they are my real friends, my soul-mates. During this time, I met a wonderful girl at a social networking website who is a master blogger, an experienced editor, and a poet. We became friends and I decided to show her some of my early write-ups. She instantly pointed out thousands of mistakes that I had made in my work. I was outraged and soon broke all ties with her. But, it so happened, that destiny brought us together and we became friends, confidantes probably. I began giving her my writings to go through them and check for mistakes. She was an editor at one point in her life and she masterfully pointed out the flaws. This time, I took it upon myself to write something so wonderful, so good that she would have to say, “You are an amazing writer” and yes, she did say it, a week back after reading one of my new short stories. She is another angel to me who taught me to take English seriously, to love that language and even feel it in my nerves. She modified my crude style and made me feel confident as a writer. It is because of her that I got the confidence of sending my works to American magazines, and guess what, even though I got several rejection letters, I did get some acceptance letters too. So, here I am, two and half years later, a completely changed and relatively mature human being who is thinking of taking writing professionally in near future. I have discovered my passion, my ultimate goal and now I know exactly what I love to do—write. I may be just a speck in the sea of writers, but I am confident that if am choosing the right path for me. Overall, I am an ordinary woman with a major role as a homemaker, and I love to take care of the man who makes my life worth living. You don’t get a “Thanksgiving Day” everyday, today I would like to thank these two people—my husband and my friend for being so wonderful and for teaching me to be confident and smart.
I love you!
Here is a list of my published and would be published creative works:
1. Critical Appreciation of “The Lamb” by William Blake: “Words' Worth”— Journal of the Department of English, Sivanath Sastri College, West Bengal, India (2004).
2. Dead Madona (Short Story): Published in the “DNA-Me”, Issue- August 2008, Daily News Analysis (DNA) group, Mumbai, India.
3. Being a Tree (Poem) : Published in the Palki magazine, Issue-5, October 2008
4. Friends Forever (Poem): Published in the 8th Day, The Statesman, December 14, 2008; Kolkata, India.
5. Ode to autumn (Poem): Published in the 8th Day, The Statesman, December 14, 2008; Kolkata, India.
6. The Game (Short Story): Published in the 8th Day, The Statesman, January 2009, Kolkata, India.
7. Tale of the Sea (Short Story): Published in the Palki magazine, issue-6, February 2008.
8. I Hope (Poem) published in the Palki magazine, issue-6, February 2009.
9. If You Lived Here, I'd Know Your Name (Book review): Published in the Windows and Aisles Magazine, official in-flight magazine of the Paramount Airways, India.
10.Road to Smoky Paradise (Travelogue): Published in The Indian Express, Chennai Edition, December 2008, India.
11.Road to Smoky Paradise (Travelogue): Published in The Indian Express, Hyderabad Edition, January 2009, India.
12.Addiction (Short Story): Published in the Many Midnights magazine, March 2009, USA.
13.The Kleptomaniac (Short Story): Published in the Pens on Fire magazine, April 2009, USA.
14.Welcome to America, (Short Story): Published in the Sristi magazine, May 2009
15.Remembering Suze (Short Story): Published in the Many Midnights magazine, May 2009, USA.
16.The Veiled Idol (Short Story): Published in the Palki magazine issue-7, June 2009.
17.Born Into A Brothel (Short Story): Published in the Muse India Literary Journal, ISSN:(0975-1815), July 2009, India.
18.The Unveiled Life (Poem): Published in The Pens on Fire magazine, July 2009.
19.Layoff (Short Story): Accepted in the Pens on Fire magazine, to be published in November 2009, USA.
20.Film Review of Chuhnyang (A Korean film review): Accepted and to be published in Silhouette magazine, November 2009, India.
21.Checkers (short Story): Accepted and to be published in The Long Story Short magazine, November 2009, USA.
22.The Relationship Adviser (Short Story): Accepted and to be published in Woman’s Era, Delhi Press, India.
23.Missed Connection (short Story): to be published in Mused — Bella Online Literary Review Magazine, 23rd September 2009, USA.