Writing 101 last September lead me to meeting many awesome people, bloggers, of whom Arpita is one of the most significant. Her humor and sheer variety of blogging themes inspired me time and again. Today, we have her over for the first EVER interview on Khan’s Lantern! For those of you who’ve been with me through the past few months will know her from my post Comment Inspired.
What meaning does blogging hold for you?
Arpi: Honestly speaking, I started Scribbles@Arpita (March, 2015) because every author must have a blog, or so they say. I had, of course, been planning to be an author from much before that, but my first ebook had not been published until a few months later. The idea was to have a platform to promote the book. But having blogged here for close to a year now, I realize it is so much more than having a platform. I mainly blog about books/writing and once in a while about random stuff happening in my life.
Blogging for me is an extension of my writing. I don’t have the discipline to write every day. But blogging does not take much time, and also, I like to share my thoughts with others. Having blogged for several months, I have a set of readers who keep coming back and sharing their thoughts with me on my blog-posts. I cherish that a lot. That’s probably the one thing that keeps me going.
What inspired you to start writing? What keeps you inspired?
Arpi: I have written for as long as I can remember. I know that sounds clichéd, but well, clichés are clichés for a reason. As a kid, I wrote poems for my school magazine. You won’t believe the thrill I got from seeing my name in print – just like those of bigger, famous writers whose stories and poems we read in our textbooks. Until the next issue of the magazine came out, I kept going back to the page of the current issue where my poem/story was published again and again.
I remember creating same notebooks by stitching white pages and writing about the early human civilization – something that we were taught in history. The idea was to make a small book for my brother, to make history a fun thing for him! I wrote chapters like, “The invention of Fire” or “The invention of Wheel”. I don’t remember what happened to those journals – I guess my mother probably threw them in the trash thinking it was nothing, but the point is, even as a fifth or sixth grader, I had the desire to have something book-shaped where I could pen my own thoughts and which would have my name on the cover. I even had a small travel book, in which I drew pictures with sketch pens and wrote small travelogues every time we went to some new place.
I am not sure what really inspires me. I guess I am simply in awe of other writers – people who create worlds at the stroke of a pen/keyboard. Also, writing was one thing that my teachers praised me for when I was in school. I wasn’t much of a sports girl, so I wanted to do keep doing the one thing that I was told I do well. Of course, that kidlike desire to see my name in print is still there – you can call that an inspiration, too!
You self-published a book last August (or June, was it? Please correct me if I’m wrong.). Tell us about that journey.
Arpi: Bound by Life, my first (and until now, the only) ebook, was published on June 20, 2015. I learned about Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP), Amazon’s self-publishing program sometime around March/April 2015. By then I already knew how hard it was to be traditionally published, and I did not know if I had the patience to go to publishers’ doors. So I logged on to Amazon KDP and gave myself the deadline to publish my first book by June 20. I had published a small short story before that on Amazon KDP, just to test out how the entire process was. It got no buyers of course, and I realized that nobody would want to read a single story for 99 cents, especially from someone as new as me. That was an added trigger to finish an entire book fast and see if it was marketable.
Writing Bound by Life was hard, because at that time I was in my final semester of college and the exams were coming towards me at a fast pace. I wrote in whatever time I could get, pestering my then roommate and a few friends to beta read. Their appreciation helped me a lot making me feel confident in putting the stories together.
The deadline was also coming up fast. Now it was March and suddenly it was June. I had finished the last exams of my college life and was behind on the internal deadline to finish writing the stories and starting with editing. The one thing that I regret about Bound by Life is not being able to put as much time as I wanted towards editing. I believe it could have been a much better book had I had more time to edit.
After I hit the publish button, it was pure marketing. Marketing a book, especially at this age, is as important as writing it. I had send out Advanced Reader Copies before publishing the book, but that it was not early enough to get early reader reviews. I had also asked a few blogger friends to post their reviews of the book on their blogs.
The initial months since publishing did not really see much activity from the readers. The number of reviews and ratings on Amazon/GoodReads are still few. There has been close to 100 free downloads of the book on Amazon, even though till today the paid count is 10. I also see a lot of readers reading the book via Kindle Unlimited, which has the book for free if you have a KU subscription. Sales have actually picked up since November, 2015 and I am hopeful Bound by Life will reach more and more people in the coming days. At this point, I am truly happy with the response I got for Bound by Life, sales-wise/feedback-wise.
I am thankful to all the readers who thought it was worthwhile to read the book. Thank you for your support! I’d urge you all to share your honest opinion of the book on Amazon/GoodReads. Your feedback is extremely important for me.
Now onto books. What sort of books do you like to read? Are you among the ranks of those who think reading is a form of escapism? Your thoughts.
Arpi: I like fiction, mostly. Though I am open to almost every genre, I don’t read much fantasy or sci-fi. I avoided horror/dark novels as well, but since I finished Gone Girl, I thought I should broaden my horizon. I also like reading the classics, because again, every aspiring author must read them, or so they say. I enjoyed Pride and Prejudice a lot – I love old-era books (just like I like black and white movies).
Reading is escapism, yes, but you are escaping into someone else’s world filled with someone else’s problems. And you have to engage yourself in that world to understand the problems of this someone. So, yes, you escape from your own life and problems when you pull a book and delve yourself in it. On the other hand, you get engrossed into someone else’s life and their problems and start to think of that world as your own. So, really, is there ever an escape?
Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?
Arpi: I’m really not the best person to answer the question, because I am myself in the learning process. I have no degree in creative writing and all I write is simply based on my life experience.
But of course, the simplest advice would be to write as and when you can. To have the idea of a book published under your name is something, and to work towards that goal is something different altogether. From my self-publishing experience, I can tell us it is hard work if you really want to put your best efforts out there. But at the same time, it is a very fulfilling process. I still miss those days discussing my plot and the characters with my beta readers. Those were golden days!
So, dear aspiring writer, write whenever you can. Even 100 consistent words every day can take you a long way. Have realistic goals. Find where and in which mood you write best and try to recreate that. As long as you don’t give up, you’re good to go!
Bound by Life on GoodReads:
Bound by Life on Amazon:
Thanks for the awesome QnA session, Arpi!