This is my latest acquisition. A winged back chair combined with an ottoman. I confess I have a fancy for antique stuff. Though Vijay, my carpenter, has made just the duplicate of the picture that I showed him. the wing chair now dwarfs my modest flat. I should have known better. Now, I feel rather self-conscious using it. The day next it arrived from Vijay’s workshop I reclined on it with my feet up on the ottoman and promptly went off to sleep. It was 04.00 am in the morning and when I got up I had a cramped neck because my head had lolled to one side. I realised I need a neck rest to enjoy a good nap on the chair.
I am a staunch believer of destiny and I distinctly feel that whatever comes to a person has its own purpose – from the most mundane to the most exquisite. So, when my brother-in-law said that I would be requiring this piece of furniture more than ever I could not help but agree. But the reason he cited made me laugh aloud.
That brings me to the next piece of happening in me-life. Guys! I am pleased to announce that my collection of short stories has got recently published by Creative Crows. Its my first solo publication and I am extremely proud of it because I have put in my hundred percent to it. So coming to my B-I-L’s prophecy, I would be now requiring the winged back chair more than anytime before because once my book hits the stand it is going to become no less than a bestseller( according to him) and then there would be no looking back for me. Thereafter, I would be doing just nothing throughout the day but smoke hookah with all the proper noises sitting on my winged chair. So much so for his flight of fancy!
About the book. I consider it one of my prime achievements at the fag end of my working career though it has nothing to do with my earning profession. I am a 09.00 to 05.00 worker which at times is a constraint as well as a blessing….mostly. Constraint because I cannot think of doing anything else once I am into my job which is as demanding and as harrowing as any job could be. Blessing because I have a steady source of income at the end of every month and I do not have to think from where the next meal is going to come. But this was high time I did something other than my vocation. Why? Because I must have something to engage with once I retire from my thirty five years old job! Notwithstanding the fact that I do not consider writing books to be a source of substantial income. I am here talking of mental occupation which is far more important than earning outside your job. At lease to me.
The next important point. Why Creative Crows?
Being in the Government I had to take special approval before getting into publication. From the very beginning I was set on self publication though it is strangely jeered as vanity publication, I seriously do not understand why because to me it is the best thing that could happen to not only first timers but also to others whom literary agents do not consider to be their latest find. However, there are segment of writers who think authors who go for self publication are those who have been rejected by established publishers because their work is not good enough. Wrong. But I tell you self publication is also not something easy. Even if you pay for your books to be published there are Publishing Houses who will unnecessarily meddle into your work and tell you what and how to write. The Editor simply feels he is some kind of king (nay, author) maker and give you a horde of unwanted suggestions, whether you like it or not.
Talking of big Publishing Houses, the latest trend is that they do not wish to communicate directly with the writers other than through literary agents who are there to “evaluate” your work, i.e. whether it is commercially viable, or let them rot in the slushpile if they feel it is not worthwhile to publish. And then there are some who will tell you point blank like poetry, short stories do not sell because everyone from an IIM/IIT alumni to a school drop out is busy writing full fledged novels and these are selling like hot cakes!!
So, it took almost two years for me to bump into Creative Crows, the name clicked as much as their web page. This Publishing House was set up by an ex-army personnel who took upon himself to publish the anecdotal and other experiential writings of ex-army personnel which I later gathered must be doing rounds amongst the cadre – their jokes, their adventures, their commentaries and their viewpoints on various subjects, most importantly, on defence. It is at this point of time I realized that there are so many different types of literary ventures which are separate genres by themselves – army literature, corporate literature, spiritual literature, medical literature et al. Luckily for me Creative Crows also published literary works other than army literature.
Coming to the founder of Creative Crows, Late Colonel Mahip Chaddha, who must have had a great sense of humour to call his PH thus. I all along had this intuition that his concern must be working on very transparent footing. Army people, I strongly believe, have their own redoubtable integrity. And how correct I was!
To make a long story short, the journey so far with Creative Crows has been wonderful and enriching. Hope I will not be disappointed at any point of time later. So, here I am with my anthology of fifteen short stories about contemporary urban life and its vagaries.
This post will remain incomplete if I do not mention Ankita Sharma of Humming Words fame who so artistically created the cover jacket of the book. Each picture denotes the essence of each short story and these are six in number. As you see these fly out of a brimming basket underscoring the clutter in modern lifestyle, you realize how richly they contribute to the respective stories inside. Experience with Ankita was eye opening. Till this time, for me a cover jacket was merely a cover jacket, however, there would be occasions when I would be staring at some without knowing why because I thought these just happened to be eye catching.
It is Ankita who taught me that making a cover jacket is no less a challenging assignment than any other art form. She taught me to be concerned about detailing, meticulous about positioning and thorough about what a cover conveys to a reader. I am immensely indebted to her, in brief.
I am keeping my fingers crossed that the book would find interested readers. Short stories, like poetry, is a dying genre. Nobody thinks short stories are worth reading. But I feel writing a short story is much more difficult than writing a novel because at times a seedling of a novel is embedded in short fiction. The sweep it has to cover and convey, the characters it has to sketch and establish, the message it has to communicate and inspire readers with are propositions of enormous nature confined within the bounds of a few pages.
Short stories come to an end very shortly but are able to leave traces behind which lurk in the mindscape like the flying leaflets from life’s tome. A book of short stories can be fished out and read readily anywhere – while traveling, during bedtime, in-between gruelling work schedule and definitely while relaxing during leisure hours. So with all such options how can you not pick up “A Basketful Of Lies” and flip through. Yes, that’s the name of the book.
In the final analysis, what is fiction but dishing out a truism of life cloaked in the garb of lies? As long as you cherish these, let the basket be full.