“Never give up on the one thing you cannot go a day without thinking about.”
Six years old and I already declared to the world that I would be a writer when I grew up. Most people wouldn’t believe me, and sometimes pass me words of wisdom. But my mother, she never let me believe I wouldn’t become a writer someday. She always encouraged me, loved me and supported me. Even when I would ask weird questions about the post office (yes, I had never needed to avail of that service before), she would smile kindly and guide me. At the beginning of my Masters course, I’d made a to-do list for life. The first thing on it was, “Publish a book before I graduate from MA.”
I had been getting rejection slips for a long time. At first due to my age, and then because the plot wasn’t fitting their needs, or it was not something they were looking for. But I was always wished good luck, and the hope that my book found a home elsewhere.
There’s this awesome website called FictionPress. I’d been a writer of its sister site, Fan Fiction since I was in class 12. I thought posting my work online for the world to see would bring in much needed feedback. I wasn’t wrong. I made tons of online friends, who were more than happy to help me out with my fiction writing. Lots of stories are still there on my fictionpress account, and even now when I want to test an idea – I find FictionPress to be the best place to experiment.
The idea for The Secret Proposal (then titled The Strange Proposal) had come to me when I was attending a series of weddings in the month of December 2012. I was so bored out of my mind at each of these wedding that I couldn’t help but think if this was a book; I’d have a tall, dark and handsome hero standing right next to me…without realizing it, Jasmine and Veer strolled into my head, fully formed.
When I wrote The Secret Proposal, I was actually in a frenzied state. I wrote nonstop, every day from December 2011 to March 2012. My first readers were online ones – the ones in FictionPress, whose real names I may never find out. They warmed to the idea of Jasmine and Veer, and loved the extremely Bengali essence I’d added in the story. In Fictionpress you update your stories chapter wise, so it’s crucial to keep cliffhangers all the time. I was bombarded with questions and suggestions, and hate mail for Tanveer Bhattacharya. My online friends were the ones who suggested that I make it a little harder for the characters to come together – hence the character of Neeraj (originally intended to be Jasmine’s confidant) turned into an antagonist and Meghan Mukherjee (her best friend) took a more solid role.
It took me around three to four months to finish writing the story. I began writing on 12th December 2011 and finished on 14th March, I think. There wasn’t much rewrites done to be honest, just extending the storyline…thinking evil ways to make my characters suffer more! After which, I began writing query letters to all the publishers, whose contact I had been able to get hold off. I actually have a diary where the names and emails, along with their requirements are noted down. I would send out some five mails every day, inquiring, proposing the book…and keep my fingers crossed. Finally, when General Press replied saying the liked the book – I was already on cloud nine. I was thoroughly convinced that my book would get published, and I would strike the first thing off my wish list…
The months of April and May 2012 were really special for me. I can recall everything that had happened. Right from the fact I had accidentally injured myself while trying to open my book’s contract, to the fact my cat, Pippo, had seized a golden opportunity to run away from home when the postman was handing over the said contract to me! Indeed, in more ways than one, last year was the best year of my life.
Once the contract was signed and mailed off, I thought everything would be smooth sailing. But I was wrong – because now, I had to send across a few details required of the author. When I was younger, I would try and write author bios for myself, copying them from the books I used to read. Yet, when I time finally rolled around for me to write an author’s bio – I felt as though my brain had frozen. How could I fit ‘Aniesha Brahma’ into two fifty odd words?
It so happened that, General Press did like the book very much, and the Facebook page of the same was backed by enthusiastic followers. Even today I love waking up a fresh new ‘like’ on the page, and I frequently check the ‘other’ folder of messages in Facebook, because I found really sweet messages there. At times praising the book, other times asking me if I am the ‘Aniesha Brahma’ who wrote The Secret Proposal and once I assure them I am, they want to know when the next book is coming along.
Nevertheless I managed to finish and mail off everything in time, and finally in September the book was available. I had never felt so happy. The minute I saw my book…I was filled with unspeakable joy and the fact that I’d finally lived my dream, just refused to come home to me. In a frenzied state, I told my best friends, my classmates, my family members that the book had finally arrived! I even danced around the house with Pippo! J
So, right now, I am still dreaming up new plots, trying to figure out what would translate into a bestseller, helping my mother run her work from home (Paw Printz) and pursuing an MPhil degree in Comparative Literature.
To everyone who is a writer and wants to be published, don’t worry. Just keep writing and trust me, the story that you might think doesn’t have potential – just might be the one to change your life overnight. Good luck. And as the wise men say, don’t be a writer. Be writing! Take me for example: My dream had been to become published before I left university…and it came true. Because the year The Secret Proposal was published, was my final year at Masters. Having one dream realized gave me the courage to dream big and to believe that anything really is possible if you put your mind to it.