The Kernel and The Shell; an account of how the written word has changed my life

Books have always fascinated me and authors have awed me. Whenever I read a good book, I wanted to feel what’s it like inside an author’s head, a mind that shared a bit of it’s soul with us and enchanted us beyond mortal descriptions.

I wanted to be one of them. I wanted to write a book. I wanted to move people. Eventually, I wrote one. Little did I know that it would change my life in wholly unexpected ways.

As a little girl, I lived in a small hill-station and my time after school was mostly spent at my beloved grandma’s house. I loved it there, in her huge, airy rooms, large balconies, in her sweet-smelling garden. I loved the fact that I was left to my thoughts with no one to bother me. I would enact stories from the books I had read, especially the ones like “The Folk of The Faraway Tree” by Enid Blyton. Those were magical days and I waited for Saturday afternoons when my mother would take me to the British Council library where I got to spend a lot of time sitting on a tiny wooden stool surrounded by funny smelling shelves of books in the children’s section.

At fifteen, I graduated to Bernard Shaw,  Somerset Maugham and Dan Brown and Jeffery Archer. That was the culmination of my fairy tale world. Later on, when I read Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment and Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged, I knew there was a huge unexplored world beyond my grandmother’s white curtains and warm, scented gardens. This brought about a profound change in me and suddenly I grew up and wanted to see the world and write about people and share their stories.

packing up books while helping parents move in to their new place

A half written manuscript followed, and then another..and then it stopped. I was completely absorbed into academics because it was expected of me and I buried my creative side till I entered college.

I started writing again, during long summer evenings and this time no one knew. I started experimenting with shorter fiction and I submitted a couple of them to The Statesman. Both stories were published. It was the first time I had seen my name in print and it was the same time my parents discovered I snagged a spot in the old family favourite, two times. I was nineteen then. I was on cloud nine. I had broken into the short story market, one of the most difficult to break into; at least, that’s what I read back then.)

It was thrilling to know that my writing was good enough to be given a half page spot in a daily broadcast sheet that circulated in some of the biggest cities. Therefore, it was time to experiment more, I started working on a novel. Soaking in every new experience I had, it developed freely in the alleyways of my mind, twisting and turning and metamorphosing. It developed as I grew. Then it was done. It was a first piece of fiction over 50,000 words that I had written to completing before I turned twenty-one, three years ago.

Then I sat on it… and waited. Not knowing what to do next. Approach publishers? They would take forever to respond! Patience, for me, was not a virtue. I was very young and did not like to wait for things.

A bit of research followed and it was the first time I found out that you could turn it in to an e-book and launch it through Amazon. It was in a nascent stage three years ago and not many people knew about it. I was sceptical. Nevertheless I did proceed with it. Overnight, I got some downloads; people were actually buying my novel. (Note: It is no longer available in its original form. It is being integrated in to a more mature project called the Shadow Road.)
I was ecstatic. But the prospect of people reviewing it made me bite my nails off.

Temporary/ Placeholder cover image
Temporary/ Placeholder cover image

The next thing I did was start a blog to document my journey as a writer. Soon one day, out of the blue, an e-mail landed in my inbox. It was from the founder and editor of an online news-portal. He had stumbled upon my book and my blog and having liked my style of writing and considering the fact that I was from a science background, he offered me a spot as an article writer. My job was to simplify and re-write the latest science news and developments in a way people could understand. I had also just enrolled myself for M.Sc then and the idea propelled me to reinvent my author blog (that was still in its experimental stage) to something far more substantial and collaborative. It was my first exposure to new ideas on an international platform and Iearned to become more receptive to the ideas and opinions of others, met some great people and made some good friends from all over the world. It helped me develop as a person as I became more aware of the analytical side of things. Delegation, organisation and management became a top spot. My personal favourite “3 ways in which Thermodynamics helps you in being more productive and creative” resulted in me being written about and being invited to a talk show.

thermodynamics-and-creativity.jpg

It all reflected in my CV and it helped me get my first full time (coveted) job after I finished my Masters in July last year. It was a start-up and the interview was based on logical and analytical reasoning, communication, presentation and mathematical skills. The director told me (and I paraphrase), “One thing I like about your CV is how you have balanced science with writing.”

I GOT THE JOB!

Recently, when I went to college to receive an award for my M.Sc. Dissertation on Genomics, (my subject specialization) a group of juniors walked up to me and told me that they had read a lot of the stuff I’ve written and have loved it.

I guess there’s no bigger reward for a writer than having a bunch of strangers (or near-about strangers) coming up to them and telling them how much they loved their work and how it moved them.

Now, I am on my lookout for my perfect writer’s getaway where I can just conjure up tales about enchanted places and wonderful people like that little girl once did in her grandma’s house. A place with white curtains, and sweet smelling flowers floating in a china tray atop an antique coffee table, like the one my grandma gave me.

If you are in India, check out housing.com. They are on their way to revolutionizing the real estate sector. Maybe, they will help you find your perfect getaway!

Tell us about something that made a positive change in your life. Have a great week!

©2013-2015, The Idea Bucket. Written by Ananya.

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2 Comments

  1. It hasn’t changed my life yet, but I did come across some awesome opportunities in my life thanks to my blogging ability. But I do feel bad that I can’t write fiction. It’s less about the story/plot and more about the language. I have written a total of four short and long stories so far in Bangla and they did receive critical response. Some people still message me through my old blogs asking whether I wrote any new stories.

    Sadly, I like writing in English simply because that allows me to reach a wider audience. Problem with that is English is not my native language nor do I have any educational background in English. I looked up to a few institutes in Dhaka but they literally teach things that I already know (thanks to English movies and TV shows 😛 ). When it comes to fiction, people are on their own.

    This affects my reading, too. I want to read the famous classic stories and novels, but I can’t because the frequent back and forth with dictionary makes the reading a miserable experience. I’m happy that I at least have some level of writing skill to get paid to write news content, I just wish I could write fiction as well.

    1. Wow, thanks for sharing your story! Its true with me as well, I write in English because I can reach a wider audience all over India and abroad 🙂

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