In the first year of becoming a solopreneur


Top post on IndiBlogger, the biggest community of Indian Bloggers


Featured post on IndiBlogger, the biggest community of Indian Bloggers

On 13th Sep last year, when I took the plunge to switch my career choice from being a corporate employee to a solopreneur with this blog, I honestly hadn’t expected this journey to be one of the best experiences in my life. After moving back to Kolkata in 2016, I had decided to take a sabbatical. The purpose was to step back from the jazz of being a high-profile Banker and analyze what made me the happiest. Between being a hands-on mother to an infant and reading every single book that I could lay my hands on, I realized that I looked forward to the quiet time every night when I gave a structure to my thoughts by writing them down in my diary. This had become my coping mechanism to deal with my mother’s sudden demise and then a routine that I enjoyed the most.

The logo of soniasmusings.com
The logo of soniasmusings.com

I also have an honest confession to make here. I doubt if I could have broken the mold and ventured into this new territory hadn’t I taken some time off to get used to the phase of salary credit messages not arriving every month end and rewards and recognition parties not happening every quarter. Also becoming a mother had suddenly brought about a spectrum of change in my priorities.

I really didn’t have a plan when I started out. I wrote on topics that I was fond of like food, travel, movies, and books. Either the narrative was based on my personal experiences or it was of the nature of a review. It felt great when celebrities, authors and restaurant management appreciated the efforts through a message or a re-tweet. The personal journey category came next and it is still one of my favorite corners of the blog. Just before my toddler started his preschool, I decided to write about parenting based on the current stage in my life. It took me a while to write about topics closest to my heart like normalizing breastfeeding, the taboo associated with menstruation and gender stereotyping as part of my social issues column. They were all based on my perspective and experience. My confidence got a boost when multiple articles were featured and trended on portals like Women’s web, Youth Ki Awaaz, Momspresso among others.

Journey of a published author
Deal of Death

Until this period, I rarely read or interacted with other bloggers. I realized my approach was incorrect at different levels I participated in the Blogchatter A2Z challenge in April. It involved a lot of dialogues and suddenly I was exposed to a wonderful community of bloggers and their fabulous work. My blog had started receiving a good number of visitors as well. This was also the period when I heard of other blogging communities like Indiblogger and BlogAdda.

The next best thing happened in May when I turned an author with my debut Detective novella ‘Deal of Death’ as part of the Blogchatter Ebook carnival. From a blogger, I had transitioned into a published author. June brought along the Write Tribe festival of words followed by Bar-A-Thon in July. I had finally discovered my love for writing fiction and flash fiction posts. It was thrilling to weave a story around a prompt in a restricted number of words. Quite a number of posts made it to the featured section and the top posts in Indiblogger. August brought in a pack of surprises. All the posts written on WOW prompts won the WOW badge by BlogAdda. But the best was when one of my stories made it to the nine winning stories in the Lights, camera, Chatter contest by Blogchatter and I went on to narrate it live on FB. I wrapped up the month winning the Muse of the Month contest by Women’s Web.

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Awards and recognition

September began with a positive note as I won the first prize in a blogging contest. But what I really look forward to is the new journey that I am about to begin as I take on the role of an invited speaker guest at the Women’s web Breaking Barriers event in Kolkata this weekend.

Overall, the experience has been extremely satisfying and humbling. Summarizing my learnings in just six points, I would say –

1. Read, reciprocate and engage – I would call this my biggest takeaway for the first year. When I started out, I would publish my post and wait to be discovered. I rarely visited or read others. It is essential to understand that without engaging in a meaningful conversation with others, there’s very little that we can achieve in the blog-o-sphere. Do note the word ‘meaningful’ here. It goes beyond the great post, well written, nice story kind of comments.

2. Optimum utilization of social media for promotions – As much as it is necessary to write, it is also important to promote it on social media for wider reach. However, I would suggest not to overdo it. I have received good response using FB and Twitter as a medium. It is only recently that I have started focusing on Instagram and Pinterest still seems like a far-fetched dream. Having said that, I would emphasize the fact that great content definitely gets rewarded eventually.

3. Do not hesitate to seek help  – During the initial months of blogging, I had been snubbed by a senior blogger for asking some ‘frivolous’ questions. We have definitely moved beyond that incident today but this bitter experience conditioned my mindset in a way that I stopped seeking out help. It was only after I met Maya, my closest friend in the virtual world that I realized the technicalities of blogging isn’t so difficult. I will also be eternally grateful to another close friend of mine Ashvini for being a great support and introducing me to the wonder-woman of the blogging world Shailaja. It is really difficult to meet a person as helpful and knowledgeable as her. I have met so many amazing bloggers and writers of late that I realized how vibrant the blogging community is.

4. Take your time to find your niche – Despite the fact that I got a lot of appreciation for my movie reviews and recognition for my articles on other portals, it was only after ‘Deal of Death’ released that I figured out where my heart lay. I started putting my heart and soul into my stories as I transitioned into a fiction writer. In the near future, I have plans of starting a YouTube channel dedicated to the art of storytelling and narration camera.

Speaker at Breaking Barriers
Breaking Barriers by Women’s Web

5. Explore other possibilities in the same domain – I always prefer to call myself a writer because that covers both aspects of being a blogger and a published author. Now I also add the term storyteller to describe my profession and I am looking forward to donning the cap of a speaker next. I have grabbed every relevant opportunity to explore something new and it has turned out to be beneficial.

6. The long-term vision of sustainability – When I started out, my tagline read ‘Embarking on a new journey’ because that described my state. With time, I realized that my blog was basically very high on emotions. Recently, I redefined the tagline as ‘Words, photos & emotions’ summarizing what this blog is all about. Whether blogging is a hobby or a full-time profession, there needs to be a purpose of its existence. As a matter of principle, I don’t do promotions irrelevant to my blog. I have lost out on the financial gains but it makes me happy.

It has been a great year with the booming stats, awards, and recognition. I hope to work harder and bring in stories of wider variety in the future. Thank you for the continued support and love. I’m planning a surprise as part of the birthday celebration very soon, so stay tuned for further details.

The forced inhabitants of a hilly terrain

The girl looked out of the one-roomed house at the dark clouds. The breeze sweeping through the Kans grass smelt of Durga Puja. A year back, she had celebrated their biggest festival with her parents in Bengal. Now she didn’t even know which part of the country they had kept her hidden.

Shades of perception
Photo prompt – copyright@soniasmusings

She had been kidnapped on the way to school. The kidnapper had gagged, blindfolded and sexually abused her. He had sold her at a brothel in a faraway hill station. She had been shocked to see his familiar face by chance.

Night after night, she bared her body to strangers as they raided it to satisfy their lust. She cried for the first few weeks and then converted her soul to stone. Last night she had spotted her kidnapper. She had covered her face and lured him into the room for the final act.

She turned to look at the brothel women watching the TV. The inspector spoke, “The man, stabbed to death has been identified as the maternal uncle of the girl who had sold the teenager for money. She lost her life due to strangulation during the struggle.”

But she had succeeded in seeking her revenge.

(200 words)

This is the 4th post written as part of the #MyfriendAlexa campaign as per my theme ‘Shades of Perception’. You can read the first three here.

For this challenge, I am using four photos as prompts to weave two flash fiction stories and one real story behind the picture. This is my second picture prompt. Stay tuned to read the second flash fiction that I will write around the same picture in my next post. You could also consider subscribing to my blog if you like reading my stories.

I am taking my Alexa rank to the next level with Blogchatter

The history and mystery surrounding the steps

This January, I decided to work on a travel diary based on the rich historical background of my home district Murshidabad in Bengal. I had moved out of my hometown Berhampore in 1999 for higher studies. For sixteen long years, I stayed in different cities owing to education and job assignments. When we moved back in 2016, Kolkata had become our new home. In the backyard of my memories, Murshidabad always had a strong influence. I extended my stay at my in-laws for a month this time. Every alternate day, I visited places of historical significance in Murshidabad to understand the folklore surrounding it, read up history books, listened to a tourist guide’s version of its history and clicked numerous snaps. This series formed a part of my BlogchatterA2Z challenge based on the theme ‘A dollop of Bengal”(letters H – M).

This photo was clicked at Nasipur Rajbari (Palace). This palace used to be the court of Debi Singha – the tax collector (in)famous for his atrocities towards the poor. A portion of this property has now been converted into an art museum and library. These steps with a tainted history of bloodshed and pain evoked a feeling of eeriness in me.

(198 words)

When the steps decide between right and wrong
Photo prompt – copyright@soniasmusings

This is the third post (nonfiction) written as part of the #MyfriendAlexa campaign on the theme ‘Shades of Perception’. You can read the first flash fiction around this picture prompt here and the second one here.

This post is part of the Tuesday Photo Challenge on the theme ‘Backyard’ this week.

Linking up with Wordless Wednesday created by Esha and Natasha.

I am taking my Alexa rank to the next level with Blogchatter

The steps that fostered a friendship for life

Through the classroom window, Tiya spotted Raisha slouched on the ground. She ran down the array of stairs to call Arjun. They needed to carry her back home immediately.

When the steps decide between right and wrong
Photo prompt – copyright@soniasmusings

“I had to give up my cricket match for this wasted friend of yours.” Arjun sounded annoyed. “You have been trying so hard but she doesn’t want to cooperate at all.”

“We have been dating for two months now but do you know how scared I would feel to even walk down these stairs alone? When I shifted from Jhansi to Delhi, I was bullied incessantly in the campus for my looks and accent. Raisha barely knew me yet she stood up for me. When she realized that I missed home, she started finding excuses to take me to her house. Her mom made me feel like family. Raisha had grown up without a father but when she lost her mom to cancer three months back, she sunk into depression and turned towards drugs. How can I abandon her today when she needs me the most?”, tears rolled down Tiya’s cheeks.

Arjun held Tiya’s hands firmly. Together, they would help a friend retrace her steps towards a normal life, he promised.

(200 words)

This is the second post written as part of the #MyfriendAlexa campaign as per my theme ‘Shades of Perception’. You can read the first post written around the same picture prompt here.

For this challenge, I will be using four photos as prompts to weave two flash fiction stories and one real story behind the picture. Stay tuned to read the third post that will be about this picture and its significance. You could also consider subscribing to my blog if you like reading my stories.

I am taking my Alexa rank to the next level with Blogchatter

 

The metamorphosis of love and romance in my life

wowbadge
WOW Post badge

This year, T and I completed two decades of being friends. This is inclusive of the few years of dating and seven years of being married. I had written a post some time back describing how it took us a decade, a broken relationship each and three cities to realize that we were destined to be together. This time, I thought of writing about the fate of romance post marriage.

We were married in June 2011. During that period, my Banking job had me posted in Mysore and T relocated from Kolkata to enroll in an M. D. course there. The initial few months were filled with fun, frolic, and food. We realized that we had so many things in common. We loved movies, experimenting with food and traveling. While I loved the mountains, he preferred the sea but we considered that to be an opportunity to explore different locations together. If there was one area that we never wanted to visit, it had to be the Forests. That is why despite being so near, we never planned a trip to Bandipur or Masinagudi. Truth is that I’m actually scared of any creature bigger than a cockroach. So from lizards to elephants, I would not want any kind of rendezvous with them.

romantic-story-forest-envelope-burglar-balloon
Romantic story – forest, envelope, burglar, balloon

Birthdays and special occasions meant grand celebration with cakes, flowers, balloonsand gifts. Life couldn’t have been more perfect.

Continue reading “The metamorphosis of love and romance in my life”

Books, emotions and memories over the years

First Prize award-winning entry of the contest –

Sonia
SuperStar Blogger Award

If you ask me what gift can make me the happiest, I would always say books. The smell of a book or the feeling evoked from touching it is sanctimonious for me. That is why if someone asks me to choose between a paperback or e-book, I will always choose the former.

Books have been an integral part of my growing up years. My father, now a retired Mathematics Professor has always been fond of Bengali literature. My mother would read out stories from the children’s books and my fascination for the written word began. Once I discovered the love of reading on my own, I sucked into a world of my own.

I must have been in class 5 when I was introduced to Satyajit Ray. During summer vacation that year, one of his Detective novels ‘Sonar Kella’ adapted to a movie kept playing on TV. I was enthralled by it. I remember studying hard for the final term exams that year because Baba had promised a double treat of books by Ray if I ranked in the top three.

Thus began my journey with the razor-sharp and intelligent sleuth Feluda aka Pradosh C Mitter. Assisted by his cousin brother Tapesh Ranjan aka Topshe and friend Lalmohan Ganguly aka Jatayu, they traveled from the banks of the Ganges in Benaras to the Thames in London.

Each year, I would eagerly be waiting for the book fair held during winters. I would pick up all the new Feluda books, Ray’s other books, and some more detective thrillers. These books were then kept in Ma’s custody until my second term exams were over. I can never forget the way I would rush back home to claim my most cherished possession after the last exam.

Throughout my growing years, winter afternoons had occupied a special place in my heart. I remember sitting on a carpet spread over the veranda floor, sipping coffee and reading books. Ma would give me company some days and so those afternoons were spent narrating a story from any of my favorite books to her.

Books, emotions and memories over the years
Books, emotions, and memories over the years

Continue reading “Books, emotions and memories over the years”

When the steps decide between right and wrong

Mir Rehman walked inside his office room in the palace.

The rumors about the palace being haunted had led to a decline in visitors. But having worked as a Diwan for 38 years here, Mir rubbished such claims.

Of late his relation with Amir Ali, the last Nawab had become sour. Amir’s obsession with alcohol and women had been eating into the palace’s revenues.

When the steps decide between right and wrong
Photo prompt – copyright@soniasmusings

The creaking of the door made Mir observe Amir’s entry with another man.

“Anjan, finalize the hotel deal and give me the money.”

Anjan said, “What did you do to Mir who had threatened to inform the local police about your unlawful activities?”

“I killed him in his sleep and rolled his dead body down the stairs outside. The police and the local doctor helped me cover it up as an accident from tripping.”

But Anjan had turned pale on spotting a ledger in the air, held without any support.

Next morning, the newspapers carried details of Nawab Amir Ali and liquor baron Anjan Seth’s demises. Amir had a fatal fall from the stairs while Anjan had passed away from a heart attack.

For Mir Rehman, it was work as usual in his corner office room.

(199 words)

This is the first post written as part of the #MyfriendAlexa campaign as per my theme ‘Shades of Perception’.

For this challenge, I will be using four photos as prompts to weave two flash fiction stories and one real story behind the picture. Stay tuned to read the second flash fiction that I will write around the same picture in my next post. You could also consider subscribing to my blog if you like reading my stories.

I am taking my Alexa rank to the next level with Blogchatter