Over the past few months, most of my updates have been limited to awards and recognition. While the blog was making a way to quite a few esteemed lists and my writing got me my first award of this year, I was grappling with recurrent health issues rendering me incapable of maintaining a regular writing schedule. Not the one to give up on my dreams, I have finally decided to face one of the lowest phases of my life heads on and get back to blogging and writing September 1st onwards. Blogchatter is back with the fourth season of My Friend Alexa and it will be my second year of participation in this campaign.
What it is about –
I will be writing 2 posts every week on my blog (a total of 8 posts in the month) in September while reading a lot of my fellow bloggers every day. The Alexa rank of my blog which is the highest in the last one and a half year is expected to come down due to consistency in writing and also because of being read by others (the lower the rank, the better for the blog).
My experience from the campaign –
Last year was my maiden attempt at My friend Alexa. This campaign came at a time when I was consistently blogging every month and had a decent Alexa rank to begin with. Through this campaign, I wrote 12 posts in September and discovered a bunch of new bloggers. It helped me sustain my writing momentum, improve the quantitative parameters associated with my blog while also giving me an exposure to some prolific writers. I understood the need to write short posts (compared to some really long ones that I was writing until then) and helped me gain a grip on writing flash fiction.
Theme reveal –
In the last few months that I couldn’t write much, I finally utilized the time to catch up on my reading list. During the process, I discovered some brilliant Indian detective thrillers, a genre I enjoy reading the most. So, this September I intend to write about eight of my favorite Indian detectives from literature. To know which detective is the first one to make it to this list, please visit my blog to read the post on September 3rd. I hope to give you a great reading experience on my blog this September.
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If I had to define 2018 in a single sentence, I would say that it was a year of solopreneurship and mindful breaks. My writing found a new direction through my blog and book. And I discovered the beauty of listening to the needs of my mind and soul and nurturing them well through multiple breaks. 2019 is going to be my year of ‘A little more’ since I have consciously refrained from making any new resolutions this year. Instead, I’m going to focus on doing a little more of those things that have become an integral part of my existence – writing, spending time with my family and staying happy by choice.
I wish you all a very happy and vibrant New Year. May 2019 be the year of bringing out the best in ‘you’.
I have enjoyed getting into this throwback mode and pulling out the best moments of 2018. In the last post of both the recap series and this year, I talk about December – the month of joy and holidays and bring forth my goals for 2019. The previous posts related to this series is available here.
Orange Flower Award shortlist – Category :Humor
Orange Flower Award shortlist – Category :Travel writing
In this month, I was delighted to have made it to the list of top twenty writers in the categories of Travel Writing and Humor at the Orange Flower Awards conducted by Women’s Web. To be shortlisted among 1600 writers was nothing short of a dream come true moment for me. While I might not have won the award this year, it gave me the right kind of boost and motivation to stay focused and work harder.
This was also the month when the Indiblogger #TheBlindList contest winners were announced and I was pleasantly surprised to find my name and post in the list of winners.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
If someone asks me what makes me happy, I can probably recollect only a couple of things that really make me feel like I’m on top of the world. But till date, I have never really sat down and listed them. This prompt gave me an opportunity to take a break from the usual routine and reflect instead. I started remembering moments, people and things that made me happy. So here’s my most precious thirty –
The three men in my life –
My toddler, my husband and my father bring out the best in me. I am the happiest when I am around them. Spending time with my father, having a heartfelt conversation with my husband and cuddling my toddler always bring a smile to my face. Also, the story time that I have with my toddler before he sleeps every night last is our moment of togetherness and bonding.
I have a handful of friends but I am grateful for their presence in my life. Conversations with them really lift up my spirits.
I quit my job as a Banker to chase my passion for writing last year. And till date, I consider this to be the best decision of my life. When I write, I am the happiest.
The tag of a published author –
This year in the month of May, I published my debut novella ‘Deal of Death’ on the Blogchatter platform. Until then I was a blogger but this opportunity made me an author. While I am still giving it finishing touches before putting it up on Amazon, I will always consider the moment of transitioning into a published author as one of the happiest ones of my life.
I love the rainy season, especially if I have the option to stay indoors. The smell of the earth after rains is probably one of my most favorite ones.
Purchasing and reading them, especially thrillers gives me a high. I am still orthodox in the way I read my books. I prefer to hold them while reading instead of the e-book version. Also, the smell of a new book is beautiful.
About Roma’s ebook: A girl child who listens to all the malicious ways of the world in her mother’s womb feels petrified but decides to survive and take the challenge. She proves herself and the society how a commoner with zero support system manages to live life queen size.
Few months back I wrote a post on my career trajectory from a chemistry major to that of a Banker and then how my love for the writing world turned me into a full-time blogger. Little did I know that the next step of elevating this writing journey to that of an author would happen so soon.
In April, I participated in the Blogchatter A2Z challenge to bring discipline to my blogging schedule and meet like-minded bloggers in the blog-o-sphere. Despite the hectic 26 days of non-stop writing, it turned out to be an extremely interesting and insightful month. During the month we were given the option to sign up for the Blogchatter E-book carnival which meant we could convert our blog posts into an e-book and become published authors. I was probably one of the last ones to sign up for this. There’s a difference in the quality, word count, format and nature of a book from that of a blog post and I kept wondering if I could manage to put in so much of effort and time while raising a preschooler back home. Besides, month-long the challenge had left me mentally exhausted.