Of late, I have been unusually hesitant to post anything that could be remotely related to writing achievements. Not that there have been many but I seem to have fallen into the vicious cycle of ‘writing less to achieve less’. I finally started my online MFA in a creative writing course last month and I was expected to submit my first assignment on Monday. On Sunday evening, I spoke to my MFA advisor from India (there are two and the main advisor is based out of the States). She had been my biggest motivation for taking up this course.
When I shared my inhibitions about the article not really making it to the set benchmark, she changed my perspective by inclining it towards ‘write more to achieve more’. This achievement could be in the form of a genuine comment of appreciation, a certificate, a trophy, a prize or even a small target fulfillment. She said every bit, however insignificant it might look to me, still matters for it gives the courage to carry on.
So, here’s one of my latest achievements as we reach the last leg of 2019 – I emerged as a runner-up in a Flash Fiction contest held by eShe in September. I wouldn’t even have known the results (announced on Oct 10) hadn’t they mailed me a final reminder to send them my address last week. Here’s the link to the entries that made it to the winning list. This competition was judged by some eminent writers in the field of literature and that is why this small feat feels special. If you have read my book ‘Deal of Death’, you would probably fathom my recent writing struggles through the name of my protagonist here.
Eight years ago, life was almost picture prefect. I was heading one of India’s leading Pvt Sector Bank branches in Mysore, Tanmoy and I had been married for 5 months after knowing each other for 12 yrs and he had shifted to Mysore by taking a sabbatical from his medical profession to pursue MD.
That year, I had visited Berhampore to celebrate Durga Pujo after ages. Two days at my parents house and two days at my marital home was how we had workedout the schedule and pujo couldn’t have a better arrangement. Ma looked quite fragile but that was justified since she was recovering from weakness due to a low hemoglobin count. A change of place was the need of the hour. So we decided to surprise my parents by booking their tickets to Mysore for Dec’11.
The day we left Berhampore in October, she had been crying nonstop. But she was prone to getting sentimental every time I went back to college or work after a vacation. Little did I know that her tear stained face trying to act brave for the sake of her daughter was the last time that I would see her. On the night of 11th Nov 2011, she was admitted to a private hospital in Berhampore with complains of pain in the abdomen. She was kept in the ICU as Baba and my marital family ran around trying to figure out what might have happened.
Sitting thousands of kilometers away, Tanmoy, who probably was the only one who understood the gravity of the situation, kept coordinating with the doctors while I was trying to get a car to take us to Bangalore airport the next morning and book the earliest flight to Kolkata. That night, we understood the meaning of ‘fear’ of losing a near one.
Niki Marwah, as the Superintendent of Police is in charge of maintaining the law and order of Shimla. At 5ft 6inches, this razor-sharp minded investigator loves her stilettos as much as she enjoys chasing down criminals. When she is not dodging marriage proposals from her mother , she finds herself meeting men set up by her best friend Kamini aka Kam who understands how intimidating a woman in uniform can turn out to be for future prospects. When a body is discovered at the Sonargram cable car base, SP Marwah along with her team consisting of Inspector Gupta from the crime branch, the veteran Inspector Pande and the new recruit ASP Shankar Sahay start investigating the death of the 37-year-old Rakesh Mehta aka Rak – President, and CEO of a publishing firm. As the highly competent cop and her team start delving into the details of the death, involved parties start getting exposed and the truth of the events turn out to be different from they are presumed to be. During the course of the investigation, she also runs into Captain Ram Mathur, a close friend of the murdered CEO and despite the development of a budding romance, a sudden discovery of past relationships lands him in the list of suspects. This action-packed thriller takes a reader through multiple twists and turns before revealing the identity of the killer.
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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July has been one of the toughest months for me this year. I was scheduled to start my MFA creative writing program and knew that the blog was going to see lesser posts than usual. As luck would have it, my health issues flared up badly by the end of June leaving me helpless and breathless. The last one was due to the severe nasal complications that I seemed to have developed recently. While it took a lot of determination to stay positive and stop myself from thinking about being productive, I need to mention that I also discovered some amazing authors and their books in the last three weeks. They kept me company as I tried to keep my hope alive about the effectiveness of medicines in helping me get back to a normal life.
And then something magical happened. On July 12th, I got a mail from Millennial Worx that my blog had made it to the top 20 shortlist of the Shining Bloggers Award and the final results of the top 10 winning Bloggers were scheduled for Sunday, July 21st. The most endearing aspect of this shortlist was that someone had nominated my blog for this award (anonymously) and I’m still trying to figure out who it was. But I feel immensely grateful that he/she considered me worth this nomination based on my work. On 21st July, the final list was and it gives me immense pleasure to inform you that soniasmusings.com won the award finishing at the third position. While I couldn’t be present in person to receive the trophy and certificate at Lucknow, the founders helped me connect to the audience through an audio visual live session.
Accolades and prestigious awards like this motivate me to write better and work harder. They serve as reminders of the reason I quit my corporate job to become a writer. Hence, I take this opportunity to thank all my readers, family members and friends who have been a constant source of support in my writing journey of 1 year 10 months. I am hoping to get back to creating some more beautiful pieces on this blog very soon.
It gives me immense pleasure to announce that soniasmusings.com has been selected as one of top 40 Indian lifestyle blogs by the esteemed portal Feedspot (specifically at no. 30). Finding my blog amidst renowned names like Verve and Filmfare magazine has only made me realize how special this recognition will always be.
The blog is a little less active than usual this month because I’m gearing up for my MFA study program starting next week. But I promise to work out the schedule as soon as I figure out the requirements of the course and my other writing commitments. Thank you for your support.
You can click here for more information related to this list.
For the last five days, I have had conflicting emotions. On one hand, I was relieved that the crazy month of April was over and I didn’t have to work at odd hours to schedule my posts. On the other hand, I missed reading and interacting with fellow bloggers who have now become a part of my extended virtual family. To spare myself the state of confusion, all that I have sincerely done since 2nd May is to catch up on my sleep. Today morning, when I saw the link for a reflection post, I jumped in to share my experience of an eventful A2Z challenge this year.
After my first successful Blogchatter A2Z challenge last year, I had written about my experience through a post filled with learnings, gratitude, and nostalgia. Last year, I had no plans in place. I was undecided on the theme until it was time to reveal it. Not a single post was based on predecided topics or written in advance (I didn’t even know that there was an option called schedule). This year I had decided to be a bit more organized in my approach since I had been waiting for the A2Z challenge for months together. I wanted to have a theme ready, wished to sort out the topics of the posts and even considered writing a few of them in advance. But old habits die hard. The plan to plan my posts stayed only in a state of planning as I dashed towards my usual last-minute execution mode.
When I started thinking about a theme two nights before the day of the theme-reveal post, I considered all the possible categories that I write about. Unfortunately, nothing seemed interesting. It was Sr. T’s idea that I write about the most relevant situation in my life at that moment which was all about Tuneer’s school admissions. I didn’t want to make the articles sound boring or coated with advice. In fact, I am the kind of flawed mother who would perfectly fit into that category of clueless parents seeing advice from the experts. So I thought of turning my harrowing experiences into humorous ones. All that I was worried about was how to stretch a topic so narrow into creating twenty-six posts. Yet whenever I sat down to write my post of the day, the fun element in reminiscing those memories helped the words flow effortlessly into a draft.