A small update on my third book due for launch this year
How’s 2023 going so far?
I could wrap up 2022 with joy and satisfaction as I hit the send button for book no. 2 (the second in the Detective Raya Ray series) to my publisher. Unfortunately, 2023 began with a shock as my father-in-law had a nasty fall. He underwent surgery for a broken bone. By God’s grace, he’s better now and recovering well. In January, we celebrated Saraswati puja and explored some delectable cuisines at different restaurants.
A month into 2023, I was chasing the deadline for book no. 3, my first commissioned project for a true crime story from the past. It was also the month my seven-and-a-half-year-old was due for his final assessment. Kolkata was under the grip of a deadly virus, and almost everyone I know, including me, was grappling with a weird kind of flu that just refused to go away.
By the beginning of March, things started looking better as I delivered the manuscript within the deadline, and we showed signs of recovery from the flu. The son finished his exams on the 6th of March, and we took off for a mini vacation to Mandarmani the next day.
Since the 7th of March was Holi, we played with colors before diving into the Mandarmani sea. Three days of a beach holiday rejuvenated our minds and bodies as we explored Tajpur Beach and Mohana near Digha Beach, experimented with local cuisine, and spent hours at Mandarmani beach. Of course, we didn’t want to return as the break got over.
The kid has his session break; I have taken another week off to spend time and play various indoor games with him. After three years of working non-stop on both books, writing and editing them, I decided to take time off before getting involved in the prepublication stages of my upcoming books. So, here we are, watching children’s movies like Sonar Kella, reading story books, playing puzzles and brain games, and squeezing out every minute to enjoy to the fullest.
I hope you had a great start to 2023 and that the year is treating you kindly so far.
Happy New Year 2023
Beginning the year with the official announcements related to my upcoming books.
Goa, Oct’22 – signed the contract for book 2. (Raya’s second case)
Kolkata, Dec’22 – signed the final agreement for book 3. (a true crime story and my first commissioned writing project)
2022 was the year of fitness and ‘behind the scenes’ for me. Wrapped up the year with immense gratitude, happiness, and love.
Fingers crossed that 2023 will bring more success, joy, and peace and provide ample reasons to celebrate.
Wishing everyone a happy and peaceful New Year. May all your dreams come true in 2023. Stay healthy, stay safe.
I’ll update the status of the books as and when I have news about them to share. Stay tuned for further details.
Wrapping up 2022 and welcoming 2023
2022 taught me the value of health. For the first time, I got into a fitness regime and made walking a constant parameter of my daily routine. Losing 11 kgs, walking 10k steps, and eating less junk food brought a positive change in my physical and mental health. Though I can’t do 10k steps anymore because of tendonitis, I don’t go a day without walking, even if it’s just 2.5k steps.
2022 is also the year of travel and outings. We squeezed time out of our busy schedules for gastronomic adventures, multiple day-outings, a trip to Mandarmani, going home to Berhampore during Durga Puja, and taking a vacation to Goa during Diwali. We feel grateful for the time we spent with Baba, my in-laws, and close friends.Continue reading “Wrapping up 2022 and welcoming 2023”
My journey towards health and fitness
A year ago, I had a ligament tear that rendered me incapable of doing basic movements. My medico husband took me to an orthopedic surgeon when the pain went from bad to worse despite the medicines and treatment. After innumerable x-rays, blood tests, and MRIs, I was diagnosed with osteoarthritis and seronegative rheumatoid arthritis. It took around two months for the diagnosis and detection.
To say I was scared and disheartened would be an understatement. I was depressed and frustrated beyond words. My inability to attend to simple chores like holding a glass or walking to the washroom became a nightmare. I couldn’t type for more than five to seven minutes because my fingers would swell up. So many nights went away when I wept silently at the writing desk at my helpless situation.
I almost lost hope of getting back on my foot, literally and figuratively. The senior surgeon had cautioned me to lose weight on priority. My knees were unable to hold my weight. After a fortnight, his medicines started showing results as my pain subsided slowly. I started altering my food habits to include more greens and less junk.
Read more: My journey towards health and fitness
When I visited him after a month, he told me I could start walking at a regular pace. I wasn’t allowed any other exercise – not even jogging. On Nov 13th, 2021, I took my first step toward fitness. I walked 3k steps within 50 minutes. A fortnight later, I was doing 8k steps within one and half hours.
In December, I got a fitness band and started 10k steps per day. I walked on the terrace for nearly two hours to meet my daily target. Sometimes I had to do it in two shifts based on my other work commitments. I started writing Raya’s third case. I met my step target and wrote 50 words daily. I wasn’t still able to write much because the rheumatoid pain wasn’t in control.
From January to date, I have walked every day. Even if I missed the target on one or two days in a month, I had zero no-walking days. And I walk anywhere at any time. When I can’t go to the terrace, I walk in my room, in the corridor, on my balcony, and even in the basement when I go to pick up my son. To say it wasn’t easy would be unfair. It was a mammoth task to convince my mind that I couldn’t afford to be happily fat or rather obese any longer if I want to survive.
It took me six months to finish my third novel, but I managed to bring it up from 50 to 1000 words per day. But I’ve stopped stretching it beyond a thousand or eleven hundred words because the thrill and consistency of my schedule motivate me to get out of bed daily – be it for fitness or writing.
July has been my best month so far. Though I missed two days to meet the designated 10k mark, I overachieved the limit on a couple of days, keeping the average over 10k. I managed to lose over 11 kgs in seven and half months.
Though I have a long way to go as far as changing my dietary habits is concerned (blame my obsession with food), I’m working on striking a balance between walking and healthy eating. But I’m also no longer the girl who cared a damn about health and fitness because she thought she was happy and active.
The routine will stay the same until November when I have my next check-up. Until then, I intend to continue walking towards health, conscious eating, and consistent writing. Keep me in your prayers as I fight against the odds to resume a normal lifestyle soon.
Birthday, anniversary, & vaccination
On 29th May, I celebrated my birthday with the three men in my life – my father, husband, and son. After a decade, I asked my father to buy me a new dress on my special day instead of my usual requests for books and journals. When Ma was around, she refused to listen to my resistance; birthdays always meant a new dress. After she passed away, I never found any joy in the ritual of a birthday dress as a gift. Eventually, Baba let it go.
But this year, I decided to celebrate for two reasons – I had finished writing my second novel, and I finally had the three special people in my life under one roof on the day. From cutting cakes to ordering food, we indulged in small moments of happiness. But we also shared these little joys with those who keep us going through their support – our cook, house-help, driver, security guard, and a few more helping hands. I’m going to cherish these memories for a very long time.
On the professional front, I completed numerous rounds of editing the book and sent the initial documents to my literary agent. We are working on the marketing plan and publisher details. But, I finally decided to take a break from the second novel (BTW, it has a new title; stay tuned for the announcement). The next item on the priority list was to get my first dose of vaccination. Getting a slot on the Cowin app seemed tougher than cracking UPSC exams.
Fortunately, my residential area organized a paid vaccination drive for the 18-44 age group in collaboration with Apollo hospitals. Thanks to an alert and aware husband, we managed to get a slot for me for 3rd June. From document verification to getting jabbed, it took me less than twenty minutes to complete the process. Except for the pain in my left arm that subsided after nearly two days, I didn’t have any side effects.
June is a month as precious as May since we will complete a decade of our married life on the 20th of this month. While it’s been more than twenty-two years of knowing each other as friends, best friends, and a couple before making it official, the past one-and-a-half years have taught us both to cherish every opportunity of hope and togetherness.
While I’ll resume the work related to the launch of the second novel very soon, I also intend to start writing for magazines, digital platforms, and other mediums going forward.
I hope you have taken the vaccine and got your friends and family vaccinated as well. Please help out your support staff who might find it difficult to use technology for booking a slot. And keep the mask on; we can’t afford to lose this battle.
Stepping into the last week of the MFA in creative writing course
A year back, I posted my first assignment for the MFA course on this day. A couple of days ago, I submitted the last write-up required to meet the credit criteria to complete the one-year creative writing course. Next week, I will have an MFA added to my M.Sc. and MBA degrees. But this journey is much beyond earning a certificate.
When I discovered Writer’s Village University through one of my friends, I had started questioning the rationality of pursuing writing as a full-time profession. I had trashed two manuscripts written with the intent of publishing one of them as Raya Ray’s second case.
WVU taught me kindness and compassion. I discovered a supportive writing network in a virtual world. I unlearned to learn writing like an enthusiastic teenager. I finally understood the impact of constructive criticism.
The last ten months haven’t been easy for anyone since the pandemic bringing our lives to a standstill. For weeks, it was just me and my son trying to adjust to the fact that we can meet his doctor father only once a month. While I am immensely grateful to my father and my in-laws for their support during this phase, it is writing and written words that kept me afloat. The turbulence in my mind found a way out through typed words on my screen.
While I have chosen to continue my association with WVU, I have decided to get back to writing beyond my class assignments from this month onwards. The revived state of my writing desk is the first step towards a new beginning of my renewed writing journey.
My Friend Alexa: Rant post 3 – Writing is a profession too
In the last couple of years, I have earned the displeasure of a bunch of relatives for not staying in touch. Some have even labelled me a snob for not picking up calls to catch up on life. Eight years of corporate life, filled with multiple con-calls throughout the day, customer queries, and work-related conversations had the phone glued to my ears. When my son was born in 2015, I made a conscious decision to stay disconnected.
Within a couple of years, I had successfully managed to rub them on the wrong side with my assumed ‘snobbish’ attitude. Instead of getting worked up about the unfairness of the deal, I took it in my stride and decided to stop giving explanations. If people didn’t understand the difficulties of raising a new-born with the husband on an outstation medical duty, they didn’t deserve my time.
In 2017, when I began writing and eventually decided to make it a full-time profession, there were quite a handful of ‘well-wishers’ who wanted me to go back to a real job. According to them, penning down thoughts was a hobby that I could pursue while continuing with a corporate job. They gave examples of their ‘super mother’ friends and acquaintances who had managed motherhood, high-profile’ jobs, and hobbies with elan.
Initially, I took a lot of pain to enlighten my near ones that I wasn’t pursuing a hobby; I was turning a passion into profession. Did they understand? Hell, NO! Some thought it was a stupid idea, some spoke about how my son was soon going to grow independent and make me regret my choice, and some didn’t even think twice before labelling me an escapist. Thus began my first step into a new profession.
Last year, I decided to get a professional degree to add value to my career. The snide remarks related to going back to academics in my late-thirties only made my resolve stronger. I kept a screenshot of the payment I made for the course. It came handy to combat those who thought my husband was paying for my third post-graduation. While writing isn’t a great paymaster, it isn’t impossible to earn the amount needed to fund my studies. Unfortunately, many in my immediate circle still have trouble understanding it.
Even today, I don’t pick up calls unless they are from my immediate family, very close friends, my son’s school or an unavoidable urgency. I prefer to revert over messages as per my convenient time, ensuring that I respond to each one. Writing isn’t a job that can have anyone working with my mind switched off. My mind is active even as I go about my daily chores. So, when I sit down to write, I shut out the world and plunge into creating a magical world. Like Stephen King advises in his book ‘On Writing’, “Write with the door closed.”
Creative endeavours require as much hard work and support as any other profession; the return on investment is much slower and lesser. But that didn’t deter me from diving into this new world after taking a 180-degree turn from my previous profession. And I am not the only one fighting a battle for creating a new identity as an author. The least that a ‘well-wisher’ can do is acknowledge that writing is a real job.
“I am taking my blog to the next level with Blogchatter’s My Friend Alexa 2020″ campaign. Stay tuned to read my fourth rant post in this series.
SONIASMUSINGS.COM TURNS THREE
It feels like yesterday when I decided to quit my banking job and mustered the courage to follow my heart. On 13th September 2017, I let my intentions known to the world through the launch of my blog soniasmusings.com. From 2017 until now, it’s been a roller-coaster ride of blogging, writing articles on esteemed platforms, authoring a book, and eventually choosing to do my third masters program, an MFA in creative writing. It wasn’t easy to venture out in an unknown territory, yet it was more difficult to convey that writing wasn’t a passion anymore; it was going to be my third and full-time profession. If I have to pick a turning point in my life, I would always choose this phase of pursuing my dreams.
#soniasmusingsturnsthree Three years of blogging and writing. Thank you, for the support!Tweet
Thank you, dear readers and followers, for showering me with so much love, support and encouragement over the years. You motivated me to stay focused on my goals.