MY DEBUT NOVEL – I AM JUST AN ORDINARY MAN
I am just an ordinary man,
I do just what I can,
So let me be,
As you can see,
I am one of those who also ran.
You cannot say I do not care,
Of love and dreams, I’ve had my share,
Of pain and pleasure,
In no small measure,
Though now I stand alone and stare.
“Sir, you asked me who I am. What shall I say? I have been asking myself this question for quite some time and reached nowhere. After all I am no saint to throw away everything that I have and go in search of an answer. If I had, I would have been a saint. Don’t you agree? Well I have a name, but what’s in a name? You may call me an Ordinary Man.”
The narrator in a series of conversations with a friend who he says is his alter ego and through his own introspections, unfolds the process of growing up and aging through an exploration of all that had brought joy in living to serious questions regarding God, religion, destiny, freewill, compassion and to whether we have been really honest in our relationships; the relationships that have affected us at various stages in our life and continue to influence even our present living. They are all locked up somewhere within our private world and which we release and relish in our solitude.
Though ‘I Am Just An Ordinary Man’ is an autobiographical novel, it is only in parts that real events have been narrated to build a base for addressing the questions and the existential angst which arise in the mind of any person during the process of living and that the first step towards resolution is in acceptance of the reality of existence and the finality of death.
“I never wanted to write a story. My life has been one long series of conversations with myself and I thought that the only way I could really say what I want to, is speak to someone; a friend perhaps or maybe even a stranger. If you ask me why I would do that, I cannot answer truthfully; it could even be vanity. There have been extraordinary people. I am just an ordinary man trying to tell what I am and what I feel in the only way I could.
My diaries and books have been my constant companions. They adorn my bookshelf and from time to time I pick them up just to feel them, for that is enough to have a relook at the path I have traversed. With the passage of time the diaries have turned old keeping pace with my advancing years. I always wrote, but decided to compile them only now. May be I find pleasure recapturing those lost moments; maybe I want to leave a legacy. Whether anyone is interested or not, I would feel satisfied that I have done my job.”
The travails of an aspiring author have at last ended as I hold the book I have authored in my hands today. It has taken me longer to get it published than it took me to write it. I guess that is the bane of all debut authors; no one takes them seriously. I shall repeat what I had written in an earlier post of mine ‘The Writer’s Dilemma’ because it is relevant to bring a closure to all the drama involved in the process of publishing a book –
“My own experience could well highlight the travails of aspiring authors. I first experimented with self-publishing with one of the major houses and left it midway as I thought pitching to a traditional publishing house will help me evaluate the value of my manuscript as seen by a publisher who would definitely be in a better position to gauge its acceptability by the reading public. I did submit the manuscript to five of them. There was no reply from three of them even after a lapse of four months. The fourth was courteous enough to say that they will not be able to fit it due to constraints in their existing calendar but they said “however, we remain committed to giving platform to new voices. We understand that you've put in considerable time and effort on this book and would like to publish it at the soonest. To address the same, we have come up with a unique solution, where you can choose your publishing plan and the options you require to do justice to your book, under our new self-publishing arm.” That would of course entail financial outgo from my side.
Well not everything is dark, there was a silver lining for one of the publishers has accepted the manuscript for publication. This comes with a rider for though the manuscript is placed as ‘projects under consideration’ I have been informed that it will be taken up when the commissioning editor deems fit. They were also very courteous enough to add that a book under consideration with them could get published within weeks or in a few years. I do not know where I stand right now. But I guess when my patience wears out I would revert to where I started from.”
Well my patience did wear out and I decided that I shall go back to where I started from – Self-Publishing. But in the entire process I have learnt a lot not only from my own experience but also from the hurdles faced by some of my friends when they published their books. The constraints of finance does make you compromise on some issues like editing and marketing. Professional editing is costly and how much reach can you really expect through your friends and social media contacts for selling your book. Also in a previous post ‘The Travails of an Aspiring Author’ I had jokingly concluded, that there were more number of likes for my book than those actually sold. Well I am awake to the fact this could happen to my book also, but still there is a sense of satisfaction that I have in the end actually made my dream in to a reality.
I always thought that my English was decent enough and still believe it is, but in the process of completing and compiling the final manuscript I did learn a lot about what editing involves. As a writer we end up writing whatever comes to our mind at that moment; there is no thought as to how coherent it would appear to the reader. Ultimately when it comes to self-publishing and you are operating within a strict budget of expenses the first thing that takes the hit is professional editing, so you are reduced to relying on your own capabilities to correct your own mistakes and the only way you do that is by reading your manuscript again and again till you feel sick and nauseous enough to dump the entire project. You also have a few friends who in your opinion are skilled enough in the usage of words to read your manuscript and give their feedback. Not very effective I know, but the choice is limited. I did all this and felt that I had done a good job by reducing the number of words from 58000 words to 51000 thousand words. It has definitely been a rewarding experience for in the final analysis I find that I have managed to make the narration crisp and focussed. Of course it is you the reader who will be the final judge.
Though the old adage ‘Don’t judge a book by its cover’ still holds, I have discovered that when we visit a bookstore the first thing that draws us towards a book is the cover, at least it makes one pick up the book and glance through; the contents come later. In my case I had the satisfaction of seeing the sample given by me to the publisher adorning the cover of my book as they felt that it was better than the ones they had.
So you see that ultimately it has given me immense satisfaction that the final product has materialised without much external interventions. Well that is only a job half done. I now have the monumental task of finding readers who will buy my book. It is not enough that I have a lot of friends whether on the social media or off it and a dedicated readership of my blog, it is necessary that I should be able to convince them to buy the book and post a review. I am aware that though intentions are there, the inertia is great and I confess that I have also been guilty of the same.
A debut author does not look at royalties initially, he is only bothered that his book becomes acceptable to the vast readership out there, for therein lies his credibility and the identity he has been trying to establish all the while. So the only appeal that I make is- buy it, read it and post your honest feedback.
This is to thank all my friends for the support and motivation they have given me over the years to go ahead with my writings.
The book is immediately available with Notion Press the publisher and will soon be made available through Amazon and Flipkart both in paperback and as Ebook. I make a special mention here of the publisher Notion Press, Chennai for the seamless support that they afforded for publishing the book.