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There comes a time in every person’s life, when he/she must order an econo-pack of ball-enhancing pills at three a.m., from one of those home-shopping channel thingys.
In real-life terms, I am a girl and the ball-growth is symbolic only of courage, as opposed to any latent desire for a sex change.
My symbolic balls sprung forth when I decided that with whatever money I had (the money that was supposed to pay for a house, or an eventual big fat Indian wedding–oops) , I would move to Paris for however long I could afford it (six months tops), and quit my job so I could FINALLY hold the title of full-time author/writer/dreamer!
I’ve shared the news with my conservative Indian parents and the response has been surprisingly accepting, but intermingled with questions like “I think you’re lying about writing. I think you’re moving there to be with a man; is he Polish?” (how do you get Polish from Paris?). Despite the parental skepticism, this move has nothing to do with a man, because helllllo, it’s 2013, and the world does not revolve around “guy acquisition/retention,” am I right ladies? (if someone could do a *finger-snap* here I’d appreciate it).
Instead, it’s all about me, it’s all about writing/publishing book three in my “Year of the Chick” series, and it’s all about blogging twice a week from Paris, to confess all my highs, lows, and encounters with people and places. I’ve already been setting the stage, by joining two groups on Meetup.com. One is a group about Ex-Pats in Paris who seem like they LOVE to have fun (that’ll definitely inspire some blog posts), and another is a French/English language exchange, where the group meets in pubs or cafés, and you’re paired with someone trying to improve their English or French. Conversations in each language ensue, followed by freestyle, ohhh yeah! Stay tuned for that. Then of course there’s the whole “having no friends,” living on the Left Bank, and interacting with strangers to see what happens. Overall, these “Confessions of a Chick in Paris” will eventually become a memoir/travel guide that I’ll publish as well (after adding fifty-percent of never-before-seen stuff, wow!), but for now please enjoy the free content beginning May 2nd! (I’ll also be focusing on screenwriting while I’m Paris, after an encouraging 7 out of 10 review from the Black List, with scores on 8 for both Character and Dialogue. Now it’s all about improvement and perfection!)
In the meantime, I’ll probably blog again before I leave, to discuss how one transitions from a full-time job to stressfully packing for six months in Paris…it will likely be dramatic.
By the way, if you’re reading this post from a phone or something, go to your web browser or iPad or what have you RIGHT NOW, and check out my brand new blog theme, heehee! (Yes, it makes me giddy, and it even has a post-slider, oh my! Fear not though, all my old posts are still there, and I’ve even filed them for you in the menu bar, enjoy!)
Write you soon,
…I’d be seven-hundred pounds and only moveable by a crane. Because I can’t stop. I can’t! No goal is the end, no milestone is good enough…that’s just how it is for me, and for many other writers and artists. It’s not unlike a heroin addiction, only I don’t shiver in a corner, lose a lot of weight (dammit), get bloodshot eyes, and start cutting my own hair, like the girl in a public service announcement I saw once. The portrayal was chilling and ultimately convincing, as I would never want my hair to resemble the “after” outcome in the ad. Just say NO to drugs.
Oh look..in one short paragraph I’ve managed to offend drug addicts and those who might have rented a crane once (and not for construction purposes). At least I’m living up to the title of my blog…well that’s something.
So far this is one of the most random posts I’ve ever written and it has nothing to do with what I actually wanted to talk about…which is Snickers!!!
So here’s the real beginning of my post: when I became a self-pubished author, I never had to worry about hearing the word “no” again. No more “no’s” from literary agents or publishers, no more “no’s” from young bucks I was trying to seduce, since HELLO, I’m an author now and I dominate, you lithe and dimpled cabana boy…I was in charge and loving it! I even found an audience and sold 5,000 books and often cried from the lovely reviews…it was magical! (I’ll get to the Snickers, hold on).
But then I had this really clever idea to adapt “Year of the Chick” into a screenplay. In November I wrote the draft, then all throughout the holidays I re-wrote and re-wrote and RE-WROTE and polished it up. Unlike the wonderful process of self-publishing books however, I couldn’t learn all I needed to know then hit a button to make it happen. There’s no “movie machine” that converts screenplays for worldly consumption. And that’s my dream, to bring to life a story that so many readers have already said feels like a movie. Not to mention that I have readers in over ten countries (big thanks to Wattpad for helping me with that); it’s my dream to share the movie with them all! A-hoy!
Which means it’s back to hearing NO, or getting negative feedback, or having bad luck, or all the other stuff I can’t easily control, just because I keep on searching for this “unicorn” of writing hopes and dreams. The latest of these unknowns is waiting for a professional review at a site that hosts screenplays for industry professionals to read. I’m in day 10 of the “2 to 3 weeks” wait, and if it wasn’t for amazing friends who’ve been crucial in providing distractions, I’d probably be biting my nails like crazy right now…except why would I bite my nails when I could bite into a Snickers? (FINALLY, the Snickers reference!). In all seriousness though, friendship truly counts when you’re slowly going mad from the waiting, and that’s not something I will soon forget, my comrades (i.e. I shall bestow you with handfuls of blood diamonds when I make it big).
One of these crucial distractions was an endless discussion on “meggings”. Much in the way that Seinfeld named the male version of things with an “m” (i.e. “murse,” “manzier”), “meggings” are the solution to a man’s undying need to wear leggings just like the ladies. As you can see from this photo at a recent designer fashion show, a skin-tight pair of mint “meggings” can be a great compliment to a sensible v-neck sweater and some casual white loafers. For the “every man.”
After the initial discovery of ”meggings,” my friends and I spent an unholy amount of time doing the following: 1: Googling different styles of “meggings” (they come in crazy prints as well); 2: wondering if it’s against the law to wear “meggings” in public since they leave so little “junk” to the imagination, and 3: contemplating what we’d do if the men in our lives came home with a fresh pair of “meggings.” Like I said…THANK GOODNESS for friends and their ability to distract during nervous waiting!
Even though the “meggings” debate is on hold (for right now), today I came across some pictures from a Donatella Versace fashion show. As you can see, the “meggings” can step aside, ’cause “see-through lace shorts” for men are the brand new order of the day (cue an endless discussion with friends on the topic of men’s lace shorts…YIPPEE!).
I’ll keep an eye on other men’s fashion as I await my review, and as I wait for any responses from agents and producers who actually let you query them. That’s my new life…the waiting game and being at the mercy of others…
(How the hell did I let that happen?!)
Self-published author boss lady/unproduced screenwriter minion
PS: Last week I decided I wouldn’t bring up the professional review I’d alluded to in my last post, at least not until I knew the result—in which case I would only mention it if it was good. Otherwise…total ambiguity, since obviously that’s the safest route to avoiding embarrassment! True, but then I overturned that decision, because really, how little courage does it take to only tell people the good news? It’s almost like you’re pre-admitting to the universe that you’ll fail by keeping it a secret ’til you know. So here I am, and it could go either way…but that’s life!
As bestselling author Jodi Picoult was quoted as saying in an article last week: “DO NOT SELF-PUBLISH.”
As my mother was quoted as saying right after my birthday last year: “DO NOT WAIT PAST THIRTY TO FIND A BOY.”
I would like to clarify that my mother does not encourage pedophilia, she is merely referring to the menu of grown Indian men, one of which should become my husband. They are not underage men by any means, but you see, unmarried Indian adults are always referred to as “boys” and “girls” by matchmaking Indian ladies far and wide. I believe this title helps fuel the precious lie that unmarried Indian adults are like untouched innocent babes, until their hands first meet in that awkward first dance at their wedding reception.
Back to my original statement: I broke Jodi Picoult’s rule in these past twelve months, and, unless I get engaged in these final four hours before my birthday (anyone?…anyone?) , I broke my mother’s age-ist rule as well.
Here’s what happened this year instead:
-First I said goodbye to my twenties, not long after I’d said goodbye to the greatest inspiration, muse, and romantic adventure of my life. There was no death involved in this goodbye (unless you count the dying of a soul—emo!), but it was more the eventual return to reality, and all that society expects. I was not in agreement with this ”convenient path” cop-out, but would I spend age thirty keeled over from the loss of something? Or would I stand up straight and have the best year ever? Let’s see…
-A week after saying hello to age thirty, I self-published. This was a month after saying “bye bye!” to my literary agent. It wasn’t the original book I’d submitted to her that I published, but instead a crazy parody, because…I’m crazy. This is the thing about self-publishing. You can publish crazy parodies that a “Random House” or any other publisher would never even sniff at, because…it’s crazy. Yet still you can carve out your own little space in “reader world” and find an audience, as long as you’re tough enough to know that for all the people who love it, some people will truly despise it. I am tough enough, and so finding an audience was and is…a glorious feeling. And to sell over a thousand copies of this title alone? Entirely unexpected and a bonus, since writing humorous essays is actually my side-note to the novelist dream.
-Two weeks after I self-published, I went to Florida and got a wicked tan. This was a true act of rebellion, when Indian mothers raise you to stay out of the sun so you can look as white as possible (but you’re not allowed to date white dudes…irony?). Once I returned all toasty and brown, my value on the marriageable market plummeted to almost zero. I was pleased.
-In an effort to avoid the burning of my glorious tan, I spent the next few weeks indoors, reading free screenplays online, as well as a couple of very helpful how-to books (Your Screenplay Sucks! and Coffee Break Screenwriter). A few short weeks after that, I’d written my very first screenplay, because sometimes, when something pretty epic happens in your life…you simply have to make a story out of it (spoken like a true melodramatic artist). Over the next eight months, this screenplay would advance to the semi-finals or higher in eight screenplay competitions. I did this for no other reason than to say “haha, I can,” and the results that followed proved “check it out, I did.“
Feeling rather confident after the initial screenplay results, I dusted off the first novel I ever wrote, the one that had been rejected by all the major publishers. To me it was a blessing in disguise to wait a year and a half before reviewing this novel once again. A blessing because…anyone who studies the craft of writing understands that you only get better with time and practice, so to revise that novel with fresh eyes after all the things I’d learned was the right approach. This book, “Year of the Chick” has been out now for over five months, and as it slowly finds its audience, the response has been incredible. It never gets old to read a new person’s reaction on my Facebook author page, and every time that happens, I think about how that NEVER would’ve happened, if I’d kept on waiting and hoping for a traditional publisher to pick me. And THAT…is glorious feeling number two .
-In January I was in-between projects, so I thought I should write a short story, a prequel to “Year of the Chick.” I published that story on Valentine’s Day, and to have readers buy it and enjoy it before or after picking up my full-length book has been…glorious (this is the post of the over-used adjective). In a world without self-publishing, how on earth would we be able to sell 10,000-word short stories for 99 cents, that readers could enjoy on various devices during a coffee break or commute ride home? We are in the midst of a revolution, and I’m sorry Jodi Picoult, but you should not be telling authors not to do something in ALL-CAPS without the logic to back it up, because that only means we will do it harder.
-In March, after almost a year of self-publishing, I didn’t want to lose my thunder, so I needed to buckle down and write a sequel to “Year of the Chick.” So…I took a week off work and wrote 58,000 words in six days. That was a crazy experience that I wrote about here, and because I focused everything on making that draft, I am now in the comfortable first-revision mode, and right on track with my deadline to release the sequel (June 7th! ).
-Also in March, I got hit on by a young barista at Starbucks, to the tune of an extra shot of espresso free of charge, proving that I may be thirty, but I’ve stilllll got it.
-As the first year of self-publishing draws to a close, I can easily say it was the best year ever. Each individual thing builds upon the other, and if not for that first scary step of self-publishing last April, I would have never followed it with a full-length novel, a crazy poetry collection, a short story, and an upcoming sequel. And all with a full-time job. People think I’m nuts when I describe this, and yes, I actually am.
-As for age thirty almost drawing to a close, earlier today, after my father yet again asked to put my ad in the “arranged marriage classifeds,” I, for the first time ever, stated that I don’t believe in arranged marriage, and that I’m never going to take this approach. I have never seen both my parents look so disappointed and disgusted in me….ever. Something tells me I won’t be getting a birthday card tomorrow, but that’s okay, because my biggest goal of age thirty was to stop living a lie, and like a true procrastinator, I waited until eight hours before the deadline to do it…but I finally did.
-So… how am I going to make the next year even more epic? Well here’s a short summary of my to-do list: release the sequel of “Year of the Chick on June 7th, have another blog tour, have another book-release party in the fall (Grey Goose and books, anyone?), learn how the eff one does audiobooks, record audiobooks, learn about podcasting (would you guys like to hear a podcast done by crazy me?), and have some more adventures that can inspire my future writing.
If there’s a final note I can add to any writers who stumble upon this: self-publishing is amazing but if you do go that route, be amazing to IT in return. What I mean is, the only way to silence people like Jodi Picoult or to get new readers to support you, is to write the best damn books possible with the best damn editing possible. Otherwise, we’re screwing readers over, and they’ll screw us back by telling everyone we suck and with good reason. Think about it. And ahem…that doesn’t mean you still won’t get bad reviews or be called a “bitch” in a review (yes, it happened to me…what fun!), but it means you can fix all the non-subjective reasons for people disliking your book.
PS: I’m trying to bring back the word “wicked” (used it once in the title and once in the post). Is it working?…
Maybe not in the late Frank Sinatra’s world, where regrets are too few to mention, but for the rest of us, they are apparent.
Why so glum, chum? You ask.
Well I wasn’t exactly feeling glum, but when I slipped and fell in a bathtub and bruised a couple ribs then watched a homeless man get hit by a garbage truck on an episode of Louis C. K. (and all within a twenty-four-hour period), my mortality sort of bitch-slapped me in the face.
It didn’t bitch-slap me in the positive “taking stock of my life and what would I like to do now?” kind of way, mostly because I’m not a wild-haired Jack Nicholson in a senior-citizen bromance called “The Bucket List.”
The truth is I believe in negative reinforcement; I believe that only when you punish yourself emotionally for past mistakes, can you live a better life for whatever days remain. It’s a stretch, I know, but without it I would be like those insufferable people who applaud all their choices as the ingredients for the recipe that “bakes” their current self. Because we all just wish we could enjoy a savoury bite of you, you’re so tasty and special!
This kind of patting on the back is irresponsible and immature; it’s like fat-legged toddlers who wobble through the meadow unattended, then cry when they trip and scrape themselves on a rock. What did you think was going to happen, toddler? If those fat-legged toddlers criticized their wobbling in a safe training environment, never leaving until they graduated to long and confident fat-legged strides, many a scrapes would be avoided.
Of course you know.
So without further adieu, my top three regrets:
I never bought him in that auction: It was the year 2000, and Y2K was proven to be nothing more than an IT nerd’s wet dream. With a limitless future and a steady income from my job at Blockbuster Video, I should’ve purchased my shirtless, tanned and bow-tie wearing fellow classmate (and crush), during the high school charity auction to fight blindness or A.I.D.S. or speech impediments or something. Instead, as his abs glistened in the sunlight and I drooled, his pretty girlfriend bought him (with her dad’s checkbook, no doubt) before I even had the chance to bid. That one forced-upon date between him and I could’ve changed the whole course of our future. Instead he married that girlfriend, and now they have two kids and live a stepford life in the suburbs. That should’ve been meeee…
I never ate different kinds of food: I had a very bad experience with vegetarian sushi in 1997, and from then on I shunned all unfamiliar food. To this day, the mere sight of pink and bloody steak makes me gag, I run for the hills whenever I see a cocktail of slimy shrimp, I don’t even know what part of oysters is considered “food”, and I don’t care how rich it makes me look, caviar in my eyes, are little black bullets of death. In other words, I will never have the balls to be a guest judge on Top Chef (’cause obviously they would ask me). When I get sad about this fact, I usually eat a lot of cookies…
I never got into a cat-fight: As a teenager, there were so many opportunities to brawl “girly style”. Over boys, over clothing, over trendy fashion accessories (i.e. heart-shaped pendants on choker faux-velvet chains, which were the height of mid-nineties glam), over registered and accurate boob-sizes…the cat-fight potential was endless. I witnessed my share of cat-fights in the girls’ locker room, and what struck me more than the fistfuls of ripped-out hair was the lasting impact a pointy-nailed claw could have. The blood-red four-pronged scratch on a forearm grew into a frightening scar, and those who wore it were survivors. It was brave and bad-ass. I certainly wasn’t brave enough, in my paranoid and self-conscious youth, but I comforted myself with expectations of grown-up cat-fights. But…the thing about grown-up life is…unless you’re a guest on Maury Povich screaming out “Nah, you skank, he is MY man!“, cat-fights become obsolete. And so I roam the streets with my scar-free dainty forearms, and everyone thinks I’m a weak-ass little bitch. As Rodney Dangerfield says: “I don’t get no respect!“
And so I reach the end of Regret-Highway, and even though I can’t ever fix those ancient wrongs, my failures make me all the more committed, to make the rest of my days before the inevitable garbage-truck-collision turn out right…
Long sleeves, pants, spray-on sunblock, and glorious protective shade.
I’ve been conditioned to hide from the sun.
It started with the Indian community, whose favourite ambassador is my loud and screaming mother: “Don’t get dark! Stay out of the sun!”
But don’t people want tans? Isn’t that cool?
Not when you’re writing up an arranged-marriage profile, where the second-best stat is to speak of your “fair-skinned” goodness (and the number-one stat? Being slim. Sweet, twiggy slimness).
It’s kind of surprising that a culture which is…brown, fails to embrace its universal trait. I mean aren’t brown people supposed to be…brown? Why would being what you are preclude you from finding a match? Perhaps it’s all explained by an era in historic India, when my ancestors were obsessed with Kabuki theater.
Aside from the cultural brainwash, I am also inflicted with the Hollywood brainwash.
The sun makes you old, and being old means “Yo! Get outta the way! These hot-ass-smooth-skinned bitches need to pass.”
(can’t I be a hot-ass-smooth-skinned bitch as well?)
But the Hollywood damsels still spend hours and days at exclusive beaches soaking up the sun. So what gives?
It’s cosmetolo-worship baby.
Good for them, but I can’t afford to fix my face from all the perils of the fire-breathing sun.
So that’s why I stay away, remembering that the sun is any organism’s greatest enemy.
Or at least I thought it was, until I learned a bit about…bananas.
It happened in a flash, when I retrieved a banana from my bag at nine a.m. It had only been in there for my ninety-minute commute, so imagine my surprise when I was faced with the foreign creature: black, mushy, bruised and broken.
My banana died!
I’d always sensed some banana denigration on my journeys to work, but nothing ever quite so fatal. After spending the morning consulting with banana experts (or Facebook friends who left their comments in my status thread), I learned that bananas actually do this to themselves!
Apparently bananas are rich with bastard chemicals that turn on each other, any time they’re trapped in dark and cuddly quarters.
Allow me to say…that sucks!
Here I thought the sun was the skin’s greatest enemy, but what if I turned into blackened mush just from huddling beneath a blanket?! Or from hiding in my closet in the fetal position? (what?)
Bananas have it bad, and if the worst thing that can happen to me is wrinkles because of the sun? Or being bitch-slapped by marriage websites because of the sun? Well I’m kind of okay with that.
And I’m more than okay with never being bludgeoned and converted into bread or fresh-baked muffins…