26
Nov

“I had detractors, Nay Sayers, and people drunk on Hator-ade. But I also had believers, supporters, and fans!”

The Journey to ‘The Journey of Om’

During the month of December, a monumental event took place. No, no, the other event that occurred in 2009 A.D. It was indeed a miracle, but more of a personal one. My first novel, The Journey of Om, was published by Cedar Books in India. I remember it like it was yesterday. It was a Thursday, which is the day I usually fast. I rolled over and picked up my laptop and decided to do a search for my book, as I did every morning, except that morning was different. My book was listed! I wanted to scream it from the rooftops, but at the same time I was scared I was going to snap out of it and discover it was a dream. It truly was a surreal moment, one which Salvador Dali would have been thrilled to capture on canvas. Once my agent confirmed it was a reality, I got ready and hopped into the car with my mother, making our way to the Temple. As we drove down Edgware road, both joyous for different reasons (mum because she was making an unscheduled trip to the house of one of our numerous lords), it began to snow!

The news hit the wire and I was inundated with messages of congrats and inquiries how one could obtain the book. It was one of the best Thursdays of my life. I sat back and pondered about the winding and unpredictable road that brought me to this juncture in my life.

To answer one of the many questions I have been asked, I never set out to be a writer. In fact, one of my earlier dreams during my teenage years was to be a point guard for the Knicks. Lord knows they’ve needed help in the position for decades. But keeping in mind my height or lack thereof, diminishing vertical leap and ethnicity that desire would remain a dream. Little did I know that another desire would flourish instead.

I recall as a child writing stories and expecting to receive reviews worthy of Vikram Seth. After that unsuccessful venture, my crayons never saw the light of day again till I was 12. While schooling in the UK, I wrote stories mocking other people (which led to a chuckle or two), until my house-master read them and kicked me out of the lunch room. The crayons went back in the drawer.

While in New York, the urge to paint with the written word surfaced and I again wrote articles about friends, which brought them to tears. With no housemaster to punish me, I continued to write and post my work on the YSA (Young Sindhi Adults) group page. The fan base grew as did the encouragement. A friend, after reading a post, even said ‘Chandru, you’ve missed your calling.’ Those words haunted me. What if that was true? What if I did miss my calling? When did it come? When did I miss it? Was I on call waiting when it called? Why didn’t anyone tell me my calling was calling?

Little did I know, God, the Universe and Fate had a plan. The editor of Beyond Sindh contacted me after reading my posts and offered me a column in her new publication. I started to write and hone my skill. Truth is, I never considered myself a writer since I’d never been trained in the art, but with each article, my ability went from strength to strength as my work was well-received by a growing number of people. Still, I was never aware of where this Journey was taking me. I giggled at the absurdity of me having fans.

Years went by, the numbers grew and messages kept coming in about how much my articles were being enjoyed. People began to forward my articles (without my name), and some even tried to pass it off as their own. Random people approached me and told me they liked my writing, before asking me if I’d like fries with my happy meal. Maybe I was a writer! Many continued referring to me as one. I started to call myself a writer and one day, did so amongst a group of acquaintances. An individual scoffed and remarked:

‘What? You’re a writer because you write those Aunty, Uncle and relationship articles?’

His condescending tone and statement was like a kick in the family yakos (jewels). As well received as my article was, it wasn’t as though I was the star journalist for Rolling Stone or GQ. Was he right? Was I kidding myself?

I nodded at his statement but promised myself that I would become an accomplished writer by any standard, and I would then ask him:

‘So, am I a writer now?’

But would I ever get there? And How?

A few years prior to that incident, I had written a 12-page short story for a friend. Over time, I kept adding to it, wanting to see where it would and could go. I passed it around to friends who commended me on my work and effort, after which I left it dormant for months. Time went by and when the spirit moved me, I added to it. During those early months, I decided I wanted to publish it, but never pursued it with much vigour.

In 2007, that changed, and I pushed forward. It was 75% complete and I just needed to make that last push. A friend connected me to an agent who loved the manuscript. So much so that she stated it was worthy of being published overseas! Energised, I charged ahead and completed the book.

With a complete novel in hand, I approached the agent who, thankfully, welcomed me with open arms and went about getting me published in India. She pushed forth, finding publisher after publisher, but eventually she crossed off the last one on the list.

The voices echoed in my mind.

‘You missed your calling.’

‘You’re a writer because you write those Aunty and relationship articles?’

‘That’s not because of shrinkage!’

 

In 2008, she suggested I send one of my short stories into a competition. A few months later, I discovered I had won! And even though it was later than planned, I was published in early 2009! But was this my calling, calling? Or was I on course to be a victim of more scoffing and condescending comments.

Mid 2009, my agent called me and informed me a publishing house was interested in The Journey of Om and wanted to sign a contract. In July, I signed and waited anxiously to have it on the shelves. Months went by and we went back and forth with corrections, selecting the cover. Years of praying and visualizing were close to becoming a reality.

On one cold Thursday, The Journey of Om was available and I was a writer! By any and every standard. I had done it, but this was just the beginning. I knew I could achieve more and the end result was having my short stories and articles published in India, US, China, Canada and the UK.

Sure I had disappointments on this road. I had detractors, Nay Sayers, and people drunk on Hator-ade. But I also had believers, supporters, and as strange as it is to say it even today, fans! I had the Universe and/or God putting people in my life that brought me closer to achieving my dream. I had a path laid out, and its destination was my desire.

Did I always want to be a writer? Maybe I did, but I just didn’t know it

As for that ‘scoffing acquaintance’, it so happens that a few months later he passed those resounding comments, he followed up with:

‘I want to read your articles; I’ve heard they’re good.’

I’d like to take this opportunity to thank those who have supported me on my journey. Your constant encouragement has been instrumental in making my dream a reality.

The Writer

Chandru Bhojwani

www.chandrubhojwani.com

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This entry was posted on Saturday, November 26th, 2011 at 10:36 am and is filed under Authors, Authors Speak. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.

comments

1
  1. December 10th, 2011 | Canlove says:

    I am excited for this.The Journey to ‘The Journey of Om’ looks exciting.

    Thanks for the share

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