2022 – My writing life!

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“I’ll not let one crisis overshadow an entire year. We shall celebrate the bright things,” I was telling a friend. And he, in his very characteristic Hyderabadi style replied, “You’re saying bright things in such an understated tone. Endi mazaak gaa unda… (are you kidding me)” and then went onto remind me the best things happened to me this year. I’m blessed to have friends who double up as my guardians too. 

The following list may come across as boasting, but I’d nevertheless do it. I thought 2021 was great, but 2022 was greater in every sense of the word. The highs were too high and the lows, too low. By acknowledging all the good things happened, I wanna thank all the wonderful folks in my life. 

Before anything else, if I was able to do any of these, it is only and ONLY because of my doctors and their nursing staff. They not only helped me heal my bodily ailments, but also handled my anxiety issues, especially in the surgery phase. Barring few weeks, I was not really dysfunctional. All credit to Dr. Rajeev and Dr. Rajendra for their healing presence. 

Onto the list now. 

Elami Publications: 

Starting this (ad)venture is perhaps the most daring act of my life. I’ve always had the dream of being a techpreneur, never mustering courage to quit my job. To able to put out amazingly well-designed and well-thought-out books also feels like solving world’s problems through technology. That, I didn’t expect. 

Thanks to Rohith and Aditya, without whom I would have never started up. It has been quite a journey already. We’ve had good days, we’ve had terrible days. Some days we seem unbeatable, some days we get crushed. We’re learning and unlearning some lessons, in excruciating ways. But I can’t wrap up the year without acknowledging both of these humans’   friendship in my life. 

I’ve no clue about raising children, but one definitely needs a village to bring a book out. From major decisions regarding firm registration to silly doubts in figuring out ISBN portal, we’ve bugged everybody. Many thanks to our friends and wellwishers for having our backs. 

Most importantly to Rohith’s family. For every major or minor issue, like babies, we run to them. They resolve it with utmost generosity and grace. Ro’s home in Anantapur is Elami’s sanctuary. 

Our readers have shown great trust in us, and that too by actions. By actually buying books. Cool, no? The Outlook, Andhra Jyothy and NavaTelangana gave us platforms to talk about our venture, even before we could prove ourselves.  

Only regret I’ve of Elami is not celebrating the milestones enough. We should have partied hard. Some moments are too special to miss out in the daily humdrum.    

This little eye-fella jumping around is the most soothing sight for me, these days.

Manto in Telugu: 

Is going places. 🙂 After 4 years of hardwork and feeling stuck, finally @mantointelugu is going places. Despite its design as a dense research book, Siya Hashiye, the thematic collection of Manto’s works on communal violence, was received quite well. 25 stories of Manto are being featured on StoryTel Telugu platform – this too came after a long wait. My hour-long talk on Siya Hashiye was also received well. 

Two stories in my translation were adapted as play by B-Studio, titled “Paraayi”. Which essentially means, @mantointelugu was in print, audio and theatre this year. Yaayyyyy! 

Emotional Pregnancy – My first short story collection: 

If I’m what I’m today, it’s because of one person who is an integral part of my existence. We’ve not been in touch for many years now, but I can’t NOT carry him in everything I do and everywhere I go. Most of the fiction I wrote during 2008-2016 was under his influence 😉 and to be able to dedicate those writings to him was a huge deal for me. It’s a testament to how I was determined to heal myself, and emerged as a gentle soul. “Tere bina zindagi se koi shikwa tho nahi, tera bina zindagi bhi lekin, zindagi toh nahi” is only the way I can summarize anything pertaining to him.  

I wish that bringing out this book wasn’t as daunting as it ended up to be. But I’m only glad it did come out. And that too in 2022. 

Thumbi: 

This is the BEST thing that happened this year. Dear Anu, thank you for sending this opportunity my way! I’m immensely proud to be part of this children’s magazine translation project called Thumbi. We did 7 editions this year! Bravo! And I did translations for at least 5 editions out of it. And I’m leading all the coordination activities. 

Kaushik, as a colleague, is a blessing. Emotional Intelligence is so underrated, really. In all the lows I’ve seen this year, he’s been most the constant support, in non-intruding ways. 

Published in English – Finally: 

And that too by writing about Rangashankara, one of the cultural spaces in Bangalore that nourishes by soul. And that too as part of BWW Anthology. And that too selected and edited by Bhumika. The combination can’t get any better.  

I hope this is only a beginning and hope to put out more work in English. Also, a word about how supportive and encouraging folks at BWW are. Most don’t read Telugu, but they know I’m trying something sincerely. They were the most excited about Elami’s birth. They were super-proud of me getting to do the month-long residency. They are most appreciate about my short story collection. They are my personal sanctuary! 

New Telugu Anthologies: 

Glad to be part of two more anthologies, taking the overall count to 6 now. One was a special theme on automobiles, “Teeyandra Ballu” and was actually inaugurated by road transport officers and auto drivers union’s president. Such a rare thrill. 

Another one was, “Yuva”, the 40 under 40 collection. Better to appear in such age-restricted anthologies at the earliest. Running out of time, otherwise. 😉  

Writer-In-Resident at Sangam House International Writers Residency:

This is perhaps the most incredible that has happened. I could have easily missed the deadline, for I found the application only in the last 48 hrs. Thanks to Bhumika and Rohith for nudging me to do the application. I could have easily missed the residency, owing to ill-health and other umpteen issues in November. But the universe conspired well enough to have me write this note from the residency. 🙂 

I’ve tons to write about the experiences here, but for now, thank everybody involved. To Abdul Rasheed, E Santhosh Kumar and Ranbir Siddhu for being beyond wonderful. They indulging me to do a little photo shoot with “Emotional Pregnancy” shall remain a life-time memory. I’m being fed and nourished here with lots of yummy food, stories, life lessons and inspiration. I can only be a better writer and better human now. Dhruva is extremely sweet and this house, the Jamun, is as comforting as a mother. 

Putting literary communities first:

I’ve always believed in community-building, whether leading the efforts or contributing my bit. 

I was lucky to be part of the English literary circles too, this year. To be the interlocutor to a discussion on Bibi’s Room by Nazia Akhtar, at Lamakaan, was such a thrill for the Hyderabadi in me. Thanks to Anant Mariganti. I was also on the panel of “Translating from/into Telugu” in a one day translation event by HLF.

In Telugu, some interesting things happened. I was invited as an expert to discuss about writing and craft at Quora Telugu. There were quite a few questions and I ended up writing close to 80 pages on the topic! I plan to compile this as ebook. 

I was invited to talk on translations at the Pra.Ra.Ve meet. Though I couldn’t make it, they had my speech read by somebody else. 

Creative output: 

Apart from two short stories and a few translations of Parsai and Fikr Taunsvi, I really didn’t do much writing. Only good part was being regular with BBC Tech Column, with 18+ articles appeared this year. And from July, I didn’t a read single book. 😦 

But given the amount of non-creative work I’ve put in this year, I’m thinking not to kick myself too much for lack of creative productivity. Once Elami stabilizes and my health improves, I can write. I’ve to be patient. I somehow need to strike a balance between writing stories and translating others. That’s my new year resolution. 

Some important lessons of the year:

  1. Don’t ignore minor health concerns. When body complaints, pay attention and take action. 
  2. Trust people to think you matter and what you do matters. If not my manager’s encouragement, I’d not have applied for the residency, thinking a month-long leave was impossible. Folks are happy to reciprocate. 
  3. Give up before it gets too tough. Don’t stretch things to the very end, in a hope they’ll work. Graceful exits are testament to your character. 
  4. Writing in English might get all the name and fame for you, but don’t stop writing in your language. I’m now being appreciated for the quantity, if not quality of my work, by non-Telugu folks. One day, they shall realize my prowess too. 
  5. Some writers are destined with no major response to their writing. That’s also a boon. One can keep writing without distractions.

Immensely grateful to 2022. What a year it was for me. Look forward to 2023 with humility and child-like enthusiasm. It has all signs of being tough, but I’ll manage.

Thanks for reading. Wish you all a very happy holiday season and new year!

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