The Life Triangle

Source: Unknown
Apologies for the rant last night. I was probably intoxicated by my inability to get things done and my thoughts were paralyzed by my financial condition.

Now that I have slept over it, it sounds like a trifling thing.

Actually to be honest, it's not trivial at all. It is important. It's one life. We live only once. And we better live it with peace, happiness and with friends and family while we are at it. What else is the purpose of life?

So, from where I stand, I think of life in three variables. Money, Health and Writing. Health is a larger theme encompassing physical, mental and emotional health. And of course, on top of these three are things like family, friends, relationships and other such things that make us human.

Let me talk about each now. Start with writing. Writing gives me pleasure. Though I am not sure if it can pay my bills. It can't. Not right now. May be sometime in future.

Money is what makes the world go around. To be able to do nothing but write, to live in the mountains, to travel the world, to buy those gadgets, that car, it takes money. And apart from me, everyone seems to be making enough and more of it.

Health is probably the most important of the three. If I not in the pink of my health, I cant enjoy the orgasm that I get from writing, I cant ride that bike that I would've bought from all the access money I would have and I definitely would not be able to enjoy the mountains and beauty around it.

So I need to juggle these three tough balls (of money, heath and writing), while walking on a tight rope that is stretched on the poles of relationships, friends, family and other emotions.

I can't fall down for sure. And I don't want to drop these balls either. It's like being on the guard all the time. It's like being that circus artist that has a million eyes watching him; and he has to perform, even if he is unhappy or unwell or bored or something. There is no way he can let his guard down. There is no way he can not perform. And worse part, you he can't even say that he's bored or tired or unhappy.

Damn life!

There was a time when I thought I could manage all three and get things done. I did it for a few days. But I guess I was wrong.

I can't manage all three. Leave three, I am having tough time figuring just one of the three out.

How do you guys do it?

I give up!

I give up. I can't do it. I can't. And I hate myself for it. I just don't have the time to do it. Or may be I don't think its important enough for me to do it. Or may be I don't have the balls or perseverance to do anything. Or may be I am loser. Or may be, I am a quitter. Isn't that why sgMS left me?

Irrespective. I can't do it. I am a loser.

Second year running, despite all the effort, intent and determination, I have failed to reduce my waist or my weight and I am going to lose a bet. Bet is not important. Important is that I can't do a shitty thing like losing weight. Especially when for a large part of the year I had nothing else to do. Fucking kept procrastinating. And here I am. Fat, old, unhealthy, lethargic all the time.

Of course now I have something to put the blame on. And yeah, that's what I am doing. Getting off easy by putting the blame on someone else. I am not owning upto my shit. I am merely putting the blame on someone else. My job. It keeps me busy and so I don't have any time to do anything. Guess this is what they mean when they say that it's tough to juggle a day job and a hobby on the sides. Hate the fact that I have to slog the entire day, sitting behind a desk to be able to make ends meet. Hate that I've given the control of my life to someone else, willingly, so easily. Guess this is what that Apple TVC from 1984 spoke of?

The world, is fucking unfair. Life, unfairer than that. I refuse to play thy game. I want out.

Really do.

Book Review. God is a Gamer.

I recently read God is a Gamer. The latest by Ravi Subhramanian. Got the book as part of the book review program by Blogadda.com. 

Please note that this is NOT a paid a review. I do NOT make any money from this.

Before I launch in a full-blown review, let me get some numbers out of the way. I mean the ratings.

Readability: 3.5 on 5
Suspense: 3 on 5
Storyline / Plot: 3 on 5
Overall: 3.5 on 5

One line verdict
God is a Gamer is an attempt at writing a chase through myriad locations, characters and situations, all of it culminating in one destination. A pot-boiler for sure.

Full review
I read the book a few days back but never found the time to write a review. Here I am, on a Sunday morning. Trying to wrap my head about what I read a few days back. Whatever I write will come from my head and I would not have the advantage of flipping through the pages to write the review.

So, the plot is slightly difficult to talk about in few words. I'd still try. A few seemingly unrelated crimes happen in New York, Washington and Mumbai. In US, a high-ranking government servant / official is murdered and the great police departments, the FBI, the CIA and all other three-letter agencies can't seem to figure out the intent or MO. In Mumbai, a banker is killed and the police is forced to cast a net so wide that the Finance Minister himself becomes a suspect. Meanwhile in Mumbai, a BPO handling transactions for the large financial institutions in US gets hacked and it results in

At time the books reads like a corporate espionage, a political thriller, a murder mystery, a chase and of course, a love story! Love the way Ravi got all these themes together in one place! I wish I could do the same with my books!

Of course I could get into more details but then I would have to unravel the suspense. Nah, I won't do that. The book has to be read. It's definitely a one time read. And a racy one at that.

Coming to the good bits...
  • Short chapters. Each chapter is about 2 slides of the page. Brilliant strategy. The book becomes a page turner. I think that's a new trend. Last book I reviewed, Private India was similar. 
  • A brilliant way to teach the basics of financial industry, especially a peer to peer currency like Bitcoin. Reminds me of Goldratt's Goal. I think Ravi needs to look at that genre closely. Can he make the boring things like finance into interesting plots and stories like God is a Gamer? 

There were a few things that I did not like. I call them not-so-good bits...
  • Too many characters for my liking. Unless the book is a Godfather that requires me to think of motives and actions of men (that are guided by long standing traditions rather than moments of insanity), I dont want to burden myself with too many characters or too many side plots. May be its Ravi's style. 
  • The Bitcoin misnomer. The book has hardly anything to do with Bitcoin. Agreed that crimes happen because the Bitcoins are at the heart of the issue but again, I won't call it The Bitcoin Thriller. 
  • Hollywood-ization. There are elements in the book that probably are best suited for a spy thriller (spoiler alert: hidden rings etc) based in the US of A. As an Indian reader, I just can not relate to these things. May be other evolved readers can. But I cant. So it could be my limitation, as compared to the book. You decide. 
That's it I guess in form of a review.

In the end 
Definitely a one-time read if nothing else. Do read it. At times the book is unputdownable. I could finish the book in two sittings. That's it. 

Thanks!
SG

Notes
1. This review is a part of the biggest Book Review Program for Indian Bloggers. Participate now to get free books!

2. Since I am an author as well now, I take these reviews even more seriously.

3. If you want to review my first book, The Nidhi Kapoor Story, please write into me (or leave a comment) and I would be in touch.

To pay or not to pay...

"Influencer" marketing
Continuing from where I left on Tuesday (the rant about book marketing), I have a few decisions to make. And I cant seem to arrive at em. Let me first put forth the questions. And then I'd talk about my thoughts on those.

a. Some very popular book review blogs, websites, e-zines have agreed to cover my book (website, buy) and review it. Surprisingly most of them are asking for money. The money will apparently go towards "writing" the review, "promoting" the review (on their websites, Facebook and twitter) and creating imagery associated with. Though the brazenness with which they've asked for money, it looks like a norm in the industry rather am exception but I am not sure if I want to pay to get my book reviewed. Or may be I ought to pay because I have to market the book somehow. So this is question number one.

b. Most of the publications that I've wrote into (begging to cover my book) haven't replied. Some have. And most of those "some" have huge ego issues. The emails are snooty, arrogant and full of words that I can't even comprehend. Some dont even understand the context and market for books. It was surprising to know that such ignorant people run these successful websites. The question thus is, is it worth talking to such people? Agreed that they would help market the book. But do I tolerate them? And why is that I am the only one seeing such attitude? What about my other writer friends / contacts? They don't seem to be fazed by any of it!

c. Where do I draw a line between marketing, advertising, bribing, advertorials, editorials, product placements, interviews, debates? I know that boundaries are blurred. Who else will know this better than I (after all I work in the industry)? Am I willing to do this for my own product? All this while, I have never had issues paying people to talk about other people's products / services. Why is that I am having issues paying for mine?

d. Will I spoil my relationship with these "influencers"? After all I am in the market for the long haul. I am hoping to write one book every year. And I need all the help. Each of these people can tell me if I am a good writer or a bad one. They can help me improve the craft. They can connect me with others. So on and so forth. By refusing to work with these guys, am I sort of alienating these guys? Am I making enemies out of these guys? Will this come back to me in future, to haunt me?

So far, I dont have any answers. Since the book has started to ship, I need to now probably pull up my socks and get along with these influencers somehow. Would love to hear thoughts and opinions from other authors, writers. And if you read a lot of book, want to know what you think as well.

Thanks!
SG

The Marketing Madness

Dibert on Marketing
I have been up since 4. No kidding. I have data from Moves (which I love btw) to support the claim. I slept at around 10 yesterday and after whatever little fitful sleep I managed, I finally got up at 4.

Since then, I've walked for 30 mins, did 30 crunches (despite my hernia) and had a green tea (which makes me sick in the gut but people say it's supposed to help). And I made a poster for my upcoming book. And I sent out emails to 20 strangers, literally begging them to cover my book in their publications, send mails to random people asking them to share the book with others and so on and so forth. You get the drift.

That's how my day looks like these days. That's what I do these days. And I am a teetotaler. That makes alcohol out of bounds. Guessing, of course is what I do. The entire day!

So whatever morsels of time I can save during the day, I try and think who all could I be contacting about the promotion of the book. I then add those names to a list. And at the end of day, or early next day I send out emails, starting from the bottom of the list. Remember that FIFO principle?

And no points for guessing the response rate - which (or that?) remains dismally close to zero.

But...

but...

but... I understand this is all a tiny part of hustle. In a positive way. I am learning a lot of new things. The chief one being that it's ok to let the world judge you. All this while, in my entire life, I have not subjected myself to other people's opinions. Even then, if there were any opinions, I took them on the face value and ignored them. This time around I think I'd be affected. I know, I know. First book is just testing waters. It's not a big deal if people don't like. And other things like that.

I have these endless conversation with myself. Damn!

The other side, the flip side of the entire thing is that I literally get no time to do things that I want to do. This todo list includes poker, learning a new hobby, taking it easy, meeting people, more writing, travel. The list goes on. I have come to accept that I am a lost soul and I shall remain one. I just need to maximize my time. This marketing madness is not helping matters. Only thing I get to do these days, is talk about my book for a couple of hours every morning. And thats' about it!

And it sucks. S U C K S. Yeah, loud.

I am a fucking artist writer. And I am supposed to work on writing. On the craft. Not on the ancillary things like marketing. I know it's an important part of the craft. But these days, it has become the only part. Ant that's where my problem is! I wonder how to other writers manage this bit. May be they have money and they have large departments to churn out ideas for them? May be they don't need marketing. I mean if Stephan King came out with a book tomorrow, he'd just have to drop a tweet and rest shall take care of itself. Look at Chetan Bhagat. He could book a front-page ad in the most widely circulated daily of the country! How do they manage? How do other authors manage?

I have no fucking clue. And I hate wasting my limited time like this. I hate doing non-productive work. Hell, in my time I could choose to sleep but that's my decision. And I am not answerable to anyone. This marketing shit... damn. Oh, and come to think of it, I am a marketeer by training and profession. Irony!

Anyhow, in the entire episode, there are a couple of silver-linings to be happy about. A, the folks at Catapooolt have been a pleasure to work with. I can totally see myself recommending them to others. And B, I have made so many new friends. While the world at large remains hostile and friends (and acquaintances continued to desert me), I have been pleasantly surprised by the kindness that a few strangers have shown towards me. More about them in some other post, on a day when I am not feeling rotten about how I am spending my life.

Till then...

Wait a minute. Did you like the FB page yet? Did you buy the book yet? Did you tell your friends about it yet?

P.S.: That's crib # 2 in as many days. Note to self. Watch out!

The Impending Monday

So this is what it feels like.

When tiny chores get piled up for the last two days of the week. When despite two clear days, you can't seem to get even one chore done. When the two clear days blur and the Friday evening merges into the Saturday morning that in turns creeps into the Sunday; all without you realizing that it has happened. When before you know, the weekend is over. When the gloominess of the impending work week that you'd have to spend trapped in office sets in. When you miss your days as a free bird where you were the master of your time and the concept of work week was alien to you. When you start craving for that time as the free bird to come back; even if it meant financial insecurity. When the financial security starts feeling like a chain around your ankles and life looks boring. When you start questioning the meaning of life. When you watch Steve Jobs talk about life again and again. And when Steve says the think about looking into the mirror, you think of the ticking time bomb. When you look for reasons to clock in mandatory nine hours and try to diffuse that time bomb; even if none of those nine was spent on any actual work. When by the first hour itself, you start comparing yourself to other rats in the race. When the futility of it all hits you in the face and you cant comprehend why are the other rats so oblivious to misery of a financially secure life. When you forget the futility bit because the fancy paycheck that you get allows you to go to fancy restaurants and afford things that you never could. When you do buy those things, it dawns on you that you have no time to enjoy those things because you don't have the time. When you suddenly have to go sleep by 9 on Sunday night because you dont want to be late to work the next day. Oh when you dread things like getting in late. When the little question from the poor administrative office feels like a nag from an old, sore wife. When the entire experience feels like dragging a dead relationship because you don't want to let go; hell, you can't let go. When the entire thing makes you depressed about it. When the fogs of depression dont let you see a way out. And when the fog lifts, you realize that life's reduced to staring at the clock, hoping it would go faster; but the torturous clock actually ticks slower than it ought to and no one can help. When you suddenly think that may be, just may be, if you believed in God, may be He would have have helped the clock go faster. When you realize that others that believe in God are faring no better. When you see those God-fearing zombies all around you, happily walking into the doors of slavery. When you can't understand what makes the other slaves tick and so excited about the mundane days ahead for the rest of their lives. When the gloom of the predictable eventually sets in. When you get used to it. When you become a part of the crowd rather than screaming. When, when, those jokes, those stories, those anecdotes, those cartoons about perils of Monday mornings start to make sense. When you are.. you are...

Thoughts on book industry in India

Now that I am a stakeholder in the publishing industry in India and over the next few years I hope to become a significant one, I am going to start talking about things I've learnt while I was working on #tnks (wow that was a long sentence).

I plan to post my thoughts in a series of posts. And I am calling this series as Business of Books. So before I start getting into any serious discussion or prose, here are a few things that I would talk about over the next few weeks, months. If there is something specific that you want me to talk about, please do let me know.

No, I am not an expert. I am a mere curious observer standing on the sidelines of this amazing business.
  • Print vs Electronic. The non-stop battle between printed and ebooks. Which is better. Why? What is the alternative?
  • The monies. What do the publishers make, what do authors make? Who else makes money. Of course a lot of guesstimating will be involved.
  • Marketing. Of course. I am after-all a marketeer by training. The jury is still out on my "expert" level though.
  • Managing egos. Of other writers, publishers, retailers, distributors. Even readers have egos!
  • The mafia. No no, not the Italian Sicilian one. But the mafia in the books industry. Yes, there is. Trust me. I've had an encounter already. Thankfully it was not dirty.
  • Support groups. I am lucky to have folks at Wrimo India as a huge support group. Without them, a lot of my work would have suffered. Why is important to have a group? What to do if you don't have one.
  • First-time authors. This one is probably where I'd spend a lot of time. After all, I am an outsider and it took considerable time, effort, hustle and luck to get the book done. Publishing for me was surprisingly easy. More on this as we go along.
That's all I can think of for the time being. I am hoping to do one post per week. Let's see if I can stick to the schedule. No promises though. 

Oh, I just need to figure out how would onWriting.in co-exist with this. I don't have answers for the time being. Let's see when they dawn. In the meanwhile, hope you've ordered the book!

Originally published on tnks blog.

"You think and do, whereas I do and think"

SRK. Source: Unknown.
The other day, on the 2nd, it was SRK's birthday. And I am sure that if you know me well, you know how much a love the man (or the popular perception he's got).

So on his birthday, I was reading one of his interviews from 2014 and when Rajeev Masand asked him about his relationship with Aamir Khan, SRK said [he said to Aamir Khan],
"You think and do, whereas I do and think," 
I read the line and I was like, wow!

In this one line, he put to rest all speculation, all doubt that I had about SRK's ability to choose what he does. I can now ignore, forgive, forget all his mistakes. I mean the man simply acts. Agreed he thinks a lot and he's created a perception about things but he simply does. For him, action takes precedence over foreplay. Karma wins over buddhi vilas.

So, coming to myself (after all the blog is supposed to be about me), I think I do the same thing. I act. Often impulsively (or may be I act on gut and intuition. whatever but I act) and then I think about what I've done. As a result, I often make mistakes but who cares. Every mistake makes me richer. It strengthens my gut, my intuition muscle, creates a rich library of incidents that I can refer to. After all, I am in this for the long haul!

Not a bad epiphany to happen first thing in the morning!

Thank you SRK for helping me with the epiphany. And oh, belated Happy Birthday!

The Paycheck Puzzle

Rat Race. Source: Unknown. Found here.
In my entire life, since I started working, I have never had to wait for a paycheck. I have been lucky like that. Not that I had things in abundance but I did have enough to not worry about that one tranche of payment at the end of the month. May be because I got a head start (I do not contribute anything to my home) and I've largely been prudent. 

In fact, I want to claim that everytime I have needed money, I've somehow got it from some unexpected source. No, I don't win lotteries or get estates from old uncles but I do get some unexpected work (freelance). Or some deferred payments comes through or some refunds happen. Somehow, something has happened and I've got money.

But lately I am having issues. First a freelance job that gave me a regular trickle of money every month, I was fired from it. Second I made some unnecessary expenses at the behest of some friends; the expense was totally unjustified and sad part is that I can't get a refund on it and I will have to live with it. Finally, I did not plan things well. I kept delaying things, hoping that they'd fall in place by themselves. They did not and I am thus reeling under the pressure. 

All these, things, have made me a slave to paycheck that is supposed to come at the end of every month. I started a new naukri and it's been a month. Well almost. The paycheck is due and I am waiting for it desperately. It's actually the 5th day of the month already and money is nowhere in sight. However, the overdraft on my credit card is staring in my face. Oh, I am behind on the rent. And I could do with some new clothes. The phone needs to be replaced and the computer that I loaned from sis is almost broken. The list just goes on. I will not bore with details but the matter of fact is, I need money. Side note. I think I also need a year off.

I have no clue how the rest of the world lives their life waiting for a paycheck. Total respect AND pity towards the ones who do. My folks did the same and most people around me do it. And no one seems bothered about it. I have no clue how they do it. The damn rat race is so evident and I am now a part of it. Existential crisis is so not happening. That too, first thing in the morning! 

On an average, during the day, I think that I can change the world. I really mean it. I really think that I can add a lot of "value" to whatever I do. I believe I am gifted like that. I have no shame in saying so. Neither am I proud about it. I just know that I've been given a gift and I am not using it. And I am stuck in this mindless chase to nowhere. If I were any less, I would've accepted things and would have done haalat se samjhauta. But I can't. I know I can do lot more. I don't know when or how though. Any help anyone?

While I finished posting this, I am still refreshing my bank account page every thirty seconds. Hoping for a miracle that somehow some money would land in the account and I would ward off the creditors for a bit, before they are back, next month. And the month after that. While I am still waiting for my paycheck to happen!  

Oh, and just yesterday I met someone who told me that great men like Anurag Kashyap and others had to sleep on the kitchen floor for years. And for every great man who's made it big, there are a million others that die an anonymous death. Can I take hope from their lives? I don't even know what I am rambling. 

More later! 

P.S.: These days I think a lot about money and life and other things. Don't know what's up!
P.P.S.: Things aren't that bad to be honest. Most of my issues are first world problems really. Some other such problems are here

The first ten copies of #tnks

The first ten copies of #tnks are here at the publisher's office. I would get mine in a day or two. My copies. The ones I own. The ones that the publishing contract said I would get for free.

I can't wait to see em. Can't wait for that damn courier to arrive. I just hope that paper is nice, cover is thick enough and it feels like a real book when I hold it in my hand.

How do I feel? A million bucks. Damn right! A million bucks! After all the book was on my bucket list forever!

So, after the euphoria, now that the book is here, I need to do two things.

a. move on. Last two months sixteen or so months, I have done nothing but talk about the book. I need to let fate take it's own course. I need to let go. I have been having sleepless nights over it (the response, the sales, the feedback etc) but I need to let go. I need to stop worrying. I need to get #tnks out of my system. It's done and it's out there. I need to move on. That doesn't mean I'd stop the hustle. But that means that I would mentally move on. Irrespective of how book does or how many copies do I sell, I need to move on to the next one. I call it Book 2 and I am fairly certain of the style that I want to write it in. And yes, it is slightly different from #tnks.

b. housekeeping. I need to do some bit of housekeeping. For starters, I need to give the first copy to Rana Sir. After all, he paid advance for his copy way back in Oct of last year. Then I need to hand over a copy to #sgMS. Of course I have ordered one for her already that would reach her home once the book is on the bookstores, but I ought to give it to her by hand. And then, I will give a copy to few friends, including my sis and Neo. And I would keep a few copies on me all the time. So that next time I goto a bookstore, next time I meet someone who loves books, I could flip the copy out and show it to them!

That's it!

In case you want to buy, you know what to do. Head over to Amazon and Flipkart.