Today, a piece I wrote was published in The Guardian. For those living in the UK — you’ll know it’s a big deal. To be writing for a mainstream, respected daily is huge (for me.)
I woke up to my twitter timeline pinging with shares where people had tagged me.
Ruby was out there. Seriously. She really was out of my hands.
Adrenaline cresting I jumped out of bed, my first cup of coffee still in hand—normally it takes me two cups to even open my eyes—and hopped on board the social media train.
I reached out to friends, family, my blogging community friends and asked them to share.
One part of me kept saying: you are a marketer, be shameless, get people to like, share, comment.
Just as I was about to email an acquaintance, who I confess I didn’t know that well to ask her to do the same—share—the writer in me finally cringed. I looked down on myself from outside.
How far would I go to tell the world about what I had done?
By pushing the boundaries and reaching people and asking them to share… was I taking away from the pure intent of what my writing was about? Wouldn’t it be more valuable for people to discover Ruby on their own, rather than me pushing her in their face?
But, what about discoverablity and algorithms which rule the world we live in today? To be found it isn’t enough just to write, you need to have it found by readers. You do have to go to them.
The irony was—I was writing in a mainline British daily about why the hero of my YA novel had to be an Angry Young Indian Girl. So here I was pushing the agenda of diversity in books, specifically within the Young Adult space in order to have this piece published.. when my entire life I had seen myself as mainstream.
I’ve never felt that being Indian or brown or being a woman has ever taken away opportunities for me. It’s because I grew up in India, in the contradictory environment of a society pushing its way into a new millenium while grappling to hold onto its individuality defined by its culture & history, that I write the way I do.
And it’s because I am a woman, that I am able to play multiple roles in this lifetime. It is because am still that conflicted girl growing up in a society that was struggling to find itself, that I felt compelled to rebel, to push boundaries. Its why even today I feel the highs and lows in my life magnified; most of the time.
So this is my strength. And I was making it a perceived weakness and because I know this will interest people enough to get them to read and share.
I tend to overthink these things.
What is clear is that writing a YA thriller, set in Bombay with an Indian girl as its hero … is different. Really different and challenging in terms of getting a mainstream audience intrigued enough to read the book.
So I have to take my ego out of it. I gotta do what I have to do to get Ruby in front of more people. I owe her that much after all she has given me.
Read the Guardian Piece about why the time of the Angry Young Indian Girl is now