Post Manuscript Syndrome and other joys of writing

Post Manuscript Syndrome: Symptoms include twitchy fingers, hand cramps, sleepless nights (nightmares of piles of rejection letters), glazed eyes as you await a revert, fleeting smiles to convince yourself and others that all is well in your world (other than the fact that months of thinking, writing and rewriting now hangs in the balance), acidity and a desire to run each time anyone asks you about your writing. There is no other moment in my writing life as joyous and terrifying, all at once, as the moment I declare to myself that I have a complete manuscript that is ready to submit. I usually drive myself to that point through sheer exhaustion post multiple edits, tweaks and hand-wringing. I hang on to that last line, that last word, that last restructure, that last deletion, addition, substitution… that very last tweak for as long as I can. There’s a finality to the declaration even though the story will go through multiple edits and possible restructures before it takes on its final form. I put it aside for a few days/weeks/months before I take another look at it, all the while biting my nails off and opening and closing the file multiple times. I’ll do all manner of things to fine tune the writing – storyboards, story arcs… even a “state-of-mind graph” (new tool and a rather fun one to do) before I am convinced that I’ve caught inconsistencies and that it is indeed ready to be seen by an editor. There will be the all-important reading by my kids when I’ve learnt to sneak around and watch their expressions as they read, to gauge their instinctive reaction to the...

To Squiggle with love

My kids took all of nine months. Squiggle was four years in the making. From sleepless nights with a fuzzy idea about what I wanted to write, to not quite knowing how. From sheafs of paper lying crumpled on the floor, to post-its that got shuffled around each day. From holding on to her, nervous about her first view, to Anita Roy at Zubaan Books writing back: “I LOVE SQUIGGLE. It made me giggle. Let’s do it! Exclamation mark!” From us knowing what she needs as her playground, to finding Vikram Nandwani, the fabulous illustrator who brought her to life. From draft after draft after draft while gazing at her adoringly (and often through gritted teeth) through all her teething troubles, to her blossoming into all her loveliness. From spending hours poring over her at the Zubaan office, to Niyati and all the other wonderful folks at Penguin joining the joyride and helping her zoom her way into this world. Squiggle, I love being your mommy! Go make the world a little more squiggly and punctuation friendly! To get commas in place and help children end their sentences, buy Squiggle Takes a Walk online here: Amazon, Flipkart Natasha Sharma is currently back to sleepless nights with a fuzzy idea for the next book with Squiggle. Share...

A swishfizzing Saturday at Bookaroo

Swishfizzing Saturday. Snadoodly Saturday. Superbilify Saturday. I had, what I can say without doubt, the most fun I have ever had at readings last Saturday at the Bookaroo children’s literature festival in Delhi. Bookaroo is above all a wonderful time to catch up with authors, illustrators and editors who remain an email address for most of the year. There were a couple of firsts of putting a face to a name. Squiggle Takes a Walk (or was that a leap, hop, screech, yelp…) The afternoon had me as Squiggle, alongside three lovely ladies from Zubaan – my editor Anita Roy, Meghna and Ishani – as punctuation marks. As we enacted the book, we leapt off a knee-knockingly-high stage with wild abandon, pummelled into each other as Squiggle and Exclamation Mark, got looked down the nose by Colon and got dragged back up on stage by the annoying Quotation Marks. And this was just a bit of the mad romp through the session. Since no party can be complete without some games, this punctuation party had its very own version of Punctuation Dumb Charades followed by the children and me attempting to do justice to Vikram Nandwani’s artistic Squiggle. AND we did a count down to throw four free copies of the book into the crowd to officially launch the book! She’s here and I love her 🙂 ‘Who am I?’ wondered Squiggle Some of the lovely punctuation Getting hooked by the rather annoying quotation marks Doodle time! Some of the lovely illustrations Book signing time!  Going hysterical with the History Mystery series The Duckbill platypuses and I went hysterically historical...