“Destination is not the only thing in a journey; there are many other components to it. Similarly, a book’s journey is not only about getting published”, said Kanchana Banerjee who’s debut novel A Forgotten Affair was published in 2016 by Harper Collins.
We were very happy to have a Facebook live session with this amazing writer on April 6th, 2018 at the Blogchatter Writing Festival. Kanchana always wanted to be a writer from the time she was a little girl. She worked freelance with many publishers, diversified and tried various types of writing for quite some years. Strangely enough, for a person who had the urge to write a book, she hadn’t a clue as to what to write about!
In 2007 she happened to enroll in the London School of Journalism and took up a course in short story writing, which she completed in 8 months. This helped her a lot in putting things into perspective and laying the foundation for her first book. Many people assume that for a voracious reader writing comes seamlessly. This is a huge misconception. Kanchana told us that there are many nuts and bolts involved in the writing process. She also felt that aspiring writers should enrol in a good writing course as it can give structure to your ideas.
Kanchana surprised us by saying that writing the manuscript was the easiest part in the journey because that is where you have full control, just like playing God in a world full of characters that you create! The next part would be meeting with publishers. This is frustrating and time-consuming. It requires a lot of patience. Finally comes the marketing that is especially daunting for debut authors. She told us about the importance of beta reading and how necessary it is to get brutally honest feedback on it. Even though there are no hard and fast rules, beta reading is best done by someone who is not close and can give an unbiased response and someone who likes the genre that you are writing.
Writing is 5% inspiration and 95% perspiration. Sometimes what you write turns out perfect the first time, and at other times, certain portions need revisiting and sharpening. You just have to build on what you write.
When asked how she felt when she actually got to hold her book, Kanchana’s glowing smile said everything. It was a beautiful and euphoric experience, like it was her own baby she gave birth to. Harper Collins had given her a debut, something that she had dreamt of for so long.
We moved on to discuss her second novel, which is in the making and is a story in itself. She told us that the background of the second book is the importance of honesty in a relationship which was inspired by an article she read in an Agony Aunt column. Kanchana had written 80 thousand words in her second book when she broke her arm and couldn’t write for a few weeks. That was when she reread her manuscript and decided to throw it all away and start from scratch!
Next up was her insights on pitching. Pitch is not about telling the entire story but only the most intriguing part and leaving the rest as suspense. If you can hook a reader with one sentence in a pitch, it can help create an aura of mystery and people curious enough will pick up the book to read more.
Finally we discussed the pressure involved in writing her second novel. As cliché as it would sound, Kanchana vehemently said that writing was the love of her life. She loves to write early in the morning and never thinks of it as a chore. She enjoys the entire process of conceptualization. Of course, there are times when she wonders what motivates writers when there is no clear sense of end, no book deals waiting and very little money. There is a lot of hard work involved and as much as you’d like to believe that romantic notion about inspiration striking from heaven, the reality is that it is a tedious job, almost like chasing a rainbow. What also is true is that she doesn’t regret a single moment of it and there isn’t anything else she’d rather be doing!
You can see the rest of the live here.
The Journey of Being a Published Author Facebook Live with Kanchana Banerjee was one of our sessions at Blogchatter Writing Festival. We have many more different author-sessions planned ahead under this. You can screenshot the below schedule: