When I was Five, My uncle had come from Saudi Arabia, I was sitting across from him, He called me closer and gave me a little present, I unwrapped it and saw a green color lipstick, “Green?” I asked, clearly, disappointed. “This is a magic lipstick, when you wear it, it will turn red,” he said.
Next day, I was getting ready to school, Ponds powder and eyetex bindi, Black ribbons for my plaits, Uniform, White socks and shoes and a small white chalk piece to paint the brown spots fair, And some parachute oil to tame the frizz on my crown. All done. Then, I slowly picked that green lipstick and stroked it on my lower lips and it turned red. I smiled.
Then, someone grabbed the lipstick from my hand, my father, He walked swiftly to the balcony, threw the stick outside, turned to me and said “Lipsticks are for bad women,” and went away. And, I stood, holding the balcony grills and looking at that magic lipstick on the road.
When I was fifteen, My mom enrolled me into the math tuition that starts at 6:00 AM and I had only 2 salwar kameez, so, I wear them on alternative days, In weeks time, tuition mates asked why am I not wearing anything else, their eyes were glistening with mischief,
“You are going to tuitions to study and not for a fashion parade,” said my mother.
I vividly remember borrowing a bunch of colorful hairbands from a friend, I cannot wear them at home because questions, I would keep the bunch in a small pouch, hide it inside my bag, I will ride my cycle, go to the next street, I’d wear the hair band and smile.
Then my elder sister wanted company and took me to a parlor and asked, “hey! Do you wanna thread your brows and I said yes!” I cried because that was the first time I’m plucking my brows. It was painful. I cursed my sister. But, when it was over and when I looked at myself in the mirror, I felt pretty. But, also, I had to keep my eyes on the floor just so I don’t get caught. But, that wasn’t a big task of a thing because I am always expected to keep my head down because I am a woman.
Things slightly changed when I went to college though,
I had better clothes to wear. 5 of them. I had power and I wore glasses, so I do not have to wear Kajal you know, I used to tell my friends. Ok, I lied to my friends. Truth is, I was not allowed to wear anything makeup.
Hostel life though was a tad different, Four of us in a room with shelves assigned for each, I would see their shelves with deodorants and perfumes and lip-glosses but mine were plain, I would wait for them to leave, I would sneak, and take a little bit of those cosmetics to try, The orange of that lakme on my lips and the moral science about stealing something on my mind, The fragrance of a tommy Hilfiger perfume on my wrist and the values that my grandma taught via the Mahabharata and Ramayana story in my heart,
Whenever I ask that I want something so cosmetic at home, they’d say “It would attract boys!” or they’d blatantly ask “Whom are you trying to attract?”
I grew up to understand that the world sees a man’s body as a vessel for one’s soul, But, a woman’s body though is not it. It is sexualized. I grew up to understand that the world sees a man’s clothes as civilization, But, a woman’s clothes are designed to just attract the male eye.
I was taught that women dress up to attract men, I was preached that women who dress up are bad women, who’d wear red lipsticks are sluts, and high heels are what porn stars wear.
I was forced to think that female sexuality is for everyone else except herself, I was forced to assume that female sexuality is required only when they want to please their partners,
A woman should know to dress enough to satisfy her male counterpart, be innocently seductive but not anything else.
But, then, I think I really grew up over the past decade, With life happening, love happening, social media and great bunch of friends and books, Trip to a different country and jumps to different companies, I sense a notable shift in my ideology,
Moral policing on social media is always on the high, I look at people commenting, Sleeveless clothes are not feminist’s tools, That, short skirts are not really empowering, Moreover, body hugging clothes – OMG! Is this even feminism?
Let me tell you something, When a person is not allowed to do something, if the reason is their gender, and if the person rebels against it, it is feminism.
There’s no said tabular column or match the following with a list stating what all fall under feminism and what doesn’t.
So, next time, when you have the urge to comment “Is this feminism?” or “Oh dear woman, you don’t even know what’s feminism. Torn clothes are not it,” or “revealing clothes is not feminism” or “what you’re wearing would invite rapists,” and sorts.
Take a white sheet of rectangular paper and write down your comments, Hold the top corners, bring them closer, and make a triangle, Flip it and fold it, Flip it again and fold it, Make a paper plane out of it. Keep it upright. 90 degrees. Take it down. Far below your crotch, Shove it up your ass and fuck off.
Is it a pretty woman running away from a room, yelling and crying with her clothes so torn? Or, is it a scene from a movie where you see their clothes all over and the woman throwing her hands and legs in all directions? Or, is it a small street, all dark, and you see a group of people in the far with a woman crying out loud for help?
What is the definition of rape? What is your definition of rape?
Or should I ask, What’s your prototype of a rape? Because, we are taught and preached that rape is always performed by a criminal who attacks a screaming woman at a gunpoint, isn’t it? What if I narrate an incident that deviates from your prototype? But, still claim that it indeed was a rape? Would you sympathize? Because evidently, the further the incident deviates from our idea of “how a rape should look like” – We seldom understand it
Have you heard the stories of marital abuse and claimed, he’s your husband after all, he has all the rights? – No. He doesn’t have the rights. It is a rape. Do you know there are men who are victims of rape and have you ever said, huh! Men actually enjoy sex any given day, No. It is a rape. How about mistreatment of sex workers because after all that’s their job and they get paid for it. No, it is a rape. And, same-sex assault, does that ever happen? Yes, it happens. It is again a rape. What if alcohol and drugs are involved? No 2nd thoughts, it can be a rape.
There are millions and millions out there in all the corners of the world, who scoop up the incidents that happened to them and are asking “Was it a rape?” to someone else and are slowly dissolving into their own tears of self-pity.
Because, we usually stick to a few well-known rape incidents and forget to see the whole spectrum of assaults. Such that, many sexual harassment victims are still unsure how to classify the misconduct. Because, people. They always want to just label an incident as rape or assault or harassment or misconduct. But, they fail to understand how it affected the said person.
Would you throw the rape case on a weighing scale?
100 points if you were killed during the rape
99 points if that was a gang rape
90 points if they had inserted an iron rod
80 points if you were just violently attacked
50 if you look physically fine
40 if the other person had used protection?
How about ranks, though?
1st Rank if you had said No and still get raped
2nd Rank if you said ‘Stop’ but the person continued
Fail – if you had said yes first and then said no second
Fail – if you were forced and coerced to saying yes after a 100 no
Fail – if you said maybe
Fail – if you just froze and laid there like a corpse.
Anything outside the commonly accepted definition of rape is considered less worthy.
The victims are pressurized to either classify the misconduct or to just shut the fuck up. But, one question from me, who gave anyone the rights to trivialize the victim’s experiences?
Do you know there are women who make the sound of pleasure as a defense mechanism? So the rapist assumes she’s done and would let go of her?
Do you know there are people who think that violence is a part of a woman’s life and it’s just okay because all the other women out there do face something similar or, even worse.
There are women who are advised that they were lucky because it was not a violent rape but the point to note here is, it is a rape. There are women who are brain-washed that it was not a rape but a bad sexual encounter.
There are people who say “How one should take the incident” – let me tell you, you have no rights to say how someone should feel about a traumatic incident. You’re not entitled to an opinion.
Consent has to be given. Consent cannot be taken away.
As much as we understand that “No means No” – we should also understand only “Yes means Yes” – A maybe or errr I need to think or especially, silence is not a substitute for a yes.
Disinterest is rape
Discomfort is rape
Someone not minding your pain but are pushing to finish is definitely a rape
Uneasiness is rape
You don’t have the rights to say that someone’s experience of a rape doesn’t “Count” as a rape.
You spending money on her doesn’t give you the rights to rape
you cannot rape someone just because you’re turned on
You cannot rape her just because she’s not a virgin
Let’s summarize? Shall we? If a person does not verbally say YES – yes, for all the sexual acts, it is a rape.
When I first had a crush, And when I said that to the person of interest, He said “You’re a woman. Have some shame!”
When I fell in love for the first time,When I winked and blew an air-kiss to him because the initial butterflies in my stomach made me do so, He met me in private and warned, “You’re a woman. Have some shame!”
When I was all in love and when all the songs made perfect sense, And, when I got some private time with him,I hugged him from behind, He turned and said, “You’re a woman, have some shame!” – Because a Woman doesn’t take initiative.
When I was intimate with my ‘forever partner’ and when I barged in to give him the first kiss because the inevitable chill wouldn’t let me be, He again said the same lines that all others said.
I’ve had no qualms about showing affection to my own body, When my roommate caught me pleasuring, she was shocked, she gave me a disgusting look, and told, “You’re a woman and you’re not supposed to do that. You’re in India not in a foreign country. Have some shame!”
I failed once, I was deeply distressed and upset, But I didn’t cry, Many around me were shocked that I didn’t and said “You’re a woman!” How can you not cry, are you a stone?
When someone groped me on the road, I got all worked up and I pulled up a fight, “OMG! You’re a woman. Have some shame, will you?”
When I started working, I striven to become better, And, I was put in a situation to raise my voice because none listens to the feeble, “Stop yelling will you? Act like a woman!” they suppressed me.
The other day when I was munching a pack of chips, Loud and all that, They said, “You’re a woman. You’d grow fat. And then, you’re not allowed to eat that loud,”
Have some shame, woman. Don’t burp or fart or pick your nose. You’re a goddamn woman for a reason.
I met a bunch of friends, A group of men and women, And, I didn’t notice that I had a wardrobe dysfunction and that my cleavage took a sneak peek, “This is so wrong! Are you giving signals to any of the guys? You’re a woman. Women don’t do that. Have some shame!” they said. They’re clearly not proud about having me in their lives.
If you don’t have a problem when a person with penis does something and if you have a problem if a person with a vagina and a pair of boobs does the same thing, it’s you who should be ashamed.
Have some shame, dear society!
I’m 28.3 years old,Yes, the age that many of them consider as pretty old,Probably the age when you’re expected to have a board around your neck that reads ‘Sold’
I know of people, who worry a lot, When the scale of their age slides slightly to the right, but Guess what?I’m actually really happy.You know why? Let me explain it to you!
Because, I’ve crossed the baby days when ‘milk mustache’ mattered,I’m done with the toddler stage, when I thought that the shells I find in the shore are from the mermaids.I’m not in preschool, when all that mattered was the decals stickers on my bedroom walls,And, also I’m not in high school, when bullying was the most terrible thing,
I’m not a teen anymore;Those were the days I thought,People have the heart made of gold,And, I can trust someone who’d smile like a sun,You know those teenage-teeny thing are all outdone.
I’ve traversed the young adult stage when I thought roses burst in rainbow colors,When I thought love was all about Romeo and Juliet,And, life is like a lantern that floats in the sky, And, my soulmate was that guy with bright green eyes.
I’m not 20 year old to mellow down and ask ‘Ah.. May I’I’d now shout like thunder and ask ‘Excuse me’ I need extra ketchup please.
I’m not 21 to cry when my plants have yellow spots,But, hey, sorrows and concerns are always tightening the knots.
I’m not 22 to make a wish with dandelion, Or to pray with one of my eyelashes on my knuckles, I’m so damn done with the customer care calls that I just slap them with a ‘I’m not interested’
I’m not 23 anymore to stay in love with the wrong kinda guy,I’m not 24 to constantly have doubts about my own abilities,I’m 28.3 – who knows that success will never wait for you with arms spread wide,
When I was 25, I risked my life for that one person, whom I cared a lot about, But now, I go out with someone I’m interested, share the food bill, and then take a selfie with a pout,
When I was 26, Guilt and regret swirled inside my belly,When I was 27, I slowly learned to shut the echoes of the Memories that are best forgotten,
Now that I’m 28.3,
I easily shut everything down, ignore life and take a long nap,I’m a literature fanatic but let’s just say I’m still a Harry Potter fan, does that sound dramatic?I now delete the pathetic evidences that I’ve left on Facebook, And, I know I can survive another heart break, just like the previous one.I know that life, is just a pair of tectonic plates, that shifts at times,
I’m bold, and reckless,But, you might call me a bitch and characterless.
I’m finally who I’m supposed to be,I know that life is a play of emotions – joy, happiness, hatred, love and longing,Life’s too short to just exist, I chose to live where I felt a sense of belonging.
– Kavipriya Moorthy
It was when I lost my innocence, That everything else made perfect sense.
That I was a result of a random affair, And, I’m being cursed now, how is that even fair?
Something that sparked between the old flames, But, why should I carry the burden and be blamed.
How would I even explain you the pain, To be the walking embodiment of what’s called as shame.
To what do I owe this honor? I’ve got to live with a misnomer.
I try to endure this with great fortitude, But the neighborhood says, “like your mother, you’d become a prostitute,”
I feel like I’m drowning in a bottomless pond, I don’t even know what’s father-daughter bond? Oh, when I call him, he never responds. Can someone change my life with a magical wand?
My tears don’t wash away my sorrows, But, it hurts to know that my initials are to be borrowed.
And people forget to see what’s beneath my skin, Their comments that brings tears to the brim,
None understood my grief, Can I live a different life for at least a short brief?
I just want to go nowhere, Away from this world that spells not of affair. Dear God, let me please disappear, The opinions and judgements – oh, I don’t want to adhere.
— Kavipriya Moorthy
My friends’ list on Facebook is a real crazy mix, listing out a few:
Friends who love what I write and personally comment
A few who genuinely appreciate
A group of Grammar Nazis ( A few who care to correct, and many who would love to grammar shame the other/ who think it gives them a crown)
A few readers who don’t read but love to buy/borrow/take books and post pictures of the book online calling it bookstagram
A few who claim that reading is like breathing, they can’t live without books, etc..
One category that pisses me off — the wannabe writers/authors!
According to me, a writer should first give REASONS to buy their book, not JUST gift cards or money.
I read because I seek information, it takes me off from the real-life troubles; I like to improve my skills and vocabulary, it improves my imagination/creativity, etc..
I don’t buy a book because it is free of cost, or because I know the author (sometimes, yes, if I am aware that he/she is a good writer)
I don’t want to read or rather, I don’t want anyone to read a bad book or a poorly written book. I don’t want a book that would drag my knowledge down. A few wannabe writers only want fame, they write some bad college-hookup story, a boy meet girl – girl meet boy story with poor words and bad grammar.
I focus on being a trusted writer. I write micro-tales, short stories, thoughts, blog posts, etc.. eventually, even if people don’t read my book per se, they at least get to know and trust me as an author.
Let me give a sample messenger ping from an author I know — “Grab a copy of my book that’s on Amazon, the book is only 225 INR, and you know what? Am giving you a gift voucher worth 200 INR, you’re spending only 25 INR. Buy Now!” — I find this crazy, how can I buy a book just because it is just 25 INR? I’d be spending at least 3-4 hours reading it, is my time worth just 25 INR? No!
How about writing a good book, interacting with the writers/authors/readers with the genre, plot line, a few quotes from the book and asking them to politely choose the book if they are interested? Why don’t you hook me as a reader with what the book has in store for me?
I find it funny when the authors post their Amazon link and say “Grab a copy,” “Irresistible offer,” “Just buy now!” etc.. It sounds like a person who wants to get married yelling “Am good at sex, marry me!” , “Am an excellent lover, fix the marriage date,” — Insane, I tell you!
No offense my wannabe authors – but, please, focus on becoming a good writer than a famous author. Focus on genuine reviews and interacting with readers than paying 500 INR for each fake review, the minute you say 400+ 5 star reviews on Goodreads – we know it all! Be an author who has a story to tell and not someone who has 20,000 INR to get fake reviews. Be genuine, you’re not fooling the readers, you’re fooling yourself. Give gift vouchers, market your book as much as you can, bring the word out, etc.. but be genuine. Give your readers a reason to read, then provide them with a gift card, will you?
Writers/Authors — Work on your skills, improve your grammar, read more books, learn new words and how to use them, interact with readers, write a good story — the book will sell well. It will take time, years together. But, as I always say, the view from the summit is damn worth it!
P.S – Sorry that I used this title and image. I would like this post to be read by many wannabe writers, authors, readers, book reviewers, etc.. to change their notion a bit.
I’d better write three novels than a synopsis, because, it is THAT difficult. For my next flick Dirty Martini – My editors and I re-wrote the synopsis for almost 50 times though we are convinced now, we also know how challenging and painstaking it is. Agents ask for synopsis along with your query letter most of the times.
I thought this post would be of some use to the newbies and also, for the authors to use this as a checklist.
Quintessential a synopsis:
1-2 pages in length
All the essential details of your novel should be summarized
It must be interesting enough to be picked
Yes, Challenging indeed.
Protagonist, the conflict, and setting
As I usually say, all the stories are about pushing the protagonist in a situation and helping him/her to come out of it. Make sure it is fresh, new and exciting. Ensure that your elements in your story don’t reflect or imitate any other.
Major plot turns/twists
Explain the motivation of your protagonist, emotions of the characters involved during these plot turns should be recorded
How the major plot is resolved
The ending, the surprise factors, etc.. should be listed
Points to remember/ Checklist:
Give a clear picture – the roadmap of your novel (the complete skeleton) the reader/agent should not feel confused. Focus on clarity
Don’t cram too many characters – just your protagonist, antagonist, and one or two major supporting characters
No descriptions – No unnecessary details
No to jargons
Don’t refer other novels
No adverbs and No cliches
A good opening line is a good brownie point
Use active voice
Avoid the character’s backstory in the synopsis
Don’t split your synopsis into sections/don’t use labels as you do while brainstorming
If you have more points to add, please feel free to comment
Back with another Indian-Publishing-Scene post, if you’ve not read my Indian authors and book marketing post, please do!
Why this post? Because I hear a lot of issues between the publisher-author duo these days. To mention a few complaints:
The publisher won’t give the author royalty for the first 1000 copies.
The publisher asked to sign an agreement to buy 200 copies of your book.
The publisher has increased the MRP and is not ready to reduce which affects the book sales.
My book is out of stock, and my publisher refused to reprint.
My publisher is not sending my books to any bookstore.
I spent XXXXX on publishing my book, you know it’s my baby, but, I didn’t get any returns.
Having published a book already, and having gone through the ups and downs of the publishing industry in a short span. I thought this had to be said.
Dear Author, you’re facing these issues because of YOU. It was you who wanted to publish the book right away. It was your choice to go with a publisher whose vision is to make money than to produce quality literature.
Gone are the days when writers had to send hard copies of their novel to a publisher, wait for their reply for a year and then send to another post rejection. There were authors who took years to get published, who worked hard on knitting their stories, editing it thoroughly and wanted to publish it for the love of literature. But, are we the same? We want fame. We want a book release every year, no matter what the story is, no matter how poor the paper quality is, no matter how bad the language is, no matter who reads it and what reviews we receive because money does it all. All it takes is 10,000 INR to get ten 5-star reviews right? You know reviewers who don’t read but post reviews. All it takes is just 25,000 INR to market your book on all Facebook groups, right?
Vanity Publishing /Self-publishing platforms (Not all) have dragged and pulled the Indian literature down, but, why care? All we need is the author tag? Throw a few thousands and get published. No, am not blaming all, but at least 3/10 do this, as I acquainted almost 500+ authors and am a part of groups with 10,000+ writers all over India.
Ask yourself. Do you see authors who published via the publishing houses that fall under the creamy categories complain? including those who self-publish/kindle publish as per their choice. Do you see them struggling hard to establish/market their books? As far as I know, not really, at least when compared to us – those who paid to get published.
I can’t stop you from doing what you want my dear author, but, if I can give you a small advice – research about the quality of Indian literature and the books that are available. Understand where you are, work on your story, plot, language, grammar, diction, sentence structure, etc.. Hire a good editor and give the best possible manuscript to the right publishers who are passionate about publishing good books. Wait, even if it takes years. Choose your book reviewers right. Don’t send it to every tom, dick, and Harry, please! The best type of marketing is the word of mouth. And, that would eventually happen. If not now, sooner or later.
I indeed published via a self-publishing platform; I learned a few lessons and now, am working hard to correct the mistakes and do well with my next release. I don’t deny the fact that there are good vanity published books and there are traditionally published bad books as well. But, the equation and weightage when thought through makes a difference.
If this post helps to change even any one of the readers’ mindset – I’d be more than happy, else, I’d still be happy because I feel better when I blog.
P.S — This post is not for anyone in particular, because, I have the habit of dealing it in person. This is a very common post addressing the most common issues of authors-publishers duo.
The fault in our stars, looking for Alaska, Paper Towns, Mocking Jay, The Maze Runner, Perks of being a wallflower and the list goes on and on and on! This era is the Young Adult Era where the all the more rare genre became the pepping hot genre of the global literature which includes Indian literature as well.
There are writers and authors I know who are gifted with the capability of jumping across genres and succeeding in every trial. There are a few who would choose to write a novel in the genre of the year. If you’re that, here is what you need to write a Young Adult Fiction.
Here is the good news! Young adult is more of a target audience defined and the marketing strategies are also defined.
You can write a story so flexible where it is more like a thriller in which you can add elements of horror or fantasy or romance as per your choice.
Even adults these days read young adult fiction, as it is more like rewinding what is history!
So the age group of your audience is 9 years to 17 years or more.
If you have a plot in mind, and you want to flesh it out as a young adult fiction, here is what you need to concentrate on:
Generally, the protagonist is a young person falling under 15-18 year old
Use first person narrative
Pepper teen language throughout; don’t use sophisticated words that look bizarre. This also depends on the world building – a story based in the US will have a different language than a story based in a small interior town in India
Usually younger generation is well-known for the drama; they are usually narrow-minded and think of extremes so ensure that you use exaggeration. Even a forgotten record note would make them panic, if they fail in exams they would probably plan to run away from home. Use this properly!
The conversations need not be crispy and straight on face like those in Agatha Christie books. They usually speak with less or no analogies and use long sentences; they plead and fight a lot. Tap conversations, they are confidence in what they are and just do what they feel like doing – you can’t convince them, so tap immature talks and stubbornness.
Understand the hormones, and emphasis their keen nature – teens are very keen about things – right from sex to science. Add meat!