Writing the Great Desi-American novel.

So, this blog suffers from a bit of a personality disorder. I don’t know what to use it for: to write about restaurants I’ve been to, issues that interest me, books I’ve read… let’s face it, I’m all over the place. But what it boils down to is that I’m here to write, and my greatest ongoing struggle as a writer is that of the Great Desi-American Novel that I’ve been plugging away at for two years.

Call it “chick lit,” call it “women’s fiction,” either way, the genre brings to mind those breezy covers with some svelte headless girl holding a purse and showing off high heels. Would you believe it’s intimidating as Hell? I’ve been writing fiction since I was very young, but the task of writing a full-length novel that’s publication-ready is daunting. 25,000 words seems to be my brick wall. I constantly hit that place and stumble back, unsure of where to take the characters, wondering if the scenes I’m adding just to up the page count are extraneous.

Not to mention the fact that there IS a cache of fiction about the Indian-American experience emerging… and the idea of having to compete with the Jhumpa Lahiris of the world or trying to be the next Monica Pradhan or Anjali Banerjee…that’s pretty daunting as well. What if it’s already been written before? What if they did it better? What if? What if? What if?

Sure, every author’s experience is different, and that shapes a character’s voice differently. My New York isn’t the upper class, glittering city coveted by Sex and the City fans. It’s more mundane…yet with bits of magic here and there. Thus, the world my characters live in mirrors that. But does anyone want to read about some girl living a relatively normal life? Does anyone want to publish a book where someone falls for a bartender and not Big?

Obsessing about details like that definitely gets in the way of actually writing. I get so caught up in the questions and the doubts that returning to the Word .doc and actually playing out the story becomes the last priority…and that’s a shame, because you kinda need a finished product, otherwise you’re putting the cart before the horse when you ruminate about who’s going to read it.

I’m my own worst enemy that way. I trip myself up. I’m a bigger brick wall than the elusive word count…so how do I scale the barrier?

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4 thoughts on “Writing the Great Desi-American novel.

  1. Does anyone want to publish a book where someone falls for a bartender and not Big?

    Yes. In fact, I prefer those books because they’re more realistic than the high fantasy of an upper class lifestyle. And I know little about the Desi-American culture, so I’m interested in learning more about someone different than myself… but who could be the same.

    I don’t have great advice to share, considering that you’ve gone farther than me in novel writing already. But I’m right there with you on the intimidation and being your own worst enemy. How about a little pep talk?

    Keep forging ahead through the jungle of the challenge! You can doooo it!

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  2. Heeeeee. I welcome a pep talk or two or ten! It feels like high fantasy/upper class fiction is what the media thinks women want…and that’s pretty annoying. Hell, I feel like I’m one of the few women in NY who doesn’t give a rat’s behind about the Sex and the City movie. And I let that frustration play into inhibiting my writing…which is dumb of me!

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  3. Gosh, I’m honored. Thank you for mentioning me in your blog. But don’t worry! Published writers struggle with the same questions. We’re always comparing ourselves to other authors; we struggle with all kinds of insecurities. The process doesn’t get any easier. We write because we love to write, because we must. Write YOUR story. Put on the blinders and just be creative. Trust that your book will find its audience.

    To get beyond 25K words, think of this. What does your protagonist want more than anything in the world? Independence? Identity? True love? What stands in her way? Give her huge obstacles to overcome. This may help propel your story. And drop me a line anytime!

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  4. I’m the honored one! I’m just nattering away in a blog and I had no idea you would stumble upon it.

    The love of writing is why I do it, and I’m glad to hear that even after you’ve finished something and gotten published the pressure and insecurity doesn’t necessarily abate. Getting tangled in the mechanics instead of focusing on what my protagonist wants is definitely one of my biggest obstacles to overcome.

    Thank you for stopping by!

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