Who is Shivangi Sharma?
I was born and brought up in Chandigarh, and later I studied and worked in different cities in India. I studied engineering, and then MBA from Indian School of Business, Hyderabad. I have worked in the corporate space for over a decade now in four different countries, currently heading up marketing for a start up in Amsterdam. I live here with my husband and our 4-year-old son. When not working or playing mommy, I like to write, swim, sing or do dance performances with my troupe here. I also have a keen interest in spirituality, which has lately started to reflect in my writing too.
Why do you write?
Because I can’t live without it! I think by writing. I have been writing for longer than I can remember – well at least that much, I strangely do remember. Whether it was writing a dialogue between my non-living wardrobe and me on the back side of a used envelope to then stick in the same wardrobe as a child, or scribbling about the meaning of life in a boring legal compliance training at work to appear busy – writing has stayed with me like a faithful friend all along. Over the years I wrote and edited school, college, work magazines and found immense joy in doing so. I have got away many times by writing birthday poems for my family and friends in lieu of buying them presents.(Emotional AND environment-friendly, what’s wrong with that?) My husband would always dread my three page long letters that I used to write to him to explain my point. Some of my articles appeared in some popular magazines and websites, and the journey never really stopped.
What made you write this book?
When my son was born, I had taken a break from work to be with him and I used to spend a lot of time on the internet reading about parenting and babies. I was totally smitten by my baby and the experience of being a parent which was both miraculous and utterly hilarious! That was all that I had on my mind then, and I just had to rattle it out on a keyboard. My aim was only one- to share what was actually going on in my life as a first time parent, and make others laugh while doing that – the way I’d laugh at myself. There is enough seriousness in the world anyway, especially when it comes to the topic of parenting. The journey of writing ‘I made a booboo’ was extremely enjoyable. Giving words to my thoughts, reminiscing every little thing and putting it on paper was cathartic for me. This is one of those things in my life where the journey was as interesting as, if not more than, the destination for me. While writing I never stressed about the fact that whether it will become a book one day or not, or whether it will get published or not. I wrote for that moment and kept on building it up word by word, sentence by sentence. And the rest, as they say, is history.
About the book
The book is written on my own story as a first time mom. It is definitely not a guidebook on parenting, but I am hardly an expert at that. It is a completely non preachy, honest and funny account of the realities associated with motherhood, and its good, bad and bizarre moments that any parent should be able to relate to.
What do you think readers will like about the book?
The consistent feedback from all readers around the world says that the book feels like reading their own story. Some have told me that they could not leave the book without finishing it in one go. Some have blamed me for making their coffee spill on them while laughing hysterically at my goof ups and seeing themselves in those. Some told me they were laughing and crying at the same time. One reader called my writing ‘Chandler-istic.’ The reality, simplicity, humor and warmth of the book should connect with the readers.Even non-parent readers enjoyed the book.
Tell us more about your writing and inspiration
‘I made a booboo’ is my first ‘solo’ book so to speak. Before this, I co-authored an anthology on expat living in the Netherlands, together with other Dutch women writers. That book is also based on personal experiences and is written with humor as its mainstay. Lately, I have started to write more on positive living, spirituality and I also started to write for children. I do have a couple of half-finished manuscripts, but they are not compelling me enough to take them forward. So my next project would not be to just ‘produce’ another book but to experiment a bit more and write only when the book inside me can’t be stopped.
Is there a writing schedule you follow? How do you deal with writer’s block?
I wish I did! Part of my 2017 resolutions 🙂 I rarely have a writer’s block, though. My bigger challenge is finding time and getting myself to sit peacefully on my desk for a few hours – thanks to all the million activities I keep getting distracted with. When I was writing ‘I made a booboo’, I used to write almost every day for a couple of hours in the night or on weekend afternoons. But even then I had not given myself any deadline. I wrote as much as I could every day. While deadlines definitely help a person like me, having too many of those can also curb the creativity and make you finish your writing just as any other task. So I think there should always be a right balance.
Your advice to aspiring authors
Keep writing and keep reading, and do both these activities for yourself, for the pure joy of it, almost aimlessly. Reading will open up your mind and continuously fill you with inspiration and ideas. Writing regularly will help to crystallize those ideas and thoughts bit by bit. Don’t lose patience and don’t settle for a sentence or even a word that is not good enough to tell your story. Publishers love a finished product, so make sure you have spent enough time to make it better and sharper. Get professional help to review your manuscript if need be. While a good publisher will give you the initial start with marketing, you will need to spend a lot of effort from your end to market the book too. So in that sense, even self-publishing is not a bad option if you are not after a ‘brand’.
Shivangi’s favourite authors and books
While lately I am more into spiritual and other non-fiction books, there was a time not long ago when I read only fiction. So some authors I loved were Fyodor Dostoyevsky, John Kennedy Toole, Margaret Atwood, Salman Rushdie, Orhan Pamuk, PG Wodehouse, Vikram Seth, Yann Martel, Rohinton Mistry, Joseph Heller, Thomas Hardy and actually many more! Hard to quote a single one as the source of inspiration.
Author(s): Shivangi Sharma
Publisher: Rupa Publications
Release: February 2016
Genre: Non fiction / Parenting
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