Renuka I of the popular blog Pocketful of Perspective recently published an e-book reflecting her deep positive thinking called Make Room for Good.
She is a true inspiration to the people who learn and take pleasure from her words. TC had the golden opportunity to discuss the book, her motivations for writing it, and challenges she faced along the way. TamilCulture: What inspired you to start your blog and now the book?
Renuka I: I have been using writing as a tool to express myself ever since I was a child. In fact, the first book I ever ‘wrote’ was when I was 7 years old - and I did it during ‘free time’ in class one day while the other kids used it to play. But writing became more meaningful to me after experiencing the losses of my father, sister and grandfather. In the darkest years of my life, writing proved to be one of the best ways to cope. Whatever I was dealing with, I simply wrote about it. And that’s essentially how my quotes were born. To me, writing was a cathartic process, and I never thought to do anything further with it. Until one day I decided to start sharing them on a social networking site. I was amazed when friends began contacting me and telling me that it uplifted their day; that it helped them make a life decision; that it prompted them to think about a situation. This was the moment when I realized that the words that once helped me were doing the same for others. It was all the motivation I needed to start my blog, ‘Pocketful Of Perspective’ last year.
TC: What challenges did you face as you wrote the book and how did you overcome them?
RI: The logistical aspects of the book were the hardest for me. I have been writing for years, so the material was readily available. It was now about determining how to organize them, and providing fluidity so that it felt more like a book and not a bunch of random thoughts. It also took time to ensure that the content wasn’t repetitive, as I create many quotes based on one subject alone. And this is when I realized how important order and placement of a quote were to the book. Coming up with a title was by far the most difficult. It could make or break you. It needs to be encompassing of your book content, be as witty and clever as the quotes themselves, and of course – it has to be a title that can later be built upon for follow-up titles to future books. Thinking ahead is as important as thinking in the present. Even the smaller details that you’re sure will be the easiest to accomplish ended up being quite a task. For example, the cover art, the fonts used, and the size of the fonts – a lot of time was spent on the tiniest of details.
It’s important to mention the psychological aspects as well. They say writing is an isolating profession. Whoever ‘they’ are were right! You spend a lot of time in your head and in situations where you’re alone. Though I feel it’s where I produce my best work, I would be lying if I said I didn’t feel like I was losing my mind in the process! It was a lesson for me, to remember to take breaks, to interact with other human beings, to feel the air against my face. At the end of the day though, it was well worth it. And I believe that as long as you’re following your passion – it will always be worth it.
TC: Can you walk us through the process of writing a book?
RI: I was approached by the publishers at 'bbigg' after they heard about my blog. From there we dived in head-first. Since the material for my book already existed from years upon years of writing, now it was a matter of sifting through them and choosing the best of the best from the bunch. The process of putting together the book involved a lot of back and forth between myself and the publishers. Every detail was discussed. Not only did we focus our time and energy on the quotes, but much time was spent on the title choices, the cover art, the font, the layout, as well as the preceding pages of the book which include the prologue, foreword, acknowledgements, dedications, as well as the 'about the author' page. I was fortunate enough to work with people who allowed me to maintain my creative direction. I believe this is crucial to staying true to who you are as a writer. I was never asked to alter any of my quotes, or asked to include content that I didn't wish to include. Once everything was compiled, we went through countless drafts until both the publishers and myself were pleased with the results. And the final product is what you see on Amazon today!
TC: Are there any lessons that you have learned along the way that you would like to share?
RI: I am truly overwhelmed by the positive response this book has received in its first two weeks of sales. I sincerely appreciate my readers for their reviews on Amazon, as well as the personal feedback given to me. I had someone tell me the other day that they read my book every morning on their commute to work to inspire them for the day. Another individual told me that at times when dealing with an issue, they go to a random page in my book and that quote always speaks to them on how to handle it. My readers, they always thank me for enhancing their lives - they have no idea how much they're enhancing mine in the process. They remind me that I'm right where I need to be in life. How beautiful is that?
If I can share one piece of advice about the process that comes after your book is up for sale, it's to spend as much time on marketing as you did on the making of the book. Getting the message out is crucial. You created something, and you worked long and hard on it. Of course the world deserves to know about it! This is where social media becomes your best friend. Don't be timid - create a buzz everywhere you can. And generate it while your book is in the spotlight.
TC: Tell us a bit about your upcoming projects.
RI: The hope has always been to get the message of good across to as many people as I can reach. I would love for the book to be translated into Tamil as well as other languages. I would also like to see it in libraries so people can read it for free. This opens the door to many more people accessing the book and benefiting from its words. This is what I hope to be doing in the next little while. Further down the road, I will be working on the follow-up to 'Make Room For Good'.
TC: What would you like to share with aspiring writers?
RI: Stay true to yourself: ensure that your work is a reflection of who you are and what you wish to share with the world. Stand by your convictions: you already know what your final product is meant to look like – you have an image of it in your head. You already know what you’re willing to do and what you’re not willing to do in order to make it happen. Don’t give up on any of it simply because someone asked you to. Never write to gain popularity: if your hope is to get as many followers as possible or write to please the public and the current trend they’re following, you’re doing it for the wrong reasons. Write from the heart...what you end up creating is far more beautiful.