Shilalekh

What Life Teaches Me Everyday

Category: Personal Development (Page 1 of 2)

When life happens every third day – 2018 in review

Another year gone. And 2018 literally flew for me.

If you were around my blog this time of the year, you would know that I intended to publish or rather self-publish one fiction and one non-fiction book in the year 2018. Needless to say, I failed miserably. I have a semi-finished draft of the non-fiction book and some 25 flash fiction stories on my drive as of today.

Of course, a work in progress is much better than nothing, I take it as a failure to meet my goals. We freelancers can hardly be blamed for not meeting our goals because to us life happens every third day, throwing our schedule and short-term goals in complete chaos.

Being a freelance writer, I am no different. And I am proud of the fact. I chose a freelance life because I wanted to live life as it comes, not missing out on anything just because something else needs to be done more urgently.

Everything said, 2018 was a very hectic and fruitful year both professionally and personally. And this post is just a review of that.

Personal achievements

While talking of goals, I cannot ignore the fact that building an extension to our house was on our to-do list since 2016. We could finally achieve it in 2018. Building an extension and renovating the existing parts of a house are no mean tasks. So, I wish that charitable ones among you would pardon me for not meeting my other goals like publishing a book!!

Hey! not everything was a failure professionally

I connected with Shradha Anand the founder of Aura-books through LinkedIn and did what I love doing the most – writing Computer Science textbooks. I wrote some 7-8 books between the period of April and October. Even if I am not sure about their publication, given the chaotic state of text book publishing industry in India, I feel satisfied. And that is the one thing that counts.

And in the process, I have also gained a good friend in Shradha – a bit crazy, a bit worked up, but all the way loving and caring!!

For the past few years I had been rigorously taking stock of the year gone by in terms of both financial and creative satisfaction. This year I did no such exercise. I might do it sometime during January but I am not very sure or keen about it. Because, in my mind I am crystal clear about what I want to do this year. Read more and write more.

2019 has started on a good note

I have started my reading with Stephen King’s On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft. A great start, I daresay.

And, I started my writing with this blog.

I have been collecting newspaper pages doing 2018 book roundups from Hindustan Times and Times of India to read through the year.  

I have also signed up for Goodreads to help me read more. Though, I must confess I was too lazy to go beyond step 2, where I had to select my favourite genres.

Now, I usually read whatever I can get my hands on, plus I did not want to lose out on some good books simply because I did not put a tick in a box. Eventually, I got confused and clicked the cross button of the browser.

And I need your support

Pray for me that I may be able to read more and write more as I want. I plan to keep updating about the books I read here.

I wish you luck in meeting your expectation of yourself this new year 2019 too. Do let me know what are your expectations in the comments below. I refuse to call them resolutions, because the word itself makes me want not to follow it!!

Post Script: I will post about my analysis of year gone by soon, in case you are interested in knowing. Please say yes even if just not to break my heart.

My Goals For 2018

2018 goals

In my last post of 2017 I talked about how I spiralled deep into depression after a book project I had been working on was shelved by the publisher. It was a first for me – talking about my mental health problem. And I must acknowledge that talking about it helped me in overcoming it.
But the effect remained in my subconscious. I could not bring myself to pick up a pen and paper and set out my annual goals.
I was aware of what was happening. My mind was was avoiding setting goals for fear of another failure. Fear of not meeting my target. Again. Like 2017.

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2017: A Year in Review

This time next week I shall be on my way to family vacation to Shimla to enjoy the snowfall. My elder daughter had been pestering us for a couple of years to vacation in Shimla during the winters so she could see snow. Since we had honeymooned there, and she has been fascinated by the photographs, she wants to make up for the lost opportunity!! And go one step better by hoping for a snowfall, not just snow. We decided not to let 2017 go by without fulfilling this wish of hers.

I keep telling her that we cannot predict snowfall, so she should not have high hopes and then feel disappointed. But she remains optimistic. Which reminds me of another thing we lose as we grow up – looking at the brighter side of life.

2017 is coming to an end, but I have been putting off my yearly review because I know it’s going to look very bad. I refuse to acknowledge that I had willingly taken up work that would not pay immediately, I refuse to accept that I lost more than a month to acute chicken pox and I definitely refuse to come to terms with the fact that even if my dream project came to a naught life has not come to a stop.

Magical May – How I Bagged a Lifetime Opportunity through LinkedIn

2017 started on a very high note for me. May be that’s the reason I feel so depressed that it has ended on such a low note.

Around May, I winded up a series of three video tutorials successfully and bagged a long term contract for text tutorials from the same client. I began looking around for more clients. I decided to give LinkedIn a shot, because even though I have had a LI profile for long, I was not much active till then.

A week into being active on LinkedIn, I saw a post from a prominent publisher looking for Computer Science freelance writers. I sent a connection request to the person sharing the requirement, who happened to be the CEO as well. The request was accepted quickly and before I could think of messaging, I received a message – Would you write a book for us.

My heart gave a whoop of joy.

After much discussions and negotiations, he contracted me to write a series of Computer books for classes 1 to 8, to be launched in the coming session of 2018-19. As time was less, I threw myself completely into it. Thankfully the tutorials project that I was working on was a lighter one that could be easily done simultaneously.

Agitating August – An Attack of Chicken Pox

I was quite on schedule doing the books when I contracted chicken pox in first week of August. It was pretty severe – kids were packed off to my parents’ place and my husband was almost quarantined as a caregiver for a week. My temperature in that one week was never below 105.

I got so weak that it took me more than a month to be able to sit on a chair for 30 minutes at a stretch. I started working but I had to take a break of at least 45 minutes after every 30 min. So much so for Pomodoro technique!!

My other projects got delayed; thankfully the editors were understanding and gave me time. And I concentrated on my book project.

Nerve-wracking November

As November began, I started getting negative vibes about my book project; there had been innumerable delays in review process and the publisher seemed unwilling to take my manuscripts. Finally, my gut feeling proved right when around 15th November he told me that they were shelving the project for the time being due to lack of time and preparation.

Around the same time my other regular project was put on hold as well; the company had shifted its gears. As I was not in regular touch with them, only delivering the articles on due dates, I did not see this coming.

Now I stared at a stark reality – no regular clients and my dream project gone for a toss. It plunged me into a bout of acute depression. I hardly wrote anything, though I had time. I started the day enthusiastically, looking for clients, but would soon find myself sitting in front of the idiot box, surfing channels aimlessly and munching any junk food I could lay my hands on.

Looking Ahead

Slowly, by talking to myself continuously, I have been able to pull myself out of my mental state. I have even got a few short-term jobs that will at least keep the ball rolling. I have joined my regular client on their new project. The pay is substantially less, but the content goes under my name, which I consider a big plus. Also, they pay regularly like clockwork, which will help pay the bills.

So things are looking up. I even did a financial review for 2017 and realized that I earned 80% of my total income this year in the first 6 months!! I was meeting the monthly targets too till I started working on the Computer books.

As I write, I realize there were so many learnings for me from the book project. I must write a post on that some other time.

For now, I am on a path to both mental and financial recovery. And after my vacation I hope to be rejuvenated enough to be able to go ahead full throttle.

This is the first time I have talked about my depression on my blog, though I have been struggling with it for more than a decade. It already feels liberating to be able to share my innermost thoughts with you all.

Happy Holidays!!

What has been your struggle with mental health? How have you coped when a dream project failed not because of your own fault?

Share your views in comments below.

And Happy Holidays!!

5 Life Changing Lessons from 50 Years of Marriage

50 Years of Marriage

Last month we celebrated my parents’ 50th marriage anniversary.

With family and close friends in attendance and truckloads of emotions flowing freely at the dinner party.

50 years is a long time by any benchmark. So there were lots of stories to be told, and we decided to make that the centerpiece of the event. Uncles and aunties and family members sharing anecdotes and feelings about ma and papa.

By and by the party turned into a sentimental journey down memory lane – what we had always wanted.

This occasion also gave us – my brother and me – to do something we had never done before. Thank our parents for all they had done. And not done.

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Grow up But don’t Grow out of What You Enjoyed as a Kid or Young Adult

Grow Up Donot Grow Out of Childhood

Yesterday morning I listened to two of my most favourite old songs, after so many years, on my car radio. And it perked me up like anything.

When I reached back home, I skipped and hopped around, putting the house in order. Then I took out my laptop and started working immediately.

Whole day I was in a good mood, finished two drafts I had been sitting on for almost a week, and even read some of the articles I had bookmarked.

Compare that with the previous day.

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