Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Guest Blog- Anjali Enjeti- Ask Me About My Writing

In October of last year I attended Moonlight and Magnolias in Atlanta. Every year the Georgia Romance Writers put on the biggest little writing conference in the  south (my words not theirs) and every year I come away having learned something and having met someone or several someones who make an impression on me. 

As fate would have it, I once again met an interesting individual. She immediately came to mind when I began looking around for one of the twelve guest to feature on my blog.  Funny enough after I received her blog post I had to laugh out loud because everything that she describes below I have experienced in some way shape or form. Please join me in welcoming Anjali Enjeti to the blog:

Ask Me About My Writing

I’ve been writing for eleven years now. And while I’ve had some success, it’s safe to say that 99% of what I’ve written hasn’t gotten published. OK, maybe 99% is a little high. Let’s settle on 95%.

My fifth book and first novel has been on submission for six months. (My first book was a memoir, the second an anthology, the third and fourth were picture books.) Going on submission is a scary process, made only scarier by the fact that one of my books, which I would have bet my life would sell-- didn’t sell. 

It’s a lot of hard work—not getting published. And when you’re buried in rejection letters, there’s the added stress of wondering whether you’ll ever succeed-- whether your blood, sweat and tears will ever amount to anything.

I know many published writers whose books take up an entire shelf at the local bookstore. At books signings and speaking engagements, they complain about upcoming deadlines from their editors, their worldly travels to promote their published books, their rapidly declining advances. They bemoan their lack of sleep, interrupted and shortened because of their busy writing careers.

Successfully published writers seem to forget that we, unpublished authors, are also exhausted and overworked with our writing. No, we don’t have the advance or marked-up editorial letter to show for it. Hell, we still can’t find an agent. But we, too, make enormous sacrifices in order to write. Because we, unpublished authors, are working just as hard to get published as published writers.

We also struggle with self-esteem, depression, and anxiety. We have to wait until the kids are asleep before we can get a significant amount of writing done. We come home cranky and spent (from our other jobs, which actually pay the bills), and somehow must muster whatever creativity reserves we have left to write engaging prose and scintillating poetry.

Recently, I went out to lunch with a wildly successful, best-selling author. Over grilled cheese and lemonade, she peppered me with questions about my own writing, my agent search, and my publishing history. She nodded when I confessed that I didn’t know whether it was worth it anymore—this writing life.

Here she was, living the dream: a big-time author, traveling the country to speak to reading and writing groups, researching her next novel in Europe, and selling foreign rights to countries I’ve never even heard of—and she couldn’t have acted more interested in my own, humble, and fledgling publishing career.

I left the lunch feeling validated. Reborn. For she had taken the time to listen not only to my (numerous) tales of woe, but also to reveal her own, very discouraging start in publishing. And by doing so, she pulled me from the pit of rejection-despair, and restored the fire in my belly for writing and submitting that had nearly gone out.

So if you are a published author, and you find me standing in line, waiting for you to sign my copy of your book, do me a favor: Remember what it was like to be on this side of the process. Take a moment to look me in my weary eyes.

And ask me about my writing.

Anjali Enjeti, a graduate of Duke University and Washington University School of Law, is currently an MFA candidate in Creative Writing (Fiction) at Queens University in Charlotte. She writes for ArtsATL, the premiere arts criticism website for the Atlanta area. A Hambidge Center fellow, she serves as Co-Vice President of Programming for the Atlanta Writers Club, a 100 year-old organization with over seven hundred members. She is also a member of the Georgia Romance Writers. Her essays, articles and fiction can be found on her website,

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Things I Want My Girls to Know- Ambition isn't a bad word.

I'm raising two girls, in almost the same way my mother and aunts raised me, with a few tweaks here and there of course. I don't want to make the same mistakes that she made and let's be clear her home life is not what it should have been, having lost her mother at an early age.

She was raised by aunts, separated by circumstances from her siblings. In essence she grew up alone. Even surrounded by people my mother held her self apart as a form of protection. My great aunts did however instill a need for excellence and ambition in her.

This she passed on to us. Her children. I now pass it on to you. My paternal grandmother did the same with each of her children and her grand children. Wanting to make something of your life and yourself is not a bad thing. It is the choices that you make in the pursuit of your goal that will be judged and deemed good or bad.

Your conscience is your guide. Use it well. That feeling in your gut when you know what you've done is either right or wrong. That's your conscience. It is instinct. Whatever you will call it. Never lose it.

Ambition is not a dirty word. It can be colored by different needs and desires, but it itself is not good nor evil. It is a word that describes your drive. Your need to be someone, to do something. It by itself is not greed nor avarice., it can be shaped by these but it is not the same thing.

Your ambition will see you through school, through a career and in fact through your family. It will be the driving force of your life. What you must do is to figure out what you want and how your propose to achieve it. Determine what is acceptable in that pursuit and what is not. Follow your conscience. But, never denounce ambition.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Schools Out!

Today is the last day of school for my girls. I remember the anticipation of summer. What seemed like endless exams and the relief of knowing that school was over. For those of you who don't know I grew up in the Caribbean, which means at least for those of us in St.Vincent. Summer began with a bang. Carnival.

Days of color and excitement followed by the inevitable days of exhaustion and recuperation. Then after a few weeks of the beach, summer camps, family visits and family vacations the inevitable boredom would creep in robbing the summer of it's fun.

Once I was old enough to work, I worked at a variety of family run businesses and was happily compensated. In college half of my summer experience always included six weeks of classes. One summer I met an American football player in speech class at the community college I attended. He would end up being the only friendly face in one of my classes at University later on.

Another summer was spent taking anthropology classes for my social behavior area of study. My South Eastern Asia class was taught by a professor who wore his hair in long shaggy bowl cut, and wore blazers with a leather patch.

He paired the blazers with jeans that were frayed at the bottoms and Vans sneakers. My professor road around on a long skateboard and routinely flew by me on the way to class. He was an interesting character, both to watch and to listen to. At the end of that six week session. I had a better understanding of the hows and why's of Southeast Asia  and a deeper appreciation for the movie Platoon.

At the end of my last class he played Alice Cooper's Schools out for Summer and since I was flying home the very next day to begin my Carnival revelry it was I found highly appropriate. So in celebration of my children's last day of school and first day summer vacation: