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My Joyful Journey as a Writer

by News Monks

I am Shamim Merchant, author of the novel ‘Coming to Terms’. I’m an English teacher at a reputed IGCSE international school in Mumbai.

At 16 when I first wrote a small four line poem, it was the silliest thing I’d ever written. And the more I read it, the more it sounded like garbage material to my own ears. But I didn’t have the heart to discard it. Having preserved it with the date and there after countless that followed, only go on to show my enormous growth as a writer. 

I was born and brought up in a Muslim, joint family. My father was the eldest and had four brothers and two sisters. You can imagine the number of families that grew up together and the chaos that kept running around in the house. And in all the hustle bustle it seems natural to lose your identity or become a shadow of a more dominant member in the accommodation. 

I was a very timid girl, scared to voice out my thoughts. I was more of a follower, scored average at school and sports was never my thing. Nevertheless the best part was our English teacher, who had come down from Australia. She was highly responsible in igniting the love for language in me. I still remember the warmth and emotions she had put in while narrating ‘Happy Prince’, even the boys in our class had tears in their eyes. Back in the 80s, we didn’t have videos and ppts in the classroom. The magic was created only by her expressions, voice and her unique style of story telling. 

The haven of books have been my get away ever since then. I’m an avid reader. The spinning gears of stories and their entangled plots keep me captivated for hours and days at a stretch. Reading led to writing. It was a gradual next big step. After reading books in different genres, of several talented authors, a notion sprouted and spread roots in my head.

“If they can, why can’t I? Let’s try.”

Writing became my safe zone where my thoughts got wings. It not only gave my feelings and creativity a voice, but also showed me a direction.

The wonderful world of words now keep me hostage and have become my friends for life. Experimenting with different writing styles, with only words at my disposal, the joy of creating an image in the mind of the reader and the deep satisfaction of living innumerable lives through my stories and characters, is an intense feeling, which ironically cannot be jotted down in words, the happiness is beyond imagination.

Having confessed my obsession for writing, it still took me years to achieve something concrete and present it to the world out there. My life and I flourished only after marriage. I completed my masters degree at the age of 48, alongside with job, kids and domestication. 

Now, after ages of experience, I have understood one aspect. Everything and almost everybody that crosses our path, are interrelated and interconnected to the episodes and circumstances that occur in our lives. Moreover, they play a huge role in the decisions we take and how we and our future shape up. 

This absolutely doesn’t mean that I have any kind of regrets. Even if given a chance, I wouldn’t want to go back and change anything. I’m grateful that I’m alive and kicking and relishing the life of my dreams; as a writer, as an author. Since I was 16, to now when I’ll be celebrating my golden jubilee year in four months time, I have penned down plenty. 

Howbeit, this peregrination wasn’t smooth sailing. When I began writing, my content itself was a big issue. It wasn’t worth reading. When that showed signs of improvement, I literally had to catch hold of someone to read and comment on it. It goes without saying, many a times, I wasn’t appreciated or nobody wanted to peep in it at all. Time is a major constraint in my life. I always wish we had more than twenty four hours. After fulfilling all my other duties and responsibilities, it’s a task to be able to steal time for writing and pen down in the right mood with an inspired frame of mind.

But these nitty gritty details don’t dishearten me one bit. I write for myself. The mere joy of putting my musings in black and white fuels my motivation and I continue relentlessly. For nearly 34 years all my precious work remained in files, fancy diaries and later in my Google drive. I really didn’t know how to go about getting it published. We didn’t have the means either. 

But patience and perseverance paid off. I kept my nose to the grindstone and finally found like minded people whose passion for literature matched my own. The baby steps towards becoming known came with anthropologies. My association with “Writer’s Villa” helped me participate in around fifteen books with various other  emerging writers. I contributed to these books with poems, short stories, quotes and articles. In English, Gujarati and Hindi. 

Alongside I had begun writing my first novel (My Son Terran) in English. My aunt, who is a homeopath, residing in England, became my first critic and editor. She proofread my book and loved it. That encouraged me to dare to dream of putting it up on the stands. Within a year I wrote three novels. Two are already up for sale and the third one is in the printing process. As I write this article, my fourth novel is in the making.

“V. Publishers” and “Heart of Literature” have been strong pillars in fulfilling my dreams and miraculously giving them the face of reality. Now, on a weekly basis, I also write motivational articles for their blog. Very soon you’ll find my novels as Ebooks on Amazon as well. 

It’s definitely been an interminable journey and I’ve come a long way. I have literally lived the lives of my characters. Laughed and cried in their circumstances. Sad scenes would keep me gloomy for days together and my family would think I’ve become insane. Even after drafting out the entire plot at the beginning, I do experience a writer’s block. It’s like a standpoint and I just have no clue how to take the story forward. Occasionally the plot is so sensitive, that it scares me and I wonder if I’m handling it correctly or giving it the right treatment. A lot of research and a whole lot of reading keeps me updated and fills my vacuum for new ideas. 

To all of you out there who want to write and are hesitant, I would say, don’t second guess. Just pick up your pen and put it to paper. If you don’t want to share it with anyone, it’s perfectly fine. But go ahead and give yourself the gift of writing. The joy is tremendous. 

Here are the details of my books which are already in the market. 

Novel 1: My Son Terran

Grayson Martin, a banker, a father, a single parent of a ten year old, borderline mentally retarded son – Terran. They have missed having a woman in their lives for more than a decade. The angle of their life is about to become a triangle when Terran’s new therapist Hannah Edward steps in their sphere. 

Original price: 225/-

Discounted price: 150/- (shipping charges extra)

Novel 2: Coming to Terms

Mark Daniels: a doctorate in literature, a bachelor and happily single in his late thirties. He’s a writer and a maestro in crime thrillers. He has more than a hundred books to his credit, but something has happened in the recent past, which has never occurred before.

His characters have started talking to him………..

Or so he thinks!!!!

Original price: 250/-

Discounted price: 170/- (shipping charges extra)

V. Publisher: Merchant ✍️


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