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Updated: Sep 27, 2022

A book launch is an event of great significance for any author. Every single time, like a new mother, it puts the author in a cauldron of assorted emotions. It is the day her baby gets baptised and blessed by people far and near. It is also the day when the author typically gets anxious about the future of her baby; how it would survive in a dog-eat-dog world; if it will flourish or perish; and how much sunshine it will receive in a shady, shadowy world.

In the previous years, I have invariably been on tenterhooks on the eve of a book launch, biting my nails down to bleeding cuticles which hurt for several days thereafter, wishing and wondering how my book will be received, if it will sell and if at least this time around, it will earn at least a few modest hundreds. The last point, I have now given up for the most part. It’s a given. Money is not something that authors can make from their writing, unless they have the right influences and NASA level launch-pads.

I have dropped expectations of making profits, but then again, one never knows when I might luck out and things will turn around, and I’ll get a windfall. Hence, I now relegate money to the end of the list of my rewards - neither waiting for it, nor negating it. Just stoic about it. Que sera sera.

Of late, Septembers have been a month of hectic activities for me, with a book being launched in each of the past five years. This birthday month too had a book pinned to the calendar. With a re-launch of my debut novel, 𝗦𝗮𝗻𝗱𝘀𝘁𝗼𝗿𝗺𝘀, 𝗦𝘂𝗺𝗺𝗲𝗿 𝗥𝗮𝗶𝗻𝘀 scheduled for the 25th, this should have typically been a period of heightened apprehension. Invites to be sent and shared, technical nitty-gritty to be sorted out, marketing plans to be drawn out, the book itself to be put under glaring spotlight – there is a lot that goes behind the screen during the time. The mind is usually on an overdrive.

But for some reason, this time, it was all markedly different. There was no concern about how the book would do in its second run, no qualms if people didn’t turn up in huge numbers at the event, no urge to indulge in aggressive marketing that would coax people to click on the ‘buy’ button.

All that I wanted was to go out there and enjoy myself. I wanted to spread my wings as far as they could go, and just glide, mindless of where they would take me. I just wanted to feel the elements under my wings as I drifted, catch the whiff of distant mountains in the desert wind, feel the monsoon moisture on my plumes, listen to the stories of the nomads and night creatures, and just feel the joy of my existence as a story-teller. Everything else would happen as they are destined to.

The author you all met yesterday at the launch was doing just that while she spoke about mundane things and profound realities. She was merely sharing her finite knowledge and her inexhaustible love, like mountain peaks roll out their mist in the slopes and valleys; naturally, without angst, to all those who were listening to her.

In the end, as I pulled off the earphones, logged out of Zoom and whisked my glasses off, I felt pleasantly free, a lightness of Being pervading all over me. It was as if I had landed after a flight of many unimpeded laps in the summer sky. There was no self-created pressure, no ill-conceived notions of success, no aggression that behoves an author whose book has just been released into the Universe. For the first time, in all these years of my writing, I felt as if I had matured. I had grown from being an author hankering after success to a creator of intangible experiences.

‘What’s your magic?’ someone asked soon after. ‘The magic is in the Universe. I just allow it to pass through me. I am only a willing conduit,’ I said.

As for 𝗦𝗮𝗻𝗱𝘀𝘁𝗼𝗿𝗺𝘀, 𝗦𝘂𝗺𝗺𝗲𝗿 𝗥𝗮𝗶𝗻𝘀, I know it will find its deserving destiny. People will read it, not because I urge them to, but because they will be compelled by their own impulses. Somewhere in their heart, they will feel that it might be worth their while to read it, just as it has been rewarding to read the small stuff that I write through the year.

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