The view from the other side

Sunday, 16 February 2014 - 6:00am IST Updated: Saturday, 15 February 2014 - 10:02pm IST | Agency: DNA

Ever since his first book got published, Atulya Mahajan has noticed the world from the other side, and he finds it a fascinating experience. Motivated by all the intricacies of the publishing industry and the heartburn that often goes with being a writer, he wrote this version of Rudyard Kipling’s ‘If’ in a particularly inspired moment.

If you can stay grounded when all about you
other writers are selling lesser copies of their books;
If you can listen to feedback when people say something you don’t like,
without blocking them on Facebook or Twitter;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting, for the publisher to respond to your proposal
Or, being ignored, don’t go into depression,
Or, being rejected, don’t commit suicide,
And yet tell everyone that you got accepted on the first attempt.

If you can sell — and not make sales your master,
If you can network — and not make networking your aim,
If you can meet with positive and negative reviews
And treat those two imposters just the same;
If you can bear to read a 1-star review of your book
written by an absolute idiot who knows nothing,
Or watch a free copy you gave out to a friend gather dust,
And open your mailbox and send them a thank you note.

If you can make one heap of all your royalty payments
and hand it over to a social media agency for promoting your book,
And fail to trend, and start again with a new PR person,
And never breathe a word about how writing doesn’t pay;
If you can force your heart and fingers and MS Word
To serve your turn long after carpal tunnel sets in,
And so hold on when you can’t type anymore
Except the will which says to them ‘Just one more chapter!’

If you can add ordinary mortals on Facebook and engage with them,
Or rub shoulders with movie stars without becoming an utter snob,
If neither Twitter trolls nor celebrity friends can hurt you,
If all writers count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
with sixty seconds of your book’s synopsis,
Yours is the world of books and everything that’s in it,
And — which is more — you’ll be a writer, my son!

Atulya Mahajan is the author of Amreekandesi — Masters of America. He also writes a popular satire blog at and tweets at @amreekandesi.

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