Today I have a very special guest on my blog, her presence is felt through her writings and wit. She is a person who provokes thoughts for deeper reflections in the reader through her words. She turned Blogger at 21 and an Author at 32 for the first time. She has published a considerable number of non-fiction pieces, articles, essays and reviews in print and on the internet.
She is in writing from past 21 years and also has over 10 years of experience in online journalism, which helped her transform into an Author, Blogger, Editor, Research Analyst and Book Reviewer. With 3 books (My Writing workshop, The three flowers- my blooming verses and Between the pages) on her name already, Romila Chitturi is working on her 4th book.
Thank you Romila for taking the time to answer my questions.
- Every individual is different from one another in many ways, what do you feel is your uniqueness?
I think differently most people I know; I apply logic, reason and emotional aspects in equal proportion to the solution of problems. I have an unusual amount of intuition when it comes to people; I am able to figure out motivations and intentions with a high rate of accuracy. Even with people whom I’ve had very little interaction with. I don’t fit stereotypes very well. I’m often the odd one out in a group. I often surprise people with my reactions and perspectives. I love to read and have the ability to absorb and apply abstract principles, and transfer these points of learning to other fields and applications, which I’m told is a relatively rare ability. I love being different and surprising and not fitting stereotypes. I’m rather pleased to be me. I have a great self esteem and good confidence which makes me willing to seek out and accept challenges which I may not appear to be able to deliver on initially. I’m not afraid of failure. In fact, I think it is an essential part of the experimental process that gets you to success.
This is why I’m unique. Do I sound arrogant? Or just self aware?
- An author or Blogger, how would you like to be identified and why?
Both. By the heaven above, I am identified as a blogger ever since I came out with my blog and since 2 years as an Author. Becoming famous is important, how helpful, friendly and valuable I am matters a lot to me. Identification comes when a person is famous and successful and for me these are not 2 separate words, they are same. For example, if you are successful, then obviously you will be famous. So being a logical person I always make things in equations (though I suck big time in mathematics), I can say that
Successful Person = Famous Person and hence you are identified. My blog and books are what makes me so I want to be known by them.
- How do you measure success in your life? And what does success mean to you?
For some, success is merely the state of having achieved wealth, fame or power. However, to me that has always seemed like a rather one-dimensional. In order to measure success, it’s preferable dedicate full effort solely towards both, what we’re passionate about as well as be open towards various opportunities. The upside of passion is intense effort, and the downside is tunnel vision. Openness is the opposite: it leaves us less focused, but improves our peripheral vision. Success is a very distinct emotion that you can identify and experience multiple times in your life. Once you feel this emotion, the game isn’t over; you get to wake up the next morning and try to achieve that state again. It may seem like a stupid endeavor, trying to achieve some state that you’ll lose eventually, but I see this aspect as a wonderful part of this interpretation: this means I will never get bored of life.
- What is something you’ve told yourself that kept you going during your darkest hour?
The dark hours of my life have been about transformation. Perhaps a transformation that wobbled my whole being and challenges every fiber of my body. It is a total metamorphosis. The words I often told myself – Whenever you are and whatever is happening, be assured, the dawn is coming soon. I need to sacrifice the caterpillar in order to transform into a butterfly. I realized that success isn’t always about how high you can go. Sometimes, it’s having the courage to just stay calm and focused during the dark hours of life, putting your best foot forward and giving it everything you’ve got—one little step at a time. There will always be days when it’s enough to just wake up and show up!
- Whether it is writing a book or blog post, describe your writing process. How do you stay motivated?
When I’m writing, I always like to do my research beforehand and usually put a word doc together outlining the key points I want to cover with headings and bullet points. Once I’ve tinkered with the order of the things I want to say and I have a basic structure for the content, I’ll sit down and try to word it all nicely under each of the chosen headings. Also, if I’m writing an article, I always make sure the user can stop reading at any time and still have a good idea of the key message the page is trying to put across. I think there’s a proper name for this kind of writing, but I forget… Something to do with an inverted pyramid! Summaries key content in the first paragraph – perhaps including an incentive to read on most important, less important, even less important, and least important. Keep a little calendar on your desk or, at the end of your writing session, open up your online calendar or online to-do lists to record today’s completed word count. It will serve as a time sheet—and a rewards system to praise yourself for your excellent discipline. As writers, we are horribly, horribly hard on ourselves. We stop too often to censure, edit, and worry what the readers, the publishers, or the critics might think. Love yourself. Give yourself a break. Keep writing.
- Could you tell us something about the new book you are working on?
Only two words – Micro Fiction. It comes out in summer 2018.
- Who is your favorite author and explain why he/she is your favorite?
Dan Brown. He is one of the most important writers living today and my favorite. Certainly, many readers would think I’m off my rocker, and would cite a recent Nobel Prize-winning author as leagues above the popular thriller novelist of such books as The Da Vinci Code and Inferno. Brown knows how to spin a good yarn would point out a number of historical inaccuracies in his novels that blur the line between fact and fiction (Truth be told, there will always be factual errors in sweeping historical novels. If anyone took the time, errors could probably be found in the great works like Ben Hur and The Agony and the Ecstasy). Yet, what Brown does in a way that appeals to millions of people around the world is tell stories that remind us there’s more to the world than meets the eye. His books—filled with history, intrigue, secret codes, and symbols embedded in paintings, books, churches, monuments, and government buildings—suggest that the things we take for granted are imbued with hidden meaning. A painting may not just be a painting, Brown suggests, and the façade on a building may be more than a simple decoration. He serves as both a success story and a source of inspiration for me and is one of the chief writers today who gives hope and succor to every budding author/novelist, including me.
- What is your favorite genre when it comes to reading? Does this interest yours for reading particular genre has its influence on your writing?
My favorite genre is a suspense thriller. I think I read them because I like a good puzzle. It is fun to try and figure out whodunit before the end of the book. I also read them because most of the time, in the fiction world, the bad guys get caught. I like the logic of that. Sometimes I just like to be held in suspense; caught in the momentum of the story. I pick up different types of thrillers depending on my mood; some are dark and some are light and cozy.
This genre has not influenced my writing yet, may be in future.
- How do you manage time when it comes to writing a book and running a blog/website of your own?
I have specific goals in mind as I approach my blog each day or week or as I write the drafts of my books, I cut out unnecessary things that won’t help me achieve my goals. I don’t sit down and have official brainstorming sessions. My best ideas come to me while at the grocery store or doing the dishes. For me, it’s enough to have a notepad handy and keep that running list of post ideas going so that when it’s time to sit down and write, there’s never a moment without actual post writing happening. If I only have 30 minutes to write each day (or each week!), I’d better make it count. I am very good with my time.
- What is your greatest achievement outside of blogging/writing?
I would like to put it as achievements – I was the Sub-editor of Hindi section of my school magazine. I was elected as the Head Prefect, Head Sport Girls, Deputy Head Girl and Head Girl of the school, I am still remembered by the management, teachers and batch mates – courtesy wonderful Facebook posts by the Alumni. I won Air India and Singapore Tourism RANK Awards (Graduation level) (for the state of A.P. for excellence in studies and performance) in October 2004. I was a part of 2009 NASA’s Kepler Mission Spacecraft program. I have been a topper academically since my graduation till PhD apart from Music, Sports, and Quiz. My essays and debates and articles on assorted genres have been and are still published in a variety of magazines and newspapers, websites regularly. I have been awarded with the title of ‘Social Media Influencer’ for my online activities on different social media platforms. I have edited the novel The Archers Revenge (May 2014). I was associated with The Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad as Research Associate of Paycheck India Project.
- Be it as a blogger or author, what was the most challenging moment in your writing journey so far?
It is not about being a blogger or an author, what matters is writing. Whether it is a narrative, a persuasive piece or a research paper, writing is challenging. The writing process is often a long road of false starts and lengthy amendments. The challenges I have faced and will face are: Negative feedback, when a mistake is made (and they happen to everybody) or when someone doesn’t understand my message or completely disagrees, when the audience is too quiet. It can take time to build an audience, and I know that my work is out there in a sea filled with other impassioned authors. Feeling overwhelmed, when the demands are more than I can handle some days. Most people don’t realize that writing is a process —of hard-to-get-started introductions, messy drafts, and tedious revisions.
- How would you describe your personal style (writing) and is there a person who inspired you to write?
A fine middle style: neither dressed up, nor unbuttoned. That’s an apt description, and what I always shoot for. I like my writing to be informed, but not difficult. Clarity and concision are my chief goals. There is no person who has inspired me to write, but my mom has been a great support till today and always my first reader.
- Your suggestions/tips to budding writers/bloggers, any obvious pitfalls to avoid and thumb rules to follow?
I have advice for people who want to write. First, if you want to write, you need to keep an honest, unpublishable journal that nobody reads, nobody but you; Where you just put down what you think about life, what you think about things, what you think is fair and what you think is unfair. You need to read. You can’t be a writer if you’re not a reader. Lastly, write. Just write a little bit every day. Even if it’s for only half an hour — write, write, and write. The only true way to expand your world is to inhabit an otherness beyond ourselves.
- Do you have any favorites when it comes to blogging? If so, then could you name a few blogs you enjoy reading for my readers?
No. I don’t have any personal favorites in blogging. I read a lot and it depends on the topic I feel like reading, I google it and it leads to random blogs. I don’t maintain any blog reading list. It is just spontaneous.
- Tell us something we should know about you, but never asked.
Give me a good book and I’m a happy person. I’m also what you might call a selective perfectionist, but not the kind that beats herself up for invariably failing to live up to that standard. (Hey, maybe I’ll write about that someday!) I have a weird sense of humor. When I was a kid, I wanted to be a school teacher, when I was a teenager, I wanted be an actress but ended up being a Writer. I am way too uptight about grammar. I’ve been published more times than I have stopped noting it down. I can’t drive, I can’t ride and I am super frightened of water and closures. I honestly think I can converse about any topic in the universe fairly well. I vomit or get a colossal headache at the smell of perfumes, Incense sticks, candles, dry flowers, papaya fruit, camphor, benzoin resin (Sambrani in south languages and Dhoop in Hindi) and Cigarettes. I have good makeup skills. I love shopping so it is must for me to buy something all the time.
Thank you again Romila,
All the very best for your upcoming book!