Friday, 10 February 2017

ART OF LISTENING: LOST AND FOUND


When I wrote my novel, #iAm16iCan I never thought of sending it to the literary agents in the USA for consideration. I was talking part in #IndiaAgainstRape movement and as a storyteller, the method most suited to me was to write a novel about it.
The novel was not even just a novel back then, it had elaborate non-fiction sections:
(a)  Psychology of Rapist
(b)  Rape Culture in India
(c)  Juvenile—Delinquency and Punishment, where we are going wrong
(d)  Psychoanalysis of Rape
I wrote articles, gave talks, sent my books to prominent TV and film personalities in India, who endorsed it. I did everything in my limited capacity to raise awareness. I really was working for a cause. A true believer. Anjum Rajabali Sir is one of the most prominent screenplay writer of socio-political cinema in India. He has written Dhrohkaal, Raajneeti, Aarakshan, and Satyagraha to name a few. 
Then in September 2015, I moved to the USA. And one of my friends who is a Roma Writer, an activist, and born and raised in the USA asked me, “I don’t understand why your book should stay limited to India? Rape culture is a growing world wide epidemic. Your book is as relevant in the USA as it is in India.”
Why I didn't think of this earlier? 
I come from a place that suffers from the collective cultural inferiority complex. It’s an irony because Indian culture is gaining popularity as one of the richest cultures of the world. But people, who are born and raised in India, suffer from a feeling of race inferiority. 800+ years of slavery has done to this to their minds. Unless and until their western counterparts approve something, Indians don’t value to their own arts and sciences. 
E.g. Yoga is retaught in India after the USA embraced it. Sad part, it’s no longer called Yog—(The Union) but Yoga (in Sanskrit Yoga means street food!)
After moving to the USA, I worked and reworked and reworked to revise my book to adjust it’s quality to match the USA standard. 
Some changes were good; better pace, removing the non-fiction part. 
Some where—well! I had to remove some pan Indian parts, which was painful. But work is work.
Nevertheless, in this one-year grueling process, I lost something else. And that bothers me. 
Yesterday this same friend, who had inspired me to make my book more widely available spoke to me how she has suffered a gang rape, how cruelly she is treated in her community. When she spoke about her culture (Roma Culture) I could not stop seeing the similarity it has with Indian culture. Deep-rooted patriarchy and misogyny. How almost an entire culture has turned against HALF of it’s population.
But what bothered me the most was—she is a person I consider a friend. A champion of my book. She has stood by me in my darkest hour. And here I am, totally ignorant to her plies and plights of life. When she was talking to me, my mind kept repeating, “Kirtida, you are an as*hole. Full of sh*t.” 
I agree I am. 
If in the zeal and hustle of taking up big roles, I can’t take care of the values of my life—love, friendship, and kindness—does it even make sense what I am doing at the larger front? 
My old school, culturally inferior, emotional, Indian mindset says, “No. It doesn’t matter. If you lose your value, you might win some battles, but you lose the war.”
I can’t throw the baby away with bathwater. In my enthusiasm of embracing the new and novel, I can’t let go of what I culturally stand for.

Art of Giving. 
Art of Loving.
Art of Listening. 
Kirtida Gautam is a clinical psychologist, screenplay writer, and author of the unpublished psychological thriller I am 16 I can. The novel questions Juvenile Justice System of India and raises opinion AGAINST rape culture. Follow her on Twitter @KirtidaGautam 

Thursday, 9 February 2017

COMPLEXITY OF SOCIAL MEDIA CONVERSATION


If there were social media at the time of Mohandas Gandhi, how well he would have used it? That guy was a genius when it comes to Power of Social Influence.  
Last year when I started using Twitter around January 2016, I never even thought it would pose a problem.
How difficult can it be? I am a writer. I have been writing for past 10 years. I have written TV shows for National Television in India.
I wrote a novel—a BIG (thick and complex) novel. #iAm16iCan— India Against Rape Culture. The first book of #YinYangSeries
For heaven’s sake, I write for my living. So, Twitter: 140 characters! It would be trivial. 
Right? I could not have been more wrong.
Difficulties of Social Media Conversation:
Human communication is complex. Read Transactional Analysis to understand the complexity and science of human communication. When we talk with a person in physical space, his/her body language gives more information to us (which our brain decodes) than his/her words. In social media, this torrent of information is missing. There is no body language, and therefore, you have to solely rely on other person’s words—written words. 
Now, even there, it’s complicated. Every person is not one person. S/he is an island. So many faces living in a singular system. So many archetypes. And social media (being a media) demands that people wear a façade. 
If I am cranky and fighting with my husband because of PMS, I won’t sulk on social media. I SHOULD'T. 
I had some interesting conversations of this (read-- fake) kind when I realized that people quite often talk hogwash on social media. Things they don’t believe in. Sometimes people create a 180-degree opposite persona on social media from who they are. It’s called Over Compensation. An Ego Defense Mechanism.
E.g. A person can be a xenophobic in real life. But his/her rational mind doesn’t like this fact. Xenophobia is something s/he feels at emotional level. 
This person will go on social media and behave like a flag bearer against xenophobia. But if you speak with him/her outside social media where the person is not forced to wear the mask, his/her real feelings will come out in open.
And as a Jungian psychologist, I know for fact that humans operate more often from their emotional center than they do from their rational center. I appreciate, respect, and rave this fact. 
That said, it makes ANY social media a very difficult platform of conversation.
(1) Noob Mistake 1: Thinking That People Are What They Write On Social Media.
(2) Noob Mistake 2: Failure To Look Beyond Mask
(3) Noob Mistake 3: To Enter Social Media Without Putting Your Mask On

If social media is so banal and hollow, why to start any conversation on social media?
Because, it’s a great platform to meet people WITH masks and facades. 
Read Sabaa Tahir's An Ember In the Ashes to understand how people can fall for masked soldiers. Ha :)
Think of Twitter as a party where people are supposed to enter with their mask on. Or a corporate
building where a mask is the part of the uniform.
Intelligent people know what others think.
Not because they have a SIXTH sense or something but they have an ability to THINK the
same thing, and acknowledge (not accept or allow, but acknowledge) the EVIL right in their own
system.

Therefore in order to excel in social media, you will have to make a conscious decision about what
mask you plan and prefer to wear. Then stick to that mask and make it a part of your brand
building. It’s a long and complex process. It’s like learning a language after you are past 12 years
of age. It takes time. You are bound to make mistakes. It took me more than a year to understand
what my voice on Twitter should be. And yet, I still make mistakes sometimes. 
Bad days are part of the game!

But like many things one needs to learn in order to do a job well, if you want to become an author,
understanding Twitter (Social Media) is part of the job.
Handle Twitter with sportsman spirit, like a game you don’t know and want to learn. And over
period of time, you will know the rules. Later, you will enjoy playing it. I enjoy it—now!

    Kirtida Gautam is a clinical psychologist, screenplay writer, and author of the unpublished psychological thriller I am 16 I can. The novel questions Juvenile Justice System of India and raises opinion AGAINST rape culture. Follow her on Twitter @KirtidaGautam 

Thursday, 2 February 2017

TWITTER'S PLACE IN THE USA PUBLISHING INDUSTRY


Think of a dream publishing office where the moguls gather. Every single person walking through the gate is allowed to interact with any person s/he wants.
·      They let them hear you their interaction, even jokes
·      Let you know their public persona, their liking, disliking, political opinion, pet peeves
·      Let you know what they are looking for, their #MSWL (Manuscript Wishlist)
This virtual office is Twitter!
Barring a few exceptions, most of the big shots of the USA publishing industry hang around on Twitter. Not just this, they share what they are looking for, what are the publishing trends going on. Everything- everything. It is out there in public domain. Anyone who is interested to know can simply sit quietly and gather all this information. FREE OF COST.
And therefore I say repeatedly Twitter is inevitable for any writer who is serious about getting his/her book published by a USA publishing house.
3 Thumbs Up
1- Twitter Introduction- Those few words describe to the world who you are.
2- Twitter Images- Your profile picture and your cover image. Keep your profile picture same. Your headshot is ideal. Try and use the same image on most of the platforms. You can be creative in the Cover Image. My favorites are something that represents my mood and sentiments for a given week. 
3- The Ratio of Your Followers/ Following- An account with 10K following and 10K followers is a clear sign that it's NOT a personal account. It's a business account. The way I am asking you to use Twitter is like a work place cafeteria where personal and meaningful conversations can take place. So, if you are looking to use Twitter to market or promote work, this is not the right blogpost.   

4 No-Nope-Never
1- Use Twitter As a Marketing Platform- You are reading this blog because you want to sell your book to the USA publishing market. And I am asking you NOT to use Twitter as a marketing platform. Why?
Think of Twitter as a cafeteria in a big corporate office where people gather and talk.
Now, close your eyes and imagine a scene. You are in front of: literary agents, editors, and publicists. All of them with decades of experience, they know their work in and out.
Imagine yourself physically standing there. Now, image: You have your book in your hand and you push this book in the hands of one of this people. S/he gives you an annoyed-startled look and makes a mental note of staying away from you. (If not deciding to throw you out of the office.) That is how you look when you use Twitter to promote your book. If you have to, HAVE to, put information about your book, create a separate account for the purpose. Something the fans/ bloggers of your book can follow.
And even in that account, DON’T keep writing about how awesome your book is.
Keep the conversation limited to:
  • What other people are saying about your book
  • Any development in the career of your book (if you sign a film contract and stuff)
  • If your book has a theme or social message, posts and link about that topic. (E.g. My book is against growing rape culture in India. Here is the link of my account: @YinYangSeries)

2-    Twitter Tag- When you tag someone on Twitter, think of it this way. You are tapping on someone’s shoulder in physical world. Unless you know that person, s/he is a friend/ colleague or acquaintance, would you do it? Capital no. Same goes for Twitter. Don’t tag someone unless you know him or her.
3-    Using Too Many Hashtag in a Single Tweet- When I see a tweet with 15 hashtags, I immediately know it’s a marketing tweet and I am not interested in reading it. 3-4 hashtags are fine in a Tweet, but don't flood your Tweet with hashtags. 

4-    Following people and then un-following them- It's plain and simple wrong practice. 

Kirtida Gautam is a Clinical Psychologist, Screenplay Writer, and Author of the unpublished psychological thriller I Am 16 I Can. The novel questions Juvenile Justice System of India and raises opinion AGAINST rape culture. Follow her on Twitter @KirtidaGautam and @DVInida_