Now-a-days, we are seeing a lot of short story competitions for different anthologies. In fact, few people have come out with their poetry competitions too. I too have a short story; a short story about a short story collection.
This story is true. However, the names of characters have been changed and minor liberties have been taken for a healthy purpose here and would like to say that the story doesn't mean to harm anyone by any means, but comes with a thought that I believe in.
Those days were different. Short story collections weren’t in fashion then. Or, they were in their infancy. I was a blogger those days. I would write poems, short stories or any other thought that came in my mind.
When you write for a blog, you want others to read and share their views. That was the time when I learned about Pari for the first time. She was a blogger too. She would write poems, short stories or anything on her blog. But there was always a difference in the way we wrote. She was far better than I was. I would read her blogs and would be in awe. Maybe, that was the reason, whenever I would complete writing a blog post, I would share it with Pari and would wait for her views. She would read it, criticize or appreciate what I wrote. That was the foundation of a good friendship.
A few months later, one of the bestselling authors of a romance novel, Tarun planned to organize a short story competition. His debut book was doing well. He had a good fan following. I met him few days back in one of the book launches. We spent some nice time and were happy to know each other. I was a struggling author back then. I don't remember how many publishers had rejected my manuscript till that date. The one who accepted it wanted a huge sum of money to publish my book. As a student I couldn't arrange the money to pay to the publishers. Like every other struggling author, I would ask published authors for suggestions and for any help if they could. Tarun knew I was struggling to get my book published. So, as soon as he organized the contest, he started approaching people like me who had a dream to become authors.
I clearly remember the day, he pinged me. He mentioned that he was expecting a story from my end. I had written few short stories by then. And I loved what all I had written. They were a part of my heart, my soul. I could not give any of them to anyone. They were like my children to me and I have been nurturing them like a mother. How could I give any of my children to anyone? I refused him. He didn't say me anything.
The competition was in full swing. Many aspiring writers from all parts of the country dropped in their stories. A shortlist was prepared and a list of selected stories was made. I was surprised when I saw Pari's name on the list. She didn't mention me that she had submitted a story for the competition.
I dropped her message in her chat box, ‘When you’re free, do ping me.’
Tell me, Sir, a reply came few minutes later.
We talked about few things going in each other’s life before I mentioned about the collection.
I wanted to talk about the short story collection, I told her.
Yes. Tell me, she replied in nanosecond.
I have done a little research. I think the contributors don’t get the credit they deserve when they participate in a short story collection, I said honestly.
I don’t understand.
I met an author few days back. He is writing since 90’s for different collections. In his last collection, even APJ Abdul Kalam submitted a poem.
Are you talking about Inklings?
What’s the author name?
I told the author’s name. To my surprise, Pari hadn’t heard about him.
What’s the use when you don’t know the authors in your own collection, Pari?, I questioned her.
Inklings have too many authors, Vishal, she replied.
That’s why I ask you not to participate in such anthologies. I want you to write at places where people know who Pari is. When anyone types your first name in flipkart search, it should suggest your surname.
What a dialogue, dude!, she wrote in excitement.
Next, I read a few lines on her FaceBook wall credited back to me.
We chatted for a while and she said that she would give it a thought while writing next short story. It was time for her dinner. She left and I involved myself with some other work.
Everything happened as it was destined to. Editing of the short story collection began. Let me be honest with few facts that I’ve known in recent years. There may me multiple anthologies you must have read by now. Almost all of them come with a phrase on its cover ‘Edited by XYZ.’ But I do wonder how many of them are edited by the same person! Pari’s anthology was no different.
Tarun’s grasp on English wasn’t that good. And, Pari was far better in literature. Maybe, that was the reason why Tarun asked Pari to edit the book. Pari was very happy as she believed that it was her first step to achieve her dreams. She agreed to edit stories of all the contributors in the anthologies. Tarun didn’t have to even read all stories once.
Days passed by. Weeks passed. Months passed. The promotion of the short story collection was going on in full swing. There is a good thing about any short story collection. Every person who contributes a story in the anthology promotes it. Each contributor thinks of the anthology as his/her own book. He/she will share posts, pre-order links, trailer or anything related to the anthology. Maybe, that’s why anthologies are promoted more than novels these days. Pari’s anthology was no different.
Most of the contributors asked their friends and relatives to pre-order the anthology. Most of them did. The anthology received good number of pre-orders. The day of the official launch for the anthology came closer. Pari was still left with too much editing. Tarun convinced her to do it faster.
I think, there’s a wonderful thing about every girl. When they love a person or a thing, they do it with all their heart. They are fully devoted to it. Pari was no different. She loved her dream of becoming an author. So, she would even skip her dinners to edit the stories; she would bunk classes. There were sleepless nights involved. Finally, editing was done.
A launch was announced for the anthology at New Delhi. Most of the contributors, few of those who lived outside Delhi came for the launch. Contributors invited their friends and relatives. I was invited by Pari too for the launch. Though I had some urgent work the next day, but I visited the launch ceremony just for Pari.
What happened on the launch day? What happened after the anthology released? What about Pari? Do you have questions in your mind? Please go through the second part of the story here: http://www.vishalanand.co.in/2014/11/a-short-story-about-short-story.html.