Sunday, November 22, 2015

On Writing: Sid Balachandran

Today on 'On Writing', we have the award-winning blogger and writer, Sid Balachandran, who is also daddy dearest to a three-year-old.

Academically an engineer, Sid recently swapped his decade-long professional career to be a work-from-home Dad. When not running after his three-year-old son, he writes about fatherhood, parenting in general, social satire, humour and fiction. He is also working on his first full-length novel, which he hopes will see the light of day this year if he gets his son’s blessings to finish writing. You can find him often brewing his thoughts at iwrotethose.com.

Welcome to ‘On Writing’ Sid.


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Your blog ‘I wrote those’ was awarded the best personal blog for 2015 in the WIN BlogAdda blogging awards. Tell us how your journey as a writer began.

I’d never actually considered writing as a full-time career. Back when I was in school, I would write these tiny little stories and scribble fan-fiction version of books that I used to read – like Famous Five series or Hardy Boys type ones – but nothing mainstream. In fact, I’ve never even thought about getting published.  And then as I got caught up in studies, degrees and career, writing took a back seat and I almost forgot about it; until 2013, when I started my blog and started to write again.

It originally started as a couple of blog posts – some to do with fatherhood and parenting along with some tiny humor pieces and short stories.  Fortunately for me, they all took off. One thing led to another and here I am. And if I’m honest, now I don’t think I can go back to any other career apart from writing.

Your ‘Daddy Journals’ are a pleasure to read. Have you thought about compiling them in the form of a book?

Thank you for that compliment. I suppose the USP for Daddy Journals is the fact that there aren’t many fathers who have the luxury of spending as much time as I get to, with their kids. As for compiling them into a book, I am currently working on a non-fiction book along the lines of Daddy Journals; It’ll be a few humorous anecdotes and instances from the life of a SAHD.

Do you plot your stories or write it the way the story takes you?

It’s a little bit of both actually. I reckon there are both plotters and pantsers in all of us. I normally have a rough idea about the story and what I want to achieve with it when I start to write. Often, I end up with two or three different endings, and depending on the theme I want to stick to or the emotions/feelings I want to evoke in the reader, I choose an ending that suits. I prefer to be fluid with my stories and adapt as I write.

Which one is your most popular blog post till date and what do you think makes it so loved by the readers?

I predominantly write under three categories – humour, parenting, and fiction. There are a few from each category that has sort of hit the mark with my readers.
For example in humour and satire, my trust with low waist jeans was quite popular:  http://www.iwrotethose.com/2014/03/21/fashionista-i-think-not/
My parenting article about ‘co-sleeping with kids’ was also widely shared. http://www.huffingtonpost.in/sidharth-balachandran/sleeping-with-the-enemy_2_b_7262674.html
In fiction, one of my most popular stories has been this: http://www.iwrotethose.com/2015/07/22/the-house-on-the-sea/

You have contributed to the anthology by Indireads after being a winner in a short story contest and have also won the Tatalitlive flash fiction contest. You have won many blogging contests as well.

I’ve been fortunate enough to have won a few blogging and writing competitions. While it is always great to have that recognition, I’ve come to realise that winning these aren’t necessarily about just writing good stories or posts. Yes, it’s important and we’d all like to have a few wins under our writing belts, so to speak. But as I read more entries for these contests, I’m starting to realise how much our bloggers and writers overlook the fact about how a post or story connects with the reader. Your post or story should be something that the readers can relate to and if it’s fiction, your readers should be able to visualize it too. And that’s true victory as a writer.

Parenting is the toughest job in the world. As a stay-at-home-dad, how do you find time to churn out stories and blog as well?

It’s all about being organised and knowing when to switch off and then switch back on. I understand that it’s not always possible, but if you can make a schedule and stick to it as much as you can, then it definitely helps. Of course, life and little kids get in the way, but as long as you can stick to your plan as much as possible, it’ll help. Again, everyone is different. Like, as much as it pains me to say it, things like NaNoWrimo don’t work for me – I’m more a writer 10k words in a day and then may not write anything else for 3 days kind of person.

Among the stories that you have written, is there any one particular story that is close to your heart?

Since my blog started in October 2013, I’ve written over 130 short stories there. While they’re all special to me, perhaps the closest one to my heart is a novella that I’d written called ‘Harry’s Hut’. It’s no longer on the blog, as I’ve decided to rework it and release it as an eBook, but it will always be my first ‘baby’ when it comes to my stories.

Amongst the ones that are on the blog presently, one of my favorite ones remains:  http://www.iwrotethose.com/2014/05/29/at-the-stroke-of-midnight/

I have read two of your novellas and quite liked them. What else is in the offing for your readers?

Thank you, Preethi. It’s always a good feeling to hear that readers and other writers enjoy pieces that we write. I’m working on a few things at the moment – a couple of novellas which I’ll be releasing as eBooks. There’s always a full-fledged fiction book too and the ‘Daddy Journals’ books that I mentioned earlier. Also, I love writing short stories – so I’m also working on a collection of stories written for a set of different themes.

If you could choose any place on earth to be born as a famous person, which person and place would you choose? You can choose any time period in history.

Can I not just be reborn as me? I love my life :)
Jokes aside, I’m not sure.  I guess, I’d love to be reborn as someone like Ruskin Bond, who remains one of my favorite authors. Or maybe even as Wodehouse, because I love reading witty stories. If not a writer, I guess, with my penchant for technology, I’d probably be ok to being reborn as someone like Steve Jobs.

What are the three tips you have for readers of this interview who are aspiring writers?

·         Don’t think of writing like a job. Think of it as an art and you as an artist. What you write is essentially part of your identity, and like any artist worth his or her salt, you should be ready to put in your sweat, blood and time into it.
·         Be open to feedback and criticism. There are no perfect writers. Every writer, bestseller or aspiring, can always improve. Because when you refuse to accept feedback or criticism, you’re barricading yourself in and refusing to grow. And that’s never a good thing for a writer.
·         Find a niche. Not every writer can write effortlessly about every topic or theme. Especially when it comes to something like fiction, find your niche – if you’re good in writing romance and the feedback from honest critics has been positive, then stick to it. Forget whether it sells or not. You’d best be known for one thing than just disappear as a jack/jill-of-all-trades-kind of writer. Also, always pay attention to what you write. While you may be writing for yourself, you are also writing for the audience who want to read you. So you need to find a fine balance between giving the readers what they want, yet delivering it in your own style.

Thank you, Sid. Wishing you all success in all your future endeavors. 

Thank you! 

That is all folks....

Until next post,
Much love,

12 comments:

  1. Wonderful post, loved getting to know more about you, Sid!

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  2. Loved reading this post. Can't wait to read Sid's books. I think I've stopped by his blog. He seems to be an exemplary man :)

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    1. He is an exemplary man Kalpanaa. Thank you for stopping by :)

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    2. Haha! Nothing like that, Kalpanaa. I'm just a normal person :) Thanks for reading. And thank you, Preethi, for the feature!

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  4. Wonderful questions Preethi and loved the answers! I have read most of Sid's posts and he is a very talented writer. Looking forward to the books and novellas.

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  5. Interesting questions, Preeti. :) And it is always a pleasure to read more about you, Sid. :)

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    1. Thanks, Shantala. I'm starting to feel that you all know more about me than I do :P

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  6. Super duper interview and answers from Sid, witty at times and priceless reflection on writing. It's a passion and true about sticking to our forte. It reminds me how my thing is rom-com. Writing is, indeed, not a job! Love reading Harry's Hut. I am a huge fan of Sid. Keep rocking, mate.

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