Wednesday, 22 February 2017

"Nobody deserves to suffer because of the way they look": Sudesna Ghosh

When I read Sudesna Ghosh's novella, Just Me, the Sink and the Pot, I was struck by how poignant the story was. Told from the perspective of an overweight young girl, Pamela, who struggles with negative body image issues, I wondered how much of her story came from the author's own experience. Sudesna shares her story of how Just Me... was born. Over to you, Sue!

"You're so pretty. Guys would love you if you'd lose some weight!" I've heard that line ever since my school days and believe me, the words hurt each time. So I grew up knowing I was pretty enough but too big to be loved or appreciated. If it wasn't kids my age, random aunties and uncles and strangers did the job of making me feel terrible about myself. Sometimes people excused their damaging words as 'concern' but that didn't help really. Fast forward to 2010, when I was at my heaviest body weight and hiding myself from people as much as I could, I decided to write Just me, the Sink & the Pot – that’s the title of my latest book.

As I wrote about Pamela's journey as a girl with negative body image, I relived my own school days. Yes, my book is fiction because a lot of it was written based on other overweight friends' experiences, but I can’t deny that a lot of it is me. In the book, my protagonist goes through issues that are characteristic of the Terrible Teens but it’s much worse because she is overweight and that takes over the way she thinks and perceives the world. To Pamela, it’s a world full of ‘normal’ sized people and her. From hoping with all her heart for that first kiss, to hopelessly watching the other girls talking to the boys in class, life sucks for Pamela. The book can get you teary at times.
Look at me. I’m 30+ and I thought I didn't deserve love or sex or romance of any kind for years. Why? Because of my body shape and weight. It took me this long to learn to love myself even though there are still days of doubt. I don't blame old classmates. They were young and probably picked up such behaviour and attitudes from older people around them and the media. And the uncles and aunts and strangers probably grew up being called ugly so they took it out on me. But till this day, I feel worse when women treat other women badly about the way they look.

I've hardly heard a conversation between two girls that didn't involve fat shaming another female. I've sat through movies with young girls criticising heroines for their butt size, their thigh width and their audacity to show cleavage past their 20s. I've also come across women and celebrities who claim to be against body shaming and size zero figures - but then they turn up in their skinny avatar all over again - not hiding their crazy diets from magazines and newspapers. I remember Parineeti Chopra getting a big award almost as soon as she lost a ton of weight. Closer home, I remember a neighbour finding a groom only after she lost 20 kilos and after she managed to live on boiled veggies and she made a habit of fainting.

So whom do I blame? Schools? The media? Bollywood? Our forefathers? More importantly, can we teach empathy? How many people know or care about the long term effects of negative body image? I'm not a Deepika Padukone, so even if I speak about this for ten hours straight, it won't be a big deal. But I hope to make it a big deal some day. Nobody deserves to suffer because of the way they look. Pamela in my story, is one of many girls who struggle to get the happiness that they deserve.

Sudesna Ghosh is an author based in Kolkata, India. Just me, the Sink & the Pot is her first fiction book. Her previous books are What Would I Tell Her @ 13 and News Now. When Sudesna isn’t writing, she is reading books or doing her bit for animal welfare.
Just Me, the Sink & the Pot is now available on Amazon sites worldwide









Thursday, 16 February 2017

The Different Stages of Writing - and an Appeal

Every story idea has its own distinct journey. Each is unique and can never be identical to the path that any of your previous ideas has travelled. Perhaps, that's the most exciting thing about writing.

A few months ago a filmmaker friend asked me if I would be interested in writing a short film. He had come across a true incident which he wanted to make a film about. That was the beginning of the journey for "Seven Lives", a short film that I scripted for filmmaker Runjiv J. Kapur.

When Runjiv discussed the idea with me, I knew it had the potential to be made into a thought-provoking, dramatic film. The subject was about society's role and how it can impact individual lives. As a writer I was excited about it and I began writing a draft. The first stage of the story's journey had kicked in.

The story development process is the second stage of the writing process. The stage when the writer distills the idea and plays with it, trying to give it  shape, substance, style.

After several brainstorming sessions and tweaking of the various elements of the script, it acquired its final shape.

And now begins the story's third and final phase of the journey. When the story travels beyond the computer and the printed page into a live action film. Excitement mounts, as you can't wait to see how your story plays out on the screen.

Seven Lives has entered its third phase. And yet there is a way to go before it hits the screen: the funding and filmmaking process.

As a writer, my role is limited in this phase but yes, as a team member I can pitch in a bit. And I hope you will also participate in this exciting journey with me.

While a chunk of the film's funding is in place, we are hoping to crowdfund the project. Details of the project are attached in the link.

It would be wonderful if you could contribute in any small way towards this short film which discusses a very important subject: Organ Donation. Even sharing it among your friends and family would be of enormous help. Please click this link to find out more about Seven Lives.

Thank you! I look forward to your participation. :) 

Sunday, 12 February 2017

Misadventures in Digital La La Land

My first post in 2017 -- after a long break from blogging -- is ironically enough about my misadventure in digital La La Land.

Sometime just before the launch of my latest book I decided to overhaul my Wordpress website and give it a spiffy new look. And like all my "projects", I went on a mega research exercise. I checked out websites of romance authors and believe me there are some REALLY impressive sites out there. After much deliberation I decided on the "look and feel" and got a web developer to design it for me. The site was launched and those who have followed my blogs might agree with me when I say it was one good looking site.

Problem was it was too pretty for its own good!  I'm a bit embarrassed to say that it intimidated me. 😂My blogging went downhill and my excuse was: lack of time.

When 2016 came to a close I was appalled to see that my blog was languishing in its perfectly pristine state. And I was getting tired of seeing the same images and posts day in and day out. Just proves that too much beauty can also be boring!! Determined to get back into blogging mode I started tinkering with my website when disaster struck... the website crashed. Yep! Panic time.

Meanwhile, the website designer had decided to switch careers (I kid you not!) and I was left high and dry with a website that wouldn't work. Time for a complete overhaul -- I got rid of the Wordpress site and opened a no-frills Blogger site.

So, here I am. This time, no fancy-pants website but a functional blogging platform where I can share my thoughts, a few images, some trivia and fun stuff and above all, reconnect with my readers. All designed by yours truly.... maybe I will get the hang of designing a good-looking website. Maybe not. But who cares...functionality and not just aesthetics is what counts at the end of the day. And as you can see, it's still a work-in-progress. Lesson learnt: there's nothing better than D-I-Y.

Have you had any such disasters in digital la la land? Please share your thoughts in the comments below. (Also, bouquets and brickbats for my maiden website-designing effort are welcome.) 😀