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When a story blossoms

During the autumn of the new millennium, I was in the throes of planning my wedding when an idea planted itself like a seed in my mind and I couldn’t shake it. I wondered if there was a girl like me – British, Indian, Sikh – who was getting ready to marry her prince but he turned out to be a total cad. I’d always wanted to write a story and I wondered if this would be it.

I switched on my huge, box-like PC and, within a few days, I’d written a chapter.

It wasn’t literary gold, by any means, but it was the start of something.

I would dip into the book whenever I got a break from the relentless planning that comes with a Sikh wedding. After the ceremony, there was no time to write. Moving into the heart of a whole new family, with different ways, was a big thing and I didn’t have my PC with me. So, my words lay untouched on a floppy disk, not forgotten, but germinating.

My husband was a total sweetheart and, when he learned of my literary dreams, bought me my first ever laptop. In time, the first couple of chapters became a few more and I proudly printed off my words so a colleague could read them. She gave me the encouragement to keep going and so I wrote more chapters.

My seed was growing its first shoots.

Then life happened. Again.

We wanted to start a family and our journey to achieve that was a painful one, taking longer than we’d ever thought because of complications with my health. My book baby took a backseat again, as our quest for a real baby became more intense.

A few years later, I was a mother of two, a full-time teacher, a wife and good daughter-in-law when I discovered blogging. My blog got me writing again and, after tentatively offering my opening chapters up for critique to a community filled with writers and readers, I got the thumbs up. I really needed to finish the story.

But, time? Where was I going to find time? My spare minutes were eaten up with planning, marking, cooking, cleaning and looking after my family.

I heard about National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) but I couldn’t wait until November. Summer was a much better time to write for me because there was no school to worry about. So, I decided upon my own challenge: RiNoWriMo – Ritu’s Novel Writing Month. That August, my story really began to put down roots and grow leaves.

50,000 words happened, then a few more.

Mentally and emotionally exhausted, I knew this was not a simple story. It was a novel in the making and it took me to spring the following year to finally write ‘The End’.

After initial edits, I sent it to two trusted readers who gave me the feedback I needed to know my story was a viable book. I’d been worried that my Indian-inspired story may not be of interest to a wider audience, but I was reassured this was not the case.

I made the decision to become an indie author early on so finding editors, proofreaders and cover designers were the next steps.

And finally, after nearly twenty years, in February 2020, I pressed publish on my debut novel, Marriage Unarranged, in a genre, I coined ‘Chickpea Curry Lit’, essentially Chick Lit with an Indian twist. My book had finally bloomed. Beautifully.  

I did it. I wrote a book. It’s published and readers are already asking for book two. It’s a good thing I’ve got characters waiting in the background ready to tell their stories. Now, to find the time again…and I will. Because I know I can.

If you’ve always wanted to write a story, listen out for those seeds.

Make time for your seed to shoot, grow leaves and blossom.

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Featured Book: Marriage Unarranged
by Ritu Bhathal

Aashi’s life was all set. Or so she thought. Like in the Bollywood films, Ravi would woo her, charm her family and they’d get married and live happily ever after. But then Aashi found the empty condom box. Putting her ex-fiancé and her innocence behind her, Aashi embarks upon an enlightening journey to another country where vibrant memories are created and unforgettable friendships forged. Old images erased, new beginnings to explore. And how can she forget the handsome stranger she meets? A stranger who’s hiding something…

Marriage Unarranged
About Ritu Bhathal

Ritu Bhathal is a wife, mother, teacher, author and award-winning blogger whose diverse background has inspired her to write books filled with colour.

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