The Lost Writer Who Turned Around Her Life For Good
My mother wanted me to be a doctor, but God's Quill had written my destiny elsewhere. After graduating in Science from Gargi College, I pursued a PG Diploma in Public Relations and began my media career in 2003 at the then two-of-the-best best PR firms of India. But I found my calling in my pen and joined the Hindustan Times newspaper while I was still pursuing PG-Diploma with YMCA, Delhi.
Senior correspondents at HT as well as my professors (whose lectures I used to miss, to go for news coverage!) never clipped my wings. Thus, what began as a training with HT-Live lead to some 20 credit lines in my name including four front-page exclusives. It was a big thing for me since I had no Godfather in the industry. But nothing is permanent, and my training at HT came to an end. I was told I will be absorbed once new hirings happen, but I needed the job right away.
For the next ten months, I struggled to get a job while working as Production Assistant at an English production house that used to make wildlife documentaries. Later I moved to an upcoming Hindi News channel, where again I was given a chance to report exclusive news coverage but wasn’t promoted from a Trainee to a full-time reporter. I deserved that, I needed money to run the house, but no one cared since I had no Godfather!
I was too naive, neither my family members nor my friends belonged to this field. I didn’t know where to apply for a job and how. All I knew that due to a certain situation at home, I had to run the house which comprised an ailing mother and a 7-year-old sibling who was still in school.
That’s when I met senior TV journalist Vivek Kaemra, who came like a guiding light in my life. He taught me how to apply and where all, with the kind of versatile, bi-lingual talent I had. Soon ANI (a collaboration with Reuters) got me aboard and that for ANI’s leading lady Smita Prakash’s own show! She gave the necessary push to my talent and there was no looking back after this. In about two-and-a-half years that I spent there, I spread my wings in TV, Print as well as Digital Journalism & Production for the top international collaborators of ANI. I was side-by-side pursuing a post graduation in Mass Communication because I knew education hones up the skills.
After working with few other TV news channels, in 2010 CNN-IBN (now CNN-News18) took me aboard famous journalist Rajdeep Sardesai’s team. There was no looking back, except the fact that work-life balance went for a toss post-June 2015 owing to certain policy changes in the organization. Feb 2017- March 2017 was the break-away point when my doctor told me that I needed 'a much-deserved break.'
March 2017: Goodbye TV journalism.
That Goodbye had broken something inside me - my confidence. Perhaps because certain people had embedded in my brain that I will never be able to find a job again since I wasn't taking a career break due to pregnancy. Perhaps because I was told by a few so-called seniors that I wasn't cut out to be a writer. Perhaps because I had forgotten that I had won several awards at all my previous places of work. And perhaps because I had never before taken a break in the last 14 years.
Something had broken my spirit to fly again, the spirit of a fighter who had stood against all odds of life--Perhaps, I had forgotten that I had come a long way from a job-hunter to being a mentor to many. Perhaps, I had forgotten that I had fought for the survival of my family when my mother began a new life in 2001 as a single parent of two daughters. Perhaps, I had forgotten that I chose to pursue Post Graduation through distance learning and be a pillar of financial strength to my mother. Perhaps, I had forgotten that I had stood against this very family I loved the most to marry a man of ‘other faith.’ In short, I had forgotten that till now “I had braved the battle for my RIGHTS...alone.” I had braved it all and much beyond, but still, I had lost faith in myself.
The passionate writer, who penned her first poem at the age of five, had gone missing in the last 14 years. So once I began regaining health, my mother and husband pushed me to write. But I didn't know where to start; since I was jobless, hopeless and health-less. The bigger question was - who will print?
One day my mother told me,"My daughters are my pride, my crown I am told." Her lines jolted me out of my slumber. With trembling hands, in June 2017, I wrote my first poem after a decade -- "I Am A Woman, Flame On Ice" --- a tribute to my mother who has been fighter throughout her life. A scientist who gave up her job to establish her daughters' careers. Her words were part of this poem, here is an excerpt:
"I never gave up when the hope was low,
And gave the hurdles… my strongest blow.
I pounced on enemies and never felt down,
Coz I knew so close was my golden crown.
Daughters are hope turned inside out,
The silver tint in the clouds of doubt.
My silver now shines bright… with hearts of gold,
My daughters my pride…my crown I am told.
I had the zest to chase a dream,
Bear all pain and did not scream,
My life is nothing but sugar and spice,
I am a woman, Flame on Ice."
'Flame on Ice' was welcomed by readers. Later 'Flame on Ice' got printed in six international publications. After this, there was no looking back; my quill had found its wings again!
"Yesterday was mine…today belongs to me,
Tomorrow is unannounced, but isn’t far from my reach,
Coz...Winds Of Change have already set in!"
Social journalism platform "Different Truths" allotted me a weekly column by the name "Flame on Ice." Taking guidance from two close friends, I began hunting for more podiums that would hire me as an Independent Journalist. I began reading about how Social Media can be a work-finding tool, besides being a promotional one. And slowly practicing the tactics and strategizing my way out, I got associated with more than 10 national-international reputed webzines where I now pen weekly columns.
Today, with consistent efforts I have managed to carve a niche for myself--the niche of a versatile writer who pens columns for webzines that work in Social Journalism, education, Health, Science, Technology, Women Issues, Travel, Motivation, Social Media Management, etc sectors. Here I am thankful to each of my chief-editors who have given wings to my dreams, and thus no two webzines that employ me today are from the same niche! And this leaves me deeply humbled and thankful.
Also this year, in 2018 some six websites in six different sectors are coming up where I planned & penned the entire content as an Independent Content Curator. I am also the Consulting Editor at a web portal that helps students choose their career path.
While some people still pass me off as a 'mere blogger', others take me seriously as an Independent Journalist. Time has taught me patience to explain the difference between a blogger and an independent journalist/ content curator.
A journey that actually began in July 2017 took the most beautiful turn in October 2017: I became the only Indian to be invited to join the prestigious ‘Writers' Club’ of Country Squire Magazine, United Kingdom.
What more? Six awards are home in just six months, including two Orange Flower Digital Summit Awards 2017. The best part is that a 60-year-old fan, who became a solo traveler after reading few of my travelogues, nominated for these awards! She made me realize there was more to me than just my pen - it was my hidden skill to motivate others.
Amid all this, a social media friend had connected me to SHEROES, an amazing platform which helps women rise like the Phoenix! I began reading inspiring real-life stories as well as started sharing my work there - be it a slice of my life or that of other inspiring women whose interviews I take. I rediscovered that 'lost mentor' inside me - the same mentor who is even now the favorite of each of her ex-bosses!
And one fine day Merril Diniz from SHEROES invited me to work with the team as a Columnist. A dream come true, a chance to pen real life-stories of SHEROES. An opportunity to motivate others and in-turn get motivated!
"Just when the Caterpillar thought the world was over, it became a Butterfly!"
Thus, these six months taught me: "O Woman, a pause button is OK even if you are not pregnant! You deserve a break to regain that energy to fly higher."
So now, I will let my Quill do the further talking through my columns at SHEROES starting Jan 2018. For now, I would like to leave you all with some motivation...
"I Won’t wait for the Sun,
Won’t ask the Rain to go.
I will be the Girl,
Who owned a Rainbow!"
S*****You are an inspiration to me, thanx for sharing your journey..
S*****Awesome keep motivating
J*****Beautiful and very inspiring. We share almost the same story, except for the success. Mine still seem far far away.