My Journey as an Author

Manish Kumar

Welcome to Be Your Own Pilot. Let me tell you how the book got written and how it came into existence. I had left Air Force looking for some meaning in Life. My aim to join Air Force as a helicopter pilot was simple: One day I will save somebody’s life. I got the chance during Gujrat cyclone in 1999 when I saved five fishermen who were afloat in the sea on wooden planks for almost three days and nights after their boat capsized in the cyclone.

After having had the experience of saving a life, I looked for a higher purpose, the true meaning of life. I read all the books I could lay my hands on, from self-help to spirituality. When none of the books could quench my thirst for what I was looking for, I decided to scribble my thoughts on pen and paper. I thought there will be many like me looking for answers, looking for a path to follow, looking for a book that could handhold them and guide them through the maze of life. I decided to write the book that will be short enough to hold the attention and deep enough to reach the dark dungeons of the seeking soul and illumine it.

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 One of the poems on Commitment by Goethe says…

That the moment one definitely commits oneself
then Providence moves too.
All sorts of things occur to help one
that would never otherwise have occurred.
A whole stream of events issues from the decision
raising in one’s favour all manners
of unforeseen incidents and meetings
and material assistance
which no one could have dreamt
would have come one’s way
Whatever you do or dream you can, begin it.
Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.
Begin it now.

And as I committed to writing I remembered the talk I had with my former colleague Ms Sandhya Adwani, who had encouraged me to write. She had told me about Mr Nikhil Kriplani who owned a writing company where his mother Ms Sunita Kriplani was the Chief Editor. I talked with him and sent him the synopsis which was approved.

In the mean time I read, heard and studied whatever John Harricharan had preached about Creative Writing. Earlier I had written to him that as Eklavya had taken Dronacharya to be his Guru, similarly I had taken John Harricharan to be my Guru of creative writing. He was kind enough to reply, “ You write the book and send it to me. I will be happy to write the Foreword for it.”And what a beautiful Foreword he wrote.

I took to writing the book as a fish takes to water. At times I felt that I was not writing it, the book was writing itself. It took me almost three months to write the first draft and another three to polish it. I sent it to my editor Ms Sunita Kriplani who further modified and beautified it. We agreed on the title “I Have The Controls.”
After the written part was ready, it was Nikhil’s turn to suggest a cover. Out of hundreds of cover we finalized the one that is there. It is a plane made of leaves flying in the sky. It symbolizes our dreams taking the shape of a solid object. Our aspirations becoming a reality.

Next, there were the formalities of copyright etc. after which the book went into print. It was a long wait for the sample copy to arrive. Holding the sample copy was like holding a new born. It is after all your own creation. You look at it with the same affection and satisfaction as you will do your young one. It is a moment of immense pride when you see your name on the cover of the book. Many dream of having it but only a few achieve it. If you ever thought of writing a book, I would suggest, you begin it. It is a soul-searching and satisfying experience like none other. You will be a different person, a better version of yourself.

After some time the consignment of 1000 books arrived. I tried all the big names like Landmark, Crosswords etc for the sale of books but they wanted me to come through the distributor. It was only Flipkart and some local book shops which agreed to sell the books. In the mean time I had gone for the school-reunion. I showed my book to my English teacher Mr MP Menon. He had tears of joy in his eyes. I happened to be the first Author from the school. He said he would talk with the Principal and have the book launch during the evening function.

The book was selling in spurts and was getting good reviews but it was no way near to my satisfaction. I was asked to approach a professional publisher and I approached Dr Piyush Ranjan of Ocean Paperbacks. He liked the book but suggested a new name, “Be Your Own Pilot.” He said that the old title seems to be technical and with the new one readers will associate better. I believe his foresight was good because I have seen readers liking the book just by reading the title.
The book with the new title “Be Your Own Pilot” was launched at the British Library, Ranchi.


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