Saturday, April 11, 2020

The Brigade that Builds Brands: Author & Army wife Tanushree Podder on creating a successful writing career on the move

Hello friends! Hope you're well and making the most of this slow-down + stay-at-home phase. Today, I have a special guest at The Brigade that Builds Brands - a series that turns the spotlight on fauji wife entrepreneurs/authors/ladies who launch. Meet Tanushree Podder - a well-known author and veteran Army wife, whose articles and books we've enjoyed reading for years. It is an honor to have her over at the blog and I'm really looking forward to knowing more about how she has carved out a prolific writing career over the years.

author taunushree podder
Author & Army Wife Tanushree Podder

CB. Please tell us something about yourself – what do you do, where are you based and how long have you been a fauji wife (and are you an Air Force or Army wife).

TP. I am an author based at Pune. To tell you the truth, I have wandered through several professions before opting to write. After finishing my management degree, I worked as a HR professional with Larsen & Toubro Limited for about seven years before opting out of the corporate scene.  As an army wife, there were two options before me – to pack my bags and travel with hubby or to stay put in a big city and continue with my career. I chose the former and followed my soldierly-half to the remotest locations of the country. Not for a day have I regretted my decision.

At one point in life, I did Montessori teacher’s course and took up a job in a renowned convent school, so my daughter could get admission in it. I did a beautician’s course, and several other things before realizing those were not my calling.

It was at this point that I decided to change my hobby into profession. I had been freelancing for many magazines and newspapers even when I was working, but now I began to take writing seriously. I ventured into the world of books. My first book was published while we were posted at Bikaner. It’s been twenty years since that day.

CB. What kind of books and articles do you write & what is your writing routine/schedule/process like?

TP. I call myself a maverick writer. I am a free spirited person with a curious mind and that doesn’t allow me to stick to a specific genre in writing.

As a freelance journalist, I wrote on several subjects and interviewed several prominent personalities for various newspapers and magazines before deciding to specialize in a genre. Since I loved travelling, I chose to write on travels and that took me to about sixty odd countries around the world.

Army Novels by Tanushree Podder
Books by Tanushree Podder

My journey in the world of books began with non-fiction and soon I ventured into the fiction territory. I write whatever comes to my mind. Right from the Death of a Dictator, which was about Saddam Hussein to several books on health, fitness and nutrition, I wrote about 13 books in non-fiction, before moving to fiction. Here again, I didn’t restrict myself to any genre. As a result, I wrote Nurjahan’s Daughter and Escape from Harem, both of which are historical fiction, to Boots Belts Berets, On the Double and No Margin for Error, which are military fiction, I have been writing in various genres.

Among my works is Decoding the Feronia Files, a Clifi thriller, which is about climate change. I have also written a series of murder mysteries – A Closetful of Skeletons, Before you Breathe are two of them. The third one in the series will be released by end of this year.

My latest book is The Teenage Diary of Rani Laxmibai, which is a book for Young Adults.

There are two more books on the anvil. One of them is a historical and the other military. Boots Belts Berets and On the Double have been bought for adaptation and soon people will be able to see them translated into web series. I have recently signed for another book to be made into web series.

I have no set pattern or schedule for writing. Sometimes, I work very hard and sometimes months pass before I sit before my computer. However, once an idea hits me, I try to work on it as quickly as possible.

My favoured working hours are between 10am and 1pm. I don’t like working in the evenings because I go for yoga and walks.

CB. What has been your creative journey been like: how & when did you start your career as a writer, journalist and author?

TP. My creative journey began very early in life, but I turned to freelancing after I finished college. For the first twenty years, I wrote on many subjects, for magazines and newspapers before I turned into a full time author.Writing books is an exhausting business that requires total dedication and loads of focus, so I have stopped writing articles.

Historical novels by Tanushree Podder
Historical novel by Tanushree Podder

CB. Fauji wives make their home in an assortment of obscure places across the country. Our lives are about living in the moment and doing what we can, when we can. Can you share how you continued your work as you moved from one base to another?

TP. There are two sides of a coin. It’s the constant movement in a fauji wife’s life that exposes her to varied experiences. We are richer for that. Not many civilians can imagine the places we have seen, the cuisines we can replicate or the languages we can speak. We have several privileges and turning them into strength can work wonders.

Each of us has a hobby. Turning it into an earning proposition can be done with hard work and determination. In my case, it was my writing skills that I began honing.  Nothing comes easy. Constant practice leads to perfection. I have run across many fauji wives who are running successful enterprises. Also, internet connectivity has made it very easy to remain connected to the world. It provides a chance to showcase one’s work and sell it as well.

When I began writing, I had a portable typewriter and had to type out my articles and stories and then send it by post. It took days and weeks to hear from the editors. Besides, there were only landlines earlier and connections were bad, so calling people or keeping in touch was a huge challenge, yet I didn’t let those hurdles stop me from doing the things I wanted to do.

Today, one uses laptops and computers and can get instant response to emails. Everyone has a phone, which is so convenient if one wants to call anyone. Life has become much easier.

Mystery novels
A mystery novel by this Army wife author

CB. These days most fauji wives use social media to promote their business. When you started your brand, how did you spread the word about your work + connect with editors and publishing houses?

TP. Social media is a good way to promote and advertise. There was no social media or internet when I began writing.  We depended on the reviews in newspapers and magazines to get readership.

Reaching out to editors was through hard copies and we depended on the post office since there were no couriers. I looked up the addresses in the magazines and sent my articles to the editor of a particular magazine or newspaper. As for the books, we had to take prints of hundreds of pages and post the entire lot to the publisher.

army wife writer and author

CB. What challenges did you face as a writer and author in a time when work-from-home careers weren’t very common amongst service wives?

TP. You are absolutely right. During my time, there were not many army wives, who worked from home. The concept was alien, back then. Fauji wives had two options. Either they stayed back in a city and carried on with their jobs or accompanied their husbands and picked up any job available to them. It has been very challenging to establish myself as a writer/author and it has taken a very long time too.

I would say that my generation had to work doubly hard at establishing our careers.

CB. How did you juggle a load of social commitments & welfare activities that are an integral part of the fauji community, while nurturing your passions and meeting deadlines?

TP. One learns to don several hats as an army wife. I have given up lucrative career to do my bit. Whenever my husband was posted to non-family stations, I would stay back with the kids and pick up a job. The moment, he was posted to a family station, I gave up the job and joined him. At Bangalore, I had picked up a job as a correspondent with Magna Publications, which I quit when he was posted as a Commanding Officer. Another time, I partnered with a friend and started a print and advertising company, which I gave up because my husband got posted to a family station. So, it was a constant struggle to balance the career and family.

I never resented the duties that had to be performed as an army wife. I enjoyed interacting with the wives of jawans and doing my bit in the welfare activities. During the times I joined my husband, I juggled with the two roles, always giving priority to the role of army wife. I knew that I could give full attention to my writing once I went back to living on my own.

There is no sense in living in frustration. One has to accept whatever fate hands and do the best in the situation. Fighting against destiny never works. Learning to flow with the current is the best way to live a happy life.

CB. What tips would you give to fauji wives out there who’d like to pursue their dreams while living at small and busy bases (many still believe or are led to believe that you can either be a fauji wife or a professional, and that’s not true)?

TP. Things have changed. No longer is it true that a fauji wife cannot be a professional.

One thing that remains unchanged is that there are no easy ways or shortcuts. One has to put in hard work to succeed in any field. A fauji wife, perhaps, has to put in double the effort. It is important to recognize one’s calling and work towards it. It is also important to find a career that will give you contentment and happiness. If one is working solely for money, frustrations are likely.

CB. A parting quote or philosophy that helps you stay calm and do what you do?

TP. I have not always been a calm person. There were times when I would rant and rave. I also went through cycles of frustration, but it didn’t help. I realized that I had to accept the things that cannot be changed. That realization helped me maintain equilibrium.

I am a great believer of destiny. Everything happens for a reason. Once you accept that, it is easy to devote energies to the situation. I have learnt it through years of travelling the rocky roads.

Persistence is the key to success.

Thank you for your time :).

 Ladies, a call to action for YOU:

Are you ready to learn how to launch your own portable, work-from-home micro business on the move? 
I’ve got a brand new Online Course for aspiring military wife entrepreneurs called ‘Be Your Own Boss From Anywhere’ coming up soon. If you’d like more details, please sign up for my newsletter (I’ll be sending out updates and info via this): Sign up form (you can download my Free ebook once you sign-up)

VIDEO & AUDIO TIPS on crafting a Self-employed, Work-From-Home Lifestyle: Check out my my Youtube Channel here.

Here is the latest video for all those of you working-from-home during this lockdown. Click here for the video.

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