Nandhika Nambi: What Unbroken Means to Me

Nandhika Nambi is a medical student. Her novel Unbroken will be published in April 2017. It is available for preorder at http://amzn.to/2n0gaKe

‘This too shall pass.’

Oh, how many times this phrase has given us strength.

But Akriti, the protagonist, finds no comfort in these words. Her disability is permanent, and so is the way she feels about it. A tragedy of magnitude most of us are lucky to never have to face in a lifetime, Akriti endures as a young girl. She shuts herself off from the world, and is labelled and misunderstood. However, as time goes by, she realises what happened to her is never changing, but the way she feels about it can.

I was in a hospital bed that day, after an emergency surgery, when I received the news that I didn’t get into the college of my dreams. That was the day I feel I really grew up and realised not everything is handed to you on a silver platter. Up until then, my biggest problems were a ruined lunch or a forgotten homework assignment.

That is when I realised that the most difficult challenge is to find the strength to be happy when it seems the universe is against you.

I’ve always loved to write for as long as I can remember. My first poem, about stars (the lines all end in light, bright, night and so on), is permanently stuck on my dad’s cupboard. At age of ten, I randomly typed a story of about fifty pages, which my father found on the laptop and self-published as a surprise for my birthday. I’ll never forget the way it felt to hold a finished book with my name on it in my hands, I was literally giddy with happiness. The support from my school was overwhelming.

It was definitely this gift that really pushed (or rather inspired) me to write more. Another similar incident followed a few years later. After my second book, I learnt a lot about the publishing industry.

Once I finished the manuscript of Unbroken, I sent it in myself to as many publishers as I could find all over India. Traditional publishing felt like a distant dream, despite the confidence my father gave me by self-publishing my first two books. I was almost sure it would never happen or I wasn’t good enough.

Getting my first positive email from Duckbill was surreal. Obviously, the processes of self-publishing and traditional publishing are different, but it was a pleasure to exchange ideas or hear the suggestions the editors had. It’s been exciting and fulfilling throughout.

But so is self-publishing, which carved out my way here. I’m glad I did it and I would certainly do it again.

This is for anyone venturing out into the world of writing and trying to get published, young or old—do it any way you want and any way you can. There really is no wrong way. Believe in yourself. But most importantly:

Write, write, write.

I’m only half a doctor right now, but I’d just like to say that I’d prescribe writing as medicine for the soul any day.

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