October Odyssey: Monthly Missives from The Dream Pedlar

Pondering the contradictions of life ...

October Odyssey: Monthly Missives from The Dream Pedlar

Hello, Dreamer!

In my part of the world, October has been a strange month weather-wise, ushering in some really cold mornings while also taking the temperature back up to the late-teens (in Celsius) on some unexpected days.

We had a dry spell for a long time, and now the skies have taken to shedding tears at night, leaving the earth cold and damp and grey the next morning.

This month's mood swings have been quite adolescent-like in nature, which I find funny and confusing at the same time.

Not least because my own moods have been swinging wildly in tune with the weather, hopping up and down like a gravity-defying teenage-kangaroo on steroids playing 'the floor is lava'.


Worn out from all the jumping.

Yet, unable to stop.

Which is why I'm making it a point this season to be more intentional about managing these shifts in weather and mood and taking it slow, which in itself has become something of a feat these days when the one constant question that keeps playing like a broken record in the back of my head as well as KrA's head when it comes to working and parenting is this: "Are we doing enough? Are we doing enough?"

But first things first! I hope you got the unexpected bag of book-goodies I sent your way last Sunday in which I announced that my latest work, The Land of No Reflection, is now published in both ebook and paperback formats! Yay!

Ebook cover of The Land of No Reflection by Anitha Krishnan featuring an ornate, round gilded mirror with no reflection in it

I spent some time this month publishing this book on as many retailer platforms and avenues I possibly could. It's one of my most widely available books in ebook and paperback formats.

Especially, folks in India who've been asking me to make paperback copies available there, your wish is now fulfilled!

And if you wanted a free copy of The Mind Meddler, it's available for only a couple of weeks more over at BookFunnel along with a number of other new works and authors to check out.

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I dedicate every single one of my books to my husband and best friend, KrA, and our little one D. Occasionally, I include other people in the dedication, but KrA and D are the ones who live with me and my writing endeavours day in and day out, influencing and being influenced by how all this pans out.

This month, I dedicated The Land of No Reflection to my dear maternal aunt, Kala, who died a year ago in a horrific helicopter crash in North India. She was only sixty.

Kala Maami ('Maami' being the word in many Indian languages for maternal aunt by marriage) was one of my favouritest relatives growing up.

Every summer we used to take the train from Mumbai (Bombay, back in those days), near where we lived, to Chennai (erstwhile Madras), and spend the entire summer month of May with my maternal grandparents, maternal uncle and aunt, and their children (my dear cousins). That was the summer vacation destination of my childhood every year.

Kala Maami was one of the funniest and finest persons around. It was impossible to remain sad or depressed around her for any length of time. She was always bubbling with a zest for life and a joyous energy, almost in defiance of some very difficult life circumstances she had to ceaselessly contend with.

I have several wonderful memories of the time I spent with her. But the day I received news of her accident (via a phone call from my mom), there was one memory that popped up and lodged itself firmly in my mind. It wasn't a happy one.

To provide you with a little context, back in 2017—2018, in the months leading up to the publication of my first novel, In Search of Leo, I made all the mistakes every rookie indie writer is warned not to make but goes ahead and does so anyway.

Mainly, I paid a pretty penny to an editor and a cover designer to get my book whipped into publication-ready shape. To date, the book hasn't sold enough copies to recover those expenses. Not very wise from a business point of view.

I did, however, gladly share a free copy of the story when Kala Maami asked for it. This was before I had purchased a swanky formatting tool, so I only had a PDF to send over to her.

She read the entire story with great interest and wrote to me at length afterwards, telling me how much she loved it, how she took to the various characters and the nuances of the emotions they were portraying.

"I can't wait to spend an entire evening chatting with you about your book when you come to visit next," she had texted me. Obviously, that visit didn't happen. I haven't been to India in more than a decade now.

Three years later, in March/April 2021, I published my next book, Dying Wishes. At almost 500 pages, it was quite a tome. This time I made wiser spending choices and was able to optimize my expenses.

Having learnt from the experiences of publishing my first book (high expectations but very little sales to show for it), I was focused this time on 'selling' this second book.

What I'm about to share with you next, I do so with a lot of regret and vulnerability.

For you see, when my greatest cheerleader, Kala Maami, asked me if I could send over a PDF of my book for her to read, this was my reply: "Maybe you could buy a copy, Maami? This is how I'm trying to make a living."

a stalk of purple hyacinth
Photo by Dominik Scythe on Unsplash

Dying Wishes contains so much from my childhood in it that Kala Maami would have been among a handful of people in this whole, wide world who would have read the book with much enthusiasm and even appreciated every single detail and nuance in it.

When I heard the news of her death, I felt terrible thinking of how I denied her the pleasure of reading and enjoying my book, how I also denied myself the acknowledgement and support I'd have received from her. I'd have probably earned $3 in royalties from such a sale.

Looking back at that incident now, I can appreciate both my perspective and hers. Neither of us were right or wrong. We were just operating from different perspectives, our behaviours shaped by our beliefs leading up to her moment of asking and my moment of refusing.

Having reflected on my response to her, I've come to understand one thing.

You see, when the big picture is uncertain, we tend to become petty about small things.
The big picture, the long term, these are always out of our control. And that is so terrifying that we try to exert control where we can, over the smallest of things.
I refused to give away a copy of my book as a gift to someone I loved and adored because I worried that such a deed would mean I didn't value my own work of creativity enough. And that if I didn't value it enough, the world would respond in kind.

Does that mean I could ideally give away all my works for free? I don't know. I wish I could. Because this is something I've come to learn about myself these past few years.

I want wealth, not to splurge on myself, but to satisfy my need to give freely. I want to be able to give without worrying about whether it fits my budget or not, or whether I'd get what I need when the time comes. I don't like the kind of person I become when I'm compelled to think, "But can I afford to give this away?"

My dad is one of the most generous persons I know. He gives without worrying, even though he's never been what you'd call 'wealthy' his whole life.

He used to play professional cricket in his younger days. He once had his cricket bat autographed by the West Indies cricket giant, Gary Sobers. He handed that bat over to his nephew in an act of generosity that my mom used to recount with some regret.

I've had glimpses of that kind of emotional freedom in my own life, when I'm able to give freely and my heart is light and happy because of it. But it's an elusive state at best. Eventually, that fear of not having enough for my family (especially D and KrA) rears its head, and I'm back to being tight-fisted until it hurts my heart and soul so much that I simply can't be that way anymore.

Have you felt this way too?
Does your heart clam up in fear and make you do things you wouldn't do otherwise?
Have you wondered, or even seen, who you become when faith, not fear, turns up as the stronger force for you?

Write to me and let me know.

Because eventually, time passes and lives come to an end.

We could have spent all that time, trusting we have enough, knowing we'll be fine no matter what.

Or we could have spent all that time, worrying about never having enough, fearful and anxious that something terrible will befall us unless we're careful, something terrible that we won't be able to survive.

What will you choose? Today? Tomorrow? For the rest of your lives, oh so full of contradictions?

I believe that life is a game, that life is a cruel joke, and that life is what happens when you're alive and that you might as well lie back and enjoy it.”
~ Neil Gaiman, American Gods

For Kala Maami,
I miss you. I hope the Gods realize how lucky they are to have you in their midst.

Tales for Dreamers

waiting for permission to belong

There's a home on the streets I usually take when I set out on my long, meandering walks. Every year they set up this half-skeleton half-mummy kind of decor on their front lawn for Halloween.

Last year it was just a statuesque object. This year, the thing swivels its head and emits a low growl too. At this rate, I think next year it might well take up residence inside the home!

tales for dreamers: waiting for permission to belong
The half-mummy half-skeleton longs to be let inside for the season. Do you have the heart to welcome him into your home?

Books You May Love

Reading took a bit of a backseat this month as I was binge-watching The Vampire Diaries (rewatching the entire series without any recollection of the plot whatsoever).

But when the latest instalment of the Cormoran Strike series came out, A Running Grave, I dove into it. I'm halfway through the book right now and I'm in reading heaven.

I love that JK Rowling writes these tomes. 900 pages of immersion into such an exciting story. Look at the size of that book!

I will write more about it next month once I've finished reading it. I'm taking my own sweet time, savouring each page. Some treasures in life are not to be rushed through, and this is one such treat!

Well, that's what October has been all about, dear Dreamer! But it's not been all doom and gloom. Many wonderful things have happened this month.

My dear friend, Shreyasi, in New Zealand celebrated a milestone birthday this month! The good times have only just begun, dear one, trust me! 🥳

Another dear friend and bringer of all good things into my life, H, welcomed her first baby this month. Welcome to sleepless nights and moments of delirious happiness, dear H. Now you'll find out how a heart can truly explode with joy! 💕

Yet another dear friend from a very long time (more than 25 years 😲) ago found her way to my website and this newsletter a few days ago. Welcome, Sheetal!

There's still Halloween to look forward to this month.

And when November comes, I'll embrace it with both arms because it's my birth month. It's going to be an amazing time of the year!

~ Anitha