Biology @ Your Fingertips: A dream turned into a nightmare!

“ Kya khoya, Kya paaya”:  The journey of Biology @ Your Fingertips from a sweetheart to enfant terrible!

On the occasion of the first anniversary of the launch of Biology @ Your  Fingertips, I recall the incidents that happened during the making of this book, the appreciation I got from the students and the side effects ( of writing the book) I had to face thereafter.

Just a year back, it was the day of utmost joy for me, the day I Had been waiting for years. The first time I went to the World Book Fair in 2010, I had decided that next time I’ll come here as an author and so did happened. On 5th March, 2012, my book was launched in the New Delhi World Book Fair. I was shocked to see the enthusiasm and excitement in the students for the book. Before I reached there and saw the first printed copy, more than 50 students had already bought it and obviously I wasn’t the first one to have a glimpse of my own creation. I still remember the evening I spent and the events thereafter!

No doubt, Handbook of Biology had released already by that time (on 5th August 2011) and students really appreciated it, still Biology @ Your Fingertips was the litmus test ..After all , Biology @ Your  Fingertips was the original creation and  Handbook of Biology, its concise version. The time, hard work and and energy, I invested in writing this book had taken a huge toll not just on my studies, but my life as personality, behaviour, health and outlook!

The idea of writing a book!

Story writing had always been my hobby and I was highly inspired by Chetan Bhagat, the man who changed the way India reads.  During those early days of first year ( 2008), I thought of a story about 5 friends…their dreams and passions..and the complexities in their they screw their relationships in their attempt to pursue their dreams!! Soon I began writing the novel, but within 2-3 days I realized it’s not my cup of tea. My English was extremely pathetic and although I dropped the idea of writing a novel, the idea of writing a book kept banging my mind.

Few days later, I got a call from a student studying at Allen ..(he was among many students who used to call me to take my advice). I advised him what to study in biology, how to study and all…at the end of conversation, he advised me… “Sir aapko itna kuchh pata hai, aap book kyo nahi likh lete”! I still remember, It was my physiology mid semester exam the very next day..and the whole night and even during the exam, I kept thinking about the idea…what will be my purpose of writing this book??..Exclusive features?? How I m going to promote it?? How will I find a publisher interested in publishing my work…These questions gave me a dozen of sleepless nights and by every passing day my resolution got stronger and stronger.

But I was still sceptical about finding a publisher. So, even before I started writing the book, I sent a “ tadakta fadakta” mail to MTG publications just to confirm if these ppl will publish my work. I was amazed to get a positive response from Anil Ahlavat of MTG and he asked me to drop in his office with the manuscript.

Those unsuccessful attempts of writing the book!

In my Diwali Holidays ( 2008) , I started the process of writing the manuscript with my dear friend Ashish Gupta. But we could hardly complete a unit and decided to continue the process in winter holidays. During winter holidays also, we couldn’t complete more than 2 units. . I even shared this idea with my friends in college, but no one took me seriously! This was the time I realised I wasn’t enough mature for this task…And I was alone!! I knew it demanded extreme hard work and a stable mind but I was still flying high in the sky after the entrance results. I needed a break!!

 So, I dropped the idea and just gave up! “It’s not my cup of tea…All the big authors have years of teaching experience. I studied biology in 11th and 12th. I am not even a graduate. How can I even think of writing a book??” I told myself!

2 Year long drought and I finally did it!

“Failure is the first step towards success”, whoever said, holds true!

A lot happened in those 2 years. Time passed so swiftly that I didn’t had the time to recall that I once thought of writing a book! Apart from regular college fun, I started giving Biology Home Tuitions! Yeah!! It wasn’t just a cool source of pocket money but gave me enough confidence to seriously think about the idea of writing the book again. And I believe that I won’t have written this book if I had not taught biology. Well there was another major development…Entry of a very special person, without whom I could not have written the book, who was not just the driving force and source of motivation, but the editor and co-author of this book  too.

Writing the book!

Soon after I gave my 2nd professional MBBS exams, I went home ( December 2010) with a motive to complete this task by the end of holidays anyhow. Such was the magnitude of passion and fire within me, that no obstacle in the path could stop me from doing what I wanted to. I had lost my past papers and objective biology books. I had even lost my mnemonics collection. But still, managed some how….Borrowed some books, bought a few and started the work. Made fresh mnemonics and tricks…Reformed my notes which I made during the entrances..I used to sit 15-18 hours a day for 20 days continuously… Friends and relatives used to come and one had any idea what was going on! Even a minute of distraction made me frustrated. Even sometimes I just look back and wonder, “How I did it!”

Finding the Publisher!

After coming back to Delhi ( January 2011), Next task was to find a publisher. Started sending mails to endless numbers of publishers. The name of the book “ Biology at your Fingertips” just came into our mind as we were sending mails to the publishers. After 2-3 days of disappointment, finally got a call from Galgotias and we went for our first “ Corporate meeting”. It was successful and the old lady was highly impressed by the idea. The contract was signed on 26th Jan 2011 and I received my first installment of the royalty.

 The Euphoria

I was very happy. Everything was just going fine. Wrote the book and got publisher’s approval within a month of starting of work.  I thought it’s over…I m soon going to be an author…My dream is going to be fulfilled…I was on top of the world!

I started working on the cover page of the book with my friend Hemant Kumar. It was just a one day affair for this guy. Even the people at Galgotia Publications were surprised to know that the cover designer was my batch mate. Side by side the promotional work was on full swing. I was simultaneously working on my website 

Meanwhile, I realized that the road ahead is not so smooth!

The dream I had seen long back, in months to come, became a night mare, scary enough to frighten the hell out of me. I wasn’t aware that the idea of writing a book is a Pandora box in itself!!

Mission Impossible 1: Editing the printed draft of my handwritten manuscript

The typesetting of the manuscript began soon and the publishers sent me the first draft of the book which dropped like a Hiroshima atom bomb. I felt devastated..It was a cruel and brutal assault on my creation…a mockery of my hard work. It took months to correct the mistakes those idiots made while typing the manuscript. The height of the stupidity was that even after correcting the typed manuscripts, they used to make the same mistakes. I wrote the entire manuscript in less than a month but it took more than a year to correct it.

It was not at all, one man’s job. It required an army of ignited and dedicated minds to clean up the mess those idiots had made. I am really thankful to all my friends and juniors who helped me in this tiring, boring and frustrating job. Without them, it could not have been possible.

Mission Impossible 2: Getting the book printed on time

The typesetting of the manuscript, as I said wasn’t going smoothly. On repeated requests, threats and abuses, the publishers finally agreed to give the assignment of typesetting to a trained professional.  As by that time the manuscript of handbook of biology was also ready, we decided to go with handbook of biology first. But after the release of handbook of biology in August 2010, the task was further delayed for months adding up more to my unending frustration and anger.

The work started again in December and by February  2012 we completed the editing work. The complete task of writing, editing, cover designing and promotion was on my shoulders. But still, I was not alone. My team of dedicated editors ( My juniors and batch mates) helped me in doing the task ASAP cause the exams were round the corner and there were repeated enquiries about the release of the book before its release. The whole manuscript was revised and edited more than 15 times before sending it for printing.

Finally the day arrived and the book was released on 5th March, 2012. The book had strike the chord with the students and most of the reviews were over-whelming. But the happiness and euphoria of book’s success soon subsided.

Mission Impossible 3: Royalty payment

I was supposed to get my Royalty Payment by first week of April, after the end of financial year. But still, I am waiting for that day to arrive.

Mission Impossible 4: Re printing of the Book (out of stock for months in spite of heavy demand )

Isn’t it the height of stupidity that even after a good response,  publishers have no interest in printing more copies after the initial stock ended.

Side effects of writing the book

“Success Comes with a Price”. But the price I had to pay for it…I couldn’t afford to!  With every passing day my anger and frustration kept increasing. I wasn’t able to challenge the bar I had set for myself. I had no idea that the story on which I was going to write the novel , will hold true on me! I was over ambitious, selfish and mean! I did every possible thing within human limits to get the things done the way I wanted ..but at the end of the day, I realized I was just a human!

In the course of one year, I became a monster in my attempt to pursue my dreams! With every passing day, I kept raising my bar of success..more dreams, more ideas, more hard work…but somehow the results were not coming. With the failure, came more unhappiness, more frustration and desire to work more. I was stuck in this never ending cycle of despair and by the time i realized the mess I was in, it was too late! And the person I hoped would get me out of it, had already left me. My life was a shit hole. The sermons on controlling anger and frustration seemed to me easier said than done. I had realized that my books and my website were the reason behind the turmoil in my life. And I began to hate them! After the release, I  didn’t even opened my book once in a blue moon…I was scared  to do it. I stopped posting articles and solvin doubts on my website. Never ever in my life I gave a dam what others think about me. But this time, for months I carried the burden of being tagged as a “ Looser” by an idiot..

Rejuvenation, Reincarnation and the battle against my own conscience

It was a phase that taught me a lot about life and changed my perception to see the things around. The so called author was now in search of a “Gurumantra” to get his life back on track. And thankfully, I met people who tried to help me get out of it. If I lost one, many new friends came in life and many old ones too came back to me.

From a broken hearted, depressed, good for nothing looser, I soon became a YES MANAnd life since then, is rocking!

These days I am really enjoying the things around me. I now look life through my pair of coloured spectacles!  I believe “only those who have been through hell can realize how beautiful life is”.

Caught in the crossfire of my own mindset, old and new, its still tough for me to decide which road to take. But where ever I’ll go I know I’ll not be alone…I have my dreams, passions and ideas to accompany me in the journey..Then I also have my social network. I just hope it follows me wherever I go!

Guru Shishya Parampara Redefined!

Guys, I am taking retirement from PMT Gurumantra. I have grown old and my hairs have started turning grey. Whatever I knew, I have already told you and I guess there’s hardly anything left. You dont need to worry at all because we have extremely talented ppl like Krishan, Vaibhav, Saurabh and Anshika who be there for posting articles and replying to your queries. What could be the perfect example of Guru-Shishya Parampara..those who used to take my advice a year ago, are now guiding you!

Its hard for me to say good bye, but I have to! But I’ll keep making surprise visits and will try to write articles sometimes.

You can now follow me on my personal blog

About Rahul Chawla

PG Resident, Internal medicine (M.D.), Vardhman Mahavir Medical College and Safdarjang Hospital, New Delhi. Author of Handbook of Biology and Biology @ your fingertips Website: Personal Blog:
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