Sharmishtha Basu@ Agnishatdal: Tell us something about yourself Brieuc.
Brieuc Martin Onraet: A Frenchman born in Pakistan, raised in Africa, educated in the US, I now live in Mexico. I am a true cultural mongrel. I guess that is in part reflected in my blog Equinoxio: https://wordpress.com/stats/month/equinoxio21.wordpress.com
Sharmishtha Basu@ Agnishatdal: Well, we became friends after I started reading your fantastic fantasy about angels and men, a laboratory and other amazing things, what happened to that novel?
Brieuc Martin Onraet: The novel is still there. Waiting for an agent or publisher to do something about it. I have written a few other novels and short stories since. Maybe I will set 2017 as the year for a – renewed – quest to publish. 🙂
Sharmishtha Basu@ Agnishatdal: From where do you get those mind-blowing pix you post on your blog, do you travel a lot? For work or fun?
Brieuc Martin Onraet: I am a wanderer by birth: my family had been established in India since the 18th century. Mostly in Chandernagor, Bénarés, Jowrah, Gwalior. My sister and I were the last to be born in India (on the Pakistani side). Then we lived in many countries because of my father’s work (he was an airline man). By the time I was 20, I had already lived or stayed in fifteen countries. I now live in Mexico and still travel as much as I can. Hence the photos. And the fact that I can now carry my camera/smartphone in my backpocket. Makes it very easy to to take a reasonably good quality picture.
Sharmishtha basu@ Agnishatdal: Will you tell us a little about your blog? Are its contents reflections of your journey on planet earth or you have some future plans for it and are working on it?
Brieuc Martin Onraet: Originally I intended my blog to be a vehicle fro my writing. So I published a story here, and photographs there. Then I realized that Pictures get more audience than text. Such is life. So I started focusing more on photographs. And looking closely at my stats, I came up with the “Pot-Pourri” concept: ten or fifteen photographs spread across countries, topics and times. I like the diversity, you can jump from Calcutta in 1950 to San Francisco in 2016 and to Egypt in the 30’s. I think it obliges the reader to focus more on the diversity of topics. Rather than skim through. I still like to post the occasional story. I would say that one needs to renew oneself on every post to keep a blog alive. Otherwise, if you are too specialized, it becomes “too much of the same old, same old”. But then many blogs have much more following than mine. By close examination, I would say their two secrets are: 1) Diversity. Always surprise your reader with something new. 2) Frequency: The key to traffic is daily posting. Unfortunately I can’t do that. Not enough time. 🙂
Sharmishtha Basu@ Agnishatdal: Do you have any plans of publishing your works or have you already done that?
Brieuc Martin Onraet: A few years ago, I sent dozens of query letters to Literary agents in New York. For which I got dozens of standard rejection letters, or silence. It seems to me the publishing industry is dying, and their main players haven’t got a clue to what they should do. Not unusual in a dying industry. Insiders in the model cannot observe well, and the solution has to come from elsewhere, outside. Now Amazon? I do not think it is the solution because Amazon does not “distribute” or “give diffusion” to your books. As the bookshops did. Amazon just puts it up there with millions other self-published books. If you’re lucky you will sell a 100. To family and friends. For the rest? I think you get lost in the noise. I don’t know what the solution is. I don’t think Goodreads is a solution. I think someone has to invent the “E-Bookshop” of the future. A virtual bookshop where you can browse and find the book that will appeal to you. And of course make a living as an E-Bookshop, a distributor, a retailer of Amazon for instance. But Amazon will not allow it. So if anyone has an idea… Most welcome.
Sharmishtha Basu@ Agnishatdal: Do you have something to suggest us the lousy photographers and wannabe successful authors?
Brieuc Martin Onraet: Haha! Lousy? I am not a “pro” photographer. I know a few rules. That’s all. But I would just suggest this. Buy yourself a smartphone. The optics are fairly good and the resulting camera is easy to carry. Use it as an extension of your eye. Walk around with your nose up in the air. (Careful for dog poop or holes in the pavement as sometimes happens in many countries) And just watch. Something catches your eye? Take your phone out and snap. Just be wary of light. Photographing with the sun in front of you is a no-no. Don’t cut feet. Think how people will “read your picture. From right to left in most cultures. Frame accordingly. Then edit your photos. Frame them. Cut out irrelevant details. Most computers now have easy tools for that. And since the phones have huge memories you are not limited like in the old days (36 pictures a roll) Take several shots. Then later, on your computer, dump what is not good to your eye. Remember: the eye is the key. Not the equipment or the technique. Now about wannabe successful authors… I’m not published so I would not consider myself successful. As a writer… to each his or her style, but I would say this: a story comes to your mind. You don’t invent it. It’s there, in the air, and you just have to listen to it. Only when the story is complete in your mind should you start writing: an opening sentence (that is key: you must entice the reader to come into the story) strong characters, a different story (most writers always write the same books; I try to tell a different story every time), and last but not least an unexpected ending. Work on your ending, it’s more than half the story.
Sharmishtha Basu@ Agnishatdal: Any suggestion for Agnishatdal?
Brieuc Martin Onraet: We have talked about it. I think you need to make easy for the reader to access the issues of the magazine. If they have to ask you for a copy, 9 out of 10 won’t do it. Make the issues available on the site by just a click. It probably is not too difficult to do computer-wise.
Sharmishtha Basu@Indie Adda: Do you have anything to say, suggest Indie Authors as a photographer and writer of amazing excellence?
Brieuc Martin Onraet: Flattery will get you nowhere. 🙂 More seriously, I am as lost as the publishing industry as to what can be done. What needs to be done. We are in a situation similar to what the indigo planters in India experienced when the German chemical industry started to develop the chemical dyes at the end of the 19th, beginning of the 20th century. Eventually the Indigo planters – and their workers – passed away. And we are stuck with chemical dyes. Is it good or bad I don’t know. What I do know is that there is a lot of talent the world over, that is not finding an outlet. WordPress has millions of bloggers, many of whom very talented, but again, not getting the diffusion or distribution they desserve. And each of our blogs is lost in the raging noise of millions other blogs. Someone will find a solution. Hopefully. In the meantime, here is a quote from Jorge-Luis Borges, a fascinating author from Argentina who once wrote: “I write not for a small elite I care not for, nor for this Platonic and venerated entity some call the masses… I write for myself, for my friends, and to sweeten the passing of time.”
Thank you Sharmishtha for the extraordinary work you are doing. And maybe all together we will find the new path to publishing in the 21st century. 🙂
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