I thought writing my book was the end, but it was just the beginning

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Purpose is a thing you build, not a thing you find ~ John Coleman

In my recent op-ed for the Straits Times, I wrote about the value of work and the worth of an individual. In it, I recalled an interaction that happened over twenty years ago in California. When I took my baby daughter for her routine immunization to the well-bay clinic, I witnessed scenes of distress and bouts of crying from infants who had received their childhood vaccines.

“You make babies cry”, I told the nurse, half-joking, half-anxious as I held my squirming baby in my lap.

“I…


A midyear checkin reveals progress on four fronts

Covers of fiction books
Photo credit Ranjani Rao

The Goodbye 2021 Hello 2021 planner that I received as a gift early this year helped me plan for the year and also reminded me to stop after every quarter for a quick check-in.

I was surprised to see that I had made good progress on four fronts:

  • Reading
  • Writing
  • Listening
  • Learning

Traveling through books

In any given year, I read a lot of books. I also travel a fair bit. Last year, thanks to Covid-19, I was unable to move out of my tiny cocoon in Singapore. Yet, I could travel freely, through books.

The fabulous Public Libraries Singapore allowed me to…


From books to podcasts, trying out new ways to reach my audience

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In 2006, I was going through the most painful experience of my life in Hyderabad, India. I had walked out of my marriage of sixteen years and found myself practically homeless in a city that was not my own. My child was eight years old. Although I had a job, I had no other family locally and had never been on my own.

Books matter

Elizabeth Gilbert’s iconic memoir Eat Pray Love graced the shelves of many bookstores that year. The story of a childless, divorced American woman who traveled to Italy, India and Indonesia to find herself had become an unexpected…


Read, write, repeat [ curated stories for May/June ]

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“Writing comes from reading, and reading is the finest teacher of how to write”— Annie Proulx

Almost every famous author talks about how reading is the first step in becoming a writer. They remind amateur writers to read widely but also get intimately familiar with the genre that they are writing.

Memoirs are my favorite genre because I believe that sharing personal stories helps bridge gaps and make authentic connections with readers without the filter of fiction.

Since December 2020, I have been working hard at my memoir. Along with my daily writing practise, I also read a lot of…


Understanding the role of essential workers in a pandemic

pair of blue gloves
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When I meet people for the first time, I dread the inevitable question that surfaces sooner or later — what do you do? Most often, the question seems to be a non-obvious way of asking — who is your employer?

As a young woman, I considered it to be a grown-up version of the question “What do you want to be when you grow up” posed to children.

The question had terrified me as a child since I could not reply with a single inspiring, if impossible, one-word answer like “astronaut”.

And now, as a bona fide adult, I still…


A classic guide to writing and life

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For a writer, reading books for the pleasure of reading and reading books about writing are two different things.

The former is a way of slipping into words and worlds created by someone else, like a stroll through a museum filled with beautiful objects that generate admiration and respect while conveying a lesson or two about how to create a work of art.

The latter is akin to a textbook, a tool to improve craft whose objective is primarily to instruct.

Brenda Uelend’s If You Write: A Book About Art, Independence and Spirit


When in doubt trust that classic words still apply

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A year ago I was disappointed at not being able to celebrate my elder daughter’s graduation from college. It was a milestone that I had anticipated almost as eagerly as she had, and perhaps for much longer. She had done her part and just as she got close to the finish line, Covid-19 swooped in. Life changed in a blink.

Instead of hanging out with friends after the last exam, everyone was huddled in their homes not knowing when they would meet in person again. Instead of embarking on the long-awaited and meticulously planned grad trip, air tickets and AirBnB…


Memoir writers discuss the why, the what, and the how of writing a memoir

Photo Credit Ranjani Rao

After reading Elizabeth Gilbert’s bestseller Eat Pray Love, I began to seek out other memoirs, curious about the outer life and inner workings of the minds of regular people, which made for fascinating reads. Most of these stories brought home the true meaning of the adage, “truth is stranger than fiction”.

And when I decided to tell my own story, I wondered about the definition and origin of the word ‘memoir’.

I came across the following paragraph in prolific writer and teacher Dani Shapiro’s memoir “Hourglass: Time, Memory, Marriage”.

“In English, the term memoir comes directly from the French for…


Or how I radically reframed my life after reading Viktor E. Frankl’s bestselling memoir

Photo credit Ranjani Rao

There are books that are to be read and reviewed, and some that are to be read, mulled over, revisited multiple times, until you can get to some semblance of understanding.

Viktor E. Frankl’s bestselling book, Man’s Search for Meaning, falls in the latter category.

A memoir, a meditation, a motivational manifesto

Victor E. Frankl’s account of his years in Nazi concentration camps is a stunning and unselfconscious examination of what it means to be human in the most degrading circumstances. Not surprisingly, the book has sold millions of copies worldwide in multiple languages and reprints. …


Not much, if you are counting only your earnings

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Writing on Medium is like raising a baby

In the first few months after you bring your newborn home from the hospital, you are learning the ropes — sleep schedules, feed timings, how to change a diaper, how to burp a fed baby, how to calm a fussy infant — all the while trying to get a hold of your life as you knew it before you became a parent.

Just when you think you have things figured out, everything changes. Baby has teething troubles, baby becomes a crawling hazard who needs careful supervision, then a toddler determined to turn…

Ranjani Rao

I write insightful personal stories about my scientist, immigrant, travel life. 4 books http://bit.ly/RanjaniRao. Share memoir journey -www.ranjanirao.com

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