Scattered notes, sporadic efforts and steely spine: The story in the making of a book
I first conceived an idea of writing a book in 2014. Write a book? On what topic and what contribution would it make in the academia as well as in the everyday life of a society? My own stories – struggles, successes, and failures. Did the pride of getting through Bhutan Civil Service Examination (BCSE) creep in me? Or, was I elated that in Bhutan under the reigns of visionary Monarchs, even a child born in the world of spades and scythes can make among the top few? And, therefore such stories can inspire many. Fear of my ideal being classified as ill-conceived and doubt over whether it will have a real-term contribution or not compelled me to drop the idea.
A year later in December 2015, I was invited to share with some Royal University of Bhutan (RUB) collegians my experiences of youth engagement. Feelings of relevance, worth and confidence grew in me. But, I have my professional commitment to attend to. How do I reach my ideas and experiences to the general public, particularly to the younger generation? The idea of a book arose, for the second time. This time on youth civic engagement.
My horizon of thinking has broadened by an inch or so. My so-called imagined book will cover my experiences with worldwide as well as Bhutanese concepts connecting my experiences to the everyday affairs of a society (which I get tempted to call it a polity).
I began to take concrete steps in reading articles and reports, and taking notes from August 2016. By then, I had already decided on the list of my experiences I would cover in my book, if it so happens to materialize. 2016 came and went. Few notes I took were scattered here and there – in different notebooks. My experiences in the form of activities I coordinated and took part were left unattended in my long deserted drive.
Then came 2017. I took stock of my progress and set the deadline. I found my efforts unacceptably sporadic. I imposed myself with a stricter timetable. Weekend and extended holidays were booked for compiling notes. I had made significant progress and the overall framework of the book had already been decided by February 2017. However, it was not comprehensive – my gut feeling said so. I definitely did not want to write and publish a book for the sake of doing it – my efforts should have value to myself and the society. Worst, it should confirm and convey the message that efforts such as mine are worthless and those with the same thinking as mine should not pursue one.
Despite the progress, uncertainty over who would fund my publication slackened my drive. Sharing my ideas with friends and colleagues gave me much needed strength. The willingness and assurance on the part of Sherubtse College in October 2017 to fund the publication of my book reinvigorated my energy by manifold. And I felt more obligated to live up to the expectation they have set – the book to be launched on 21 February 2018.
Autumn has given way to winter. The winter nights in Bhutan (Northern Hemisphere) tend to be generally long. However, having to run the last stretch of my debut race, nights were unusually short for me. Nonetheless, the steely spine of my skeletal figure kept me on time to complete my debut race, successfully. Hope, my completion of race inspire many that if concerted efforts are put, things are doable and possible.
Other than the introduction to the topic, I have deliberately kept the content of my debut book in suspense. It will be unfair on my part not to share part of it with you. Therefore, I am sharing with you an excerpt from the preface of my forthcoming book,
“…Using my own experiences as a foundation, I have studied different aspects of youth civic engagement. Part one of this study is on key concepts. Here I discuss the different contexts in which youth live as well as the relevant legal frameworks and models of participation. Part two considers the role of family, school, community, and media in the socialisation of youth. Part three brings together my reflections, existing ground realities, and recommendations. Part four delves into the benefits of youth civic engagement at the individual, community and national level. This book, narrated through the lens of my personal experience, is an effort to consolidate a body of knowledge on youth civic engagement identifying tools and indicators contextualising them, while keeping in mind the position of Bhutanese youth…This book is an expression of my hopes that the appropriate interventions into the lives of young citizens through civic engagement would help in nurturing an awakened citizenry – young people who are responsible politically and culturally conscious citizens of Bhutan.”
My book is also my story! Foucault proclaimed, “I don’t write a book so that it will be the final word; I write a book so that other books are possible, not necessarily written by me.” You too can share your story with us…