Turning a passion into a career is what most (if not every) young professional strives for. The pursuit to make this happen is often a long and tiresome journey filled with many trials and tribulations. Rachna Vohra, 26, Writer, Editor, Entrepreneur and Forward-Thinker, didn’t want to wait that long for her career-happily-ever-after so she decided to take on the business and publishing world head on. By day Rachna is a Technical Writer. By evening she is a published Author. By night she is an Entrepreneur and Visionary constantly thinking of her next business idea or book series. How does she do it? We had to find out. Learn more about this young 24/7 Writerpreneur as we feature this rising star in this week’s Young & Professional Profile.
Writer, Editor and Entrepreneur
Brossard (Montreal), Quebec, Canada
Brossard (Montreal), Quebec, Canada
McGill University, Management Information Systems (2002)
IT Content and Training Specialist
(2006 – Current)
Associate Technical Writer
(2005 – 2006)
(2002 – 2004)
About your career
Well, my “day job” is technical writing and training for a retail clothing company. But my real interest has always been in running my own business. I started up my company, S’Apostrophe, because I spent my whole life editing papers and writing content for people and I realized this is a real opportunity to do all the work I’d already been doing, but in a business setting. The company offers writing, editing, translation, and design services, among others, for businesses and individuals.
My passion, however, is writing, so the time I don’t spend at work or running my business, I spend writing poems, short stories, and books. I’ve been writing since elementary school and only in the last few years have begun focusing more of my time on my writing career. It’s a lot of fun because everything around me is inspiration for my next story, especially children, so I am constantly overflowing with ideas.
What are your day-to-day responsibilities?
Well, in my day job, I am a technical writer and trainer, so the better chunk of my day is spent writing technical documentation and training people on how to use various softwares. The job is very flexible, so I have the freedom to run my business at the same time. I spend a good portion of my day corresponding with potential and existing clients, and securing and managing projects for S’Apostrophe.
Another portion of my day is spent either working on editing and writing projects for my clients, or coming up with new story ideas and writing my own books. If I’m not doing any of those tasks, I am engaged in the marketing and advertising responsibilities for my company and my books.
Most notable milestones
I have quite a few milestones under my belt of which I am quite proud, but I think the most notable one for my company was the day I officially registered my company’s name in the government database. It was such a big step that was a long time coming. I felt so relieved to finally be able to start on my dream. The first time a random company contacted me after having found my ad through one of my marketing efforts was also quite exciting. It’s a great feeling when your company begins to grow after all your hard work and efforts.
In terms of my writing, my most satisfying moment was self-publishing my first book, The Distance Within, and getting the first printed copy of it in my hand. This was especially rewarding after having faced so many obstacles along the way. It felt like I had achieved a huge goal in my life and it was so satisfying to see my hard work coming to fruition.
Finalizing my second book, The Acorn and the Caterpillar, was also very meaningful because I dedicated the first edition to a dear friend who passed away. Just seeing the overwhelming reactions from his family and friends was one of the most memorable moments in my life.
Another milestone was my recent acceptance as a panelist in the Kriti Writer’s Festival in Chicago. The experience of being recognized with other South Asian authors for the first time and sharing my experiences with up and coming writers is thrilling.
What’s the niche?
I believe every author has their own unique way of looking at the world and putting words together to describe it, so I suppose I have many niches when it comes to writing. Though I write in many different forms, and about many different topics, I’m beginning to focus a lot on stories for South Asian children, because I see our culture being lost.
What’s the biggest challenge?
When it comes to starting your own business, I think the biggest challenge is getting your name out there and getting exposure. Promotion is the hardest part! It’s hard to get people to find out about you and your work, and then even harder to get them to trust you enough to give you a project! In terms of my business, I find it challenging to find clients and projects to undertake on a regular basis.
With respect to my writing, I also find it difficult to get my name known as an author. If your books are not published by known publishers (yet!), if they’re not in bookstores (yet!), and you haven’t won any awards (yet!), then you’re just another person who writes for your family and friends! The process of getting exposure and creating a buzz around your name and your works is actually a full-time job, and one that is quite exhausting!
What’s in store for the future?
In the near future, S’Apostrophe will be a self-sustaining venture, the company will be overflowing with projects, and I won’t be working a full-time day job!
But I am most excited about the future of my writing career. Many books are forthcoming! I’ve already started on the spiritual series of fables for adults, as well as on the cultural series for South Asian children; and an adventure series for all children is also in the works. What’s in store for the future? Maybe I’ll be the next Maya Angelou (oh – don’t I wish!).
What advice would you give to others who want to pursue more than one career simultaneously?
I would say you better start honing your organization and time-management skills – and quick! I work all day and then come home to work all evening. It’s not easy, and you have to be prepared to lose a bit of your social life while you’re starting up. But it’s important to find a balance between your work and personal life, because it’s essential to find some time to relax as well.
If you manage your time well, knowing when to put yourself into full gear and when to take it easy and have fun, you’ll be fine. And be sure to focus – one task at a time. You won’t do anything well if you’re trying to do everything at once.
Best way to keep a competitive edge
Be real. People respond to real. People want to work with someone they think they can talk business and pleasure with. Business is about creating relationships that will last. Don’t toot your own horn like you’re the only train on the track, because you’re not! Toot away, but be humble about it. And make sure you always give more than you take. Trust me, you’ll get so much more back in the long run.
Guiding principles in life
Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.
Be the change you want to see in the world. -Mahatma Gandhi
Some days, you’re the bug, and some days, you’re the windshield. -Unknown
Yardstick of success
To touch one person with my stories, give solace to one person with my words, make one child laugh with my imagination, and find one person’s lost smile. Every day.
Goal yet to be achieved
Winning the Nobel Prize in literature!
Best practical advice
Be real. Be yourself. The rest will follow.
If you don’t ask, you don’t get. The worst someone can say is no. But think – the best they can say is yes. Ask.
I have been so privileged to have insane amounts of support from every single person who knows me or has ever met me. Even people who don’t know me have shown me support in their own ways! I have heard so many words of encouragement from all my friends and family, but one of the most memorable was when my father said to me, “Your words are like Krishna talking to Arjuna on the battlefield in the Mahabharata.” He just likened my work to the Bhagavad Gita! Now that’s what you call support!
Two of the people I look up to most are my mom and dad. They came to Canada from small villages in India, each with $4 in their pocket, and managed to build a whole world for our family, with so little. They raised three (pretty awesome) girls, teaching us so much, and making us the strong, sensitive, and successful people we are today.
I respect their opinion, seek their advice, and look up to them as the inspirational role models they have always been. I have never had to ask them for support, because I have never been without it – they are my biggest cheerleaders! They are constantly teaching me and learning from me. And even though I’m 26, they never hesitate to scold me if they think I need it! If I could be half the person that either of them are, I would be someone just wonderful.
What motivated you to get started?
Well I didn’t need any motivation to start writing; I have been writing poetry and prose since elementary school, and have always loved using the pen and paper as an outlet. I was motivated to start my business because I suffered through a slew of boring jobs and finally realized I love to write and I love to edit, and most of all, I love to have the flexibility of working for myself, so I should go out on my own and just do it!
Like best about what you do?
Touching someone with my words. Only having to ask myself for vacation time!
Like least about what you do?
I look at everything as an opportunity for growth, so I don’t dislike anything I do. It’s hard to promote and get exposure, but I still like the challenge.
At age 10, what did you want to be when you grew up?
An accountant and a psychologist. An accountant because my eldest sister was one, and a psychologist because my other elder sister studied psychology.
What was your first job?
The first job I ever had was working for the Bharat Bhavan Foundation, a South Asian community center in Montreal. My main task was to organize and coordinate lunches for seniors, so I would call all the seniors on my list every week and ask them to join us for lunch. I spent most of my time there talking on the phone with them – pretty cool first job!
Biggest pastime outside of work
I’m never actually “outside of work”, but my biggest pastime is writing, and second biggest is taking photographs.
Person most interested in meeting
Oprah. Do you know what kind of reach that woman has?!!!
Leader in business most interested in meeting
Oprah. Do you know how much money that woman makes?!!!
Three interesting facts about yourself
1. I spent a year volunteering at an NGO in India
2. I love the silence, I can sit in it forever
3. I haven’t had an appendix since I was 11 years old
Three characteristics that describe you
Three greatest passions
Anything by Kahlil Gibran.
The Little Prince.
Jonathan Livingston Seagull.
Mister God, this is Anna.
Hearts that we broke long ago.
Robert Fulghum books.
I really could go on forever, I love to read.
No favorites. I love and support any cause that brings a smile to someone’s face, educates, or helps people survive and thrive.
Who would you like to be contacted by?
I would love to be contacted by publishers of books or other media (magazines, e-zines), distributors, or other artists and writers who want to collaborate on different artistic endeavors. Of course, people who are interested in giving me exposure for my writing and my business, or people who want to read my books are always welcome!
S’Apostrophe can assist businesses and individuals requiring any content – writing, editing, translation and design-related services. Often, a website is the first thing a potential client sees, and I’ve worked with entrepreneurs and businesses in a variety of fields, helping them improve their content and presentation. I’ve also worked with new and established writers, students, and so many other people requiring editing services for their personal needs.
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