The Book That Inspired Me To Write: We Were Liars

All writers have that one book that moves them to the point where they find themselves prompted to write like the author. It may not be their favourite book, it may be flawed, or even a failure, yet there is something within its covers that connects with us and provides that latent writer within us the spark of life. For me, that book was We Were Liars by E. Lockhart/ Emily Jenkins.

Ever since this book was published, it had garnered rave reviews both from readers as well as critics. I’d been wanting to read it for some time but always got put off by its YA tag. I used to think – YA is for kids. I’ll invest my time in a ‘deeper’ book.

This book not only changed my perception about YA but also proved to me that even teenager mysteries can be deeply moving when they’re handled cleverly. So when in the summer of 2016 I injured my knee badly enough that I had to spend most of my day horizontally, I finally picked it up. And I didn’t put it down till I had finished it… within a day. I’ve only done that with one other book – Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code, and Liars far surpassed the other, more technical story.  Continue reading “The Book That Inspired Me To Write: We Were Liars”

Retail Therapy

Bling me up
Coz I can’t think straight.
Lace me up
In Victoria’s secrets.

Those flounces of silk
Beckon; I seek refuge
In those folds near-divine.
I dole out the paper
In return for the glam and shine.

There’s a truckload of gunk
On my wrinkly facade.
It costs a planet,
But the selfies turn out
A class apart.

I care not for recycling
And global peace.
These words are for
Misguided philanthropists
And tree hugging peeps.

Even with a million followers
It still feels empty.
So what if I
Banish that loneliness
With some retail therapy?

I need this plastic
To keep me from falling apart.
So ring up those Guccis and Manolos
Let me have it
All, all, all!

people-2557483_640

 

Image Source: Stock Snap and Gonghuimin468 at Pixabay.

Why Research Is Important For A Fiction Writer

So you have the title, the plot,  the names of the characters and you’re furiously writing down that one story that you always wanted to write – the murder mystery in the Alps… but wait, you don’t even know what the Alps look like!

Bummer!

You research through the ubiquitous-online-hoard-of-information – Google – about the beautiful mountain range that has inspired poetry, prose and art for so many years, and then realise that there’s quite a lot you don’t know about the Alps, except that they’re in Europe. Then you come to realise that you will need to decide a place where the murder takes place (like a city or a town or a hovel), you need a map that shows you the major roads and the most important landmarks in that city/town/hovel (because you’d like readers to feel like they are in the Alps), you need to know the language, the culture, the customs…. oh, there’s so much you need to know to make that story credible. To top it all, you’re from halfway across the globe and have never seen snow in your entire life!

What do you do now? Stop writing the story?

Continue reading “Why Research Is Important For A Fiction Writer”

WHAT IF WE LOST WRITING?

Picture this –

You wake up one morning. Go out to get the newspaper. Only there is none.

‘Maybe it’s a national holiday or some sort of newspaper strike.’

You march back in and pick up your phone to check if there was a holiday you missed. Only the phone won’t work. It’s powered on, you’ve double checked. It’s been plugged in to charge since last night on your bedside table, so it couldn’t have been low on charge. But yep, it won’t start.

You rush to your desktop/laptop to see if you can google out why your phone won’t work, and WTF! It won’t work either.

You check the TV. Nada. Your Kindle. Nothing. In desperation for a connection to the outside world you try your old phones….nothing! No electronics work.

And then you look outside and find your clueless neighbours venturing out of their homes, looking just as befuddled as you. You head out as well and you talk to them, ‘Is it a power outage?’

‘Doesn’t look like it. Everything mechanical is working, like clocks’.

A neighbour shrieks. It’s the bookworm from the corner house. ‘There’s no writing in my coursebook!’

‘What?!’ You exclaim.

Another terrified neighbour confirms, ‘Yes, there’s no text ANYWHERE. Not in books, not in notebooks, scratch pads. Even my post-it notes are all blank!’

What the heck? No writing anywhere?! You try scribbling something with a neighbour’s pen, and it is erased almost immediately as if an invisible eraser erased it all off. And while you’re worrying over vanishing hand-writing, a police constable huffs down your road on a bicycle and declares in a raspy voice, ‘Citizens, do not panic! The city has lost its writings. Everything right from text, books and even computer codes and history books have been wiped clean. But do not panic. Your government and police are working to resolve the issue. Stay at home and stay calm’.

Only, the problem isn’t confined to only your city. It’s a global phenomenon – the loss of writing. Everything right from ancient scrolls, vedas, holy scriptures to the works of literary masters and the most intricate of computer codes have been wiped out. The world has lost its ability to write.

WHAT WILL YOU DO?

Continue reading “WHAT IF WE LOST WRITING?”

Rendezvous

I’m sitting, draped in my mother’s georgette sari, hands folded demurely in my lap, gaze trained down at my feet like I was told to do. I’m hyper-conscious of everything right now. Who moves, who stares, what they say. I suppose he must feel the same way. This ladki-dekhna (meeting the girl’s family) business gives the jitters to everyone. To the prospective bride and groom the most.

The elders around us are mischievously laughing at their own lame jokes. It’s tedious sitting here this way, unnaturally still and acting unlike myself. But I have to because I’ve been warned of dire circumstances (read suspending my internet account, which by all means for me, is as good as a death sentence).

‘I think the boy and girl should have a moment so they can talk, you know’, Buaji winks at my mother, who in turn responds with a devious smile. These Indian matriarchs and their matchmaking skills! They must know witchcraft, I’m sure.

Suddenly the 10+ people in the room are nowhere to be seen. Oh, I know they must be hiding behind curtains and doors, their curious ears pressed against the wall for juicy tidbits from our conversation.  But alas, the boy was born without a funny bone it seems. He talks of such mundane things – things I do, my work, my favourite songs, what I expect from marriage, from him, would I still work if we got married (of course, numbskull).

I decide I don’t like him enough to be tethered to him for the rest of my life. So I bowl a googly at him, ‘Do you enjoy replying to spam email?’ Then without waiting for his reply, ‘I do. The conversations you could have are rather interesting.’

‘Huh?!’ he responds, his lower jaw swings open like an unhinged door.

‘I asked do you enjoy replying to spam? I’ve had a lot of masaledar encounters thanks to spam,’ I titter.

He breaks into a nervous sweat as he sneaks a look at the door. I know his brain can’t decided between signalling ‘mayday’ and ‘abort’.

I decide I’ll be merciful. I whisper, ‘Spam is a good way to find… er… viable partners. But I’m sure a smart guy like you knew that already. Do you know about Rendezvous?’ I wink at him. Rendezvous is just another one of those shady social networking sites I get a lot of spam from for ‘guys interested in being friends with me’, y’know. That’s the first social networking site I could think of. So…

He blurts out, ‘Please don’t tell them about my account there!’

It was my turn to be surprised. ‘Oh!’ is all I can manage to say. But, ohhhhhhh, this sounds good!

I bait him. ‘Well, of course, I won’t, but you have to promise to tell your folks to forget about sweet, little moi. Do we have a deal?’ My eyebrows are waggling up and down in excitement. He’s torn between bolting and breaking down in his seat, bawling for his mommy.

‘Ok. I’ll do it. But please,’ that please never sounded so pleasant, ‘Don’t tell anyone!’ He’s positively grovelling now.

‘Oh don’t you be worried. My lips are sealed’. I’m smiling wide like the Cheshire cat.

He’s out of the door in a heartbeat and mumbling furtively to his parents. They leave shortly, leaving my parents dazed. I pity them for a while. The boy was the result of a months-long, zealous search for their over-educated and over-aged daughter.

‘What is it with young men and women these days?’ My mother’s incredulity is palpable. ‘Do they think matchmaking is Chemistry? That they’ll find the exact quantities of a characteristic they want in their match? Oh, I need maybe an ounce more of humility, and could you take a molecule of intelligence out? ‘ She teased in a shrill, irritated voice.

She threw down her dupatta forcefully like it were her hopes. ‘Well, guess why he rejected you? ‘Too good at technology’ he says. Some software engineer he is! Huh!’

For the first and last time, mother, I agree with him.


In response to the Daily Prompt Word: Viable.

Image Source: Rawpixel at Pixabay.

My Blogging Mistakes And What I Learnt From Them

Ack!

Only thirty views and four likes?!

Sound familiar, rookie blogger?

This was me and my first post. I was devastated. I kept staring at the screen, mouth agape, oscillating between chucking my laptop out of the window and giving up on blogging altogether or writing another blog post.

But what do you write when your first post gets such abysmal response?

We are discussing the three pieces of advice for newbie bloggers this week on The Perfectly Imperfect Bunch Blog.  My fellow bloggers Grabbety and Smita have already given you sound advice on the topic and I don’t know what else to add. I too have always maintained that when it comes to blogging, especially as a newcomer, you must adhere to the Three C’s (as I call them) – Content, Consistency and Contacts. And really, these three are the basis of good blogging at all times in your blogging career.

But since I am expected to bring something new to the table, I’ll instead give you my three biggest mistakes as a rookie blogger and you can glean from that what you ought not to do. They may not apply to you; you may have other problems or maybe a pro at blogging already, but these, along with the Three C’s formed my biggest blogging lessons. Even after a year of blogging I still have a lot of issues with my blogging, but I stick by these rules.

So here they are –

1. Never leave your ‘First Blog Post’ a blank page – 

When I formed my blog through WordPress I had no idea that it would be such an exhausting exercise. There were themes to choose, introductions to write, menus to decide, pictures to upload…oh my god, that one and a half day was crazy! By the end of it, I was so exhausted and fed up that I didn’t want to write my first post. The result was that for a long, long, long time the day my blog went live,  was the day it received the highest number of views, but since I had not bothered to post my first actual blog post till a couple of days later, NO ONE RETURNED when I actually posted my first blog post, except the four I mentioned above. Obviously, why will readers return to an empty blog which only has an ‘About Me’ page in terms of writing, and a few other half-formed menus that lead them to nothing?

Remember when you form your blog, there is a page that is very helpfully titled ‘First Blog Post’? Or have you ever visited another WP blog and scrolled down to their very first post and you find a blank page reading – ‘This is your very first blog post’ or ‘This is a post excerpt’? My point is, either you should have your first post drafted already before your blog goes live, and publish it around the same time when the blog goes live, or you delete that ‘First Blog Post’ from your pages, because it shows you haven’t worked out how WP works (which you haven’t yet, yes?). Do not let that page lay vacant for a long time. Of course, you should really work on your blog and figure out the kinks as soon as you can, but till you do that, let the readers have a reason to read something on your blog while you slowly start building up your blog, other than just offering them an ‘About Me’ page (no that doesn’t count as your first blog post).

2. Forgetting the promotion of your blog

It took me a long time to realise just how important promoting one’s blog was. Initially, I had only linked my blog to my FB profile, my Twitter account, my LinkedIn profile and a few other social networking sites, but I was not bothered about seriously promoting them there. If people came in through those sites, well and good. If they didn’t, I would compel myself to write another blog post. Somehow I was convinced that successful blogs publish more frequently. While that is true in one way, your content still tops that. If you have strong content people will drift in even if you only post once a week. But what really helps a blog grab more eyeballs is promoting it energetically (I still don’t do that). So go ahead and link up your blog to as many sites as you can; drop your link at appropriate places, and follow up on those sites. Create an FB page and regularly visit and update it, stay in touch with your readers and promote your blog even through word of mouth. It all helps! Just don’t be overzealous about it, which brings me to my third point.

3. Being desperate and Impatient

I remember when I had started the blog, I was practically glued to either my laptop or my phone, checking out comments and responding to them as soon as I received a notification. And if I hadn’t received them, I’d be worried sick about why I wasn’t receiving any likes or comments. I’m surprised I did not die because of multiple panic attacks at the sight of my dismal stats back then. Only after around a year did I learn to accept the fact that not every post is going to earn me a thumbs-up from readers. Conversely, there may be times when posting too much too many times in the day may affect my content quality, which never sits well with readers. NEVER.

I have also come across folks (well-meaning people) but very, very eager ones who hound other bloggers to visit, follow, like and comment on their posts, even if all they have on their blogs is one introductory post. And god forbid that you don’t, they will leave a comment proclaiming that ‘you did not visit’. Don’t be one of those people, please. If you find that someone does not visit your blog even when you request them to, leave it at that. Your silence and absence from their blogs will do them more harm than your comment, which shows you in a poor light instead.

Remember that blogging takes time and patience. One does not become a good blogger in a  matter of days or even weeks. So have some patience. Concentrate on your content, consistency and contacts and keep tinkering with your WP blog, improving on your theme. It’s a great platform and has some amazing options especially for beginners. Take the time to nurture your blog. I promise that time won’t be a waste.

All the very, very best!

 

 

 

When In No Mood to Write, Write!

We all are creatures of habit. We all have our set routines. Our morning tea or coffee, our workouts, our commute to work, etc. We feel safe and comfortable in these routines. But every once in a while, we need a break from routines. One fine morning you may decide, ‘I’ve had enough of tea. I’ll try something else’, and you rummage through your pantry/cupboards and out falls a derelict, unopened packet of jasmine tea, and you tell yourself, ‘this is what I’ll have today’. It isn’t particularly a wake-up potion like your tea or coffee is, but it’s a change from the routine, like vacations are, and that’s why you like it. Will you do this everyday? No, you won’t, but every once in a while? Why not?

Which brings me to our week’s topic – Writing when you don’t want to write. For most writers, professional or otherwise, writing is a habit. We write as often as we take our tea/coffee. But there are times a writer will just not feel like writing. It’s quite different from a writer’s block which is characterized by an absence of a writing impetus. What I am talking about is just not wanting to write at all, like not even wanting to look at the screen or paper at all, even when the inspiration or the muse is still there. Yes, we all do it, even the best selling authors do it. Because everybody needs a break from the routine.

The question is – Is it a good thing?

That depends on where in your writing process you have stopped.

Continue reading “When In No Mood to Write, Write!”

My Only Expectation This New Year – Write, Write, Write.

Expectations…

It’s a big word that casts an even bigger shadow. It always sounds daunting, lofty – like something that can never be satisfied or achieved or extinguished. I learnt pretty early on in life that we should always learn to temper our expectations – in love, in relationships, in our careers, in every walk of life. Because if you keep them pegged too high, the pain of not being able to meet your expectations is intense, crippling even. Of course, you can’t do anything about the expectations that others have from you; you can only control your own. But as far as I can, I try not to expect too much from someone or something. It’s very, very hard, but in certain cases, it has helped me a lot. So I stick to it resolutely.

In writing though, I made the mistake of expecting too much when I started out. I naively thought that I would start writing and my blog would grow, and then I would become a writer just like that. Stupid, arrogant moi!

Naturally, I failed. I was humbled. I was heartbroken for a while. Then I realised that I had made several stupid mistakes, the biggest being keeping my expectations from writing and blogging too high. In other words, I made the horrible mistake of thinking that it was going to be a breeze. Anyone who has ever been a writer, or is trying to be one, will know just how difficult, how time, labour and love intensive writing is. What was I thinking?

This week we are discussing Expectations from the New Year in terms of our writing. I have never been one for keeping New Year’s Resolutions because I know just how great I am at keeping and sticking to a schedule. And because of my ‘happy’ experience with writing, I shall be keeping my expectations from my own writing lower still.  Continue reading “My Only Expectation This New Year – Write, Write, Write.”

When Obsession with Failure becomes your Ally

This week’s topic is ‘An obsession that made you a better person’.

If you ask me, all my obsessions only make me a worse person. Can obsessions ever be good? I mean, isn’t too much of anything bad?

But alright, let’s not get literal. Some obsessions may actually help you, like an obsession for perfection. But what do I obsess about? Oh, where do I even start? I can safely say I have borderline OCD. I freak out if I don’t wash my hands before I eat, or after that; I could have seizures if someone told me that there’s no water in the house (I must have been some aquatic animal who died gasping for water in my last life); I HATE, HATE lizards so I must compulsively get rid of them from the house when I spot one lurking somewhere; I like to do everything by myself and if I don’t see someone doing my job my way (on those rare occasions when I can’t do it myself), I lose my cool. I’ll stop here or you may think I’m a mad-woman, which is exactly what I am, according to my husband.

But since this blog is about Writing, I’ll reveal my one obsession when it comes to my writing –

I obsess over failing at writing.  Continue reading “When Obsession with Failure becomes your Ally”

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑