I lost me

I was at a bad place today. Sorry couldn’t talk.
Oh!

I write about myself. I can’t help it.
Anything I write even if it is about an alien race in some distant corner of the universe, I’m writing about me. Yes. That’s how it works. We invest ourselves in whatever we do. A small part of us gets transferred to the blank paper, the empty canvas each time we leave something on the paper. This is not a nine to five thing, this goes on and on and on and on. We live our characters’ lives. We feel what they feel We see what they see.
I saw a great TED talk yesterday by Sting. He talks about how he started writing songs again. He says

When I started writing about others I realized I was writing even more about me!

One of the previous chapters proved particularly demanding, that I needed to begin this post, but as I tackled it, I forgot about this post. Apologies if this seems half-baked; it is.

P.S. On the seventh chapter, lots of stuff to write.

Why should I read?

We’ve been taught from a very early age to look for stuff when we read, you know stuff like morals, summaries, questions, answers. I remember being taught poems in Hindi, my mother tongue, the language I was most comfortable with. Taught, yes. I remember being taught the meaning of each word, each line. The funny thing is poems, and all art for that matter is not bound, physical in its nature! It’s all-encompassing, transcendent sort of stuff. And it is upto you the viewer to derive the meaning of it. Its like that only. I’ve often been surprised by what people thought I meant to say in my poems. Sometimes they think of stuff I could not have thought, and yet I wrote it! Art is beautiful that way. And yet, I was taught poems, and stories and other stuff. We did not have the freedom to give our own answers, the answers mind you were dictated to us. Literature was taught as if it was history!

I was lucky though that my English teachers were not like that, or maybe they were all accommodating enough of a little kid who wanted to write his own answers, his own paragraphs. Some of the latter teachers had even encouraged it. I guess that was all the creativity I could get out at that time. There is one thing none of them told me to do: reading. I started reading very late. Very late. I grow jealous of those who’ve been reading since their school days. I guess it was partly my fault too. I was too happy reading the curriculum books again, and again. Perhaps the only kid who knew all the stories even before a single class had been held.

Ah! Good days.

This post is not about that, even though it was good remembering them days. It is about this question that my friend asked yesterday.

“Why should I read?”

He said pretty simply that whatever he did was motivated by what he got out of that activity. What would I get out of it? Inspiration? Maybe, but he was not inspired by people, and anyways I could not have told him to read so as to gain inspiration. My point to him, and I guess to all of you too is we don’t need to do stuff to get some stuff in return.

 I read just for the sake of it. I read because living just one life isn’t enough. I want to be born, live, and die with each new book I read. I read because it’s fun. I read for a lot of other reasons too. Some of them involve looking at how others write, techniques, how to build up momentum, how to tell a great story. I read to travel through space and time! Beat that science!

But inspite of all this, I am not really looking for anything when I start to read a new book. I read a book, because; no there’s no because.

Flow

“1991 is as far from you as is 2030”

It has been a week since I wrote something for the blog. It has been a particularly tiring week this. Both with the literal and the non-literal scenario. The story is finally going fine, but not without its hiccups. It was a week full of deciding which way the story should go. And when I finally was more or less decided with what was going to be the general direction, the troubles began.

What I do is tell stories, and if I were to talk to somebody, my friends, my family or even a random stranger on the street, and tell them what was in my mind, I’ve already told my story; I can’t do that again! I experiment with this once, on Wattpad. I began with a story, was some fourteen chapters inside, but then I couldn’t continue. This post, get feedback, continue-system of writing works for some, and quite spectacularly so I might add; but not for me. Also once, it’s out there, later on if you want to change something in the beginning, you can’t. Because as I said, you never know where the characters take you.

Flow, becomes important in these cases. Telling stories that is. I get that when you’re stuck at some point it feels like a better option to continue at a future point, and believe me at that point everything in the future seems so awesome. But once you make the jump, you can’t go back to where you were. It’s sad, but true. It has happened to me already once. And I had to dump that story, and start afresh, just because I was struggling with describing the protagonist and decided to get back at the problem, after chasing something else in the future. It doesn’t and it didn’t pan out.

It is important I guess, to struggle. No matter how long it takes, or how hard it gets to continue with the flow. Finish with the current circumstances before going on ahead; because once you’ve made the jump, you can not go back.

I had similar desires in the past week. The story was stuck, and the ideas I had for the future were far more appealing. Still are I think. But I could not leave it unfinished. I could not let it go with just one chapter left between now and the future. I think I did right. I’m on the fifth and last chapter of this leg, and I guess it’s turning out great.

P.S. Chapter Five. The timeline is pretty much screwed now.

Good Days, Bad Days

There are days like, let’s say yesterday, when everything seems to be falling into place; the characters seem to be doing stuff on their own. There seem no boundaries, no restrictions to the world you’ve created. Once you start writing, the words just keep flowing, naturally and seamlessly. At each point in your story you see multiple ways to take the story forward and still know which one would be the right one.

And then there are days, like let’s say, today, when nothing seems to be going your way. You are simply stuck, and can’t think of even one possible way out. Everything you write seems like trash. You feel like erasing it all somehow, and start fresh; but at the back of your mind you know, you can’t. It took so much of effort to walk down this one path, and there were no other paths in sight.

Read that again, and do notice the plural use of the word ‘day’.

I stopped writing at a point yesterday from where I could see multiple ways out, lots of stuff to write about. But today, when I began writing again I could not think of a single paragraph that gelled with what I had written. It is all seeming rubbish, and so I’ve taken this sort of break from writing to write about the problem. I’m not sure if it will work. It has, a few times though.

Even if it doesn’t I will write something, maybe not a thousand words, but I will write. Because I know that even if I have to crawl through a mile of shit, smelly shit, I’ll find my redemption at the end.

I guess its important to remember the alternate nature of these things.

P.S. Chapter Four. A major, unexpected change in approach has left me stranded.

Why planning is important, but irrelevant

I like having a faint bit of predictability in my work. a faint bit, though. I like knowing how things are going to pan out, sort of like knowing the destinations, even though the paths may vary. It is not a hard and fast rule this. Many a times I have ended up with almost the opposite of what I wanted to do. Still planning in advance helps.

 I have already talked about how I reached the figure of fifteen chapters and three parts for this book I’m writing. It helped, really it did. It helped getting the first couple of chapters underway. It helped knowing that I had to finish it in four days. It got a sort of momentum going.

Beginnings are difficult, they always are, that is when friction is at a maximum. If you’ve read elementary physics, you know what I’m talking about. When motion is about to begin, that is when the opposing forces are at a maximum, but once the motion actually starts, static friction ceases to exist. And stiction is one of the really bad(good) boys.

SO yes, all the planning helped build momentum, and got me through difficult parts. But then something else happened. Almost a collapse. I realized I could not, and perhaps should not include the second part. A third of my planning had just been flushed, also making sure that the rest of the structures were reeling too. That should have made me drop the idea; or put it on the back-burner. Believe me I’ve dropped stuff for less. A lot less.

But to my surprise, that did not happen. I was in a great rhythm. I had established the characters, and now they did not need me. They were going ahead on their own, creating their own stories. That I think is perhaps the best thing that can happen to a writer.

P.S. Somewhere in the fourth chapter. Cruising. Till the time I need to plan again!

Poems

I had at one point, and quite correctly so I might add, decided that I will not be posting any shorties or poems here. And why not? All that stuff needs time, time to think, to write, and to edit. In short, time that I can’t invest in these as I pursue the ultimate goal, I guess, of having a book ready in the next two months or so. This delay, this thinking period is what put me off blogging on the previous blog. The delay just made me more resistant I guess.

The time I devote here, is really scant. Maybe, an hour or so at max. Really, at max. I think about the topic in the morning, and I write about it during the day, minutes at a time. Sometimes, I’d get a really brilliant thought, while I’m writing stuff and then I’d drop this and start writing something else.

But then, something almost magical happened a few days back. Really, magical. Because whenever I write a poem, it is from start to finish in one go. And I don’t think I am the one doing anything then. It’s like somebody is whispering the words in my ear, and I am just writing those words down. That is how most of the poems start. Magically!

But that’s not how most poems end. By the time I am halfway through, the voice, it stops whispering. And then I find myself alone. Looking at the stuff which is on the paper, and thinking, really? What now?

I wanted to talk about ‘Who’ll fight my wars?’ because it happened magically. I have never been able to write poems when I wanted to. On demand. That is why I really respect poets. How can you think of that stuff, that beautiful flowing stuff?

I was sitting at my desk, doing some costing, and then, a though came to me: ‘What will happen if all the soldiers on all sides of all the boundaries decided to drop their weapons? Will the leaders pick up the dropped weapons? Will they be able to risk their lives for their cause? And that was exactly when the whispering began. What was supposed to be a peaceful, white poem, came out all dark, and bloody.

My friend even commented if I had been recruited by some terrorist faction?

But then, as I said, I am not in control when I am writing poems. And frankly, if I don’t have a pen, and paper when the whispering begins, the magic will be gone; the poem will be gone, perhaps on it’s way to find someone who has a paper and a pencil!

 P.S. The second chapter was finished after utilizing the two-day grace period I have kept at the end of each chapter. Chapter Three is truly underway. And it’s going good right now. Must be around the two-thousand word mark. Cheers!

There was this boy in school

There was this boy in school,

his name was Yatin.

It was a long time ago,

this, almost a decade or so.

We used to run, really run;

not on a playstation, or an xbox,

we did not have these back then.

All we had was running,

loads and loads of it,

in circles, in lines,

zipping in and around,

we ran and ran!

There was this game we played,

Chain-Chain it was called.

The boy whose turn it was,

would try and catch the rest.

Anyone he caught, would run along,

and they’d try to catch the rest.

And so it went,

till all were caught.

The first one caught,

would be the next one to catch.

We would run, and run;

and run some more,

till the bell would ring.

There was this boy in school,

his name was Yatin.

And he was the only boy I could catch.

I would run, and run;

run harder still,

but the others ran too fast,

like little rats,

from one place to the rest.

No matter how hard I ran,

he was the only one I could outrun!

And so, each time I looked,

I found only him,

And no matter how hard he run,

I would still catch him!

It was a day,

like any other day.

I was on the ground that day,

looking around,

as it was my turn.

I ran, and ran,

and ran some more,

but I could not find him!

But no matter how hard I ran,

they ran harder still,

like little rats they ran.

There was this boy in school,

his name was Yatin;

And yesterday was the last day I saw him!

Dealing with the World Cup

After a month long tournament, Germany came out on top with a one-goal win over Argentina (or Messi, if you prefer!) Oh! and in case you were in a cave in a remote island somewhere in the Pacific (or the Atlantic) I am talking about the football world cup.

I love Germany. I do.

My allegiances in football are affected more by the coaches (Mourinho!) and less by the players (sole exception: Ronaldo) or even the club. Being loyal to a club, any club is quite absurd to me, given that I am in India not in the UK, Spain, Germany, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. Football in India isn’t that big yet. I hope it will be soon.

I love Germany.

They have got an elegant way about their football. The passing, the moving forward; it’s all so beautiful. I have been a supporter since the 2006 World Cup. The one that happened in Germany. Surprisingly enough the other team I support happens to be England. Though my love for them happens to be a more sympathetic, pitying sort. I mean you host one of the biggest football leagues in the world, and still your national football is a joke. Sorry not sorry. They should be up there, among the top four teams at least.

Talking about football is fun, but I guess we’ve had enough already.

The thing that I really wanted to talk about is the affect it had on the writing. Not too good, I regret to inform.

I have a job, a nine-thirty to seven-thirty job. And so the only time I get to type (and I say type because I wanted to say type; I write all the time, whenever I get the time) is sometime till eleven at night, when I sort of do have to sleep.

The World Cup messed with that.

The matches were telecast in two slots here: the earlier one started around nine-thirty and the later one close to one-thirty, in the morning; which I hope you understand is bad.

The typing suffered, and eventually so did the writing. I guess in the end it all comes down to prioritization.  And I think I will be talking about it sometime later. Till then.

P.S. I wrote this post around a couple of days back, but since I had already utilized one of the contingency days(I have two for each chapter) I could not post it earlier.

P.S.S. I can I think happily report that the second chapter is done, and I seem to be picking up some pace with the third one.

Why I do not write long stuff here!

Because if I did, I won’t.

Blog, that is.

The more appropriate question, I think would be: why put a word limit on what you write? Sticking to a word limit when you’re writing a novel make sense. There’s a certain length it has to reach for it to be called a novel; also once you’ve written it the long process of re-writing it begins. During editing the work, words, sentences, and sometimes whole paragraphs will be stricken off. It will be better t have some surplus at that time. Also, you already know how much I love symmetry!

But when it comes to blogging, when you say something like ‘Alright this stuff needs to be at least five hundred words in length’; you’re actually going against the idea of blogging. Blogging is not about restrictions, far from it in fact; it’s about spontaneity. It’s about ideas, thoughts, views and none of that can be bound. Because when someone (even yourself) asks you to write what you feel about something within a certain word limit, it’s journalism; and we’re not journalists here, we’re bloggers. We have our own sets of ideals and ethics. It isn’t the other way around, is it?

There is another angle to it. The so-called ‘interest span’ of the current generation of readers is on a bit of a decline. Really! Read the reports! I can speak of none but me. So, I’ll speak of me.

I do not like reading long blog posts. I don’t. Because once I have scrolled down to see how long the post is, you’ve lost me buddy. But don’t worry not everybody is like me!

P.S. It’s not like I don’t read long stuff. I do, but then they are usually around three hundred pages long.

P.S.S. Stuck at the three thousand word mark!

Success/Failure

It is too early to be thinking about that. Though, if you know me, you know given the way things are going I’m confident of a happy ending. I’m optimistic that way. And hopeful.

Also I was thinking about the blog. There’s so much to do here at my new job you see. So I was thinking about my blog, precisely I was thinking ‘Why would anyone sane be following my blog?’ ‘Why would anyone be interested in the ramblings of someone who isn’t qualified, certified even, to be giving about advice?’

The thought came after a couple of people followed the blog a couple of days back (Thanks Timothy and 1SIGFRIDSSON! You people are awesome ) and another couple liked Calculations! (Jacke and James Thank you! You guys are awesome too!) I’m not sure why they did what they did. Really I don’t. I can only guess, maybe they liked the post, maybe they liked the blog, maybe they liked that I was writing about writing, or maybe they had some other reason. As I said, I can only guess. But one thing I can say for sure: it felt good. Really good. It does, when people you don’t physically know, come out of the blue and like what you did.

So where was I? Ah yes, why would you follow this blog?

Why indeed?

Because whether I succeed or not, you’d get valuable insights and lessons from my enterprise. Frankly, it’d be more beneficial for you if I failed because you know nothing teaches better or more than a failure. You’ll know what not to do.

P.S. I sincerely do hope you won’t be rooting for that though.

P.S.S. Seriously people don’t.

P.S.S.S All these blogs are pretty awesome. Jacke’s blog is seriously awesome!

P.S.S.S.S Some three thousand words in.