Friday, May 1, 2015

May is here!!!

May this month be awesome!

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Stay or Stray

There comes a point in a writer's journey when they must decide whether to compromise their vision or not- to stay with what they believe in or stray and give in to what is demanded out of them.
It's not an easy decision to make because for a writer they not only want to be appreciated for their work but also be published and have their books be purchased.

A couple of years ago, when I started on my journey to become a writer, I was drawn to young adult stories. I had an idea that was different from the books popular then. I held off writing that particular story because it was risky and I didn't want to fail at my first attempt to write a whole manuscript.
I surveyed various bookstores and went through the trends and the popular young adult books.

Literally every book that I picked was on vampires. I selected various books from different shelves and red the blurbs: she closed her eyes as he leaned forward to kiss her. The next thing she felt was his teeth pricking the skin of her neck.

I'm paraphrasing the above lines but I was annoyed that the only books being sold for young adults were about vampires. In fact I was asked several times if I was thinking about writing a story on those creatures.

Here's my answer: I won't write a whole novel on vampires. Why? Because they are overdone. The myths on vampires have been distorted and manipulated in many stories. I'm not saying I didn't like a single Twilight book/movie or can't stand watching an episode of Vampire Diaries. In fact I am a huge fan of Vampire Diaries but I still won't work on a vampire story because pretty much every aspect on vampires has been explored in the aforementioned titles.

I always did want to write something different, something that would challenge and inspire me. 'Repeated Lives' was a risk for me, but I could not, not write it. The story was aching to be born so I wrote it and fortunately for me, it was accepted for publication.

Then there is another story I'm currently working on. This story deals with a few disturbing elements and would be excruciating to write. Currently, I'm working on parts of the story that introduces the character and conflicts. But how these conflicts have been created and how they will be solved- that is going to be some real hard work.

The story at the moment focuses on mild elements and I could continue the flow in this way and tone down the disturbing parts.

However without showing the intensity of them, my character loses all credibility and will lack from a clear motive.

It is a hard decision and like many writers, I could wrap up the disturbing parts in complex layers of story and deviate the reader's attention away from them.

On the other hand, I get to grow as a writer by writing something difficult and challenging.

A hard decision to make and fortunately I have some time before I make a decision and take the story to a whole new level.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

The Exhausted Writer

A popular advice all writers are given is to write every single day. As a struggling writer, I find this advice isn't really expedient.

Though practicing your art everyday helps hone your skills, actually writing every day is only a frustrating exercise.

A writer not only writes- they must read, research and find inspiration to work.

When they force themselves to write every day the result is often disastrous. The sentences are hackneyed, the characters don't seem believable and the story is just ribbons of plot tied shabbily to each other.

The main part of writing is inspiration that can come from anyone and anywhere. For me its always been music, but I don't always wake up feeling inspired.
There are days when I'm so mentally exhausted from doing research or working on chapters for my new fiction, that writing another chapter is just so daunting. I guess the brain needs a break too every now and then.

At this time, when my head feels like it's being baked, forcing myself to write will NOT produce a great piece I can be proud of.

It will be a jumble of messy plots that won't be connected to the story and I would have ruined my whole manuscript.

Instead of writing, I think it's important for the writer to take a little break. Take a long walk sans technology- no phone to take unnecessary pictures or selfies (a cringe-worthy word in my opinion) or check your email. It should be just you and the nature.

Listen to music, watch a comedy, just anything to relax the mind so that it can start producing good work again.

Also, use some time to research your story and learn new things you can add to the story and make it a more informative and entertaining read.

I do find however, that taking long breaks away from writing results in losing interest in the story, so these "breaks" should never last for more than 4-5 days in my opinion.

Writing is an endeavor and should be fun. In my experience, my readers quickly picked on all the parts of the story that I didn't have fun writing. It came off forced and didn't add anything to the story.
The parts and the chapters that I did have fun writing elicited a good response from my readers.

Writing is hard and it takes a lot out of the writer. The least a writer can do is enjoy themselves when they're working.

Because writing without passion and inspiration is just like living a life without fun and music.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Why Reviews are Important

Now that the writing and editing part is done, the author gets to step back and watch their hard work be published and made available to readers all over the world. It's a shining and proud moment for us to see all our hard work being put up for everyone to see.

And now it's the readers' turn to do their part. What do they have to do?

Review of course...after reading the writer's creation.

Here's why reviews are the most important part of the whole writing and publishing process.
For the reader it's a chance to voice their opinions. Just like you have the chance to review products, as a reader you have the prerogative to review an author's "product" as well.

One of the benefits of writing a book review is that you get to analyze the story and understand all that the writers' are trying to teach and portray through their stories. You get a chance to consider the writers' vision of the world and hence develop a different perspective to see things all around you.

When you write a review, you get to share your interpretation of the story with the world too.

For a writer, reviews are extremely important. If they receive a good review, they derive encouragement from it and continue to pursue their dream. It's hard to stay motivated in this competitive profession and reviews are a surefire way to make them stay anchored to their aspirations. They also find out from their readers all the things that appealed to them in a particular story. Through that feedback, they can use it to work on their next story and insert all those "popular" elements.

Unfavorable news is a writer's nightmare. But if they can extract any good thing from that is that some readers are kind enough to offer constructive criticism that helps the writer avoid mistakes in their next work.

Reviews help shape the writer and build their own unique writing style.

Still not convinced that you should write book reviews? Here's another reason.

Putting up reviews will show writers that their books have been bought. Seldom, some publishers won't be regular with submitting sales reports to authors; vanity publishers even tweak and alter the reports a little so that they don't have to pay the author. The author unfortunately will find themselves in a position where they have no proof on whether or not their books have been sold.

It's a rare occurrence but unfortunately it does happen to some authors.

This is where readers can help by reviewing on sites that sell books. Reviews give writers evidence that their books are being sold and they are not being cheated out of their royalties.

The one thing all readers must remember is that a writer is putting their heart and soul into their writing. They spend many hours creating that one story that will not only entertain the reader but help them escape into a wonderful fantastical world.

The least a reader can do is appreciate a writer's hard work by leaving a review, whether good or bad to show them that they have at least been read.

And sometimes that is all we writers want. 

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Learning new languages

I am trying to learn new languages and keep getting confused. Also, as I'm self-teaching myself, I've found that I'm not a very good student. Yikes!

So I have to practice, practice and practice....



I am: sono                  
You are: sei   
He/she/it is: è 
We are: siamo
You are (plural): siete                      
They are: sono          


I am:   je suis             
You are: tu es            
He is: il est
She is: elle est
One is: on est
We are: nous sommes
You are (plural): vous êtes
They are (m): ils sont
They are (f): elles sont 

Really need to memorize this!

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

PK- My take on the movie

SciFi movies have got to be my least favorite genre and if they consist of aliens, I avoid them like my least favorite vegetables- I push away the plate and pretend that they don't exist.

In spite of the impressive star cast, I wasn't going to watch the movie until I read the controversies surrounding it. The debate it sparked among people piqued my interest and I finally watched the movie.

After watching the movie, could I stop thinking about the story? No. Did I enjoy the movie as a whole? Again, no.

I envy Rajkumar Hirani's work and writing. His past movies have been entertaining and interspersed with important social messages that I have always agreed with. Let's just say that he and I are on the same wavelength where opinions about education and religion are concerned.
This movie, however, was a bit of a disappointment for me and only because the plot didn't flow as seamlessly as his previous movies.

The movie begins with an excellent opening scene and the first half too, tries to adhere to the main plot. But from there on, the story starts to crumble under the onus of too many plot turns.
An alien has his 'transmitter medallion thing' stolen and on his journey to find it, he finds the role religion plays in people's lives.

At first he is introduced to the variety of religions and learns the differences and similarities between them. Then he learns about the superstitions associated with each religion and finally the movie becomes all about debunking the astrologers.

Midway, I had to remind myself that the alien was trying to get his transmitter back so that he could head home. It seemed that he too had forgotten about it as he kept asking thought provoking questions to enlighten the people.  

Then he falls in love with Jaggu- the reporter who was helping him. And all this time I was wondering about how his kind of aliens behaved on his planet. I mean, he siphons the knowledge of language from a woman so how did he start speaking in a male voice when apparently the aliens on his planet didn't speak. I can understand that in the last scene he must have taught the other inhabitants of his planet the language too, but how did they develop their own distinctive voices?
And are we to believe that aliens behaved the same way as humans and fall in love and make filmy sacrifices?

Then there's the small love story between the Indian girl and Pakistani boy which I thought was kind of sweet even though the conclusion of that was a bit implausible. It was hard to digest the fact that the guy called the embassy every day to find out if there were any calls for him from his lover. He should have had tried to find her and sort everything out. She was a reporter and he could have easily found out where she lived. I mean, really? One letter that wasn't even signed and both of them thought that the other had written it? They didn't recognize the handwriting or anything?

Anyway, that part of the story was hurriedly wrapped up towards the end along with the actual message of the movie that got lost in all the chaos.

In my opinion, the alien preaches that there are two types of gods- the one that created us and the other that is created by the astrologers, the latter apparently being one that puts fear in our hearts rather than reverence.

Religion is a sensitive issue and people will never give up their beliefs by watching a movie. It seemed that the writer did realize this and that is why the second half seems jumbled. While the alien is trying to bring forth his point about god, he quickly diverts attention towards Jaggu and her Pakistani lover.

From thereon, the audience obviously focuses on the Indian-Pakistani relationships rather than what the movie was supposed to be about- an impartial person who learns about religion, god and its impact on society.

The story would have worked if only the script had been tighter and identified its main plot.