Musings: 5 Things That Brought Me Story Ideas


People: According to both Boy Meets World and Girl Meets World sitcoms, the secret of life is that people change people which are absolutely true! The world would have been a sad, lonely place to live in if we had to stay here all by ourselves. It is essential to have relationships in order to draw our experiences from there. Most of the characters I have written have been inspired from real life. Sometimes the fictional versions become the paler realities. So people have definitely brought me story ideas.

Places: The other thing that has always intrigued me are places. I started saving up money and travelling in the last few years because I just wanted to write about different places. Because all my novels, novellas, short stories always had Kolkata as a backdrop. Even though I haven’t used any of the locations that I had gone to in the recent past in my stories, I have made sure that I remember every single detail from the trips. Because you never know when a story might hit you!

Incidents: I don’t know about you but sometimes the only way I seem to be able to make sense of life is if I write. Maybe I got my heartbroken. Maybe a friend of mine had an awful spat with me. Maybe I received unbelievably good news. Maybe I am just having an off day. No matter what is going on in my life, I know that I would only start to feel better if I started writing. And that’s exactly how incidents trigger some of my stories and even blog posts. I don’t write to get back at people or to get even with people. The only reason I write is because that’s always been the best therapy for me.

Memories: Story ideas more often than not also come from your memories. As Paulo Coelho once put it, it takes effort free oneself from memory. Some of our memories are not pleasant. There are some that we are completely haunted by. So we write stories to either remember or to forget. But there are good memories too. Memories we do not want to hold onto no matter what happens in our lives, you know. As J.M. Barrie said, God gave us memory so that we might have roses in December. How amazing is it then that some of our story ideas are formed from memories?

Wishful Thinking: Until a few months ago, I would write stories in order to correct mistakes in fiction and get my do-overs from real life. So the story ideas would come from wishful thinking and mindless thinking. Hoping and wanting the real life stories had played out the way it had in the originals. 

Musings: All Signs Lead to Wales



Well, it started with a story. 

To be precise it was Ashwin and Diya’s story. I was managing the BEE Books stall (Hall 2, Stall 627), like I had been asked to for the International Kolkata Book Fair 2017 and in walked our in-house editor, Sugandha along with the delegates all the way from Wales.

She was coordinator of the Valley, the City and the Village Project. (In office, we started referring to it as the VCV Project.) I remembered meeting the publisher of Parthian Books, Richard Davis, a few months before. And I remembered having met Gary Raymond. I was delighted that they remembered me too. When asked what I had been up to lately, I told Richard that I’d written a new novel and it had been published by BEE Books. It was called AllSigns Lead Back to You. He was delighted, bought a copy promptly and asked me to sign it for him. Needless to say I was delighted too.

What I never anticipated was that he would finish reading the book during the length of his stay in Kolkata and be impressed by the tale I had concocted about first love and second chances. So much so that when I met him (on my way to collect the Queen Bee to go to a wedding function), that he wanted me to come with them to Wales and be a part of the VCV Project as an author! And I remembered being extremely overwhelmed by his offer.

Any fool would have jumped at the opportunity to travel to Wales. Experience a new country and write about how places inspire people. But I am the biggest fool that you could have ever come across. Also, my terror of flights made me dillydally on the offer for quite some time. I missed a wonderful dinner too because I couldn’t make up my mind whether I wanted to travel all the way to Wales or not. I had a wonderful friend convincing me every minute of every day that it was a wonderful opportunity and that my fear of the stage shouldn’t be a problem. Because no matter what happened, no one back home would come to know about it!

Then started filling out the VISA applications. The interviews and running back and forth, making sure that all my documents was in place. It didn’t help that BEE Books chose that very time to undergo renovations and so I was mostly working out of my home. It also didn’t help that I was caught up in quite a problematic personal relationship. But being the eternal optimist that I am, I thought everything would blow over soon. Well, the relationship ended but my belief that there’s someone out there tailor made for me did not go away. And I really don’t think it ever will. But I am deviating. This is the story about how I ended up where I am right now.

We applied for our VISAs, kept India-Wales Project mostly a secret as we feverishly prayed for our VISAs to come through. In the meantime, I discovered my name in a list of panellists for Hay Festival 2017. Imagine my excitement and happiness when I realized Neil Gaiman would be there!!! If I can hold a five second conversation with that man I’d die a happy woman, having checked an important point off my bucket list.

Our VISAs arrived and we started packing for the trip to Wales. Right now, I am in the twelve hour flight from Delhi to London. My fear of flights reduced, and my friend and I had sandwiched an old man who refused to budge from the middle seat! I know by the time I put up this blog post I’d probably be in London or Wales. But wherever I am, please know that I am grateful and happy that a story I wrote (based on my own screwed up experiences), which ultimately led to this wonderful opportunity which I am sure is just the stepping stone to a whole new world that leads to a spectacular life!

P.S. Even though all the things that are happening to me are truly amazing, I still haven’t give up the hope and never will, that my Prince Charming is right around the corner. 😊

Writer Wednesday: Writer Fashion


You’re probably wondering what on Earth does one mean by Writer Fashion? As in, what would writers wear to their book launches? Or would they wear if they got invited to Book Award ceremonies? Or is it something else? Well, no.

Writer fashion is what you wear when you’re writing. Usually, I like wearing my lose pajamas and baggy t-shirts. But sometimes because I am so annoyed or just cannot calm down my mind enough to write, I dress up. It’s a good way to make yourself realize you need to start working. And maybe it’s psychological but if you are dressed up enough you tend to want to work more. Your brain snaps out of the lazy mode and begins working.
So I am either dressed to the nines when I am writing my stories or I am not. There’s no in between for me. Because when I am feeling utterly lazy, getting dressed up is a good way to trick my brain into thinking that I am about to go out and I really need to be at the top of my game. So, sometimes I will wear the fanciest of clothes and sit down to write! I know it sounds really strange but it has helped me meet a lot of my deadlines.

Some days I come home from work bursting with inspiration. Other days, I need to go after the inspiration with a club. I have to jumpstart my writing.

Unfortunately what most people don’t understand is this: writing at the end of the day is a job. So matter how we might be feeling, we have to get up and sit down to write. And sometimes, in order to make ourselves feel more inspired, we get into the fanciest of clothes and let our minds take us dancing into the prettiest part of the city.

Do you have a particular writer fashion? What do you wear when you’re hammering away at your laptop? Are you a jeans and t-shirt kind of writer? Or do you like dressing to the nines? Let me know in the comments below! 

Poem: This Is How You Fix Yourself



“If you love someone, let them sleep.”
Anonymous

Countless jokes have been made about this.
How sleep is the one stop cure for all our problems.
Because, come on, if you sleep it off then you’re bound to feel better in the morning.
Human beings should after all work exactly like machines.
When something doesn’t work, don’t we suggest that we switch it off and turn it back on again?

Why should human beings be any different?
When the world doesn’t go your way, just sleep off.
It doesn’t matter that there’s someone who might be breaking.
Because hey, as long as you get your beauty sleep, all will be right with the world!
Who cares that there are questions and troubles gnawing at them,
Eating them up from inside! But you would shrug your shoulders and ask them to sleep.
That is the solution to everything after all: sleep.
The one thing that is supposed to fix everything –
Your mood swings, your broken heart and even
The fact you are sometimes awake at night.

Just sleep.
Everything else can wait a little longer.
Sleep.
You’ll feel so much better in the morning!
What if I cannot sleep?
What if the very reason I’m awake at night,
Hammering away at my laptop, is fast asleep?
Am I supposed to completely switch off the part of me that worries endlessly –
Because hey, sleep can cure everything!

Sometimes it cannot.

Sometimes all you can do is, let the other person sleep.
When they finally wake up and ask you if you slept well last night
You are not expected to tell them the truth.
You are supposed to lie and tell them, “Of course, I did.
I slept wonderfully well last night. And now everything is fine.”

They need never know how broken you are, 
Or how the night was truly spent.
Because as long as they think you slept just as well as they did,
Everything is right in their world. J

Writer Wednesday: 5 Fictional Guys I’ve Crushed On

Crushing on a fictional character is quite a common phenomenon to occur to bookworms. They are forever in love with one character or another. So, I thought, why not write about the five fictional guys that I’ve crushed on over the years. Of course these are just the five off the top of my head. I have had many more crushes, and maybe I’ll write about them some other day.

Rusty from Ruskin Bond’s The Room on the Roof

I was only thirteen years old when I chanced upon this book in my school library. Our library period was that on Friday and by the time the weekend rolled around, I had devoured the whole book. I reissued the book for another week because I didn’t want to let go of Rusty. It was the first book that had introduced me to Indian Writing in English, and since then, there has been no looking back for me. I stopped trying to write stories set in the great foreign lands with a cast of foreign characters. Instead, I started looking at my city different. And in every nook and cranny, there seemed to be an untold story left for me to tell. Needless to say I had the biggest crush on Rusty for a really long time. Because I loved how he had taken his destiny in his own hand’s and refused to live in an abusive environment anymore. I learned of the struggle and hardship Mr. Bond had to face, years later, when I was researching for my MPhil dissertation. I came across a quote by the author that will stay with me forever: “Money talks and usually it is saying goodbye.”

Jesse de Silva from Meg Cabot’s The Mediator Series

I remember finding all the Mediator series on sale at once and placed an order impulsively. I was worried about not liking the story for exactly the first five minutes after it arrived. I wondered if I’d just wasted my money over books I had no clue about. Turns out I was wrong! I got so taken by the wonderful Mr. Jesse de Silva, that I was annoyed that I would have to put down my book and go out to keep a date with my then boyfriend. In retrospect, I should have broken the date, just like the asshole broke my heart a few months later. I ran crying into the arms of Jesse de Silva and recovered from what I would like to call the nastiest time of my life so far. But I am deviating. Jesse de Silva is, a ghost, who our heroine, Suzanna Simon is able to see given her gift. The chemistry between the two is a little short of sparkling and I read the entire series pretending to be this kickass girl who was falling hopelessly in love with a person she wouldn’t be able to be with.... *sigh*

Michael Moscovitz from Meg Cabot’s The Princess Diaries

The same woman who gifted us Jesse de Silva also conjured the confident Michael Moscovitz. If you’ve only watched the Princess Diaries movies, you’ve missed out on meeting one of the most awesome guys from Literature that I’ve come across in my life time. The guy who played Michael Moscovitz didn’t hold a candle to the brilliant person that the character was fleshed out to be. For starters, his crush on Mia wasn’t so well pronounced towards the beginning. And their relationship throughout the course of the series is some of the most real thing I’d read as a twenty one year old. I loved how Michael stood his own ground, allowed Mia to walk away because he realized both of them had a lot of growing up to do. He was right in knowing that the Universe would put them back in each other’s lives if they were meant to be. Honestly, they were. I loved how despite all their differences, Michael was still a wonderful friend to Mia, especially when she needed one. It made me think maybe guys like Michael Moscovitz really do exist. I just hadn’t chanced upon them yet.

Theodore Finch from Jennifer Niven’s All the Bright Places

I picked up All the Bright Places because I think almost everyone on my book blogger list was talking about it. And when you’re bombarded with pretty pictures of a book through your instagram feed, you know you have to get the book for yourself the next time you pick out your latest reads! Jennifer Niven’s book did not disappoint. I loved the story of a girl who learned to live from a boy who wanted to die. Theodore Finch cannot be pegged down as the dream guy that girls would fall for. I think what attracted me towards him was the fact that he could make Violet believe in that there was more to life, even though he didn’t. If you asked me why I liked Finch, it’s probably because I find it a little romantic to think someone could love you enough to put up with their miserable lives just a little longer – just to make sure the other person was fine. Putting someone else before ourselves has become a thing of the past now. Maybe this is why Finch stands out in my book.

Augustus Waters from John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars


The Fault in Our Stars was the novel that put John Green on the map and also placed Augustus Waters in the hearts of countless people. His epic dialogues, the way he looked at life and how nothing could ever bring him down are perhaps some of the reasons to have a crush on him. He’s one of those special characters who live on in our hearts, and stay for a long time in our minds even after we close the damn book. Augustus Waters made a girl who thought she was a grenade, believe in the possibility of a future. He made me as his story drew to a close but I agreed wholeheartedly to what he had said – 
It would be a privilege to have my heartbroken by you.”

Have you ever crushed on a fictional character? If so, let me know who they were? Also – has anyone actually found Mr. Darcy?


10 Things Only A Writer Would Understand


1. Almost everything inspires you to write. 



2. You remember every piece of conversation. 


3. You always cringe when reading your first draft. 



4. You're an expert at procrastination.


5. But you spend every waking minute thinking about writing!


6. You were more interested in the Beast's library than the romance brewing between him and Belle.


7. You're borderline obsessed with your favorite characters. 


8. You secretly fear that you sound too much like your favourite author. 


9. You try out new and ridiculous things because you want to write about them. 



10. You regularly clean out your browser history. 


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Disclaimer: All the GIFs used in this blog post was found on https://giphy.com/

Poem: Thoughts Running Riot at 3 am




It’s 3 am.
A time for writers. Poets and artists to be awake.
I think they forgot one more category.
Of people who are lonely.
And people who are in love.
They say it cannot be told which one is worse.
But I can tell you which one might be the worst.
The ones in love and still feel lonely.
Wouldn’t you rather be alone,
Than be lonely?

It’s 3 am.
And a broken-hearted girl is trying to sleep.
But the sound of her own tears is keeping her awake.
Too many thoughts are running riot in her mind.
And too many voices are screaming at her.
Tell me then, if these voices are there –
How can she say she’s alone?
There’s always the voices.

It’s 3 am.
And all anyone wants is to talk to someone.
Crave a human voice.
But there are nights like these when you just
Have to face your loneliness alone.

It’s 3 am.
And it’s just completely sad.
That a girl who has the world at her finger tips
Wants nothing more than someone
In this unforgiving world to just listen to her.

It’s 3 am.
The time for people to be vulnerable, real, and
Unapologetically themselves.
Once upon a time someone was there keeping you 
company and made you forget
How to survive being alone.
And now they’re gone.
You’re left grappling with your loneliness.

But don’t you worry.
There will be many more nights of 3 am.
And slowly, you’ll go back
to being comfortably alone.
No longer needing to fight your loneliness.