May 27, 2017

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. 

May 24, 2017

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. 😊

May 11, 2017

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! 

May 1, 2017

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