Starting New Projects While Old Ones Die. Of Loneliness and Heartbreak

Ah, don’t t you just love it when blog titles promise cheery content?

 

A friend of mine and I have started recording vlogs and sending them to each other. (Private ones that aren’t really on the interwebz so don’t look.) I have always wanted a vlog but have been shy and also terrified of its implications for my job, etc. so this is kind of a great compromise. I’m so excited for it! Maybe once we start to suck less (Okay. I don’t know if she sucks; I definitely suck. She’ll send me her first vlog tomorrow. But I definitely do suck. ) and think of a good name for our vlog,  we’ll even go public!

However (There always is a however, isn’t there?) I feel a bit like I’m cheating on my blog with a vlog. Is this normal? Things that are talked about cannot necessarily be blogged about because just the act of speaking and motioning makes the topic at hand more interesting than if it were blogged about. So vlogging (in the sense of just recording and poorly-editing/not-at-all-editing a video) is easier than blogging.

Plus, once I start my new job, I’ll have limited free time, so if I have time for just one, which should I choose? I am of course accountable to my friend so I’d choose the vlog. Will my poor long-suffering blog then die out completely? How do I do this sensibly, guys? Any thoughts? I want to do both things.

On that note, I have a new job! I start on July 3rd. Stay tuned to hear about the scary misadventures of small Sindhu in large, scary law firm job!

It’s weird; I am making very few blogposts these days, and of those, a lot more of them are think-y random thought posts and very few are about books. ☹ I’m actually reading very few books and the books I read haven’t felt blog-worthy somehow. That doesn’t mean they’re bad books or anything, just that I don’t have any thing to say about them that would contribute to the discussion on them.

I don’t know why I feel like I owe an explanation about this because of all my friends, exactly one friend actually reads my blog and *he* said he likes the think-y life type posts more because he doesn’t read. As for my other followers, I don’t really know what you like, so may be let me know in the comments?

Should I diversify my blog and talk about all manner of rubbish? I feel like I could blog a lot more often then. It’s something to think about. What do you guys think?

Please comment. I really like comments.

Hoot.

SinRaowl.

 

 

2016: The Year in Review

I never thought I’d talk much about my life on this blog, but now that I’ve done it once, the floodgates have opened. So here’s more. 

This is a year in review type of post that I’ve seen floating around lately. This has been an eventful year for me, and a not-too-terrible one either (excepting my growing conviction that a post-apocalyptic future is imminent). So I thought I’d tell you guys about it.

So yes. The headlines. Do comment if you have any questions. 🙂 

This wasn’t too fabulous of a year literary-wise. I didn’t get much writing done, my blogging was sporadic, and I didn’t read much at all towards the end of the year buuuut:

I did meet my new favourite book of all time

It beats out Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott by a tiny margin. I also love Patti Smith’s music, so that’s doubly exciting. 

I gave up on my dystopic novel 

Not gonna lie, guys, it started to resemble reality too much and I realised that by the time my last ass is done with it, it may have to be published as very dull non-fiction. 

I started a new novel 

It’s fantasy and I’m not even close to being done with the first draft but at least the idea and beginning and loose outline are there. 

 I graduated

Technically, I graduated in 2015 but my convocation was in February, 2016.  I got to go back to Calcutta, the city in which I attained adulthood, and the city which I will never complely get over. I got to meet my friends again, some of them after ages. And I’ve come to accept that it may have been the last time I see some of them. 

I cut my hair short.

I had longish vaguely irritating hair for about 5 years that I got massively bored of.

So I cut it off:

I completed a year at my job

This isn’t my first job on graduating, but I think of it as my first one. It reaffirmed my love for the law, and now I know that even if I choose to be a novelist, I can never give up on law completely.

I realised that I have far fewer friends than I’d imagined 

Having very little time to myself made me prioritise an insane amount. And it made others prioritise over me too. It was enlightening. Hurtful, but enlightening. 

 My boyfriend and I got engaged 

Yes! I am now freshly minus one boyfriend and plus one fiancé. 

He bought me an amethyst, which is my favourite stone and surprised me with it. (Purple 4 lyf) We were both exhausted from travel and dirty and sleepy that day, but it’s still one of my favourite photos of us.

We started dating at 18 nearly 7 years ago. This was us then:

I turned 24

This has always been a nightmare age for me, the age of adulthood, because my parents had me when I was 24. It hasn’t been too bad so far though, even though I’ve done my fair share of adulting and growing up. 

I have the entire series of Fantastic Beasts movies to get through before I have to grow up completely. (How good was the first one?!) Cheers to that. 

So that’s been my year, a year of many firsts, of adulting, of complicated conversations and difficult decisions, of joys, of nights spent crying, of trying not to cry in court, of becoming an early to bed early to rise kinda gal, and of becoming a different person. 

How has your 2016 been? Did you do anything exciting at all this year? Let me know in the comments.

This is a Post about My Life

This is not a post about books. I haven’t read too much in the last month and a half or so. No excuses; I just really haven’t felt like it. I feel like I may get back in the groove of reading soon and I’ve charged up the ol’ Kindle in preparation for it.

Buuuut that’s not what this post is about. Obviously.

I want to tell you guys something about my life today. I don’t often do that on this blog, except in bits and pieces, but I really feel like sharing today.

I have a friend. I won’t name her. She’s been in my life for seven years. She’s usually socially awkward and has me talk her through social situations, just like she talks me through professional life and academics. She’s the Brain to my Heart and my life is incomplete without her.  She lives in a different city and is in a very busy, high-profile job (because she’s brilliant and wonderful) and that makes staying in touch hard. We lived in the same college for 5 years before we moved to different places and it’s been hard.  She isn’t usually demonstrative, whereas I’m super-demonstrative and that makes me insecure as all hell. Also, most of my friends are in different cities and being something of a people person in my own strange introverted way, I feel rather lonesome. I am not always sure that she understands this, close though we are. She’s more of a loner and quite comfortable in her own company.

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Recently, I really dropped the ball and didn’t give her a major life update partly out of forgetfulness and partly out of passive aggressiveness and I really hurt her. Yesterday, she told me how much I hurt her. I apologised. She made me promise to never do it again. I did.  I was truly ashamed when she said “Please don’t drift apart” and I swore to myself never to do that again. And I thought that was the end of it.

Today, despite being severely sleep-deprived and exhausted, she called me. She said “Tell me about your day.” I said “Eh?” She said “I intend to make it a daily thing. I am not allowing you to miss out on telling me something again.”

Just… Wow. 

This is a post about gratefulness. In the spirit of the holiday season? Maybe. But it’s more than that.

This is a post about friendship and love. And the things people manage to tell you when they do the things that they do.

Do this for someone, guys. Don’t wait to be a lovely person. Be the person who made their friend smile like a goofball for a few hours and then cry ugly, snotty tears while blogging about you. Or not exactly that, because ugly crying sucks, but you know what I mean. In 2017, be the person my friend was, today. Don’t wait for the holidays. Do it in the sweltering summer. Do it on a Monday. Hell, why wait? Do it today. 

This is a post about my life. And how it’s better with you in it, DP.

Hoot.

–Sin

Writing Dilemma– Sexuality

ATTENTION: This post contains explicit content. It talks of alternative sexuality, female sexual habits, and a woman who does not want babies. If any of this is offensive to you, please don’t read further. Also, NSFW in case you hadn’t figured already.

Hello everyone!

I am doing nanowrimo this year! For those of you who have been living under a rock, or those of you whose mummy-papa just got WiFI, nanowrimo stands for National Novel Writing Month. This makes no sense because the event is very much international, but nanowrimo is a better acronym than innowrimo. Anyhow, the idea is that anyone who signs up for it undertakes the mad task of writing a 50,000 novel in the month of November. Third time’s the charm, one hopes, because I’ve never won nanowrimo before even though I tried in 2014 and 2015.

This year, I will be writing a novel about the world ending . I’m in the process of fleshing out an idea that came to me in a dream. Yes. You read that right. I initially intended it to be a short story but, courtesy of my imagination taking the idea for a long spin uphill on a winding road, then crashing it off a cliff and resuscitating it, bruised but unbroken, it’s now a potential novel idea.

I don’t want to give much of the plot away because spoilers. (I swear that’s the reason. It’s totally not because I have no idea what the plot really is. Totally.             -nervous laugh.-)

Now to the dilemma:

I had long since decided that all my protagonists are going to be female because I don’t understand the male psyche and I would never presume to imagine that I do. (Maybe if men waxed their legs, I could have my legs waxed like a certain bestselling author and learn everything about them, but sadly, most men don’t wax their legs. And I don’t enjoy waxing either, so that’s out.)

It also just so happens that every single one of these women pops into my head, partially formed, but determined to be androgynous in appearance and bisexual.My present protagonist Megha is no exception to this rule. We’ve just met, but it’s already deadly obvious. This still isn’t the dilemma.

NOW to the dilemma for real:

Megha is sexually promiscuous. Vociferously so. She’d slap me if I tried to tie her down. And I don’t think that this is something anyone should judge… or care. My Megha does not want to date. My Megha does not want many babies with Mr. Perfect. My Megha did not dream about her wedding day since she was a little girl. My Megha does not even want a civil union with a Mrs. Perfect. What my Megha wants is sex. And a lot of it.

My problem is this; historically, bisexuality, when acknowledged as real, has been associated with promiscuity. When I write Megha, will I be promoting sex positivity for women like I intended, or will I just end up perpetuating the stereotype? How do I avoid perpetuating the stereotype? How do I make it known that yes, Megha has a lot of sex but that’s not because she’s bisexual but because it’s fun?

Thoughts?

Tips?

Are any of you doing nanowrimo? What kind of story are you writing? Have any of you written an LGBTQ+ character before? Let me know in the comments.

Also, add me as a writing buddy on the nanowrimo website if you’re participating. I’m owlishwriter.

That’s all for today, guys.

Hoot.

–Sin

Currently Reading… An Apparently Unknown Book

I was in Delhi today for work and i had some time to kill before I had to go to the airport. So, naturally, I went to a book store.

I picked up a book called Pangea by Talaiya Safdar.From the description, it seems to be about a dystopic world set after World War III. Dystopia, science fiction, female author, South Asian author, are all my staple food, as everyone who reads this blog knows. I think that the fantasy (non-mythological) and science fiction genres are highly underrepresented in South Asia. 

Then I did what any respectable book blogger would do; I checked for the book on Goodreads to mark it as currently reading and discovered that this book has no ratings and no reviews on Goodreads! This shocks but also excites me; I will make sure to review this book after reading it and if I enjoy it, I’ll make sure it gets a bit more publicity.
I have a long flight journey ahead of me this evening and I’m glad I now have a long distraction-free agenda mapped out for my time on the plane. 
Here’s to getting excited about reviewing again after some soul-crushingly busy weeks at work! Cheers.

Hoot.

–Sin

Currently Reading — A View from the Cheap Seats

I am sitting in court and reading The View from the Cheap Seats by Neil Gaiman while waiting. God bless the day I decided to install the Kindle application on my phone

I came across a delightful idea in one of his essays which I wanted to share with you guys. In the days when I was at college, I would have run to a friend’s room and gone into ecstacies. Now that I’m an adult, I am forced to attempt coherence in my excitement

(It occurs to me that the worst thing about adulthood is not the waking up early or the responsibility but the loneliness. What do you think? But I digress.)

Neil Gaiman has a brilliantly put opinion on the differing roles of a creator and an academic. 

It is the job of the creator to explode. It is the task of the academic to walk around the bomb site, gathering up the shrapnel, to figure out what kind of an explosion it was , who was killed, how much damage it was meant to do and how close it came to actually achieving that.

I agree with him completely. What do you guys think? Do you think you’re better suited to being a creator or an academic? Have you read this book? What did you think of it? Let me know in the comments! 

Things Fall Apart | Book Review

This is a book review of the Book Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe.

The language is strikingly simple and engaging. It sucks you into the story immediately. This is the kind of writing that I take to and enjoy the most. It’s the kind of writing I aspire to. Always, always write like Hemingway. Or as I shall now say, always always write like Achebe. Big emotions don’t need big words.

It’s the first book of a trilogy and I am aching to read the next two books. (The only thing stopping me from buying them immediately is the staggering number of books I’ve already bought and not read yet.) Yet, it works perfectly well as a standalone, which I really appreciate because of my exasperation with authors using cliffhangers to get readers to read the next book. And using them poorly, to boot. A cliffhanger can’t just be stopping a story mid-scene. It’s a cheap gimmick in a consumerist era. It’s so much more delightful and authorly to cause your readers to care deeply for your characters so rhat they want to know what happens to them. The impending fate of someone you care for is cliffhanger enough, in my opinion.

Chinua Achebe made me pity, love and root for his characters, even the misogynistic, patriarchal, violent protagonist, Okonkwo, which is an achievement in itself. Harper Lee said that to understand a person, you have to step into their and walk around in it. Achebe forced me to step into Okonkwo’s skin and sprint a few miles in it, until I ached with his hopes, dreamed his dreams, and felt his helpless anger. Who hasn’t felt futile rage of helplessness against people in power against whom we have no recourse? Whose eyes haven’t stung with rage at  the grave injustices we suffer at the hands of the privileged people? Okonkwo makes you relive each of those moments.

Lastly, I want to talk to you guys about a question that’s relevant to me as a book reviewer. Right after I read this book, I read the Fishermen by Chigozie Obioma. Things Fall Apart is referred to in that one. One of the characters states that the book is about the lack of unity being the downfall of the tribe which really struck me because I simply didn’t get that message from this book at all because I thought the book is about culture imperialism and the pain of becoming obsolete regardless of if you’re united. Now I can’t stop thinking of the magic of layered and nuanced books.What do they teach their readers really? Do readers see books in their own image? Whose opinion is even relevant? Is everything in literature subjective? What do you guys think?

Have you read this book, or any other book by Achebe? What did you think? Are there any other African authors I should read? Let me know in the comments!

Hoot.

-Sin

Monday Morning Commute Thoughts

I’m currently reading The Orchard of Lost Souls by Nadifa Mohamed. It’s the story of three Somali women who lived during the Somali civil war. It’s a beautifully written book and it prompted me to talk to you about the cathartic experience that is a good book. 

The weather is beautiful and even the fact that it’s Monday and I have a long day ahead of me does not take away from the joy that good prose gives me. 

As I grow older, I realise that being a writer isn’t just a childhood dream but a real, honest longing that I can’t overcome. As this longing increases in intensity, I notice the music that the written word produces more and more each day. 

Gone are the days when I sped through books, desperate to know what happens next. Now, after coming across a particularly delightful line, I set my book down and stare at the ceiling for a while, marvelling. I wonder what humans have done to deserve the delight that is language  And I thank my lucky stars for the family and the time I was born into. I hug the book to my chest. And I smile. As long as the words I’ve read dance on my tongue and in my mind, I stay smiling. 

I may take an extra day or an extra week to finish my book at this rate. And that’s okay. As long as there exist words that send me into ecstacies, everything will always be okay. 

“Kawsar closes her eyes in embarrassment, the kisses making her skin sing” That’s the latest line from the book that I’m delighting in. In case any one is wondering. But there are several brilliant lines in the book. Read it. 
Do you prefer plot-heavy stories or language-heavy stories? What kind of language are you more comfortable navigating; flowery or simple? Have you read this book or any of Nadifa Mohamed’s other books? What did you think? Let me know in the comments!

Two Careers?!

Hello Everyone!

Long hiatus I took there. Did any of you miss me? Do you of you still remember me?! Juuuust checking!

Anyway, my unplanned hiatus is part of what I want to talk to you about.

I love my new job. My boss seems to like my work, and I’m getting a lot of responsibility, and as someone who thrives under pressure, I couldn’t be happier. I’m like an old, seasoned member of the workforce already. I groan as I leave the house each morning, I count down the minutes to weekends, I love holidays, but I wouldn’t stop working if you paid me to do it. I sometimes think about work when I’m not at work(Which is a revelatory experience after my previous job where I would go out of the way to avoid thinking about work the minute I stepped into the parking lot of the office premises)  I carry a lot of work home too. I fall asleep insanely early each night. But I’m happy.

So what’s the problem, you ask? Well, I have no time to write. Some days, I have no time to think about what I even WANT to write. So I didn’t write. I did write in my journal semi-regularly about things that are on my mind but I didn’t blog. I couldn’t blog. I’ve been reading Cloud Atlas since the end of January and I still have a hundred pages left to read!

I frequently feel wistful that this aspect of my life is just falling by the wayside. I know that I want to keep reading, blogging, finish my novel, write several other novels perhaps, but I don’t want to give up on my legal career to do it.

So that brings me to the question that’s been on my mind for a few weeks now: In the way society functions for adults right now, is it even possible to be interested in two things? Is it possible to love two diverse career paths, one artistic, one not as artistic, and still do both without dying of exhaustion and sleep-deprivation?

I know of authors who worked day jobs and wrote at the same time, but those were usually very “9 to 5”, in a manner of speaking. Do you guys know of anybody who’s written and had a career? Is it even possible? Am I just not organised enough? Do writing prompts help? Should I follow one dream to the exclusion of all others? Will I fail at both jobs at this rate? What do you guys think?

One thing I want to attempt doing is setting aside a fixed time in the morning to write. But I feel so fried mentally that it’s somewhat impossible to think creatively. Give me tips, guys.

All this aside, let’s get back to the broader question at hand: We may not have strict professional guilds anymore but are our schedules alone working to ensure that one never pursues more than one passion as an adult? (Even if that passion is just making money) Can we be artists, musicians, writers without hungry eyes and a bleeding heart? Is every person who doesn’t work 60 hours a week (At either profession) doomed to fail? Is that healthy?

What do you think, everyone? Let me know in the comments! Just thinking aloud here, and you’re welcome to do the same, even if you think I’m wrong.

 

Why I Love Terry Pratchett

Yes, I finished reading another one of Terry Pratchett’s books recently, his first Discworld novel, The Colour of Magic. Just some info in case any of you is new to the Discworld: Most of his Discworld books can be read in any order since they’re all set in the Discworld universe but deal with different sets of people. Some of the books are little mini – series, though.

When Terry Pratchett died last year, I was actually kind of glad that I got on the Terry-Pratchett-reading train so late because it meant that I still have so many of his books left to read and that thought makes me so happy.  It is tempting to read all of his books at once but I do have an accusing (and ever-growing) pile of other unread books staring at me that I just can’t deny. Besides, I don’t want to run out of Terry Pratchett books too early because I’m painfully aware of the fact that I live in a world where Terry Pratchett isn’t producing new content any more and if I finish all the books he’s written,  there will be no more…

After I finished reading the Colour of Magic, and after I predictably loved it, I decided to be more original than posting another rave review and analyse what it is about his books that make them so appealing and bloody hilarious.

I thought about it for a few days, and I finally figured it out. Terry Pratchett does not have heroes. Terry Pratchett does not even have anti-heroes. Terry Pratchett does not have angsty brooding “bad” boys and girls. Not one. All of Terry Pratchett’s characters are weird and flawed and not very self-aware. Like real people. And no, they don’t have lovable little quirks. They have quirks. Annoying ones.  And yet… and this is is the magical part, and yet, I want to squeal and hug the crap out of most of them. I can already see a lot of his characters grimacing and wincing but I tell myself that they secretly like to be hugged.

Besides, his storyline is humorous and original, there’s magic flying about all over the place, and there’s a colossal turtle. What’s not to love? He makes a gentle, good-natured jest out of everything. Nobody and nothing is spared. It’s how I want to live my life, you guys. I want to be happy and I want not to take anything too seriously. If anything, that’s what you learn from these books, guys. You learn to chill. And there’s no better way to chill than to read one of his books. Which is… convenient as hell, when you think about it.

Well, there you go; my two cents about why I love Terry Pratchett so much, why I named one of the most important persons in my life, my dog, after him, and why I sometimes miss him even though I never actually knew him. If you haven’t read him, read him. Trust me. Eat healthy, wear sunscreen and read Terry Pratchett. These are the three pieces of advice I would give everybody. And I often forget the first two myself, being the hypocrite that I am, but I will never, ever forget the third.

Have you guys ever read any Pratchett? What do you think of his books? Which is your favourite book by him? Let me know in the comments!

I’ve run out of clever (“Clever”) ways to tell people to go look at my social media, by the way, so I’m just going to dump the links here and let you guys go crazy.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/owlishwriter
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/8681585-sindhu
Twitter: @sindrao22
Email: owlishreader@gmail.com
Instagram: owlishphotographer

Cheers!

Hoot

Sin