Saturday, July 25, 2015

we have some impulse within us

Photo by: Reichman Photography

"We write for the same reason that we walk, talk, climb mountains or swim the oceans—because we can. We have some impulse within us that makes us want to explain ourselves to other human beings. That’s why we paint, that’s why we dare to love someone–because we have the impulse to explain who we are. Not just how tall we are, or thin...but who we are internally…perhaps even spiritually. There’s something which impels us to show our inner-souls. The more courageous we are, the more we succeed in explaining what we know."

Maya Angelou

Saturday, July 4, 2015

If I Knew Then: lessons I've learned

1. Throwing yourself into work you believe in will change you. It will empower you to navigate setbacks. It will make you a better person. Let the work change and let it change you. 

2. Don't wish for no failure. Wish for creative ways of dealing with it. Dwell in rock bottom for a bit---you're not the first person who has been there---and then move on. 

3. Anyone who is not in your life doesn't belong there. Never forget the things they taught you and be grateful for their absence.

4. Seek novelty with family. Learn your parents' and grandparents' backstories, the people they were before you existed.

5. Strike up conversations with bartenders. They've seen it all.

6. Compliment people on their strengths. There's a high chance they haven't heard about them enough.

7. The best friendships are the ones where honesty flows in both directions, where forgiveness is implied and doesn't have to be stated or pointed out.

8. When someone is wrong, they'll sometimes try even harder to defend themselves.

9. Embrace your parents as people with their own tapestries of triumph, pain, wisdom, and strength.

10. Look back only long enough to piece events together, to accept that everything had to occur to get you to where you are now. 

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Sunday, June 21, 2015

the struggle with doing something you love

I can only write when I'm in the proper state of mind, one that's driven by constant observation, reading, and editing. One where every character is strewn across the city and every line of dialogue I hear in a restaurant becomes material. 

There's never a period of rest and it seems more appropriate that way. 
When I get to know writing better, I realize how much I'll always have to learn. It requires that I rewrite and rewrite and put something away for a bit and then rewrite again. It requires spending hours in front of a computer screen and ignoring the outside world. It brings pangs of regret and uncertainty that eventually become part of my daily physiologic workings. It demands that I finish a piece of work and embrace countless rejections. 

When you do something you love, you willingly accept everything that comes with it, good and bad. You make your own rules, change your mind, and build an appreciation for the process. You get beaten down and then, whether it's days, months, or years, later, you start again. Because you simply have to. There's no other way. 

People may romanticize the life of someone who writes daily. While I understand the appeal of that classic writerly image, that coffee drinking, chic individual who spouts profound prose without any effort, I think there are parts that remain concealed. Specifically, the struggle. And that's unfortunate because the struggle is often a larger part of the story than the victory. 

"The writing life is essentially one of solitary confinement---if you can't deal with this, you needn't apply." Will Self

"You must always be prepared to work without applause." Ernest Hemingway

you will greet yourself arriving at your own door, in your own mirror


The time will come
when, with elation,
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror,
and each will smile at the other's welcome,
and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you
all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,
the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.

Sit. Feast on your life.

Derick Walcott

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

marriage advice

These are some tidbits Samir and I have received from our loved ones so far. I've relished how the advice has been similar whether it's come from someone in an arranged marriage or what Indians call a "love marriage". 

-Always believe your partner is doing the best he or she can
-Embrace each other's family and friends as your own
-Schedule new activities together 
-Schedule activities independently
-Make clear decisions on finances from the beginning
-Go to each other first, not friends or family, when there's an issue
-Build your bond on respect above any other virtue

questions to improve a plot

As I navigate through chapter by chapter revisions, I keep asking, 

How can I take the next scene in an unexpected direction? 

What does this reveal about my characters that wasn't already shown in other chapters?

Have I used all of the five senses to set the mood and drive the plot forward?

Is there inherent AND escalating conflict present?