Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year!




Happy New Year, everyone!


Hope that this year is filled with more happiness, inspiration, comfort, and growth than the last.


I know that we sometimes spend our time making resolutions but I think it's necessary for us to appreciate how far we have already come.


2010 taught me:


how to trust my own instincts

to distinguish between what is best for me from what others want for me

to write a query letter

to accept my eternal contradictions and allow them to propel me forward

to critique poetry--mine and others

to differentiate between Southern and Northern Indian classical music

to appreciate song lyrics in a new way

to self edit my novel on many levels

how to study my religion---and others--- from various angles

to study and dissect philosophy

how to do a smoky eyeshadow look

to find peace in traveling alone---on buses, trains, and planes---each mode of transportation providing its own appeal

what it means to truly meditate and do yoga




Cheers to 2010 and 2011!




Thursday, December 30, 2010

Grateful For...




*The fact that there is always a new book to read, a new world to explore, a new character to empathize with


*Fluffy socks


*MAC foundation and powder mix


*The schizo tendencies that accompany being a writer (talking to yourself and to people who do not exist, to name a couple...they make sure that you are never alone!)


*Passion: the good, bad, and ugly


*Beauty and the Beast on DVD!


*Friends who can show you things about yourself---positive and negative--- that you have trouble seeing


*The window seat on a plane


*Medicine and all of its hardships, rewards, and promise


*Home Alone, Love Actually, The Holiday, and all of those other cozy winter movies

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Quote of the Moment

"Women want love to be a novel
Men,
A short story"
-Daphne du Maurier

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

One Thing Writing Reminded Me About Life



*It's okay to get your feet dirty---many times, it's necessary. With protection and insulation, we sometimes miss out on really feeling what's underneath us.

When it comes to writing, I need to stop being so "safe", "scared", and "covered." I realize that I shy away from sex scenes, do not allow atrocious things to happen to my characters, and keep providing them with wholesome, feel good thoughts. I stick to the familiar: familiar ideas, familiar dialogue, familiar setting, etc.

Boring much?

I need to step out of my comfort zone and immerse myself in the grainy discomfort because that's where growth occurs. By stepping out of what is known, by allowing ourselves to step into the messy area, we evolve.


Now, on another note, how about them New Year's resolutions? Today I heard a lady say that she hates going to the gym in January because that's when all the "New Years" people take up the machines.

"But they're gone by February, so it's okay," she added.

Hmm. I've always been a little uncomfortable about making a resolution that had such a strict beginning. Something about that made it seem less personal, forced.

So, I think I'll vow not only to start my resolutions whenever they are appropriate but to also sustain them.

After all, writing has taught us that starts are easy, exciting, and full of zeal but it's the middles that can be a challenge ;)

Do you have New Year's resolutions? What has art taught you about life? How will you be celebrating the New Year?

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Because We All Need a Break




It makes me so elated to read everyone's holiday posts!

The cozy pictures, cheery wishes, and Christmas inspired posts have added a heart warming feel to the blog-o-sphere.

(P.S. Maybe I'm crazy but I talk about my blogging buddies a lot. I mean, a lot a lot. I share your inspiring stories and sweet comments with everyone. So, thank you for adding something special to my every day :) )

Well, today I realized that I get upset at myself for tiring out before I am mentally ready to throw in the towel. I push and push and push or I don't push and become submerged in that other nasty emotion---guilt. Oh, the guilt of leaving things undone. And the way that guilt is coupled with worry!

It can get quite taxing, right?

But I hope that during this holiday season, every one takes their well deserved break. To recharge. Reflect. Reward.

Eat (too) many cookies with sprinkles, buy that special holiday gift, allow your writing to take a break, and sleep in. A lot.

My father's closest medical school/residency friends settled around the United States. Every year, we take a vacation with all of the families. The tradition has been happening for almost 10 years and I call all of the other kids my cousins.

Tomorrow, we're leaving for the Bahamas!

It'll be the perfect sliver of summer in December.

Hope that you all have a great weekend :)

Merry Christmas!

Listen To Your Body


One of the (many) wonderful things about growing older is learning how to read your body. In med school, we study the importance of our body's "warning signs". They can tell us when something is just not right---physically, emotionally, spiritually. We know ourselves better than we think and sometimes our bodies can grasp cues that our minds ignore.

When a situation makes me comfortable, I tend to get a gnawing in the pit of my stomach. On the other hand, excitement comes in the form of shaking legs, deep heavy breaths, and a higher pitched voice.

Creating anything involves listening and knowing what our body is saying. Last night, I wrote a flirtacious scene between my main character and "the other guy" in her life. I wasn't sure if all of the elements were in place at first. So, I rewrote. Then I rewrote again.

At last, when I read the scene, I literally felt my fingers trembling. That was all I needed to know that the scene was finally functional.

I've read writer interviews where authors wait for those physical signs before moving on!

So, listen. Learn.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

An Ode to Anthropologie

I browsed through Anthropologie for the first time last week. Boy, had I been missing out! The entire store is filled with precious goodies---there was something for everyone. It made me wish that I had my very own space to decorate.
(all photos from anthropologie.com)



Love letter sheet set! To sleep under romantic, cursive words---now, that's heaven :)

Butter holder in a feel-great color

Specially bound Penguin classics

Gorgeous brush set

Quote of the Moment



"Don't say you'se old
You'se a little baby girl all the time
God made it so that you spend
Yo' old age first
With somebody else
And saved up yo' young girl days
To spend
Wid me"

-Their Eyes Were Watching God
Zora Neale Hurston
(My winter read; love that the dialogue reflects how people spoke during that time period!)

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Do You Get in Your Way?



You all know about my list obsession. This question came to me as I was making multiple goals lists: how often do I get in my own way?

1. Procrastination, dilly-dallying, whatever you want to call it, are all one example of how I get in my own way. When I leave things to later, I am preventing myself from satisfaction later on.

2. Self doubt is another one. I could beat myself up forever, telling poor little me how I'm not good enough or accomplished enough or skilled enough.... whatever.

Or I could acknowledge my weaknesses, work on them, and not allow them to stand in my way.

3. Looking back. I tend to ponder, stew, and pine over past friendships, obstacles, and memories. When it comes to writing, it is wonderful to scroll through all of those pages I have written and weave through various Word documents, but at some point, looking back is a serious hindrance to moving forward. Duh!

Solution? Give myself time limits to look back. After they are up, it is time to move on!


All of these hinder our progress--in writing, life, etc. There are certain things that just aren't in our control. But for those other things, maybe I can get a grip!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

From Us Writers


To non-writers:

*Thanks for knowing that it is not as easy as 1.) Write a book in a few months 2.) Have it published and 3.) Reap all the benefits from its incredible sales and retire

*Sometimes things have to be rewritten. Over. And over. And over. Hence, our "slow" progress on completing a manuscript

*There are rounds of rejection which are ALL difficult and taxing...we would not be able to get through them without your empathy and pick-me-ups

*We appreciate everything you do for us: discussing story development, running our errands, never allowing us to give up, giving occasional massages....all of it :)

Yes, even blogging has its downsides



The blogging community is supportive, encouraging, and inspiring. My favorite (and most recent) example of this was during Talli Roland's blog splash. It was refreshing to see someone like her receive so much well deserved support for her work.

But...what about the negatives?

Author Jody Hedlund wrote a fabulous post where she asked if you ever thought someone came on to your blog just so you could follow theirs?

At another point, she also brought up a great point about how in the online world, formatting is just as important as content. Words are not the only way to copy and plagarize. A blog is akin to a white wall and can be decorated in an infinite amount of ways.

Some of the blogs I love are extra appealing because of their formats. Yes, they have beautiful messages but they also have a unique way of highlighting their sentences, adding fun quotes, and inserting pictures. Or maybe they post interesting interviews...or they follow a fun schedule, like Laura's quote days and writing exercises.





Sure, we are all trying to figure out our own ways (for example, my quote obsession led me to think of using one quote, in large font, as an entire post).

But it's important to give credit where it is appropriate.

In other words, play nice (or nicely---we love those adverbs ;) ).



Friday, December 17, 2010

Why Don't You....

*Wrap a present in a beautiful map?

*Write for two hours straight, without any breaks or distractions, just to see how far you can go?

*Give yourself credit for the things you've accomplished this year---big, medium, small?

(Yes, stirring up a new book idea, baking cookies, experimenting with new boots and rewatching favorite movies counts ;) ).

*Tell that special friend of yours how much he or she adds to your life? (Sometimes every one needs a little reminder.)

*Borrow a book from someone and return it with a dried flower pressed into the pages?

*Surprise your mom/sister/aunt with just-because flowers?

*Wear a dark, solid outfit and add a splash of color with fun tights?


Thursday, December 16, 2010

Details, details, details


People, novels, and movies are taken to a special level when they focus on the right details.

My friends with gorgeous eyes? They wear enhancing eyeliner and jet black mascara.

The ones with nice skin? Hints of blush or bronzer

What makes great movies great? A character with loveable quirks that come out in random ways...camera angles that blur out backgrounds, music that sets the tone...

Now, how about novels?

The other day I was reading about the importance of details. Apparently, an "amateur writer" can be distinguished by their need to describe anything and everything.

The key comes in illustrating those elements that show character or extract a unique aspect of the setting.

Is your character riding the subway?
-Talk about what he/she is listening to on the iPod, what he/she notices, where he/she is going....

Is your character with her friends?
-What is unique about them? What do they laugh like? How do they speak? Do they have any scars or marks that distinguish them? How did they all become friends? How is your main character in relation to them?


Ideally, you can weave character, setting, and plot into a single scene! Readers tend to become bored by scenes that do not accomplish multiple purposes.

Hope this helps!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Wonderful Advice!




For writing and life,

"Take risks - don't be afraid to shock. You are not who you think you are."

#72 on a fabulous list of 73 ways to become a better writer


Happy Wednesday :)

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

A World of Black and White

We rarely know WHY we love what we love. But sometimes when we investigate the reasons behind these loves, we realize how much sense they make.

I love black and white.
Why?
Because it's classic, elegant, timeless.
Because of its eternal contradiction, its endearing contrast.
Because something about that lack of color extracts the true essence of things.

But when I thought about black and white more, I saw that it is everywhere, in so many of my other obsessions:




Long evening gowns
(White House Black Market)



Piano Keys



Old Movies
(Roman Holiday)




And last, but not least....book pages!!


(I also wanted to put in calligraphy but you get the whole print idea, right?)

What are your loves?

Monday, December 13, 2010

Quote of the Moment



"Why does one begin to write? Because she feels misunderstood, I guess.

Because it never comes out clearly enough when she tries to speak.
Because she wants to rephrase the world, to take it in and give it back again differently, so that everything is used

and
nothing is lost. Because it's something to do to pass the time until she is old enough to experience the things she writes about."

-Nicole Krauss

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Firsts....

How important are those beginning words...that very first sentence?

We always hear about first dates, first impressions, first kisses, etc. So how do firsts weigh with other things?

I know that first chapters matter a lot in books; same goes with those first scenes in movies.


Here's one of my first lines:

"Remember," my mother says as she adjusts the folds of her blood red sari. "No man likes it when a woman complains too much."


Another first line:


The necklace was a grainy chain of diamonds that concluded in a smooth pearl---a contradiction of materials. Ideal for its giver and receiver.


First Singing Idol:


Mariah Carey


First Favorite Artist



Lisa Frank ;)



Sometimes firsts are easier to concoct than middles or lasts. A forgiving reader may move beyond slow pacing or a hackneyed introduction. Sometimes, they are difficult to make up for.

What are your firsts---sentences, favorite movies, role models---and how important do you think they are?

Thursday, December 9, 2010

What Would You Tell Your Old Self?



How often do you have those "if only I knew then, what I know now" moments?


(I first thought of this when I found a great book at Borders that compiled touching letters female celebrities wrote to their younger selves.)

The other night, I was talking to a close friend on the phone about some taxing times she experienced throughout the past years. Things have fallen into place for her now. In fact, they are going so well that somebody who saw her now would probably have a difficult time imagining that anything ever went wrong for her.

As we pondered over how fluid life is, she said, "I look back on that girl I was two years ago and it hurts. I wish I could just...tell her that things will work out and not to be in so much pain."

Hearing that made me wonder, what would I want to tell my old self?

1.) It's a blessing that things will not work out with this guy. You will both be with people who are better suited for you.2.) Being confused about your career...revolving it around passion.... will only make it more rewarding in the end

3.) There is a grace in being a good listener for a friend and in giving your uncensored input...but the real skill comes in knowing which one of those to pick


4.) A person's negative behavior--jealousy, snide remarks,etc.---should not bother you so much; many times, it is simply a reflection of how low they feel about themselves

5.) Nothing is ever for sure. Do not be more attached to the idea of a plan than the plan itself.

6.) You will meditate through writing. That is when your mind will be in its most peaceful state, when every part of you is fired and placated at once.

7.) You will look back on college and miss every part of it---living with your best friends, procrastinating during finals week, Grey's Anatomy marathons, socializing (instead of studying) at the library, binges at Moe's... And that's how you'll know that you made the best of it.

8.) You will never stop caring about certain people even when they are no longer in your life. They will drift away for various reasons which may or may not be in your power.

Sometimes, it may even feel like you are trying to fill their roles with others...but just know that you cannot clutch every single thing that ever mattered to you...that you have to carve out space to make room for things, people, and places that are more compatible with you



Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Tragic Flaw


A person's greatest strength can also be their weakness.

Take, for example, the classic "nice" person. Maybe they are generous, selfless, supportive, etc. But that can also lead to the hints of cowardice, submissive tendencies, and low self esteem. (Plus, how many times have you heard a girl say she won't date a guy because he's "too nice"?)

Our society takes pride in contradictions...in these dual edged traits that mold us.

The great news is that we are not always all things at all times, so maybe it's about figuring out when to do---when to be---a certain way.

Something to think about when you are crafting your characters.... or maybe just psycho analyzing those special people in your life ;)

Great Holiday Movies to Curl Up To


*Home Alone 2 (NYC...slapstick humor...gutsy kid...what's not to love?)

*A Christmas Carol

*The Grinch Who Stole Christmas



*Love Actually...(favorite scene from the movie...unrequited, secret love...sigh)






Tuesday, December 7, 2010

One of Those "It's Hard to be a Woman" Rants

Have you ever made eye contact with someone and known that you could be good friends? Something about that person's disposition aligns with your own and your heart thinks, "ah ha! Cool person!"

Well, sometimes I think we have that sense for people we will NOT be good friends with. There are too many people in this world to ensure that each and every pair will be a winning combination. And that's okay...life would be terribly boring otherwise, no?

I thought of this because the other day some girls were standing around in a group and discussing an upcoming women in medicine banquet. Everyone rattled off ideas and one of mine (granted it may have been a random thing to be excited about) was for us to get dressed up. Every day, we wander the halls in frumpy t-shirts, apathetic buns and smeared mascara so this seemed like a good opportunity to not be so...slovenly.

Other girls nodded their heads and even threw out ideas for what outfits they would wear. But then one girl cleared her throat and asked, "Why are we enforcing the stereotype? Girls just getting together and trying to look pretty? Aren't we supposed to be smarter than that?"

Now, now, now, why is it that young women who are "supposed" to be "smart" should shy away from resembling....well, women?

Why is it that stereotypically feminine things---crying, oohing and aahing, dressing up, shrieking---make us seem weaker and less intelligent? Why do the smart women many times try to exhibit classic male characteristics??

And most of all, how come when it comes to so many of these things, it is women who are tougher on other women?? Shouldn't we be sticking together?




P.S. Sad to say that I related to poor Elle Woods during this conversation.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Sending Over Some Birthday Love :)



Yup, I am officially another year older! I don't normally get excited about birthdays but I've felt SO much love this year and I wanted to pass some things on to my amazing blogger buddies!!


And while we are on the subject of birthdays, did anyone ever read their horoscope to an unhealthy degree?? As in, did you ever flip to the back of magazines while you were checking out at the grocery store to see what the month had in store for you? Do you think you align to your zodiac sign or is it all a bunch of crap?


This past weekend, I had 2 birthday celebrations and this morning, one of my very sweet classmates surprised me with gorgeous cupcakes! I don't know what I'd do without such giving people in my life.



My sweetheart flew in from NYC. Here we are at celebration # 2. Apparently, I became quite hyper, attempted numerous backbends, and refused to leave. We ended the night with an episode of Modern Family.



Before he left for the airport, he surprised me with this new scarf. Call me crazy, but there's nothing like a fun winter accessory to add a warm spring to your step!


Now, some Things To Pass On:

* The Bookshelf Muse (check out the thesaurus for different locations and emotions!)

*Jeff Herman's Guide to Publishers, Editors, and Literary Agents (this was recommended by fabulous author Emily Giffin...it has fun facts and bios on every certified literary agent)

*Helpful article about how to make sure the middle of your book is as strong as the rest!






The lovely Maria McKenzie gave me the Versatile Blogger award! Thank you, Maria :) I am sending this along to:



I'll also be doing a holiday giveaway soon! Yay!


Quote of the Moment



"I can never read all of the books I want. I can never be all of the people I want and live all of the lives I want. I can never train myself in all of the skills I want.

And why do I want?

I want to live and feel all the shades, tones, and variations of mental and physical experiences possible in life. And I am horribly limited."

-Sylvia Plath

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Query Rejection




Last Friday, I received a query rejection. It wasn't dressed differently than any other rejections. There was a polite, declarative sentence. An encouraging closing. All in all, your standard run-of-the-mill rejection.

But, you know what's crazy? No matter how many times I have read that rejection is a part of the process, I still cannot seem to let one bounce off of my shoulders. It manages to pierce me the way nothing else can.

I'm not sure I will ever become used to it or if it will get easier with each one. I found myself drowning in dismal thoughts. Maybe I should give up. Maybe I'm not cut out for this after all. Maybe I'm not that great.

Of course, those emotions waned and then I reminded myself that this is more about tenacity than anything else. That to give up would mean saying good bye to hours of effort and love. That everyone goes through it and sometimes, it is a test of how hard we are willing to keep trying.

Then I pick myself up, take a break, and dive in head first again.

But wow, it still hurts.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

First Kiss

Thought of this while crafting a scene with my main character:

Was your first kiss the way you imagined it would be? Was it better? Worse?

Before I even had mine, it was clouded by ideas from Disney movies:


Sigh, Prince Eric was the one who got away



The, of course, there were Bollywood movies where there was no lip to lip contact but there was meadow or mountain frolicking and yards of colorful fabric!


(Side note: mine was nothing like these pictures...stupid expectations. It was awkward and uncomfortable the way it should have been. My main character was quite a dork growing up so she got her first kiss later than usual.)

Anyway, a kiss, first or not, can reveal a lot about a relationship. You can have an apathetic, reflexive peck or an impassioned post-argument lip lock. Or maybe a trail of quick kisses that foreshadow what's next....