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? 

Sunday, June 7, 2015

3 ways to get back into writing after a hiatus

I've found that space and writing have a curvilinear relationship. A break, intentional or forced, can provide clarity and treat burnout. Too much time, however, can cause creative atrophy. Some methods tend to work more than others when I'm trying to get back into my writing zone.

1. Reading multiple books in the genre I'm trying to write in
Learning from authors who are more skilled in the craft has always helped me. I take note of scenes, dialogue, descriptions, and story structure to note what works and what doesn't. I also pick a few things to read "passively" every evening, since constant analysis can take the joy out of entertainment. 

2. Watching and analyzing movies
Sometimes, I'll see a part of a movie, and ask myself how the same image could be conveyed through words.  If an actress has a particular accent or mannerism, is there a way to write that efficiently? Do the opening and closing scenes of the movie set a tone? How is the world built through dialogue (or a lack of it)? 

3. Sifting through poetry
Poetry makes its own rules. Each poem manages to convey a virtue, experience, or emotion in a tiny space. It serves as a constant reminder that part of creativity is playing with words and defying conventions.