Starting Over

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When a writer starts over.

Hello!

It’s me.

I was wondering if after these year(s) you’d like to meet..

That didn’t sound very creative, did it?

How about I try again.

Holla blog, bloggers, follower(s) if any. I’ve been missing for a year. And I hope you noticed. Throw some wise words my way.

Tell me I’m lazy and should be burned at the stake.

Tell me I have potential but my introversion and lack of action is killing the now, nearly diminished spark.

Tell me there’s talent that needs polishing.

Tell me that I can start now, or forever wait…to start.

Tell me that things don’t come easy, but it does come, if you try.

Tell me that this life is the only shot I have, to do or die.

Tell me to get off my rear bottom and do what I’ve always dreamed of doing.

Tell me to send that idea to the Editor of New York Times.

Tell me to draft an outline for the first of many shitty stories I’ll burden the world’s literary agents with, and maybe a Pulitzer-worthy one in the end.

Tell me that there’s work to be done.

Tell me that 26 is only a number. And that living long enough to cross 25 years of love, hate, determination, achievements, failures, anguish and courage is a matter worth celebrating.

Tell me to forget the lousy unproductive year of 2015. That 2016 is here to mark new beginnings.

Tell me that I can start all over, today!

Tell me…

Pray, tell me, will ya?

 

 

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I’m scared

We have always been told we should dream big, we owe it to ourselves. I often see wonderful visions of achievements playing in my head. But I’m scared to begin.

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How to start…writing

I’ve been on a ramp of covering all the fine Oscar nominated movies for 2015. I watched The Imitation Game, a wonderful movie on cracking the Enigma during WWII. Boyhood– made over 12 years of growing up. And then I watched Selma, on Martin Luther King’s struggle for equal rights for the African-American. I read his world acclaimed speech, ‘I have a dream’ only two years back ( ye, guilty) and it moved me to write a blog post. Now again, I can’t help but be deeply inspired by King’s work which started when he was all but 26 years of age. It is wonderful to work towards something you deeply care about, succeed at it and be remembered for it.  I have a dream too, but I don’t know how to begin.

A lot of people are good at talking about their achievements and painting positive ideas and thoughts (which is great thing, hands down). It’s just that I’m deeply frightened of beginning and branching out. How do you start? When I tear up the internet to look for inspiration, I see leading bloggers, freelancers and coaches who have built huge businesses from nothing. I see artists who started with humble beginnings and have slowly but surely conquered the world. And I think, “well of course it worked for them. They are sociable, likeable and talented. Everything I’m not.” If i were to use a simile, I’d say I’m like a crab that  comes out and tests the waters when no one’s looking. If I had to use a metaphor, I’d be the storm which you feel is coming, but you can’t see. And sometimes I’m also the running shoes living in a box for the last two years. The shoes have a purpose in life, to run. It will be instrumental in the weight reduction program of the person who wears it and uses it. It’s been two years since it first ran. And it will run, by God it will, someday. Perhaps, just not today…

I’m all of the above. (Also the shoes example is real. I have a pair of black Adidas shoes with pink lace that I wore only once.) I am an introvert and I don’t like always having to make conversation. I am a writer but I don’t know if there is enough talent. And I am scared…to begin. A lot of people, as do I, recommend taking baby steps– break them down. Hell, even I said that in my blog post. But I just wanted to mention that I’m not the perfect diva who shares bloodline and genetic skill with the likes of Salman Rushdie and Arundhati Roy, neither am I the life of parties, or the social butterfly who flutters from flower to flower. I’m an average person who is worried of starting out. But you know what? J.K Rowling is a well-known introvert. Albert Einstein was a genius who enjoyed company that consisted of no one but himself, which propelled the Theory of Relativity. Agatha Christie was rejected for FIVE years before she went on become a world famous author and since Susan Cain’s book, Quiet, ‘we’ have become the new ‘cool’. Oh, well. I like the sound of that, I suppose.

So, in conclusion to being afraid, starting out and setting goals, here’s what I plan to do for now. 1. Two queries to leading publications every week 2. Two blog posts a month 3. Two new followers per post (there I’ve said it) Do you battle with fear? If you would like to drop some advice or even voice your thoughts, please feel free to do so. Oh, and Happy republic Day!

2015 – The year to be (fingers crossed)

Hi folks,

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From the beginning

Today is January 17th in the year 2015. So what does that say about me? Anyone who is big in the blogosphere would cry foul. That New Year greeting along with the big list of goals and resolutions should have come a long time back.

Well, for starters I’m not someone who is into making New year resolutions, in fact I can’t remember the last time I did. Why make resolutions that you can’t keep, right? A while back this very thought propelled me to attempt an article on the subject- why do we fail so miserably with them. I read up on it. The reason a few experts and laymen gave was the fact that the goals were too elaborate, did not come with a clear schedule or action -plan and bore a very long-term commitment (365 days). So if one of us aimed to lose weight this year (I’ll take the most common of them for the sake of simplicity, no offence), say lose 10 kilos by the end of the year– simple, ain’t it? Now day 1 , you work out. Same with day 2 or 3 or 10. And then you relax thinking well, i have the rest of 11 months. Each month you keep pushing it, feeling guilty for not dong your job which makes it even harder to put on your track suit and running shoes. You keep thinking (with less assurance each time that there’s another month, or two, left). By the end of the year, well, it’s the same story. Problem? Yes!!

The solution is really quite simple and we know the answers to all our questions. The problem is actually implementing what you know into practice. In fact, taking that first step is the hardest. In the world of freelancing, writers are required to pitch ideas to editors if they want a shot at ever writing for them. These need to better than the elevator-pitches that salesmen deliver– clear ideas, with methods of execution and why it works for the magazine, yada yada. But writing that first one has been such a pain for me that I put it off for far too long. Believe you,me when I say, I have been reading about the A-Z’s of freelancing for nearly a year now. I know 95% of how to’s, the do’s, don’t’ s and everything in between. So, why has it taken so long? Fear– of being a newbie, under-performing, self-doubts and anything you can think of. A large number of people suffer from this than you realize. In fact a popular coach, Tim Grahl, has a free e-course on ‘Conquering Fear‘ (which I’ve signed up for, as you can imagine).

Going back to new year resolutions– while it is extremely important to have a road map or a goal, you need to break them down into specific targets, assign them time-lines and make sure that while they are ambitious, they should also be achievable. Example- Send 3 pitches a week, 12 a month. Make 500 bucks a week, 2000 a month, 24,000  a year and so on.

Lastly, this is something I learnt from a mentor, Mridu Khullar. YOU can determine your new year!! If you fail your goals for this month, start from February. If the target for March, doesn’t seem to be going according to plan, club it with April and June. The focus is to not give up and start, but  start immediately. Rectify the situation, today! I will share my goals for 2015 on the blog soon, so you guys can hold me accountable. I suggest each of you do the same, so we can tease each other about that.

As for why I didn’t post earlier, well, I was determined that I wouldn’t until I took my first step in freelancing. I sent my first article pitch yesterday (after nearly a year of reading up and learning). And guess what, it wasn’t perfect because the first one rarely is. A few seconds after I hit send, I realized there were plenty of better ways to have penned it. That is where experience comes into play. Either ways, I’m glad I’ve taken my first step and the rest doesn’t seem to be as hard anymore.

So, if my message has been lost in translations– two things

1. Fear is what holds many of us back. Take that imperfect, first step to get to the perfect 10th or 20th step. But you need to stop obsessing and begin.

2. Goals fails because you haven’t clearly defined them. So sit down. Make a road map, be it personal or professional. Let it be a little challenging and also a little practical. But above all, make sure that it is something you really care about. And when you don’t achieve your said target, don’t give up. Add it to the next month, or week and follow-up. In brief, start again!

Care to tell me what your fears are? Why you haven’t started on your dream yet? And what you plan to do? Would love to hear your thoughts. And by the way, Happy New Year!!

New Beginnings and middles

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It was perhaps last year when I first started writing, and on a serious note, at that. I coughed up pesky ideas, some done-to-death and some with new slants to work out a couple of features (without ever knowing that they were called features). I penned down some prose , some lines and together, it made a few rhymes (and I love that I can still do them).

Around July or August of ’13, I decided to take the ultimate leap and cross-over to becoming a writer/author. I decided to dunk my degree worth three years of time,toil and tensions, down the drain. A year I’d spent in between trying to make it through the Harvard-like institutions of India (read IIM’s and XIM’s), well, that resulted in ultimately earning me a seat in a Government college. Sadly, that had to be scrapped off my time-line too because barely 3 months into graduating, I decided that the Masters degree in Fashion Management that I’d ultimately pursued; it meant nothing much to me, .

Am I out of mind?Or am I just making up some fancy story to keep you hooked? I don’t know the answer to the first part and will reply  ‘nay’ to the latter. Yes, I’ve often wondered If I’m stupid. All those years of learning gibberish (no offence, other’s who enjoyed what they learnt are making more than their tuition’s worth) just turned zilch. But no, the story is real and it is mine.

But finding your dream, putting it under a microscope and accessing it, analyzing it and scrutinizing it to fit the benchmarks of ‘being practical’ and staying ‘fool-proof’ was not easy. Similarly, neither was initiating it or following it.

Today, I have the most perfect job which many with my lack of qualification would find improbable to have landed. I’ll call it a mix of luck and stubborn resolution and also throw in an answered prayer to that list. Yet, here I am still complaining. Because as much as I like coming to work to write, it bothers me that I only learnt the basics of writing (and still continue to do so) while my colleagues younger than me are already far ahead. I hate the fact that another team-mate who is my age, draws nearly 10k more than what I do. I feel small that I have two lousy degrees that will never come to good use and is nothing but wasted time and money. I eagerly await the future but what still comes back to kick me in the derriere is that I will always be two paces behind my mates. I can never race their time-line and earn a full-time degree without losing a year, neither can I race them on the experience bar. To me it will always be precious time lost.

Off-late I’ve been meaning to branch out to new avenues in writing and I’ve been reading up as  much as I can. I’ve also been religiously following an Indian freelance journalist who has written for impressive International publications who started writing at the age of 21. I compare myself to her time-line. I’m 24, with my needle rounding-up to the next number. That’s a professional lag of nearly 4 years in comparison. Anger at my lack of clarity and direction during my early years resurface, yes, sometimes I’m a bitter soul. This means at least 3 years of aggressively selling myself in the job-market if I need to match up. And as ambitious as I am, I have other girl-like desires, like, tying the knot, perhaps, two years down the line, or saving enough to travel to at least one European country. So,to sum it up, I’ll never speed up  the way my counterparts did when they  made the right choices early on in life.

It was around this time that I read an article that spoke of ‘not comparing your beginnings to someone else’s middle‘. I may be way behind  writer-friends my age, but I certainly am ahead of those who still haven’t found their calling and who, perhaps never will (thanks to our run-down system of education). My weakness and inadequate experience  is like an adrenaline rush that reminds me of where I am and how much ground I have to cover, compelling me to constantly up my game. And today I see myself more driven than others who have cemented their paths in the publishing industry. I now think that maybe this was more of a blessing in disguise. I will not repeat the cliched lines of having no regrets, because that’s a lie (let’s face it). There will always be mistakes. I still wish I’d realized earlier on and graduated from a journalism school instead. But what happened has happened. The way I see it, I cannot change that but my task lies in how I can perform albeit my blocks.

Now when I reminisce, I realize I’ve beaten the odds to plunge into a job that would only have been a dream. I’ve grasped everything I could– ideas, techniques, methods and teachings until my cup has over-flowed. I am hell-bent to be good and to be better and I know I will never give up. I will be making my own time-line of failures. trials and achievements and maybe, some day along the line, someone will read this and be inspired to follow their dream. And to them, I will then advice to make your own time-line.

Why I defy the System

Dear readers,

Let me apologize for the constant delay in giving you a ‘piece of my mind’ and picking your brain occasionally, although I imagine, you wouldn’t have missed it one bit. Either ways, efforts are in place to obtrude your fine world with my words by attempting to follow ever-imparted and rarely practiced advice, the likes of Seinfield’s chain technique, morning pages and what not? Should I succeed, let me warn you that your e-mail will be harassed once a week. That being said, today’s post is something I’ve been meaning to write for a while – consider it the plight of the maiden (unmarried).

Coming from any traditional family ( add to that the keywords ,’Keralite’, ‘Christian-Syrian’), you will never be surprised if your parents gently start having the ‘talk’ with you. Don’t get carried away now, we are talking of the talk that involves ‘tying the knot’ or the ‘noose’, should I say. If any of you non-Indian folk are still not aware of it, let me give you a hint (South-Indian style)

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© michaklootwijk – fotolia_71482606

Allow me to narrate the night I first met that kind, yet insensible and ignorant soul. The nature of it’s being was rather baffling (and I say ‘it’ because ‘it’ is not human, but a congregation of multiple ideologies, emotions and rules that the humans of the Indian sub-continent laid down eons past). While I was aware of the System’s impact on my life, it was the first time I understood the extent of it. Something akin to one of the many substances of abuse, sending you off into a parallel world that seems flowery and wonderful at first but once the effect wears off, you get a sinking sensation of having been cheated.

‘It’ sat in a dreary and cold cave, awaiting my arrival with the list, just like clock-work. You see, we all have lists, multiple check-lists which are activated once we reach a certain age – a time, like a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot what has been planted, as is written in the Holy Bible. And when our time comes, the system sends us constant reminders, until, checked-off. Not surprisingly, my time had come. After passing through many tedious lists for the past 24 years and checking off my obligations, (be born-check; study – study in kg, study in school and study in college, check; get a job, check. So, of course the next was the most obvious, get married – ugh, sorry, not checked) I was summoned to meet ‘it’.

“Please, call me –the system,” it said in it’s soft and intoxicating voice. It was a dashing man, who was none other than my all-time crush, Brad Pitt. (Make no mistake, The System, can wear any number of faces, voices and characters to deceive you, and the smart girl that I am, I wasn’t going to be fooled).

The chill seemed to sink into my bones and the dim light, courtesy, an old lit wick, next to Mr. Pitt who looked like he was geared up for a board meeting of ruthless negotiations and results,  did nothing to help my confused state of mind. “You have been summoned here so that you learn the rules and follow them accordingly,” he answered.

I rolled my eyes. ‘Here we go again.’

“You have been dodging your task, a very important one, may I add,” It told me in a matter-of-fact manner. “The task that involves getting eternally bound by the ropes of matrimony leading to co-habitation and co-existence, following the responsibility of reproduction,” pseudo-Pitt continued. “This task accounts for the highest number of credits, and the earlier it is achieved, more the brownie points.” It told me in his sexy, laid-back voice. My eyes concentrated on the cute dimple on faux-Pitt’s cheek. “If only it were really you,” I thought to myself.

“Any explanations on why you dodge your most imperative task?,” the System re-directed my thoughts to the issue at hand ( a very grave one these days, I assure you).

I patiently told The System how I was not ready for an eternally binding moral contract. I had more important things to do, things that I would’ve liked to do much earlier, which didn’t accurately get ticked of my list back then and no one seemed to care. You see, it has nearly been a year since I had my first professional brush with being a writer and ever since, I have been involved in an obsessive –romantic relationship with it. Not to say that I had an epiphany one fine day – I always loved reading and writing as a child. But when it was time to choose a career, the System only had a few options, the likes of Engineering, Medicine, Accounting and perhaps to the service of God and Church ( a priest or in my case, a Nun). So, I took commerce, the lesser evil. When it was time to check into a college, I decided ‘Literature’. “Are you going to become a teacher,” it asked me. ‘No, I wasn’t.’ And so I graduated with a degree in Business Administration and a Masters in Fashion Management, each time with something that was further from the opinionated System. But sadly, that wasn’t enough and nothing was until I learnt that there was an option called ‘Write’ in the list, and I employed the same to mine, put a check mark against it and I have never been happier since.

“So, what’s the problem now,” The System, asked, slowly taking the form of my beautiful mother, looking as young as ever in her short hair and flawless skin. (People still find it hard to believe I am her oldest daughter. Psst. Can’t figure out what kind of list she had on her)

“I have only just begun. A writer’s life is not easy. There is freelancing and going places and reporting from the ends of the earth,” I tried telling her. She suggested finding a guy who was supportive.

Now I am not a revolutionist who envisions changing the world and breaking every rule in the book, but I  realize that I have always lived by The System and if I don’t attempt to change it, I will even die by it. Yes, there are days when the adult woman in me pictures myself caring for a child, my own. There are times when I wish I could embrace myself in the cocoon of my family. And again, for much of it, I yearn to do those many things a woman on the brink of adulthood dreams of – renting my first apartment, writing stories that will not only sell like hot cakes but also make a difference, pay up my insurance on time, see a six figure number in my account and inspired by many movies, travel the world to find a certain cause and meaning (which is probably rubbish, but my ego will demand the exciting journey nevertheless).  And moreover, why would I submit myself to the bonds of the Marital System with a complete stranger.

“Many people have married strangers and they have never been happier,” the System replied, camouflaged behind my dad’s face and voice this time.

I’d like to tell you that The System is like a dubious entity that hides behind every face and every mind, you know. The System, over time, has taught people to live by the rulebook, so as to avoid any chaos, disruptions and Standard deviations that could arise out of mere free will. You are allowed to see dreams and view visions but within the limits of what is permitted.  The System keeps everyone in their place. The maidens are supposed to have nuptial responsibilities at a prime age when they may ‘bear fruit’ and hence, ensure that their great grandparents genes live on. The rich mix with the rich to have rich babies, the middle-class with their kind and so on. It is the same factor that keeps a light-skinned man from marrying a dusky girl or a Doctor from marrying an Artist. Thus, the System grades individuals and order is maintained. This is how it works, folks.

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Now, I’m not here to provoke you or encourage a fanatic rage. Rules were made for a reason, but when it hampers your passion and comes in the way of your free will (considering that your will resides in moral causes, not involving self-destruction or that of any other being), I say it is time to bend the rules. Create your own time-line, after all time is the only factor that evades you. A time to be born and a time to die – the beginning was predetermined, perhaps the end too. But what happens in between is yours to decide.

That evening, I resolved to dump the weird hallucination that resided in the nook of my mind and bid The System goodbye. After all, I had many check-lists to work on, a thousand ones that I came up with and a million more to go.

Have you ever felt this way or connect to what I’m jabbering about? If so, let me know how you have bent the rules, or defied the System.

Holla

Hello folks,

Procrastination is something that every writer is constantly reminded of, apart from the cliched ‘Writer’s Block’. To say that I, in all honesty have been procrastinating doesn’t waiver the wagging finger pointed at my lazy, nonchalant mannerism; although would it work if nearly 33 articles in five months, stood to my defense? Well, typical human condition to present some form of justification, except in this case it is rather moot.

I have recently picked up my reading habits and after ‘The fault in our stars’, which by the way is splendid and witty. I have recently started with Manu Joseph’s ( ex-editor of OPEN magazine) ‘Serious Men’. I have only turned the first 10 pages, and I must say, he brilliantly reproduces reality with the use of cutting satire that gets rooted in the deep of my thoughts. Now apart from my goal of devouring as many wonderful books as I can, let me assure the very few readers I have that Through my peephole will be up and active with some impressive columns for your thoughts ( I hope:))

We have recently moved form #blogspot to #wordpress.com. I would appreciate it if you could give me some ‘hit’ love and of course, do flip through the posts. Suggestions and feedback are welcome.

Until next time, Cheers!

NaPoWriMo- #9

I was going through the official life year book-fb, and what I see never fails to amuse me. Starting from when people last ate to what they wore, and when they soared. And no offence, but to the ones with the compulsive uploading disease, “aren’t you just tired??”

Selfiee….looky here, watch me
I’m a dim wit
Just dressed pretty to a tee
My posts are on the wall
All I do, and all
I’m having fun
you need to know
It’s what I live for
My food, my bag,
my shoes, my friends
It’s what I do, to pump some oomph
So get going
Look me up, on the damn wall

NaPoWriMo – #7

To the sloppy wrongs

It had to be done
A quick phone call
An interview it was
With the CEO and all

I went on for an hour
To draw the perfect story
And heaved a sigh of relief
When I clicked to hear the beep

Smiling with my priced audio recording
Plopped it into the CPU
And Pushed play
This file is corrupted, it said
I stared at the screen, at that sloppy mistake