The Battle of Magic and Logic

Hello, hello, hello!!!

Do not be alarmed by the much-too-cheerful greeting, Reader. Life’s been a see-saw since last we spoke! I’ve had my high moments and really low moments, and I’ve had enough of regrets to last a couple of months. The greeting is just a pale attempt to perk the see-saw upwards.

Why do I regret, you ask? Good question. I haven’t the answers myself, yet. It’s all messed up and in my head. So, I’ll let you know once I know. Sorry!

Let me ask you a series of questions myself.

  1. Have you ever pinned all your hopes on accomplishing something which you’ve dreamed of?
  2. Have you ever imagined a sequence of events which were so beautiful that you wished that your life would go through that sequence just for the sheer beauty of it?
  3. Have you ever admired something or someone so much that you prayed you’d get it or get those admirable qualities in yourself?
  4. Were all these followed by a stupid epiphany from your lame-ass brain which points out all the laws of common sense that these wishes defy?
  5. Were you as flabbergasted as a mermaid who finds herself wishing to walk the earth?
  6. Did you curse that lame-ass brain for killing the dream and smashing it to smithereens?

Welcome to my life!

The biggest question I’ve been asking myself lately is this : why does the brain always get in the way of the heart?

Sure, everyone dreams. It’s a rule of the humanity in you that you yearn for that successful showbiz career, you dream of that shiny red Porsche, and you ache for that beautiful girl you’re head over heels in love with. Lesser known is that mind voice of certain individuals which always fights to defy those unrealistic dreams. It’s sometimes mistaken for common sense, but believe me, it’s the Devil in the Brain.

Of all the times I’ve cursed myself for these thoughts, they had just laughed a croaky laugh in reply and bestowed a cruel smile. I know they speak the real world to my heart and dissuade it from being broken to pieces, but who doesn’t love being lost in the midst of dreamy clouds?

*sighs loudly*

Ah, well, I can probably cook up a different dream in my heart, which might last another few weeks till the brain gets into super-protective ninja mode.

Have any of you had this experience? Tell me about it in the comments!

Love,

PPD

Learning to Love the Little Things

Hello Reader!

It has been quite more than two weeks since my last post, and seeing as that one was weird, I was a bit intimidated by the thought of writing here again. But, no matter. Writing is one of the most joyful things that occupy my time, so, I am back!

Okay, this post is going to be about the stuff named in the title. Lately, I’ve been feeling a lot of negative emotions: guilt, because I wasn’t finding enough time to write my novel during the weekdays; physically bloated, due to all the junk I was consuming to overcome the aforementioned guilt; stressed, due to some work deadlines. And I realised, I was betraying one of my most basic characteristics. As a rule, I am a sunny person, who loves the happiness in the smallest of actions.

(Seriously, if you were my soulmate, all I would want from you is a simple ‘I love you’ a few times in the day. Chuck that diamond ring in the garbage can.)

So, naturally, I was flabbergasted when I realised this. This post is going to be a wake up call to myself.

  • Happiness is Mom calling you at 6 in the morning to wake you up (followed by one of your best friends at 6:15)
  • Happiness is rubbing your chilled hands together in the cold when you go for jogging in the park
  • Happiness is the view of the rising sun as you finish one lap
  • Happiness is the wind whipping across your face as you drive back home, all sweaty from the jog
  • Happiness is singing along with the track when you chop the vegetables
  • Happiness is lighting the lamp for Krishna every morning
  • Happiness is catching up on your reading during lunch break
  • Happiness is giggling when Mom and Dad video-call you
  • Happiness is spending ten minutes with your protagonists (even if they don’t progress much in that little time)
  • Happiness is ranting to your best friend about the unruly characters in your book
  • Happiness is smiling for no reason just because you felt like it
  • Happiness is scrolling through your Facebook news feed trying to fall asleep

See, what I mean? Everything one does as a part of an everyday routine is for some reasons. The deepest, most profound of them being that they make you happy. Somehow we have learnt to forget this most important one and would rather focus on how each activity is a burden on ourselves.

We worry about wasting time cooking when we could eat at the office canteen. We get irritated when we slug through our morning walk, slightly sleep-deprived, in the winter cold. We complain about not finding time for ourselves.

But, you know what? These things you struggle to make yourself do everyday? They are in your routine because you know they’re right. And if they’re right, they make a small part of you happy. And if you are dumb enough to ignore that small satisfaction or blind enough to not see it, this is your wake up call.

Be happy, be content. Love the things you do.

Love,

Priya

The End-of-Year Ramblings

Hello everyone!

Okay, I know I swore I wouldn’t make this blog again about apologizing for the long waits, but I kinda owe you an apology anyway. So, sorry I couldn’t make it all these days. The explanations include NaNoWriMo, family time, and hectic office work.

Anyway, coming to this post, I have mixed thoughts right now. There will be three topics in discussion.

Lessons Learned from NaNoWriMo

  • When I decided on plantsing, I did not think it through. I surely did not anticipate that my meagre plans could be so inadequate as to split the book into TWO books.
    1. Do enough planning when you choose plansting.
    2. Be prepared for anything your characters might throw at you. Run of the mill writer’s block is only a small problem; anticipate bigger ones like change of plot or as in my case, book-splits.
    3. Don’t give up due to the offered intimidation.
  • When I started this battle, I did not break down a definite writing schedule to retain my inner muse by my side. She kept slipping away from my outstretched arms.
    1. Offer delicious temptations like chocolate or sweets to keep your muse alive and kicking in there.
    2. Devise schedules after consulting your muse and external factors like your day job and necessary travel; make sure she respects the written word.
    3.  Don’t give up due to unmet and nonexistent schedule deviations.
  • When I sat down to write, I did not empty my work area of unnecessary distractions. And I do not just mean the physical objects sitting on my desk.
    1. Put off social media. Period.
    2. Use WordPress to push your everyday writing to new heights; do not shun blogging as a loss of time when you should be concentrating on your novel.
    3. Don’t give up due to social media distractions cutting into your writing time.
  • When I was at a loss for words, I did not switch to things which inspired me to come back. YouTube and a bunch of sitcom DVDs took precedence over the classic books and prep talks from NaNoWriMo authors.
    1. Use a personalised browser while writing with bookmarks to all your inspiring blogs sitting in plain sight.
    2. Think about using notebooks to write and find a transcription buddy.
    3. Don’t give up due to a few minutes lost in watching a funny video, you can still catch up.
  • When I panicked, I did not shut my ears to the stupid panicked-voice justifications coming from my throat. I listened and heeded her dumb advice.
    1. Block out that voice which a writer is quite familiar with, the one that talks of the lameness of your plot, the mediocrity of your heroine, and the possibility of an infinite time period to finish the work.
    2. Talk to your loved ones, friends and family, who believe in your work and provide the right kind of encouragement.
    3. Don’t give up because your silly brain brings up the worst case scenarios, which won’t ever happen.

The Welcoming of the New Year

Another year has gone by!

I know I sound like a television anchor, but I can’t help it. I know everybody’s going through a case of muddled head right now. It’s two days from New Year’s Day, and I for one, have been having unsettled thoughts about my life.

What have I accomplished in the past year that I hadn’t in 2015? What will I do next year? Have my lessons gone to heart like they should have? What new things did I learn about myself? Am I a better person now?

All these questions swirled around me menacingly for the past week. And I find the following post to be quite appropriate.

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Forgiving that poor creator for the spelling mistake in the last line, I realised that that is exactly where I am. Wondering whether I’m being silly this past week or whether those questions actually matter to me. But I figured that understanding oneself should be an ongoing process, and if these questions have posed themselves, I might as well answer them.

I now present the ten things I realised/experienced/went through in 2016.

(in no particular order)

  1. I am thoroughly excited by my novel, and I hope to finish the first book in the first couple of months of next year.
  2. Family is very tough to handle when one hits the 20s. Especially when you’re a twenty-something and female.
  3. Being selfish about your physical, emotional and intellectual health is the first step to happiness. And I believe this selfishness should start at this age.
  4. My idea of a great day involves good food in my tummy, a beloved book, an hour or two spent at a happy place and conversations with my favourites.
  5. I am very specific when it comes to setting my room to order, cooking a meal in my kitchen, or planning to visit a place. Except for my used-clothes-chair, everything needs to be in perfect order.
  6. I actually discovered that I have a ‘type’ when it comes to guys! *wink*
  7. The cancerous cells to my wellness are laziness, distractions (sitcoms, YouTube, social media), and daydreaming.
  8. I have developed a previously nonexistent whim to grow my hair long, which is going to be difficult with my curly mop and its tendency to have awful hair styles when grown past my shoulders.
  9. My skincare regimen and makeup ideas have reached new levels of obsessiveness.
  10. I have magic workout sessions, a couple of which are enough to make me satisfied with my body and give up.

They are just the ones which popped into my head in the immediacy of the summon. There is much more where that came from.

The Resolve to Blog Regularly or a Blogging Hiatus

Okay, I know there is an oxymoron right there in the title. Sorry!

In all seriousness, here is what I wanted to say.

I solemnly swear that I will blog at a regular interval of seven days starting from this post, on defiance of which I will adopt a blogging hiatus for until such a time as I complete writing the first book of my two-part novel.

 

There! Those are the three topics which I wanted to talk to you guys about. I know that it has been a very long post, but I hope you have enjoyed it.

Anybody else want to comment on their NaNoWriMo? Or put forth their New Year’s message?

Please do so in the comments below and have a great time this weekend!

PS : I am planning on a large tub of popcorn and a Harry Potter movie marathon. What do you think? 😀

What Bad Guys do

Hello!

I’m sure you must be jumping to conclusions about this ominous title. You can breathe easy, guys, I’m not about to talk about vices or crimes.

Let me give you some context. I have been waging my NaNoWriMo war this month, with more-than-required lulls. I have questioned my sanity, my decisions, my pride, and my pen, with no conclusive results. All of them told me, “Just stop grumbling around and go write! That’s the only thing you can do.”

(Suspiciously, all of them sounded like my bestie Ishu, and I don’t know what to do with that.)

So… you get some clues on my train of thought with this post? This is going to be about bad guys on writing. I do not mean antagonists. There’s this whole bunch of bad guys who are intermediate. I mean, for the reader, they don’t really matter. They could be someone who is mean to the protagonist, or a batty old lady who waves her off her precious lawn, or a cat who gives the hero a scratch when he disturbed her peaceful sleeping. So, you read the scene, and don’t think twice about the bad guy.

But enter the writer at this point of the story.

(I can only vouch for myself, and my conscience hurts bad with anyone hurting my precious babes, the protagonists.)

I am just lost when I put in one of these bad guys. My method is a simple one in general.

  1. I have my plot outline.
  2. I start at some point in the timeline which seems right to me.
  3. I spend an evening cooking up a few scenes in my head.
  4. I spend the next few days putting them into words.
  5. I write and I write and I write.

It’s a pleasant scene, he’s walking down the street, watching the birds, etc etc. I think ahead to the point where the guy is going to run into the obnoxious man who hates him with no reason.

My pen stills. Or my typing fingers grow heavy. I don’t want him to run into that path. I wildly try to make the guy take a turn-off which leads him to the softly strewn beach sand. I push in an ice-cream cart, with Ron Weasley ringing the bell. I make all sorts of excuses and go into my reflection mode, and basically, stop writing.

(You might expect the same with the antagonists, but, you see, antagonists bring out the brave warrior and the headstrong challenger in the protagonists, which is all very pleasant and hence I look forward to their entry.)

These guys are the bane of my existence as a writer. This is what they do.

  • They stop me suddenly out of the blue before they are even cued to enter.
  • They freak me out and force sudden plot twists.
  • They daunt me more than the antagonists.
  • They unconsciously make the hero stumble and the heroine tremble.

And the worst thing they do, they stun my mind, and stop further imagination. They put me off writing for days and I binge eat like an idiot.

That’s why I thought some writing is better than no writing at all and I landed here to vent out my frustrations. I hope this rant will put me right back onto my novel and I feel better soon.

Does anyone else feel the same way? Let me know in the comments!

 

Love, and lots of frustration, (which I don’t wish on you!)

Priya

 

PS : I know I could just change the character of the obnoxious guy, but I’ve firmly pictured him like that.

PPS : I know I could drop him out, but repeatedly doing so is going to make a Mary Sue or a Gary Stu out of my protagonists, and I will NOT have that happen to them.

The NaNoWriMo Disease

I’m back so soon!

This post is coming after the record shortest gap between posts, and I’m very, very excited about that!

Okay, rants aside, let me elaborate on the concept of today’s post. It is that time of the year again, November’s here, and it’s up and running!

I AM talking about NaNoWriMo! It’s the National (I don’t know which country; seems like a world-wide phenomenon to me) Novel Writing Month!

(I know for some of you it’s actually No-Shave-November, but it doesn’t apply to me!)

So, this post is kind of mandatory. I wanted to write about my past experiences with NaNoWriMo, and my plans for this year.

The Past

I have been a part of this in 2015. You see, what happened was this. I stumbled onto this competition for short story writing last year called the Write India Campaign, and I tried and tried each prompt as they were announced. But, it turned out that I was incapable of writing brief, short stories! This fact actually pissed me off because I’d been writing plot lines and poetry and what-not since I was about 12, and I figured I’d lost some of my flair for writing.

Slowly, I came to understand that the main reason for my suddenly hampered imagination was the fact that my reading list had been empty since I’d left school. That freaked me out even more and I was practically a mess.

Slowly getting out of this mini-depression was the worst phase ever. It took me quite a while to do it. I had so much help from my close friends and I turned back to my closest ones, my books. The Reading Challenge 2016 from Goodreads was literally my lifesaver.

One of the short story prompts which I’d left of half-written, had given me a grain of an idea. I’d got this idea back in 2015 before November, and NaNo 2015 seemed like a confident, doable dream with it. But then, my slow pen and my will power gave out within a week and I landed in the freaking-out phase. And this was the state of my pathetic NaNo 2015.

Lessons Learned :

  • Do not attempt NaNoWriMo while battling depression (not even simple, non-chronic ones).
  • Pantsing might not be the best idea when you battle to win a kingdom (kingdom, meaning a Novel).
  • Habits and routines will have to undergo modification during the battle.
  • Placing yourself in a state of productive anxiety will NOT help.
  • Family, friends, roommates, and co-workers can be safely approached for help as you attempt this mega-war. No one will judge or ridicule you, rather, you’ll get all the help you need from the ones you love.

The Present

This year has been much more positive than the last in several ways. For one thing, I got over my mini-depression. I have learned so much about self-confidence and stringing loose ends together. My empty reading list has been constantly full since and I absolutely love it! Bringing back my teenager self has been such a beautiful journey that I’ve fallen in love with myself again.

Coming to the novel idea, it has festered like an annoying but happy feeling. I’ve attempted Camp NaNoWriMo in April and July with very little success, but I’ve loved every minute of understanding my characters. They’ve been the best companions for me for quite a while now and I now know them as if I’d met them in person. And the little confidences I’ve made with my family and close friends about my writing plans have given me so much ideas which would help me stick to a schedule and just write. After all, writers are not made with their creativity so much as they are made with their persistence.

Learning from 2015, and from the pep talks for 2016, I’d decided early on that I would be plantsing this year. It would be a combination of a planning and a pantsing writer. I’d had a bit of struggle with sticking to schedules last year, mostly owing to my five-days-a-week full-time job, and my obstinate decision to ‘relax’ on weekends (it means I was lazing around and re-watching the many TV shows I like). And my not-always-helpful notion was that I’d write with much enthusiasm when I don’t know the plot line myself, that I’d write more fervently because I want to find out the story.

The last three problems gave birth to a new writer version of Priya this year.

Decisions Made :

  • Plot line is fixed in my head, details I’ve left to the fates of my imagination as I write.
  • Rehearsed shunning social media in case I feel like my deadlines are falling apart during November.
  • Given myself up into my natural planning mode because my giving it up hadn’t helped one bit last year.
  • Timeline graph of my characters is laid down for reference.
  • Put off all travel plans, shopping plans, and adopted a quiet, happy lifestyle of home food (cooking which would be one of my relaxation points), reading books which had been a part of my childhood, and little workouts accomplished at home.

So, all in all, my plans for NaNoWriMo have never been more concrete, and I’ve never felt happier about my decisions than I feel right now.

Do any of you write? Did you participate before? Do you plan to participate now? What are your plans? What have been your problems before? What-

Hold on, I’m getting too excited about this. I’m letting you guys talk about it in your own way.

Bye bye for now! *waves madly*

 

 

 

Beginnings/Starts/Any-Other-Word-Which-Means-The-Same

Hi Reader!

First things first (as always; I mean the always as known to the readers of my old, albeit, slightly dysfunctional blog here), I’m gonna apologize for the really late post. I’m gonna explain it with the following chain of events.

  1. I read my friends’ works on WordPress
  2. I keep reading all their posts over several months
  3. I stare left and right in awe
  4. I decide to start a WordPress myself
  5. I wait for months (still following my friends’ WordPress’es)
  6. I start one
  7. I wait for weeks (still following my friends)
  8. I put up an introductory piece
  9. I wait for days again
  10. I curse my lazy ass and land here to type

Yeah, that’s just how lame I was being. But, who knew that a lazing around weekend, a tub of really bad pasta, and a karaoke session would all pile up and bring me right here? But, they just DID!

So, here I am, starting my beautiful, and hopefully LONG conversation with you all!

Today is going to be about new beginnings. Because I am such a procrastinator, and a lazy ass to boot, I wanted to write myself and of course, you, an inspirational ‘Start-that-thing-you’ve-been-meaning-to-for-ages’ post.

Dreams Vs. Laziness

It’s instinctive for humans to dream. I don’t have much idea about the dream cycles of animals myself, but I can tell you for sure that we, as a race, are born dreamers. Everything remotely related to creativity stems from the capability to dream that humans have. And everyone has at least one creative spot imprinted on their soul.

We dream of eating that chocolate chip muffin we’d tasted at that quaint café that one time, we dream of besting our sibling at wheedling the best Christmas present out of Maa and Daddy, we dream of having that killer body two days into a regular gym routine, and so on, the list is pretty endless.

(Excluding those weird, alternate-dimensional dreams were you play Laser Tag with Pink Floyd, the rational, doable ones are the targets of this discussion. Maybe, the right term would be daydreams..? Oops, my bad! That’s okay though, you now know what I mean.)

Hence dreams, are one of the trigger hormones of the human psyche. Dreams are the way we envision a pretty, self-enviable future for ourselves. And they’re also the way we crush our own hearts when they don’t happen. They’re like a time-bomb of pink confetti, which, ironically, is triggered manually. They do not manifest by themselves and they have a hard time battling their monster, Laziness.

Laziness is this stupid, clingy boyfriend. He seems to the One for you. But really, he is the worst sort of cancer, which holds you out to roast slowly on the pit fire until death.

Everything that could go wrong with you executing your steps to achieving a dream of yours, but doesn’t, and everything that could hold you back from trying to execute those steps, but doesn’t, and everything that might stand in your way towards the dream, but really doesn’t, is roughly and forcefully translated into DOES in your head. All thanks to Laziness.

He keeps feeding in random why’s and why not’s and whatever’s, that all of your efforts seem moot. And your real, and solid reasons to wish for that dream, get cut up into ribbons and fade away in the murkiness.

Dream to have a perfect body? Laziness stops you from starting that diet chart.

Dream to score the best grades in sixth grade? Laziness stops you from starting that extra study hour in the morning.

Dream to own that shiny new convertible you liked to watch in the showroom catalogue? Laziness stops you from starting that savings fund and keeping the accounts.

Battling this monster-slash-boyfriend has been an endless internal war with most humans. But, forfeiting the war and nurturing your battered dreams is pretty awesome.

Cast away the weapons, they won’t help much. But you can mold your will power to cast a Shield Charm on the enemy! Just like the manner Laziness attacks the head, you could build up the will to hold him at bay, and the dreams will break out into the prettiest confetti ever.

Ideas Vs. Status Quo

I’m guessing this battle is a declaration of the Indian mindset (I’m not being racist, I swear, but I do not know other societies in which the villain Status Quo is more vile than in India). Let me start with Ideas.

Ideas are fascinating little thought-nuggets emerging from the what-if’s of the brain. They’re enchanting little buggers, and promise all sorts of magic shows.

  • What if I took the long route home, it seems like a beautiful drive up the hill than around it?
  • What if I bought the frozen peas instead of the regular ones, they save the shelling process?
  • What if I took a tap-dancing class, Fred Astaire seems to like it so much?

All of these idea-hormones buzz through your veins like electricity and you start taking the left turn up the hill, you start reaching out to the freezer handle in the store, and you thumb through the yellow pages for that tap dance class. Then, the whole world freezes. All of your life flashes in front of your eyes (just those parts which involve the idea in question, to be fair). Everything you’ve been thinking of till that moment gets translated.

  • What if I took the long route home, no one seems to be so stupid as to drive for hours to a place which could be reached in minutes?
  • What if I bought the frozen peas instead of the regular ones, no one would willingly waste a bunch of peas to the unpredictable electricity fluctuations and the fridge halting everyday?
  • What if I took a tap-dancing class, no one would appreciate a bumbling baboon like me tap-dancing?

Vile, old Status Quo.

“I’d like to try this, but I don’t know if people like me have tried it before.”

Mean, cruel Status Quo.

“I really like the sound of that, but would people appreciate the thought?”

Stabbing, rusty Status Quo.

“Oh, that sounds wonderful, but it’s really not my thing, you know?”

Honestly, this is the lamest excuse anyone can ever come up with to avoid starting something. At least with Laziness, it’s a little bit involuntary. This is the most self-destruction one can ever inflict.

And to all those who fall prey to it? Get off your high horse, dude! Nobody cares what you do! Nobody cares what you might look like! Nobody is least bothered to take notice and gape at your foolish idea!

Just try it, for crying out loud! It could be your thing! It could be the best thing you’ve ever experienced! It could be something you’d never want to stop doing for the rest of your life!

It could be your Calling.

Innovations Vs. Comfort Zones

Okay, I know this is cheating. Innovations are basically Ideas and Comfort Zones are basically the Status Quo’s you place yourselves in. But, let me explain what I mean differently here.

Innovations = Ideas that people have never had before.

Comfort Zones = Status Quo’s assigned by yourself, for yourself (Wow, that sounds like the definition for a democratic government).

Let me take up that weird cricket innovation narrated in Hasee Toh Phasee. I know it’s a really bad example, but whatever! (Classic exhibition of Laziness, the ‘whatever’)

The protagonist proposes a new set of rules, flying fielders, a rotating pitch and what-not in the most popular team game watched here in India. It ends up interesting to the much-awaited sponsor for the other protagonist’s business and he gets his biggest break. But nobody ended up actually implementing or trying it (the movie wasn’t about re-inventing cricket, and the business-guy was also nowhere close to cricket in the story line). But nobody would even try, that much I can recognize.

Why?

The Comfort Zone!

I’m fine this way, I like pizza, I enjoy my afternoon nap, I love ready-to-eat meals.

These would be the answers to,

Would you like to try a new kind of soap?

Would you care to try our new exotic chicken pasta dish?

Will you come to a basketball game with me this afternoon?

Shall we try to make Dal Makhni ourselves?

(I know I skipped out on the re-invented cricket. Sorry.)

I’m re-assuming Innovations to just plain Ideas, which originate elsewhere or which change your pattern of life.

Grave threats, I’m sure these are.

But, they are just changes which shake your patterns a little bit.

Ask yourself ‘what-could-happen’ questions the next time you squirm at that new way of things. Shake your fog-addled head and nod purposefully. Sure, you’d be a tad uncomfortable, so what? You’re not neurotic. You’re not Monica Geller.

Start the new genre of books. Start the cold-morning runs. Start those DIY tutorials to fix yourself lunch.

Break your own rules. Those are ones which, on breaking, give you the best high ever!

I’m not sure if I’ve covered them all, comments below if I’ve missed out on some!

PS : First post on WordPress, please be kind!

PPS : I LOVE post scripts too much! 😛