Because randomness is the way to go! ;)

Posts tagged ‘Writing’

Random Ramblings #5: How do I pick a genre for writing without having a minor panic attack?

Lately I’ve been wondering a lot about myself: what kind of a person am I? What would I like to be perceived as? What am I actually perceived as? etc.
Writing about anything helps me understand the thing better, and gives me the clarity that is much-needed right now.

I’m trying to do this methodically and focussing on figuring out only one aspect of my life at a time.
Since my writing- style, genre, and all of that- is what got me thinking about this whole mess, I thought that’s as good a place to start as any.
In this particular post, I’m only writing about genre- that’s the part that has been bothering me the most.
I’ve always wanted to write a novel.
Ever since I learnt what a novel is, I’ve wanted to write one myself.
Therefore, as a kid, I directly started trying to write one.
With no knowledge about anything whatsoever.
As I started reading more and more books though, I realized that:
A. It’s not so easy.
B. Nobody just writes a book. They write one type of a book.
They either write for children or for teenagers for adults. They write fiction or non-fiction.
Then there’s various categories in those known as genres.
I realized that I’d have to figure out where exactly I’m trying to fit my story in. For that, I’d have to read a lot more than I had read back then.
I would also have to get better at writing a lot, and I’m glad that the blog helped me with that.

For a couple of years after various failed attempts at trying to write a whole, complete novel, I unknowingly stopped trying to write a novel and focussed on reading a lot and writing a lot, in general.

Now, I’ve been blogging for a while, have read a lot of books (lot more than I had when I started out, at least. I’ve still not read enough- but any number will never be enough) and I’m 18 years old, an official adult who wouldn’t change her mind about things quite as often as teenage-me did.
So I began wondering what’s stopping me from writing a book now.
Technical reasons such as lack of time and motivation aside, I realized that the only thing stopping me is my inability to take decisions.
I can think of 4-5 stories (just story ideas of course, none of them have a proper story line or a plot yet) that I have thought of writing, but I’ve never taken any efforts to actually write them.
Because I didn’t know which one of those to write.
You see, they’re all of different genres.
One is YA, another could be considered Chick-lit perhaps. One is a mystery/ psychological thriller, one’s a Sci-fi or fantasy, or something.
I don’t know which one to write because writing any of those will make me a writer of that genre.
That’s precisely what I don’t want.
I don’t want to be a YA author, or an SF writer.

I read all of those genres (I have read a few books in each of them, at the very least), therefore I want to write all of them.

J K Rowling first wrote Harry Potter but then she thought she wanted to write a mystery series so she did that under a pen name.
One of the reasons was, of course, that she didn’t want the pressure of writing something as brilliant as Harry Potter but another was also probably the fact that she was venturing into a new genre.
I don’t know any authors who’ve written a lot of different genres- they stick to their own. Sure, they experiment with the sub-genres and stuff, but I don’t know anybody who first wrote chick-lit and then switched to Sci-fi (something extreme like that, I mean).

[Actually, while we’re on the topic, if you do know about authors who’ve done that, please mention some of them in the comments]
Do any of you face the same problem? (I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one)

Everybody I know who writes, also reads a lot.
And they read a lot of different stuff.
And are inspired by all of it to create something of their own.

Most of them have already started writing their first novel, some of them have had it published as well.
My question to you is, how do you know that this is the story you want to write?
Does it depend on your style of writing?
Or the genre you read the most?
If you’ve already started writing, say, a romance novel, aren’t you scared that someday if you choose to write a mystery, you would already be stereotyped as a romance writer and nobody would take your mystery novel seriously?

I realize that this problem could be (temporarily) solved if I tried writing all the genres that I wish to write and see what works for me.
But I get the feeling that that’ll be even worse… if I do end up finding out what I can and cannot write, all the genres that I’m hopeless at writing will always make me feel inadequate as a writer.
The thought that I may close off those metaphorical gates to writing other genres because of my inability to write them scares me even more than not knowing which I should write first.

I don’t even know where I’m going with all of this.
I don’t specifically want suggestions to solve the problem, but I’d like to know your opinions and thoughts on the topic.
Basically I’m just hoping to have a discussion about the topic with some of you and gaining some insight of some sort.
Any kind of responses are welcome.
You could tell me that I’m stupid and a coward and am only making excuses instead of actually doing any writing (the thought did cross my mind too) and that’d be fine with me.
Because, even if that is the case, I’d like for a few people to explicitly tell me so.

Two Sides Of The Same Coin

The writer clutched her head in despair, looking at the crumpled pieces of paper sprawled across the desk. Her fingers were tired and smudged with ink, but words seemed to elude her.She bit the pen in frustration, literally at a loss for words. Her weary eyes came to rest on the party invitation, shoved under the coffee mug and tainted with careless brown stains. She grimaced. She loathed going to parties with a passion, especially the kind of extravagant parties he threw.

‘Hmmph. Bloody fancy shindig,’ she snorted. But she had to report back to him, sooner or later, and it was best to get this over with as quickly as possible. Just like ripping off a Band-Aid.

She sighed. Time to doll up. And better practise that fake smile too.

*****************************************

She sipped quietly on her champagne, marvelling at the grandeur of the hall. What was the word for it? Ostentatious.Yes. The room screamed power, success and fame. And she didn’t belong here. She didn’t fit among these over-dressed, vain people with pretentious smiles and words. It was suffocating and all she wanted to do was flee and never look back. Lose herself in a world where only words reigned supreme.

‘Breathe. You don’t have to stay here for long.’ she muttered to herself. She tightened the shimmery wrap around her shoulders resolutely, her eyes roving over the crowd in search of him.

And there he was. Amidst a group of simpering girls, he stood looking nonchalant. As soon as their eyes met, his lips curved into his trademark smirk. He looked like the proverbial cat who got the cream.

“Mighty fine fella, that author is! Almost as if he can read a woman’s mind, the way he writes!” exclaimed an old lady brandishing a wine glass. “That boy there, is going places with those fine brains of his, mark my words.”

Her lips lifted in a sardonic smile, hearing the old lady gush. If only she knew!

He had brains,” she conceded, “Although many now question whether he could really take full credit for all of his supposed achievements.
The old lady shot her a quizzical look. Upon receiving a shrug in response, she walked away muttering.

“Well, well, well! If it isn’t my little ghost” He whispered in her ear, startling her. “I didn’t think you would come. Delightful party, isn’t it? I was just being congratulated for my fascinating insight into the female psyche.”

She sneered at him. Smug bastard! She wanted to wipe that infuriating smirk off his face. “What if I spilled the beans? That I am your ghost-writer? This success, this fame belongs to me.You are nothing more than a façade.”

He smiled coldly. “Look around yourself. Do you think you could handle dealing with these people? I see you cringe at the mere thought of it.  You would rather hide behind words. This world is not meant for you. Do what you do the best and leave the rest to me.” She nodded stiffly and gazed off into the distance.

“You never visit me unless you have to slap the manuscript on my table. To what do I owe this unexpected pleasure?”

She glared at him and then sighed miserably. Understanding dawned upon him. “You’ve got writer’s block!”
“There is no need to be so happy about it,” she snapped back. Tapping her temple, she growled, “If this well dries up, then you got yourself a water crisis.”

His eyes twinkled with amusement. “The words maybe yours, little ghost, but the ideas are mine. Care to dance with me?” He led them onto to the dance floor smoothly, mingling with the other couples.

They twirled around in silence for some time. The music had slowed down to a soothing, sensual rhythm. They had danced their way into a deserted corner of the ballroom.

His fingers caressed her lips. “What the-,” she muttered trying to pull away. He winked at her. “You’ve got ink stains on your lips.” He leaned in closer trailing his lips briefly over hers and murmured, “Write about how lethal routine is. About man’s search for adventure and unknown. About fiery passion and lazy kisses. About witty banter. Write about your deepest, darkest fears. Write till you just can’t write anymore. Writing is liberating. Writing is your safe harbour.”

She gazed at him, entranced. “Why did you stop writing then?”

“I didn’t. I write through you. And now I should return to the party. It’s time for you to disappear, my little ghost. I daresay that the writer’s block should no longer be a problem. Shatter it into a million pieces and write. I will be waiting.”

******************************************

The confused thoughts that had been swirling in her head, were finally down on paper. Halfway through a sentence, she paused and smiled.

They were the two sides of the same coin, after all.

                         ★★★
This story was written by my friend Sanchita, or Sancho, as I call her.
If you liked it, please leave comments here, complimenting her about it.
I’m sure she’ll like that!

This story is a part of a series I’m going to post written by my friends based on Harry Potter prompts. You can check out the post where I explain it all here.

This is the first story in the series.

The prompt “He had brains,” she conceded, “Although many now question whether he could really take full credit for all of his supposed achievements.” is from ‘Harry potter and the Deathly Hallows.’

I’ll put up the next story on the 13th of December and the prompt is “For a famous place, it was very dark and shabby.”

Seven Thousand

There’s no way we can do this in time.”

“Just relax and grab some eggs, milk, and butter from the fridge.”

Alice gathered her hair into a ponytail at the top of her head. A few stray red curls bounced in front of her eyes. She blew them out of her face.

“Besides, we could have done this yesterday afternoon if someone didn’t insist on refereeing a peewee soccer game for his little sister, who’s the reason why we’re making a cake in the first place.” She wasn’t playing fair but she didn’t particularly care. It was three in the morning after all.

“Shut up! Do you want her to wake up?” Kyle’s face peered from behind the refrigerator door, genuine fear in his eyes.

Alice mused at how close her best friend and his younger sister were. Nearly fifteen years apart in age, Kyle and Lucy didn’t exactly grow up wrestling and chasing each other around the yard.

Kyle closed the doors, arms full of dairy products, and set the lot gently on the countertop. “And to counter your argument, Miss Debate Club, we could have done this after the soccer game if someone didn’t have a dinner date. I thought the plan was to make the cake at your place. You know, so she wouldn’t know.”

Alice shrugged and replied, “My mom doesn’t trust you in our kitchen after your experimental soufflé.”

“I didn’t mean to make an explosion in your kitchen!” he huffed, separating eggs in a large metal bowl. “And besides, after we cleaned up your oven, all the carbon buildup was gone. Now start sifting some flour.”

She snorted as she pulled out a jar of flour from the cupboard. “It was a mix of the acetic acid and sodium bicarbonate. Oldest trick in the book.” Alice paused thoughtfully. “Probably why it exploded.”

“Oh sure, so easy to analyze the chemistry after the fact. Sift, woman. Don’t just stand there.”

Alice stuck her tongue out at him. Despite being twenty-two years old, Kyle sure did make her act like a child. Still, she scooped flour into a sieve. This cake would mean a lot to Lucy, meaning that it meant a lot to Kyle.

Lucy may as well have called Kyle her father for the way he doted on her. When their parents died in a car crash four years ago, Kyle had been just old enough to take custody of his sister, who was only three at the time. They had no other family in the country, and Kyle refused to be parted from her. He’d taken on an impossible job: raising a little girl by himself, and because he didn’t half-ass anything, he’d become something of a gourmet cook in the process. Well, gourmet compared to Alice’s cooking.

He had help, of course. When he refused to move in with Alice’s family, her mother took him on as her personal project. Alice’s mom had taught Kyle to cook and did the accounting for him, calling it “pro bono”. Kyle deferred his enrollment to post-secondary and took up two jobs just to keep their parents’ rancher. And Alice stuck around to mind the quote unquote “feminine sensitivities” of the young girl, babysitting during Kyle’s nightshifts—which turned out to be great study time since Lucy slept like a rock.

“I don’t see why you need my help, you’re a better cook than I am now.”

“Work is easier with two people. Besides, you’re a girl. You know how I should decorate the cake.”

“Just because I like you, I’m going to pretend that wasn’t a sexist comment.”

“And just because I like you, I’m going to pretend you didn’t blow me off this evening.”

Alice’s ears grew warm. “I forgot. I’m sorry.”

There was an uncomfortable silence as Kyle began to beat the egg whites. It was a steady, light sound, like a skipping rope, or a metal finger flicking against the bowl’s edge.

As the whisk rhythmically beat against the sides of the bowl, she wondered at how he could worry about Lucy waking at them talking, but calmly beat metal against metal not ten feet away from the soon-to-be seven-year-old’s bedroom.

“We haven’t had the chance to hang out in a while either.”

“I know.”

The beating of the whisk continued.

“So…” Kyle trailed off. “How did it go?”

“I’m sorry?”

“Your date.”

“Oh, that,” she sighed, looking forlornly at the sugar before attacking it with the measuring spoon.

“That bad?”

“I’d say somewhere in the mid-hundred thousands, at the very least.”

“So…bad?”

She smiled at the inside joke. Kyle never understood the system, despite Alice explaining it several times since the brainchild’s birth six years ago.

Her “Seven Thousand” Theory, patent pending. The idea that the clichéd perfect companion was a “one in a million” shot was correct, but when applied to the current population of the world resulted in over seven thousand possible candidates.

Kyle had scoffed at her, telling her that she had included people on their dying beds and babies just born into the world. How did the theory account for sexual preference, age, gender, religion?

So she’d changed the odds: the seven thousand didn’t have to be romantic love. People in the seven thousand were people you loved too much that you couldn’t stand life without them. Parents, siblings, friends, children, romantic partners—any one of them could be in the seven thousand. The system was mostly based on probability. The odds of making a good friend you greet if you passed them by on the street was about one in a hundred, or in the seven million range. Finding someone you could intimately spend the rest of your life with was one in fifty thousand, or about one hundred forty thousand.

People in the seven million could be courteous to each other for their entire lives and not really know anything about each other. And people in the hundred thousands usually got married, might divorce, might have families, might live together in an eternal stalemate. But the seven thousands were special. Finding one in the seven thousand was what romantics would call soul mates, the red string of fate, the other half. Finding one of the seven thousand was highly unlikely—it was a one in a million shot after all. The probability of finding two was practically zero.

Alice didn’t really take the system seriously anymore. But it was an inside joke the two of them shared, or rather just herself, with Kyle being the only outsider who had a hint of what she was talking about.

“Not bad,” she clarified. The mid-hundred thousands were better than “not bad.” It was dating worthy.

“So you’d see him again?”

She shrugged, measuring some baking powder. “Maybe. You really should review your probability. Then you’d know what I’m talking about.”

“Well I kind of lost my tutor to her engineering degree and people in the hundred thousands.”

“It’s not hard,” she argued. “You were good in math back in high school.”

“Only because I had you to help me.”

“Give yourself more credit. Think of any situation that requires probability. The lottery, the chance that I’ll burn this cake when you step out to check on Lucy. We’ll break it down and you’ll see how easy it is.”

Kyle laughed. “At three in the morning?”

She snorted and moved to melt some butter on the stove. “You expected me to come to your house at this time and not lecture you? Think, Kyle.”

“Okay, okay,” he smirked. “So how about…the probability of you and me going out to dinner next week?”

“You mean for Lucy’s birthday? Shouldn’t we do that tomorrow? Or rather, later today?”

The sound of the whisk against the bowl abruptly stopped. “Yes. I mean, no. I…I mean yeah, we’re taking Lucy and some of her friends out for bowling and pizza. You’re not getting out of that one.” He shakily laughed once, bouncing on the spot. “But I…I was thinking of something more along the lines of a seven thousand dinner. Just…just you and me.”

Seven thousand.

“You…you did hear me, right?”

Seven thousand.

“Alice?”

             She nodded, blushing to the roots of her flaming hair, and put her elbow in the butter dish. Look at anything else in the room. Anything else.

Kyle flicked his eyes to the dish and smirked at her. “Earth to Alice.”

Seven thousand.

The beating started up again, it’s light, flicking sound filling the silence.

Alice risked looking at him and saw his form bent towards the bowl, concentrated on the eggs.

She snapped, grabbing his hand to stop that irritating sound. “You have the audacity to bring me here at three in the morning, say something as unprecedented as that, and then act like nothing happened? You…you—”

“You’re a genius, I thought you would have figured this out already.”

She hadn’t. Or rather, she had. Kyle had Lucy.

And the Seven Thousand theory applied to everything, not just romantic partners.

“Why—”

“I don’t know. Maybe because you’re here at three in the morning instead of with Mr. Hundred Thousand. Because you’re smart, and annoying, and funny, and beautiful, and my best friend, and I fell in love with you when we were twelve.”

He stared hard at her, and she looked away. Stupid Kyle with his cavalier attitude, superior cooking skills, brown eyes, dark hair, and terrible sense of timing. With the dumb smirk he always wore when he has said something clever and the pink tinge to his ears when he was nervous. With the kid sister who mattered everything to him and the best friend who…

Who what?

Kyle had removed his hand from under hers. The whisk started beating again.

“One hundred.”

The beating stopped.

“Excuse me?”

“You were asking me for the probability. One hundred.”

 


This short story was written by my friend Leanna over at Short Story Long Blog (yes, I know, the title has “Short story” in it. She explains the title somewhere on her blog.)

If you like the story, do leave comments here or on her blog, complimenting her about it. I’m sure she’ll like that!

This story is part of a series I’m going to post written by some of my friends based on Harry Potter prompts. You can check out the post in which I explain it all here.

The prompt “She nodded, blushing to the roots of her flaming hair, and put her elbow in the butter dish.” is from ‘Harry Potter and The Chamber of Secrets’ and yes, it is about Ginny 😉

I’ll put up the next story on the 10th of December and the prompt is ““He had brains,” she concedes,”although many now question whether he could really take full credit for all of his supposed achievements.” 

 

 

 

 

 

On Writing Honestly

I read so many blog posts.
I like some and then I don’t like some.

I recently realized what the difference between the two was.
Which ones I liked and which ones I didn’t.
Reading any piece of writing is simply looking into the innermost heart of heart of the author.
And that’s when I figured out the difference.

If you look at it completely objectively, some of them were so well written really, highlighting all the key points relating to a topic and whatnot.
But they didn’t end up touching my heart. Some of them felt like they were literally a page torn out from a thesaurus, it felt like the author was trying too hard to impress.
Like he was trying to put up a front and wanted us to fall for it.
But like I said, they didn’t appeal to me at all- and this was probably the reason why.

I’m a pretty honest person (I’m in fact Divergent with my second faction being Candor- apparently. A test I took surely thought so. And yes, of course the first was Erudite).
And especially in case of writing I believe you have to be extremely honest.
It should all come from the heart.
All technicalities and thoughts of the implications of your next sentence should be ignored.

Sure, you need to do your homework; learning correct phrasing and grammar, honing your vocabulary skills, and reading about the proper structures and formats of writing essays or letters: all that stuff should be done when you’re learning to write.
But when you’re actually doing the writing you shouldn’t do all of that, it should simply flow.

Write drunk, edit sober, Ernest Hemingway said.

And lately I’ve started realizing how important it is to do exactly that. 

You can’t think about the kind of traffic your blog will get because of this post or whether or not people will admire it. If you do that, it reflects in your writing, it is subtle but yes it does.
And that’s when people don’t respond the way you want them to.

I, for one, always want to read about a person’s thoughts or feelings on different topics. Their very own thoughts and feelings, and then I don’t even care if they’re rambling about something that isn’t even all that interesting.
I still love reading it.
I love reading something when people have loved writing it.
I’ll enjoy an article when the author himself had fun while forming it all inside his head.

And while all of the above is just my own opinion, I’ve noticed during what little I’ve blogged that quite a lot of people feel the same.
It is appparent in the stats part of my blog.

Two of my posts especially come to my mind while talking about this whole process of writing.

So my Petites Potterheads and I were randomly creating an Organic Chemistry/Harry Potter crossover and we were having so much fun that I decided I had to write it all down, because I wanted to preserve this- and it was something really amazing- and one of these days all of us were gonna look back at it and get nostalgic about it- and I wanted that.
That’s why I wrote a post about it.
And the response from around the internet was amazing.
So many people read it and that was the first time my blog got such brilliant views and yes, that made me very happy but it also surprised me because I hadn’t even written with an intention of making people on WordPress read it!
I’d written it because it was a fun activity, I’d written it for my Petites Potterheads.

The second post is pretty recent.
It is actually a short story I wrote.
The idea came to me and I felt that these 3 (yes, only 3) friends of mine would laugh a lot when they read it (it’s full of inside jokes which only those 3 would understand- for the others it’s simply a story) , and others who read it would probably find it lame but I didn’t really care, I had to write it.
And so I did.

One of the 3 friends even commented that all my readers will think I’ve suddenly become a lame-ass storyteller because even she felt that if you didn’t get the inside jokes, the story wasn’t much really.
And she said “What will your readers think?”
And I said, “Hahaha! I was thinking the same but you won’t believe the response it got! A lot of people actually liked it. I can’t believe it either”

That’s another thing in fact, about making gifts for people.

The John Green video is here.

You should never create something because you wanna be rich or famous, he said, but you should create stuff for people, as a gift.

I’ll admit that back when I first watched the video, parts of it didn’t make sense and I thought, ‘What do you mean, gifts for people? That’s so vague- and I don’t even quite understand how it helps.’

But slowly I realized that John Green was right (as usual).

You should watch the video itself actually, I’m not going to elaborate on it. He is so much better at explaining stuff anyway.

I guess that’s all I wanted to say.
All of this actually came to me when I was encouraging a friend to start a blog and she asked me for some tips…
I was like, ‘Tips? I don’t have any tips.
But yes, just remember one thing.
Always be honest in your writing. Rest you shall figure out by yourself.’

My friend said something the other day and didn’t bother to explain at the time.
But then she wrote a post about it to put her point across (which itself makes her a writer if you think about it: the utilisation of the medium of writing to express yourself better instead of stammering your way while conversing face to face).

So I have written this post as a response to hers.

Dear Diplomat (you couldn’t have chosen a better username really),

Yes. I hadn’t fully understood your reply, but I am glad you made it clear now, it really was a revelation. 😛

So writer’s block!
I hadn’t really thought of it like that. Writer’s block is just a term I had come to associate with this block that placed itself in my mind due to which I couldn’t write anything, or anything creative, to be precise.
The “block” part was so accurate that I almost ignored the “Writer” part.

So am I a writer?

Yes I am.
I write. Because I have stories to tell.
I think everyone who has a story to tell and takes substantial efforts to put it down on paper (or, in these modern times, on a computer, a tab or some such device) is a writer.
In that context, I’d say you are one too.

But am I a good writer?

Now that is a question you made me wonder about.
The answer I came up with after a lot of analysis is: No. I am not.

I am better than I was, say, a year ago. But I’m still not good enough. I don’t know if I ever will be.

As for the “confidence” to call yourself a writer, I think it comes over time.
Even I couldn’t pinpoint the exact moment when “I like to write” changed to “I am a writer” in my case. It was a gradual transition and if you continue writing even semi-regularly, you would gain the confidence too, I’m pretty confident. But keep it confidential until you are pretty sure, lest you lose people’s confidence. Okay I got carried away. :/

P.S. I realised that I calling it a blogger’s block instead would’ve made things easier for both of us, but I’m glad I didn’t. Who wants easy after all! 😀

Sincerely,
Sam.

Image

Friday Picture (Not that it’s a regular feature!)

Friday Picture (Not that it's a regular feature!)

On second thoughts, I could make it into a regular feature. Hmm… Let’s see. I’m not making any promises though.

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