Insecure Writers Support Group : December Question

 

This post is part of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group blog hop. The first Wednesday of every month is Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Post your thoughts on your own blog. Talk about your doubts and the fears you have conquered. Discuss your struggles and triumphs. Offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling. My awesome co-hosts today are Jennifer Hawes, Jen Chandler, Nick Wilford,Juneta Key, JH Moncrieff, Diane Burton, and MJ Fifield!

December Question: In terms of your writing career, where do you see yourself five years from now, and what’s your plan to get there?

I am writing since I was in school. I have written a full 30-50,000 word children’s novel in the 8th grade. When I used to talk about becoming a writer, my Dad used to get very apprehensive. He appreciates my writing skills, but has two arguments – 1) I don’t write exceptionally well (read – I drag my narration OR I am too artsy – whatever it means) 2) He thought me turning a writer would mean I would not care about my finances and become the typical jhola-khadi stereotype most Indians thought (10 years ago) writers were.

For some reason, I have not bloomed as a full-fledged writer yet. I have set out to write a novel since 2010 and never completed any of the 3 plots I had in mind.

This question gives me a chance to structure my goals and the efforts towards reaching them.

In the next 5 years,

  1. I see myself as a regular short story, flash fiction and poetry writer.
  2. I would have written 1 non-fiction book.
  3. I would have written 1 80000 word fiction book, published by a reputed publishing house.
  4. Writing would fetch me a decent income, despite the popular opinion that writing doesn’t fetch significant money.
  5. I would have reached an efficiency level where writing daily at a fixed time would be an inseparable part of my routine.

Humble, achievable goals; in tandem with my overall goals for 2017.

How would you answer this question? Would love to hear!

Day 13 : What are you excited about?

Right now :

  1. This online HTML/CSS/Javascript I am taking on Coursera. I have stayed put and actually finished the first week. Here I am, creating an ordered list using HTML tags, on my own blog. How cool!
  2. Starting my own software development team, which I aim to make into a service-based startup. And eventually a product-based company. It’s called The Mavericks.
  3. The prospect of learning ice skating basics.
  4. Writing my fashion blog The Damsel in.
  5. Planning a vacation in May. As a new year present, the hubby’s got me a planner notebook for 50 places I want to visit.}:)
  6. Reading 100 books this year, of which I am on the verge of completing the first.
  7. My recipe being published in Photoawardme calendar, sponsored by Jamie magazine, for the GCC region. And me being inspired enough to take up cooking on a regular basis. Psst…learning to bake a cake and muffins is in the offing.12507368_1704783346401947_2160340867192427617_n

  8. Running a fun run at the Dubai marathon.
  9. Getting to watch the finale of Downton Abbey soon.
  10. The prospect of turning into an amateur fashion designer. No kidding! I get visions of the garments I wanna make, like Jenna does in The Waitress.

Always :

This can go on and on, but I’ll list only the most important things to me.

  1. Meeting cats. Keeping a pet again someday. Maybe even a cat and a dog!
  2. Raising kids.
  3. Writing.
  4. The quest for an Olympic medal in air pistol shooting.
  5. Experiencing the phenomenon of aurora lights and viewing the sky from the other hemisphere (Southern).
  6. Dancing a night away, like college days. Even Garba in Navratri, for that matter.
  7. Taking 4 vacations a year.
  8. My dream of becoming a DIY pro.
  9. Learning to paint.
  10. The journey of becoming the person I want to be. Only a little remains. Just need discipline and perseverance. Hope to achieve it before I turn 30.

Pendulum

This post is written for A prompt each day’s Prompt 60 – Fotowrite #5

broken_by_shail_mohan
Image Source (Attributes): Broken, Photography by Shail Mohan

He stood there for a minute.

His wife had already rushed inside the main gate, and was now safely under the stately porch of the towering building. She did not want their son to get viral fever due to the drizzling. The watchman was getting the luggage unloaded.

He still stood there. Looking at his feet. They were so big now. There was a time when his foot fit right in the grill.

He wanted to smile, remembering swinging from the gate to-and-fro waiting for Papa to come home in the evening. But no smile came. Hey, THIS wasn’t the same…

Agree, this towering building was what he had dreamt of living in – during the days when random strangers would come right inside the garden unlatching the gate themselves, asking for his Papa. They had a convenience store and the bungalow. People would often come home in the evenings even after the shop had closed, to ask for random stuff like gehu or daal and his Papa gave it to them without complaints.

“We don’t have holidays in our profession son. And work never ends. Besides what is the effort in giving a few kgs from bags stored at home,” he used to say.

He did not like this. They had no holidays. So they had no vacation.

He spent his summer vacations swinging from this gate. There were so many nuances to that. Going straight to the wall inward from the left side, jumping to the right one just as the left one rebounded back to its position and then swinging the right one outwards. Sometimes climbing right to the top while the gate was swinging and jumping on the wall. That required skill, you know! The neighbour kid Gura got 2 stitches on the eye-brow having fallen from the wall in the process. He also had his share of falls. But the gate was kind to him. He usually fell only in the monsoons.

He continued to swing from the gate even in his teens. People laughed at him. Papa chided him. “You are grown-up now, Beta. Stop this childishness.”

Little did everyone know, this was his thinking spot. He did not only swing from the gate. He deliberated on his ideas. Ideas of climbing the rungs of the financial ladder just as he did the diagonal rung of the gate. He memorised his trigonometric formulae there. So much so that beside eating, sleeping and school – he was always at this very spot. Well, twice in a swing cycle.

If the formula for pendulum hadn’t been discovered by then, he would surely have been the one to derive the famous equation. b3129742fed41e2f6d2e6962c78a3cdc

Image source : Wiki
Image source : Wiki

He did not derive it, but he did something which propelled him into the outside world from the pendulum-like swinging of the gate. He cracked the IIT entrance. All by himself.

He landed a plum job in the Silicon Valley in the IT boom period. Meanwhile the town grew into a city. He could notice several new faces on the way home when he came back for the first time. The gate was good then. Rusty at the hinges, but still holding strong.

His father was waiting for him with two proposals. One was for marriage to a girl his friend had suggested and another to sell their bungalow to build a 21 storey tower where the bungalow stood then. He agreed to both.

The girl was affable, he could talk to her, he could laugh with her. That is all he wanted, he did not need to think. It was love at first meet!

He was surprised over how much time he took for the other decision. He took a month – evaluating his own career prospects vis-a-vis the prospects of earning from the building. But he knew he was deceiving himself. The main reason he did not want the old bungalow gone was because he could not bear the thought of having to let the creaky gate go!

He finally agreed. His father had shut shop by then. The builder was an old friend of Papa’s who kept his end of the bargain and gave them the penthouse to live in, when the building was completed.

When he came back, 3 years later, he had it all. In the U.S.

Papa had refused to come to the States, ‘cos he liked it here. He had seen the building plans and the pictures, but nothing had prepared him for such a magnificent structure which stood where his bungalow was. The new entrance was around the turn, so the old gate stood where it was. It was the rear gate now, only watchmen and casual loiterers used it to exit in the dark single-road lane, which was quite a buzzing lane in its hey days. He had made the car stop there, and got off, leaving his wife puzzled.

He was still looking at his feet. He lifted his right foot to the first gap of the grill. The end of his toes barely got through. He shook his head at the futility of even trying it. But then his eyes went a little forward. And twinkled. The *#%@$^* gate had broken itself for him!!

There was a missing rod in it. Within a second, he put his foot in the gap, and pushed the gate. It went forth and rebounded and just as it neared the wall, he fell in the mud puddle which formed under due to the incessant drizzling since days.

She noticed it, handed their son to Papa, who had just come downstairs on being told by the watchman, and started walking in an agitated pace out of the main gate towards the old gate. She was muttering something under her breath, Papa was busy pacifying the baby. And he lay in the puddle with eyes closed. Even the hair soaked now.

She came there, Jimmy Choo sandals in hand (to save them from being ruined by the mud, not what you think!). “What are you doing? You got this 3 piece custom made! Why did your friend have to get married the day we land here?! Why did you have to swing at this ungodly hour?! And how can you slip? They’re leather shoes!”

But he did not listen. He was just listening to the harmonious creaking of the pendulum. He held her hand, which she had held up for him to get up – other still clutching the Jimmy Choos, and pulled her to the ground. The beautiful blue chanderi was now soaked in mud, as was its wearer. She looked at him in disbelief – one moment she was standing, the other she was lying in the mud puddle, beside him.

He looked mischievously in her eyes. “You think I slipped?”

 

Liebster Award and a few interesting Qs & As

Thank you Aseem Rastogi of Transition of Thoughts for conferring this Award on me. Sorry for being so late, but better late than never, eh? 🙂

No, it’s not a lobster given to me because I lie! 😐

Liebster is German for dearest,sweetest, pleasantest, etc. *beams*

liebster-blog-award-300x165

The rules are very similar to the Elevenses tag that I have done earlier on my blog :

1. Thank the people who have nominated you for this one and post a link to their blog

2. Display the award in your blog by including it as an image in the post or a widget

3. Answer the 11 questions given to you by the one who nominated you

4. Nominate 11 deserving bloggers (those who have less than 1000 followers)

5. Create a new list of questions for the bloggers to answer

6. Once they have been tagged, keep them informed about the same and also provide a link to the post

I do not have any fresh blogger to nominate. It reminds me I have not kept up with the recent flock of budding bloggers for quite a few years.

Please do not hesitate to pick up this Award from me, for yourself, if you land here and fit the criteria above. The questions that I want you to answer, are here. Do leave a link in the comments, so that we can hop over to read your interesting take on them.

Moving on to the absolutely stunning questions, which made me stop and take ‘jayza’ of my current self :

1. What product (eg: a book, pen, paper etc.) would you associate your personality to and why?

I associate myself with a box of crayons. My soul takes on the colours of one of the crayons according to my moods and mindset, on a day. And mind you, ‘blue’ for me is more a colour of tranquility than of melancholy.

2. What’s the craziest thing you have done at school? Or were you a very nice and sweet little child? 😉

I used to feed goats with leaves of Eucalyptus trees in PT periods and lunch intervals. I broke the spokes of the bicycle of a boy from our class in front of him, because he was supposedly bullying my friend and not letting her take out her cycle from the stands. Turns out, it was the other guy who was the actual bully, of the two guys there. 😐 I apologized later.

Lastly, I wrote an entire children’s novel in 8th standard. And the whole school, including the teachers, followed my work! That is perhaps the craziest thing…the list is endless though…

3. Describe the feeling of blogging in one word?

Cathartic.

4. If you were packed off to Tristan Da Cunha (famous as the loneliest island in the world), who would you prefer to be with? Or would you be alone? And why?

Well, I suppose I’ll have to go with Abhijeet. I’d like to take a pet cat with me.

5. What is the best and the worst thing you have heard about your blog?

Best thing :

Here’s a true incident. I stumbled on a foreign writer’s blog. I wrote to her in reply to her poem, in the comments section : a poem based on hers. I also posted a link of one of my tags for her to look at. Next day, I found that it was deleted! I wrote to her again. She said to me that she doesn’t accept Awards and wouldn’t have me spamming her blog. I had indeed overlooked her policy, and hence, I apologised. Later, I posted the version that I remembered on my own blog. She said it was nice. I migrated my blog a few months later. She must have seen it in her trackbacks, came there, and posted the most amazing comment. Ofcourse, she did not recognise that the poem was posted previously on my other blog also. Have a look. Do visit her poem too, it has the conversation about the comments. I still love her writing 🙂

Worst thing :

I don’t remember a single bad thing…though at home, if I am writing a blog, they do shout at me to get up and do ‘something actually worthwhile’. But that’s not about my blog, that’s about me being lazy 🙂

6. Life as a bed of roses or life full of obstacles, you prefer? (The middle ground is not an option ;))

Bed of roses, of course. *dreams of being a Disney princess in a castle*

7. Any specific book / movie which has shaped the journey of your life?

‘Towards the silver crests of Himalayas’ and ‘Why am I an atheist’. I read the latter first(in 10th) and was flabbergasted that if there is really no God, how would I survive on my own? I read the former in 1st year of Engineering, and it cleared a lot of doubts in my head. It made a rational believer out of me.

8. If you have just been announced as the winner of ‘Who Wants to Be a Millionaire’, what would you do with the money?

Keep a fair amount aside for shopping/travelling immediately, and entrust the rest to husband’s care. He would know how to invest it.

9. What’s that one dream which if fulfilled will give a new meaning to your life?

If I get published by a noted publishing house, it would give me the confidence to write my life away. Because that is what I want to do with my life.

10. What is the most exciting thing you have ever done (or you want to do)?

I want to build a tree-house by myself (since I was a kid). As a kid,I have spent days on end devising a strategy to use neem tree twigs to build a hut. If I get to build it with children of my own, that’d be the most exciting thing.

11. Are you an optimist or a pessimist?

I am a perennial optimist. Though I can be cynical at times…

Book Review : The Winner’s Curse by Dee Walker

The Winner's Curse by Dee Walker
The Winner’s Curse by Dee Walker
Paperback 288 pages
Publisher Srishti Publishers; 1 edition (24 December 2014)
Language English
ISBN-10 9382665242
ISBN-13 978-9382665243

WHY I READ THE BOOK

One fine day last month, I was going over my notes taken at the #WIN conference by Blogadda in Feb 2014. In his opening address, Mr.Ravi Subramanian had mentioned that Mr.Yatin Gupta helped him setup an author blog and got him initiated into blogging.

Life seems to have an almost impossible line-up of coincidences in store for me. The very same morning, a mail from Mr.Yatin Gupta himself was waiting for me in my inbox when I opened my Gmail on reaching office. It was about a review copy upon expressing interest.

As apparent from my writing this review, I signed up. 🙂

What sparked my interest was
1) Mr. Gupta himself backed the book.
2) It was written using a pen name. I like pen names!
3) The blurb was interesting – it reminded me of Adhar Cards and UIDs somehow.
4) It is the author’s first book. (I have this thing for first novels 😛 )

WHY YOU SHOULD READ THE BOOK

It is a fast paced story for one. The techies and business folks amongst us will identify with the jargon used to explain technology and Government tenders. Parallel tracks are at a minimum, which makes the reader sit on the edge wondering what comes next. Also, if you’re an IITian, want to be one or have anyone close to you in IIT; you might wanna pick this one up. (No, it has nothing to do with campus stories or isn’t a CB kinda IIT story.)

THE PLOT

The story is about a big budget Government Telecom scheme being brought in to facilitate transparency in the Bureaucratic functioning. There are big parties involved in bidding for the tenders. The race to win the bid with hurdles like political interests of the stakeholders, corruption in importing the infrastructure and parallel deals being made to secure the contract somehow has IITians from the same batch involved. When the contract is allotted, the winner is faced with a moral dilemma – whether to go through, or not – as the not-written-in-RFP requirements if implemented, will bring an end to individual privacy, as we know today.

Although the book has a taut and almost flawless plot, rather than being story driven; it is primarily character driven.

THE CHARACTERS

I think the USP of this book will be it’s unique characters.

The focus is on IITians whose traits are reminiscent of one or more of the 10 commandments that are drilled into the genius brains of the IIT graduates.(You didn’t know IITians had a code or commandments?! Well, neither did I. 😛 ) There are other supporting characters from the non-IIT world. With about more than 10 key characters, The Winner’s Curse is a densely populated book.

I don’t know how Dee Walker has managed ZERO redundancy in the characterization. Every single character introduction takes the story forward and there is NO character which could have been dropped.

Harsh is the protagonist of the story. From the blurb, it appeared that he is a fresh pass-out (yeah yeah I know it’s wrong English but I’ll still use the term). Turns out, he is in his late 30s. He has a strong political backer in the form of the Master,whom he considers his Guru. You’ll find it difficult to categorize Harsh as plain black or white. Let’s say his heart is white, but his actions are black. (Picture Ajay Devgan’s character in Once upon a time)

ARMANI is a bio-tech genius and the possible protagonist of the sequel Dee Walker has in mind, as it appears from the Epilogue. He couldn’t get into IIT in 2 attempts!

Rocky is an IIT alumnus bureaucrat with a nagging guilt about being corrupt, but still not ready to rebel against the system. Also, he has a bad equation with Harsh since his IIT days and cannot see eye to eye with him on anything.

There are more, this was just an idea.

WHAT I LIKED

1) The narration is crisp, laced with specific details, showing that the author knows what he is talking about.
2) The scene setups come alive.(For example Harsh’s meeting with Dubai investors at the Burj.)
3) The fact that FIITJEET and UNIVQuest are perhaps real institutes. Also the author stresses in the end that IIT is not the ONLY thing which signifies one’s intelligence. Even IIT grads have to live up to their formative years at the Uni, when they come into the real world.

WHAT I DID NOT LIKE

1) There are one or two technical, plot related loopholes I am still pondering on.
2) The Editor has done a bad job. By bad, I do mean bad. For instance, I found an entire sentence printed twice in adjacent paras. Don’t even talk about small typos.
3) I think mentions of illicit relationships and steamy affairs are added just because of the common perception that it makes the book spicier.There is a gay relationship for business benefits – which is more of a ploy to draw readers.
4) Lot of cursing. It should not be a problem with most of the readers, as Tarantino and closer home Anurag Kashyap, have made it a necessary ingredient in gritty realistic stories.

IN A NUTSHELL

Since I started with the mention of Mr.Ravi Subramanian’s address at #WIN, let me end with it too. He said, one of the reviews of his debut book said ‘It was a steaming pile of manure.’ Although the audience doubled over with laughter, I wonder how he’d have felt when he was not a household name yet.

Now I, as a reviewer (and a wannabe author 😛 ), have a natural tendency to try and tear apart a book from the first page. I tried to curb the instinct and started with the book, only to find that after the initial 2-3 pages, I was transformed into an unbiased ordinary reader just wanting to know ‘what happens next’!

If a book can do that, it is surely worth a read. I’d sum up by saying :

“The Winner’s Curse is brilliant in parts, with a strong message of staying true to your ideals; which is brought about quite effectively in the end.”

I would rate The Winner’s Curse a decent 3.5 on a scale of 5.