Friday, October 31, 2014

7 Reasons why I am doing NaNoWriMo

If you’re wondering what is NaNoWriMo, read this post to know more, and if you like writing, sign up! Once you sign up or if you have already signed up like me (in which case you are awesome – round of applause and imaginary virtual candy for you!), let me know so that we can be "writing buddies". Even though I would generally describe myself as an antisocial hermit (is that an oxymoron?), I still think having writing partners will make the 30-day-novel-writing-challenge thing easier and more fun. Here is my NaNoWriMo profile page where you can add me as a writing buddy:
If you’re confused and don’t understand how the whole thing works, check out the website, there’s lots of useful information and inspiration there!
So the challenge starts tomorrow, or rather when the clock strike 12 tonight, and because I know that I’m soon going to lose motivation to keep writing, I’m noting down the top seven reasons why I want to do this challenge and hopefully win:

  1. I love books. So I want to try and write one of my own.
  2. I have been a member of NaNoWriMo for three years but never even attempted the challenge; what’s the point of being a member then? It’s high time I brave up and Just. Do. It.
  3. It will help impart the glorious habit of writing every single day, which is something I’ve wanted to inculcate for the longest time.
  4. I turn another year older this November. A first draft of a novel will be an accomplishment to prove that I have my shit together in life. (Which should hopefully help abate the existential crisis I seem to be perennially battling)
  5. I have been trying to write said novel for years. By trying I mean I’ve written a bit, then edited, then thought it’s crappy and abandoned the idea. Then repeated this process n number of times. I won’t tell you how many times. It’s embarrassing.
  6. For at least a month, I’ll have an answer to that annoying question people keep asking me: "So what are you doing these days?” “I’m writing a novel!” I’ll declare with a smug smile.
    “What’s it about?”
    “It’s about annoying people and the unwanted questions that they ask.”
    Nah, not really. Actually, I’m highly unlikely to tell too many people I’m writing a novel. It’ll just spew more annoying questions and I’d rather just be left alone. So I’ll smile and give a vague answer about what I’m doing and then pretend to listen to the suggestions they so kindly dole out about what I could do with my life. In my head, I’ll be thinking my favorite quote:
  1. I want to be a novelist. It’s my ultimate dream. Enough said.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Lessons from birds

These are pictures of a bird’s nest, weaved out of a single leaf on a plant that grows outside my house.
Lesson #1: there’s a lot you can do with minimal resources and a little bit of creatively

Soon, the nest held eggs: four of them, each about the size of an almond but slightly plumper. It was now that I noticed how the nest was nicely shielded from the harsh afternoon sun, tucked away from the gaze of predators, and sturdy enough to protect mother and offspring-to-be alike from wind and water.
Lesson #2:  efficiency lies in simplicity

Before long, the eggs hatched save one. Three baby birds, each the size of half my thumb, lying on their backs with beaks parted, as if hungry or desperate for water. I went to check on them whenever their mother was away and they looked so helpless, I couldn’t help worrying that:
a)      my cat would find them and make a meal of them
b)      they would die of thirst in the hot weather
c)      their mother would be hunted on one of her trips for food and they would die of abandonment
d)      they would die just like that
Too morbid, I know. And you can imagine my dismay when I indeed found the nest empty in a couple of days. My cat was prime suspect but then I saw the bird babies on the low branches of a tree. They had sprouted wings already! Wherein lies Lesson #3: Don’t worry so much about death. Life has its ways of surviving.
And Lesson #4: You’re never too young to fly. Or at least attempt to.

It was fascinating to watch the little family from my living room window. The mother would go to each baby and demonstrate the act of taking flight. One kid obliged most enthusiastically, flying higher and higher at each attempt. One was moody;  sometimes it would fly, sometimes it would just sit there. And the third was stubborn and reluctant. It sat on its branch and refused to partake in the lesson. The mother was unruffled and happily flapped and fluttered with the other two. The next day, all three kids were soaring among the high-up branches, barely visible any more because they were still so tiny. 
Lesson #5: Accept children as they are – eventually, they’ll turn out just fine.

The nest has been abandoned for many days now. Mother and baby birds have all flown away. And while I can't help feeling a little nostalgic about their brief but special sojourn in my compound, I remind myself about the final and most important Lesson #6: Move on. There’s a big world out there waiting to be explored. Life is not meant to be lived in one place. 

Monday, October 6, 2014

Something to do this November

Apart from wishing me a Happy Birthday, why not write a novel and become famous? Okay, no guarantees about that last bit but you can at least ATTEMPT to write some semblance of a novel. By participating in NaNoWriMo, the (inter)National Novel Writing Month - an online initiative in which thousands of writers across the world - from beginners to pros, dreamers to achievers - take up the challenge of penning an original 50,000 word novel in 30 days. That comes to about 1700 words a day, which for me at least translates into multiple words beginning with "D" - Discipline, Devotion, Dedication, Drive, a strict and scary Deadline, a hearty dose of Drama and an incurable feeling of Doom. Perhaps even a sizzling shot of danger as is indicated by an event that's held sometime in the month - the Night of Writing Dangerously. That of course happens in the US where NaNoWriMo was initiated fifteen years ago by Chris Baty .
But hey, we can have our own Night of Writing Dangerously here in India too. Provided of course that we at least write to start with. As someone who has wanted - and tried - to write a novel for an unspeakable number of years now, I feel like NaNoWriMo 2014 has the potential to finally make me achieve my target. In fact, I have been signed up on their website since 2011 but could never bring myself to actually participate because I was convinced I didn't have time or wasn't good enough or the end result wouldn't be good enough. All lame-ass excuses clearly. But enough is enough. I finally feel ready now and the story in my head makes a lot more sense with all the revisions I've mentally made over the years, so hopefully, by the end of November, it will all be out of me, in solid, beautiful black and white that I can look at and feel proud about rather than cringe.
But inside, I can't help worrying about the procrastination and lack of discipline that plagues me and can jeopardize any initiative. That's why I'm announcing my commitment to write and finish the challenge - and I think the more people join in the better. There are already many people from India participating in the challenge and if the idea at all appeals to you - why not join in? We can form an alliance of sorts to keep each other motivated throughout the month and prevent laziness from creeping in. So click over to the website (, read-up, sign up, and turn up next month to write up! 

Just another reason why November is awesome. :)