Notes from a Wannabe Novelist

inspiration

Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. – Matthew 7:7

There are days I wait for inspiration to strike me, knowing fully well that true writers can grab inspiration out of thin air, and make words up from even the most mundane. And then, I remind myself that what I imagine to be a true writer is really an idealization of what a “true” writer looks like.

In reality, all writers experience the void of self-doubt ever so often, and that self-doubt itself is a part of the process.

So, I stretch my hands out, my palms open, waiting for an offering. A sign of sorts.

And there you are, handing me exactly what I need, your question telling me what I need to know, the only affirmation I need in myself:

Don’t you want to become a novelist?

Don’t I?

I accept, holding your question close to me, reveling in the lightness it brings to my writer’s being, that indescribable feeling of contentment, that unnameable vital energy I have been running after, hoping that it will solve the puzzle of me being who I think I am. And accepting that conviction isn’t enough. The “doing” is also important.

Or else, how am I supposed to become a goddamn novelist? How else am I going to say that, yes, yes, I am! I am a writer.

Excerpts from my novel-in-progress, Blood Red Sky, is forthcoming in The Four Quarters Magazine. Keep your eyes peeled. =D

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Because anything with an ‘nx’ suffix sounds cool*

*Not my words

I haven’t written a poem about desire in a while. Mostly because the way I think of romantic relationships has changed in the past few years.

I am not a huge fan of panpanani poems of longing. I mean, what is the point of all this longing, that is never ever fulfilled? Stories of unrequited love have dominated pop culture for so long, that we almost forget that love doesn’t have to be difficult. If it is, then it’s really rather pointless.

Love, to me, should ideally exist between mental equals. It should hold some sort of balance, like an infinity symbol (minus the negative connotations associated with its ouroboros avatar), or a yin/yang. It should be an exchange of ideas, of inspiration, of contentment, of stimulating conversations.

Passion and Peace. Coexisting.

That is how I envision love.

Although, in my opinion, any healthy relationship should follow this model. Otherwise, what is the point?

My poem, “Wildlings,” is in The Nervous Breakdown (which is also one of the publications from my Top 30 list!). You can read it here.

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When Poems come to Roost

venn

I rarely write poetry nowadays.

The last time I wrote a poem, it was for a boy I had just met. He was leaving, I wanted him to have something of me to remember by etc. You know how that story goes. Especially if you are a poet, then you have definitely been in that boat at some point.

Most of my poems are personal. Some of them are political. While others are healing.

And then, there are those that are all three, like that sweet spot in a beautiful Venn diagram.

Two of my poems, “Badaun Sisters” and “Origa-me,” are in The Feminist Wire. You can read them here.

Also(!), The Feminist Wire happens to be one of the publications on my Top 30 list!

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Five Years Strong

4 stages of writing

I woke up earlier today, cognizant of the fact that five years had passed since I embarked on this self-journey of finding myself as a writer. Five years is a long time.

So much has changed since. I have changed since. There are days when I stare at my face and can’t recognize who I am anymore. Not that it’s a bad thing. Change is good. Change should be constant. What is life without change? It’s complacency one must fear most.

I realize that every time I hit a year with this blog, I come farther away from the naive twenty four year old who on an impulse one night created this blog, ever hopeful that within a few years, she would be. A writer.

But a year comes and goes.

Not that I am not proud of all that I have achieved since the last time. Taking into account all the drama that went down, I am doing alright.

I had the privilege of working with Sonnet L’Abbe on a bunch of my stories these past few months. She was perceptive enough to point out that I need to manipulate my readers more. Play with their emotions. That makes sense. I am not very good at being tactful. I like to lay out things the way they are. Yeah, I am not very deceptive. That is an area I must work on. (Yet, I do know of a person who is extremely deceptive as a person, has an MFA in creative writing, and hasn’t published anything ever. So, I am not sure if that is an accurate assessment – on my part – of why I fail as a good fiction writer.)

novel

Meanwhile, I continue to publish more poetry. This year I have two poems forthcoming in The Feminist Wire. That’s the biggest publication I have ever broken into.

I have also become more sure of myself. I understand people better, read them better than I read myself sometimes. I work by instinct now, and it works.

No, I am not ungrateful. But somehow, somewhere, it doesn’t feel enough.

I guess I should do something about this feeling of unhappiness. Harness it, like Sara Ahmed says.

Watch me, go on. Watch me do it.

I have a few projects lined up this year, but I also have a few loose ends to tie up. So far, this year has been so damn promising. Even with the drama. And my instinct tells me, it’s just going to get better.

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W.T.F.

book

Disclaimer: This one got a little personal.

I have been questioning my life choices lately.

Here I am. Finishing up my first year as a doctoral candidate in English. On the cusp of thirty.

Not that age should be a factor. I am not worried about getting older. Hell, I am actually ready for the big 3-0 (still several months away). Nor am I in a rush to get married, having recently extricated myself from a relationship that wasn’t really working that well.

No, I am just wondering why I haven’t done it yet. Written the book, you know? There was a time when I saw myself a published author by the time I hit my thirties.

A joke really, considering that one only gets one chance at that first book. Fuck up, and you are fucked.

Pardon the language, but really, W.T.F?

A writer friend who is also as engaged in academia as I am states that she is unable – unable – to be both a creative writer, and an academician.

I beg to differ. I can be both. For me, it’s not about the switching between the academician and the creative writer that’s the problem. But the mental space. The time one gives oneself to become both – not necessarily at the same time – and do it well.

Well, well. That is the key word, isn’t it?

How does one do it well? How does one know that one is doing it well? And, how does one do it and know that one is not fucking up?

I have realized these are questions that have their own answers, depending on who you are asking.

Me? I am still searching for my own versions of truth.

But I feel them shimmering. Hovering just out of reach.

But there they are. Right there. See?

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Photographing Snow

"Conjoin," Kitchener, Ontario.  Feb 2015

“Conjoin,” Kitchener, Ontario. Feb 2015

I have always wondered about stepping out to photograph snow, but the comfort of my warm bed, chicken noodle soup (which is the only sensible thing I can conceive of making every time there’s a snowstorm), a queue of movies/episodes of a favourite tv show on my laptop, and just plain fear of being frozen into a popsicle, keeps me inside. Season after season.

Perhaps, the real truth is that snow doesn’t inspire me. I like photographing moments, people, movement. Snow is snow. Singular. Austere. Inactive.

"Austere," Kitchener, Ontario. Feb 2015.

“Austere,” Kitchener, Ontario. Feb 2015.

But after my mentor, Abhijit Nayak, pointed out that there were possibilities that resided in the unexpectedness of the blank canvas, I had been thinking seriously of branching out. Focus on the stationary. Introspect.

"Crescent," Kitchener, Ontario. Feb 2015.

“Crescent,” Kitchener, Ontario. Feb 2015.

And, last November, after being gifted a Canada Goose jacket by my amazing parents, I have come to fear winter less. Go out in freezing rain? Pssht! Walk knee deep in snow? Hell, yeah! Head out in a blizzard? Why not!

"Thorns," Kitchener, Ontario. Feb 2015.

“Thorns,” Kitchener, Ontario. Feb 2015.

So today, after last night’s epic snowfall and school being shut down thanks to an unexpected snow day, I ventured out.

"Smile," Kitchener, Ontario. Feb 2015.

“Smile,” Kitchener, Ontario. Feb 2015.

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The Erotics of a Queer Fantastique

Source:

Source: “Hallucinations” http://xkcd.com/203/

This came to me in a dream.

Sometimes, dreams hold the keys to your creative innards, the threads of which you must then pull out and knit together, make a boutonniere of sorts, and make a peace offering.

To cleanse the self. And, to gather your innermost self.

Sometimes, it is the only way to release that part of you, to release what is inevitably you, and yours.

My short fiction piece (my most queer piece, and I do not say this lightly), “Regular,” is in the last issue (themed: The Erotics of a Queer Fantastique) of LIES/ISLE. You can read it here. And, trust me, there is nothing regular about this one.

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