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: "Hallucinations" http://xkcd.com/203/

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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Shinjini’s Hazaar Songs

jigsaw

Like some names that linger on your tongue, her name became my albatross. Always synonymous with mine, I knew it as intimately as I knew her.

My own. My beloved. My sister.

So, I tugged and pulled. Broke it into pieces. Put it back together like a puzzle I knew by heart.

And so, she became mine. And, mine alone.

My poem, “Shinjini’s Hazaar Songs,” modeled after my sister’s name (Shinjini) is now in Toasted Cheese Literary Journal’s December issue. It was also workshopped in Carolyn Smart’s class in March earlier this year. You can read it here.

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The Stuff of Life (of a writer-in-progress)

drama writing

A few years ago, a fortune cookie fortune stated rather simply:

You will become a famous writer.

I stared at it, not in disbelief, but in the cognition of the steadfast reality I have carried within me for many, many years. It is my destiny. I was just staring at the obvious.

But as time went on, and I settled into complacent happiness, I felt my ability to write shrink into a memory of a desire that may have belonged to someone else. Instead, I worked hard to steady my world, and lost my narrative edge in the process.

Perhaps, I need drama to revitalize myself. Perhaps, I need melancholia.

Someone I know, once alleged that I search for drama in my life just so that I can recreate it into fiction.

Now I know that isn’t true.

Drama just finds me wherever I am. Even when I am complacent to the point of boring, something will simmer within and force me to break the mould. It’s a simmering I cannot control, and yet it’s something I do not entirely abhor.

It’s a simmering without which I would become an empty shell.

Simmering is the stuff of life. And every tragedy (and the not-so-tragic) is fodder for writing.

The only way to exist is to forward march.

So, I am not sure about the fame. Nor fortune. But the writer within me is writing. Again.

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When a Poem Expires

chickenlonelycoupon

There was – well, is. It still exists. – a poem that I wrote a little over two years ago. It was a reactionary poem to an event that sort of tilted my world at the time. Tilted it beyond a rose coloured view. It was a poem that made my insides squirm whenever I read it. It made me uncomfortable as it recalled the event in minute detail. Yes, it was a very uncomfortable poem and an extremely personal one.

The poem found a home in a magazine I admired. After four rejections at other places, this magazine agreed to take it in. I felt as if a poor lost puppy roaming around in the rain had suddenly been offered a home by kind patrons. It warmed my heart. The world would hear my pain.

The magazine sat on it. They sat and sat, and warmed their behinds on it. Other poems were published, but my accepted poem did not see the light of day.

The immediacy of my pain began to fade, as the poem slowly rotted.

I got over that two year old moment and started viewing the world through my kind of negotiated happiness. And even as I personally grew, the poem itself didn’t. It had been stalled before its unveiling. An aging debutante.

I sent several polite inquiries. Se-ve-ral. They were met with silence.

No white noise. No static. Just an unrelenting silence. A void, if you please.

And now, after all this time, the aging puppy has passed away, its memory a stranger.

I should just bury it and move on.

markanderson

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Filed under poetry, rant, Thinking Aloud