Posted in My life!

Do those you care about really drift away?

There’s an image that’s been doing the rounds of social media for the past few days – one by Ashwin Santhosh (IndianClassyPeople.com).

Here is the image in question:

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I get what he means to say, and I get why people are reacting with comments that can be summarised to, “True.” I even feel for the people who can only reminisce about old friends because they got too busy to call or stay in touch – and I’m putting that out there right now.

But I can’t agree with it. Here’s why.

Life gets in the way – always. There are bills to pay, a job to do, a boss to answer to, housework to look at, kids/parents/siblings to look after… or even your own demons to fight. Everyone has something that’s going on, and that they’re trying to cope with. That’s what happens when you become an adult.

So yeah, people aren’t ‘always free’ for anyone anymore. But this is where the response, “No, anything important?” becomes so critical. The way I look at it, that statement is basically saying, “No, I’m not free. But I am taking the time to ask if it’s something important because I still care. So I may not have all my time to give to you, but I’m there if you really need me. If it’s important, I’ll put things on hold, or get back to you as soon as I can. But I will hear you out, I will be there for you.”

What matters then is how you, as an adult and as a friend, choose to respond. Do you put your emotion and pride in the way and say, “No, nothing important,” while cursing in your heart the state to which your relationship has devolved? Or do you be as raw and true to yourself and the other person as you were when all your time was truly, freely available and say, “Yes, it’s important. And I need you to be there. So put all that other real-world responsibility on hold for a minute, and hear me out.”

The way I see it, it’s not always the lack of time or the existence of distance that forces people to drift away. Oftentimes, it’s choosing to not be who you have always been that makes that drift happen.

What do you think? What would you do if you called an old friend and got an, “I’m busy,” response when you need them? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

– Rishika

 

Posted in My life!

What I learned in one year of marriage

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My husband, Vishal, and I are what you would call childhood sweethearts. We’ve been together fifteen and a half years, and married for one year today. You’d think getting married after 14 1/2 years together would mean no surprises and a simple change in title.

But that isn’t what it is.

What it is, instead, is an amazing journey that surprises you at every turn and still manages to be familiar enough to be comforting and comfortable. And it will tell you something that you may already know but not have realized, or just make you learn, certain things about marriage, relationships, men and women. These are a few things I learned in the past one year:

  1. Taking care of your husband, or your wife, isn’t a responsibility – it’s a pleasure. You have someone who will turn to you for the simplest, and most complicated of things, and you want to take care of those things. All you care about getting in return is that smile that says more than words can ever do.
  2. Men are truly like children – sometimes, if not always – and that is one of the best qualities they have. It is what gives us that much-needed breath of impulsiveness and excitement in a life that is otherwise so very adult.
  3. Marry someone who can make you smile and laugh. When life leaves you physically, emotionally and mentally deflated, the only thing that matters is the one who can make you smile with his/her presence, and make you laugh with jokes on situations cracked at a time that many would consider too premature. Nothing diffuses tension and anger like a premature joke that is balancing on the thin border of ‘this is funny as hell’ and ‘too early to be even remotely funny’.
  4. Fighting isn’t always bad. Yeah, it leaves a bad taste in your mouth and takes some time to be forgotten. But it reminds you of the things that you forget in your daily take-for-granted life; it reminds you of what is really important, it reminds you of who you really are, what you’re capable of and most importantly, why your marriage and relationship is worth fighting for.
  5. Sometimes you need someone you love to tell you that there’s something wrong, that something has changed. Because they won’t just tell you and disappear. They’ll help you rectify it, even if it means facing hell during the process. It’s tough, but it’s made easy when the person who understands you the most and knows how difficult the process can be for you, helps you overcome your demons.
  6. You don’t love someone in spite of their flaws, you love them for their faults. It’s what makes them whole, makes them human and gives them the strength they have to be the best they are.
  7. Life is going to get in the way. Responsibilities, work, health issues – they’re all going to get in the way of the romantic marriage you may have built up in your head. So learn to identify the moments that matter. And make the most mundane of moments matter – those are the ones you’ll remember forever.
  8. Romance isn’t about chocolates and flowers. Romance is about choosing to make the coffee so that your partner gets that extra five minutes of sleep he/she so desperately wants. Romance is about stopping in the middle of a busy, errand-filled day to hug your wife/husband. Romance is about realizing that every moment can be a real experience if you just remember that you’re spending it with the one you love.

And that brings me to this point, where I tell my husband, the man who is the biggest critic to my creativeness, my best friend and the absolute love of my life, some part of what I really feel.

Vishal, this is for you.

There is no one quite like you, no one who can make me laugh as you do, make me smile as you do and make me feel alive as you do. Coming home to you every evening is the highlight of my day and a moment I look forward to even today, after so many years together. We are definitely not alike, regardless of what others think, and that’s what makes us so complete. I can’t imagine a life without you. Your crazy matches my crazy. And I know that we will be crazy together, forever. Because you’re stuck with me. And that’s just something you’re going to have to live with….

As though you’d want it any other way! 😛

Happy Anniversary, my love.

 

Posted in Being a writer, My life!

Moving beyond writer’s block – Your way!

Everyone who has chosen to pen a story of some sort may have, or probably will, come across this demon of a problem that is known as writer’s block. What is writer’s block? Numerous definitions describe writer’s block as the inability to create new work, or even come up with new ideas. Simply put, your imagination seems to have gone on a holiday, leaving you with a boring mind that can no longer find its way to a new world. At least, that is how I would explain it. And from what I’ve read, seen, and heard, this condition can be temporary and can last for a few days, or can be something that grabs hold of you and refuses to let go. Whatever the duration, most authors would agree that writer’s block is nothing short of a nightmare.

So how do you deal with it? And how do you move beyond it to start creating again?

To start off, let me confess that I haven’t faced writer’s block for a prolonged duration. My bouts of writer’s block are short term, last for a few days or so, and are eventually defeated by really simple solutions. But the fact is that these solutions work wonderfully for me, and can yet be completely useless for other authors.

When I am faced with writer’s block, it is generally because I unconsciously feel that my story is getting a little slow or non-gripping, or because I’m a little too consumed by another, different idea that’s pulling me towards itself in spite of my trying really hard to stay focused. The solution, as I discovered after spending altogether too much time trying to find one online, lay with me all along. In the first scenario, all I needed to do was take a critical look at my work and honestly delete everything that seemed to slow it down. Granted, that was a lot of work, and even required some outline changes. But the result was that I was newly motivated, had found a better route for the story line to take, and got back to writing until my hands pained. In the second scenario, I simply backed off from the story I was working on and took half a day, or even an entire day or two, to work on an outline, jot down notes, and even write some scenes for another story. Sure, that story was in a different genre and based in a different time and required a completely different style. But the result was that I had a decent idea for another book, already had some scenes played out, and had cleared my mind such that I was raring to go back to the project/book on hand.

Then there are days when I simply cannot write. My story is fine, I’ve got no other ideas taking up thought, and I’ve got nothing going on that can distract me from my work. But yet, the typing just won’t happen. Those are the days I just sit back, watch a movie, read, play games, and do anything and everything that I feel like. And oddly enough, within hours I’m inspired enough, by something as simple as a cartoon even, to get creating again. All I needed, as it turned out, was some time off.

What I’m trying to say is that writer’s block does not have to be a really complicated problem on which you spend hours and days, scouring the internet for a solution, talking to numerous groups, taking advice from everyone who you can think of, and even doubting your choices and ability. Writer’s block is something that is simply a result of the direction your mind has chosen to take on a particular day. All you need to do is take a step back, look at everything that led up to your block, and then discover the cause of your emotion. Work on sorting out the emotion, and you sort out the problem. What you really need is to simply listen to what your thoughts are telling you. And since it is only your emotion that can be sorted by your doing something, it turns out to be your way of beating writer’s block.

Everyone has bad and good days. But not everyone is the same and not everyone handles days the same way. So if you have a problem, why look towards what others have done in the past? Just look at yourself! Do whatever feels right; and if you follow your instinct, you’ll probably find your way back to creativity. After all, what you need to remain creative is motivation that comes from within you. And who knows what’s best to keep that motivation alive other than you?

That being said, discussing your situation with others who understand can be of help too. I don’t mean that you need to follow everything that someone suggests. But someone’s experience can become the beginning of your solution. You just have to take it to its own end – and that’s where it becomes you.

What keeps you motivated and what keeps your writer’s block at bay? Share your experiences in the comments below and help someone begin their journey back to creativity! It’s happened to me before!

– Rishika

Posted in Being a writer, My life!

Word count: The true measure of progress?

How exactly can you measure the progress you’ve made in your novel? Some authors choose to do so by seeing how far ahead in their plot they’ve gotten, some do so by writing out random scenes that go into the final draft at a later point, and others do so by word count.

Word count – that number of words by which your manuscript has increased. To be really honest, it’s a pretty good way of checking progress. If you’ve gone from 22000 words to 25000 words in one day, that’s really impressive. To make sure that you’re not whiling your time away and actually getting work done, you can set a word count deadline for every day or every week. And for the most part, it’s an accurate marker of progress made towards finishing your novel.

So what, then, is the problem?

From what I’ve noticed, mainly from my own work, is the dependency that authors tend to develop on meeting their daily word count as the only measure of progress. Sure, you can write 10000 words in one day, and you can walk away from your laptop feeling really accomplished. But what is the point if you’re going to come back to those very words the next day and erase half of them because they’re not really as great as you thought? And what about the other end of the spectrum? What if you manage to write only 1000 words because you were busy polishing the parts you’d written earlier, or you were occupied for half the day in research? Are you supposed to end the day feeling miserable because you didn’t meet the minimum word count that you’d set for the day?

I’m guilty of doing both those things. And after a few pretty lousy days where I couldn’t write the number of words I’d thought I would, I took a step back and decided to just assess my work. What I saw was that I may have written few words, but I’d written a pretty great scene, and that too one that I’d never attempted before.

Sure, that scene and those chapters will go through edits, but they’re still the mark of something new that I’d achieved. And that, in my opinion, was the true measure of progress.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that measuring your word count is a good way to keep yourself working on a schedule and even acts as a good measure to mark the progress of your work. But there are moments and days when you just have to toss the word count aspect of your work out the window and look at what you’ve accomplished other than a bunch of words. Maybe you’ve successfully written a short scene in spite of having writer’s block, maybe you’ve written your first ever romance/war scene, or maybe you’ve managed to iron out those wrinkles from your outline that had been bothering you forever. Whatever it may be, you’ve definitely achieved something. And that should be satisfaction enough to stop you from ending your work day on the feeling that you just didn’t do enough. I’ve had that feeling a lot of times – and all it succeeds in doing, is making my night restless and leaving me too tired to work the next day!

So don’t let bad seeming days get you down. As long as you have a novel or story in the making, you’re going to be working on it. You may do that on paper, on the laptop, through research, or even just in your head. But you will always be compelled to work on it and you will always make progress, even if you don’t realize it. Just look closely and you’ll discover what you achieved.

How do you mark your progress? And how much importance would you give to word count? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Posted in Being a writer, My life!

My characters do exactly what I want them to… yeah, right!

It’s a regular day for writing – you’ve already played the scene out in your head a thousand times; you even have the dialogues planned. Something very specific is going to happen – something that only you know, something that will take the story ahead, something that’ll make one of your characters dance to your tunes.

And then that character turns around, smirks at you in a manner that’s more amused than condescending, and then does whatever it wants anyway. Hours of thought turn useless, dialogues vaporize, and your story line hangs dangerously on the precipice. But one moment later, your fingers fly over the keyboard as you try and type as fast as the words come to your mind. That is what your characters, the ones that you breathed life into, can do to you.

How often has it happened to you that you’re writing something, anything, with almost every detail penned out in your thoughts. But your character says or does something that even you didn’t expect. Plus, he or she uses your fingers and effort to make the twist come alive. You find yourself typing furiously, not sure why you’ve deviated, but knowing with scary surety that this had been the right path to go on all along.

What you get then is a story that reached where you wanted it to, and that too, by making use of the more interesting route. I guess it all comes down to the fact that people are unpredictable. Sure, they won’t do anything too out of character, but that character itself is unpredictable because of its many layers. The characters you create are people too. They may be fictional, but in an author’s head, they’re very much alive. You talk about them like they’re your friends, like their trials are real, their grief, bothersome, and their achievements, something to be greatly appreciated. You feel their pain and pleasure, happiness and despair, loss and gain. You live many lives with them – and yet, you give them a free reign to live their lives wholly.

That is the very reason your readers can associate with them – because you associate with them. And when you’re treating them like real people, do they not have the right and probability to act as per their own wishes? All you can do is see where the flow takes you.

The debate of story drives characters vs. characters drive story is an old one. I’ve seen that most of the time, I choose what my characters do. But when they choose to drive the story instead, I let them take the wheel. Most times, the results are better than whatever I could have plotted! What about you? Do you control your characters at all times? Or do you let them be the people they are and see where they take your story?

– Rishika

Posted in Being a writer, My life!

Finally… I’m an author!

It took a while, some serious self-doubt and soul searching, lots of cups of coffee, detailing, characterization, edits, and some long nights… and I finally reached my goal – becoming an author!

My first short story is a love story – the story of Ava and Ethan Russell, and a story of love, betrayal, forgiveness, and second chances. It’s called One Chance and is available for purchase in the Kindle Store at http://amzn.to/1gEyr9Y

Now, with the way I feel, there is no limit to creativity. So I’m going to be writing and writing some more!

– Rishika