Back to an Empty House

I must admit, I absolutely enjoyed writing the previous post. For one thing, I love writing letters. And when it’s to oneself, there’s quite a lot of introspection that goes into it, so much that it feels like an experience in itself. But then, working on a great post (if I may say so myself) has a downside. The thought of writing another one that matches up to it or even gives you the same level of satisfaction is pretty pressurising. Pair that up with the sense of laziness that constantly hits me (especially when it comes to facing a blank page!) and you’ve got one sad blog-space.

However, that’s not all. There is another reason behind my reluctance (or slackness, whatever you’d like to call it) to blog more regularly. To put it simply, it’s not the same anymore. The bloggers I used to interact with don’t write much anymore (or they have abandoned me since this place has been gathering dust for quite a while), same goes for the ones I used to ‘follow’ and truly loved. It’s a bit like coming back to an empty house.

What’s more, even the Freshly Pressed (FP) page on WordPress (WP) has changed. And truth be told, I don’t like it! Freshly Pressed was where I used to come across some of the best pieces across the WP-world. From posts that made me laugh (and click the Follow button instantly) to ones that gave me a much-needed dose of inspiration, I’ve found it all in the FP section. Not to mention the secret, vain dream of someday getting featured there. But then, its replacement — the Discover page — doesn’t seem as ‘personal’ as the older version. In fact, the collection seems too carefully curated. Apart from posts from popular blogs, the seemingly random picks are all too eloquently written and rather impersonal. Or atleast there were hardly any that I could connect with, let alone be inspired by.

In short, adding to what I said earlier, it’s a bit like coming back to an empty house in a completely transformed neighbourhood. Which is basically what pulls me back or confuses me every time I fight lethargy and open up the ‘Add New Post’ page.

Nevertheless, sometimes the urge to write just wins (as it should) and a rambling like this is what comes out of it. Hopefully, it won’t take as long next time around.

Happy. Thank you. More Please!

I’m home (read: RAK) for two weeks! I have been reading, talking to my bratty sister, devouring mom’s awesome food and, well, having a good time! In short, I am happy. It sounds almost surreal to say that. But I actually am happy. For now, atleast. Anyway, so, I have also been watching quite a lot of movies. Last day, I happened to watch one that I really, badly wanted to blog about. So, here I am. Sometimes, amidst the flurry of superhero, horror, thriller, comedy, drama and romance movies, you come across something refreshing. Predictable yet different. Happythankyoumoreplease (2010) was one such movie for me. It’s a romance-comedy-drama film that I stumbled upon while checking out some other flick in IMDB. The synopsis seemed interesting and I added it to my to-watch list. For the past 3-4 months, it had been gathering virtual dust in my laptop, until I decided to watch it yesterday. And I’m glad I did! There are three parallel stories in the film, told seamlessly, delving into the lives, relationships and problems of a handful of characters. Sam (Josh Radnor, who is also the director-writer) is a struggling writer who develops a complicated friendship with a lost child. His best friend, Annie (Malin Akerman), an Alopecia patient, tries to fix her messed up self-image and, in turn, her love life. Sam’s cousin, Mary Catherine (Zoe Kazan) and her boyfriend face certain problems in their relationship. Also in the picture is Mississippi (Kate Mara) – a charming, young waitress with issues of her own – who Sam falls for. OK, so, I know it sounds completely cliché. I agree, it is. And yet, I absolutely loved it. It felt like a breath of fresh air to me with its simple premise and extremely likeable, not to mention relatable, characters. I really don’t know why I found it so good. Maybe it just happened at the right time, like, I probably needed something light after the bout of “heavy” movies I had been watching. Perhaps, it’s because I found a genuinely feel-good movie after a long time. Or, maybe, it’s truly as awesome as I think it is! Whatever be the reason, it doesn’t really matter. Because the bottom line is: I loved the movie! It’s refreshing, light, happy, warm and…(the best part) even uplifting, in some ways. I think I could see bits and pieces of myself in the characters and their difficulties. The dialogues are another aspect I really liked. Sample this: “I realized the problem. You write short stories… and I think you like living short stories, but I’m kinda ready for the novel.” I was also quite taken by the music; some of the songs had really interesting lyrics. By the time the end credits were rolling, I was feeling quite happy in a way I can’t seem to explain. Probably because  it’s not usual for me to feel that way after a movie. This one, inspite of being predictable, had a lot more sense and warmth than many other rom-com-dramas. It’s not even about that, to be honest. You don’t always come across a light-hearted movie which actually lifts your mood, even makes you feel…inspired-happy, for lack of a better word. That’s the effect Happythankyoumoreplease had on me. And I can’t remember the last time a movie made me feel so good! So there! I think I’m done with the gushing. Your turn! Oh, that reminds me. I hate the “like” option WordPress has enabled for comments. Maybe I am overreacting, but I suppose I can still have my say. Earlier, the only way to respond to a comment was by, well, replying to it. The plain old reply in words thing. Now, you have the option of merely “liking” the comment, offering the gesture as a possible response. I hate that! It cuts off conversation! I suppose it might be Facebook-inspired. But then, it’s fine in FB, because you can conveniently end an unnecessary comment thread by just clicking the ‘like’ button (I do that all the time!). I don’t think it is required on a platform like WordPress where bloggers actually intend to communicate. And, that marks the end of my rant. For now!

Have you seen the movie? Let me know what you think. And, while you’re at it, I’d love to know what you think about the “like” option for comments, as well. 🙂

The New Year Post

Last day of the year. It has an almost ominous ring to it. Yet, it represents the birth of a new year, bringing along new hopes and experiences. If you think about it, New Year is, in essence, just a marker of the passage of time. But it holds a certain sense of charm which makes it special. The joy of the season, gifts, meetings, greetings and smiles everywhere…quite infectious, right? 

Perhaps that’s why there is a general notion that New Year should be celebrated with all the splendour and merriment possible. Honestly, I find it slightly pressurizing. Most of my New Year days have been pretty much normal, bordering on boring even. Except for a couple of times. I don’t even remember what I did for most of the New Year days, in fact! I bet that tells you enough. 

This year is going to be no different. Or so I think. I’m going to spend tomorrow exactly as I spent the past two days – reading, watching a couple of movies, blogging (*fingers crossed*) and doing whatever else I want to. I feel oddly dismal when I say this in answer to my friends’ recently regular questions about my New Year plans. As if it’s wrong to spend New Year like a normal day. So, then, I decided I’d blog about that…about how New Year day can be anything you choose it to be. More to console myself than anything else.

It can be a day for relaxing, working, loafing around or anything at all! You don’t have to be out partying or celebrating. You can just as well spend the day at home, doing what you want, without feeling sad about it. After all, it’s really just another day. I guess its ‘newness’ depends on how you feel, not necessarily on what you do. I don’t even believe in the thought that January 1 of every year represents a new beginning. If anything, it can help refresh you to continue. If a new beginning is what you want, it can happen any day, any moment of the year. You shouldn’t have to wait for one particular day (unless you’re stubborn and really want to!). 

So, yes, I’m going to have a seemingly boring and definitely lonely January 1st. But I’m going to try and be happy about it. Because, well, it’s the start of a brand new year. I’m sure it will have quite a few awesome days to make up for the very first. And, anyway, I’m going to spend the day with stuff I really love – books, movies, blog. 🙂 

Moral of the post – In case you have no New Year plans, do not despair. You can always join me!

Happy New Year, everyone! However you decide to spend the day, make sure you enjoy it! 

An Amateur Writer’s Blah Blah on Writing :)

“I think the writer has to be responsible to signs and dreams. If you don’t do anything with it, you lose it.” – Joy Williams

I didn’t get any particular sign or dream as such. Just a lot of complaints from my sister. And, maybe, one article which could possibly have been a sign – On Not Writing.

Whenever I resume blogging, I also make an effort to catch up on posts by bloggers I like/follow and the Freshly Pressed posts. Apart from giving me a sense of getting back on track, it also leads me onto thoughts I want to write about. One such post which I read (the last time I resumed blogging) was Finding your writing voice over at Wanton Creation. The reason for being drawn to it was: I had had the same line of thought and was planning to blog about it (which never happened, alas!). So, I was surprised to see a post on the same topic, with similar thoughts!

There is something I always notice when I read articles or blog-posts – the writing style. Even though I must have been doing it all along, it’s something that I realized very recently. It might be my passion for writing or maybe, just something I’ve grown to do as a result of my reading. Whatever maybe the reason, I’ve come to realize that the first thing I notice and appreciate about a piece of writing is the writing style, the way in which the writer has put forth his views. Also, I believe, that is what helps maintain my interest in the piece. However interesting a concept might be, I cannot bear to read on if I don’t like the way it’s written. Once I realized this, I was curious. Curious about what exactly led me to like a particular way of writing, what factors I looked for in a piece…and most importantly, what was my writing style, how would I judge it, how do people judge it? The latter’s a thought for another day, though.

It’s not easy to write something that engages a reader till the end. And it’s definitely not easy to make it good enough to leave a mark on the reader’s mind or provoke them to think about it. So, then, what draws a person to read a certain piece of writing (Note: I’m not talking about books here)? Let me list out 5 qualities in writing that do the trick for me:

1) Humour – It works every single time. Use humour to present your concept/thought and I bet it will get through to your readers. It works splendidly for me!

2) Simple yet compelling language – I would never want to read something that is filled with complex or generally unused words. That’s not to say I’d like something plainly written either. Attaining that balance between simple and compelling language  is tricky but I believe that is what could reach out to readers. On that note, let me also add : grammatical & spelling mistakes are a firm turn-off when it comes to reading something. (Not that I’m perfect at it!)

3) Keeping it personal – Now, this is a factor that ALWAYS draws me to a piece of writing – the writer’s ability to connect to the reader by maintaining a certain personal touch. Instead of an article that is completely factual and impersonal, I’d opt for something that has a personal element, an article wherein the writing seems to communicate to me, engaging me in what the writer is saying. In short, I should be able to feel that the writer is talking to me through the piece.

4) Short and sweet –  Never mind the ‘sweetness’, but I certainly do prefer articles that aren’t too long. It isn’t really about having time to read it. For me, it’s more about whether a long article will be able to hold my attention, whether it will be worth the effort. More often that not, I have strayed off halfway through a long article and just skimmed through the rest of it. So, the phrase “short and sweet” is highly relevant to me.

5) Flow of Writing – The way the concept is developed from one paragraph to another or, in simple words, the flow of writing is another factor that helps in maintaining my interest in an article. Disconnected or disrupted flow of thoughts usually make me leave halfway through the piece.

So, those are the 5 elements of writing style that capture my interest in an article.

What are yours? Do care to share.

(A bit of) Straightening Up :)

Apparently, one post was all it took! I already feel like I’m back to blogging.

During my active-blogging-days, I used to go through each day, see everything partly through a blogger’s eyes. I used to always be open to wandering thoughts and ponder over how to write it out. Each passing thought or incident went through a sort of scrutiny, just in case it was something I could blog about. And, I seem to be back to that stage now. I keep thinking of what I could possibly blog about; I write down interesting sentences I build up in my head, jot down random thoughts; I observe people, places and situations much more closely. Do note that this happened just hours after my previous blog post. And, then, it struck me…I feel like I’m back on track. Almost, I suppose.

The past few months were much like a whirlwind of activities. March was my last month at school, as a teacher. And I was completely caught up with everything. Completing portions, spending time with the kids, finishing up the tasks. It was quite hectic but I didn’t really mind. Probably because I knew that I wouldn’t get to experience it again. April was more of a roller-coaster ride. I finally got to Bangalore (a place I’ve had in mind for the past two years!) and before I knew it, everything had fallen into place much more perfectly than I had expected to. I’ve almost settled in with the new atmosphere, place and people. Like any roller-coaster ride, I also had some down-times, instances when I was emotionally low. But then, I know it will pass (even though it seems to be taking its own time in doing so).

The only writing I did in the last few months was in my diary…the normal rant about incidents, emotions, day-to-day events, random thoughts. Even those entries were not regular. Still, I kept at it. For the sake of the joy and solace it gave me every time I wrote something.

A week or so ago, while writing out about the day, I realized that it had been ages since I wrote a poem. There was a time when I used to have books/diaries filled with poems and now, I can’t remember the last time I wrote one! That’s when it struck me that I hadn’t really been writing, in the true sense of the word. Whatever writing I did in the diary barely helped in keeping the spark alive. It felt like I had been trying to keep myself just alive, barely so…and not nurture it back to life completely. Like managing to stay afloat but never taking the effort to reach ashore.

So, now, I need to get out of the rut and..well, write. For real. 🙂 Thoughts and ideas are always welcome. (I could seriously use some help!)

What does writing mean to you? What does it do for you? 🙂 

 

And…We Meet Again!

Can you imagine what it would be like to meet one of your closest friends with whom you’ve been out of touch for ages? The happiness, excitement, rush of emotions, thoughts, things to say…and a sort of awkwardness because of all the time that has passed by, a silence because you don’t know where to begin or what to say. You realize that after all those years and the distance, you are a different person, and yet, you are still the same person. (Does that even make sense?)

Well,  that is how I feel right now. Like I’ve just come face to face with a dear friend who I had lost contact with. And, I’m kind of fumbling for words, typing out and deleting sentences, wondering if it sounds right…I don’t know what to say, or if what I say makes sense.

I don’t even want to think of how long it has been since I blogged. Of course, there were times (so many times) when I felt guilty, embarrassed, sad or plain disgusted at myself. But I suppose that wasn’t enough. Honestly, I don’t know what brought me here today. But, now that I am here, let’s just leave it at that.

So, to cut the long story short, I’m at a different point in life, a whole new phase…in a new place, around new people. I still feel surprised when I think of how fast time went by. One day, I was teaching and the next day, I find myself in a completely different place. Not a bad place, I should say, even though I miss home and teaching and the kids.

I’ve always loved new experiences, which is exactly what I know I’ll find in a new place. But there is something I constantly tend to overlook. When you start a new phase in life, initially, there is always a kind of emptiness…a void before it starts getting filled up with new experiences, people, thoughts. I think I’m somewhere in that void right now, and, perhaps, that is what brought me here. The need for something familiar and comforting to help me get through this initial vacuum.

I truly hope I don’t go disappearing again. But, for now, I’m back. And it seriously feels good!

 

 

 

How A Soliloquy (nearly) Saved My Blog from Becoming Extinct

I realize that it has been a long time since I blogged. Some of my closest friends did ask about it and urged me to resume blogging (Once, Kiran told me I shouldn’t get used to NOT blogging. But then, I think that’s what happened, eventually). The problem was not lack of will or desire. I wanted to blog, yes. But I lacked the inspiration – that uncanny sense and ability to string together words and form a sentence, and to create a bunch of sentences like that, which make sense, ultimately. I got away with that “excuse” for a long time. Until I had to give an answer to myself. The conversation with myself went something like this:

Why are you not blogging?

Because I don’t find the inspiration for it. 

Is that reason enough for not doing something you enjoyed so much?

Well…

Did you never have thoughts that were worth blogging about?

Hell, yes, I did!

Then why did you never do it?

I don’t know…I just didn’t feel that urge to sit down and put those thoughts into words. 

Did you try?

No. 

Did you try to find the inspiration somewhere?

Umm..not really, but, at times, yes. 

And…?

Well…(clears throat)…All I can say is that what I found wasn’t enough. 

Do you even realize how stupid that sounds?

Yes. 

Without ever genuinely trying to find inspiring thoughts or using what you found or even trying to write something, how can you blame everything on the lack of inspiration?

Ok, maybe I was also lazy.

Makes sense. Do you know that you have a responsibility to yourself, to do what you love and enjoy? The responsibility to do what you’re passionate about? Because that’s the only way you will ever contribute anything!

Yes, I know that.

Great! Now that you have come clean and knocked some sense into your head, please get down to doing what you do best. And no, I don’t mean lazing around!

* * * * * * *

And that conversation is what brought me here, to this page, after so long. I love talking to myself. I do it at random instances but most often when I’m in extreme moods (extremely angry, happy or sad). And it always helps me clear my head in a way nothing else does. Whenever I’ve spoken to myself, I’ve always come out of the mood with some thought that was powerful enough to make an impact. And I love the fact that I have the power to change my state of mind. 🙂

When I started off with this post, I had no idea about what to write. I just wanted to start with it, just try to do it instead of complaining. And I must say I’m very glad with the outcome. Even though it’s really nothing more than a pointless, stupid conversation with myself. Now, all I need to do is make sure that I don’t fall back into the ‘Lazy Mode’ and leave this space to gather dust until the next time I get some sense into my head. *Fingers crossed*