Monday, October 27, 2014

Do You Need to Make Space?

The most important thing about writing (besides the actual physical act) is being true to oneself. Whenever I put on a guard and try and write the perfect sentence or try and come up with the perfect topic, I end up a) either not writing or b) writing the most boring stuff or c) putting up a quote on the blog. And whenever a, b or c happens, I know I'm not writing for myself.

I went over my blog entries from the beginning (Nov 2009) and noticed a gradual change in the posts. What I'd love to write here is that the quality of my posts, both in terms of content and writing style, has improved manifold but the truth is far from that. My posts on the bean bag started off in a voice that was honest and well, mine. But later posts, say in the past two years, are more contrived and boring. I'm trying to make an effort to woo readers and make people like me. And in doing so I've alienated myself from myself. 

Finding a solution to such a dilemma demands willpower and courage. The courage to face the fears and the obstacles within plus the willpower to bring a change. Friends can reach out for support and say words of encouragement. Self help articles or books can raise motivational levels. But real change can only come from within and ONLY if we make time for it. Whether it is writing, or working out, or doing yoga or reading - if we don't make space for it everyday, it just WON'T happen. 

So the moral of the story is simple. So simple that all the above can be narrowed down to two words - make space

I have to Make Space for writing

What do you need to make space for?

Friday, October 10, 2014

Girl Power

It must be taken as given that a man who happens to be the world's most powerful, most terrible, most  deadly sorcerer, must have a woman at his side. But it does not follow, my children, that a woman of similar proportions requires a man at hers.
        Now then , who wants to be a tyrant?

(The Bonehunters - Steven Erikson)

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Escaping Reality

It is so easy to lose oneself in a book and forget reality. Especially if reality sucks. 

Since childhood I've found fantasy fiction to be the best hideaway. Maybe this feeling came about after I read Tilsm-e-Hoshruba at age eleven. No matter how crazy everything became around me, here was the answer to all my problems. Not just the story itself but the possibilities the story provided to my imagination. Solitude was no longer scary because I always had imaginary friends, mostly characters from the novel, at my beck and call. I was queen of my realm and my wazir was a deadly cobra who was constantly at my side but invisible to all. 

I found similar abandon in some works of Neil Gaiman. Step into Neverwhere, The Graveyard Book, or Stardust and the world ceases to exist. While reading such books dread starts to settle in as I get closer to the final pages. I was gripped with such great fear of reaching the end of A Mirror of Beauty (Shamsur Rehman Faruqi) that I've yet to finish the book. These days I am lost in the world of the Malazan House of the Fallen - a ten volume fantasy fiction saga by Steven Erikson. I'm just starting book six.  

Maybe this is an ostrich approach towards life. It is easy to hide behind a paperback and let the world dissolve. To become friends with certain characters of the book and channel all the emotions inside one towards them. Doing so makes it easier for me to let go of my emotions for then I am crying with or for the characters, not at myself. I direct my angst towards the twists and turns in the story and thus manage to obliterate the sources of the pain from my environment... least till I turn the last page. 

Queen or not, I could really do with that deadly cobra now. 

Monday, September 22, 2014

Nostalgia post-Karachi jalsa

The first time I went to a big gathering that featured Imran Khan was in Quetta - 1992. He was the captain of the cricket team and they were on a tour all over Pakistan with the World Cup. The details escape me but we all went to cheer the team. While my brothers and father stood on the road looking out for the truck (containers weren't the mode of travel then) carrying the team and the cup, my mother and I went into a girls college where the team was due to make the first stopover before going to the main gathering area or ground. There was a lot of excitement of course but the logistics were such a nightmare that we all came back home without catching a glimpse of the team. Going there and being in the thick of the action was enough to inspire me to write a poem on IK. I don't have it with me now but I think the first few lines went something like 'Imran Khan is a great Pathan....' and so on. At 12 years of age, rhyming is very important. 

22 years later.....

Yesterday was the third time I went to a big gathering which featured Imran Khan. The urgency and excitement was similar to that of 1992. Then, the 12 year old me had wanted to catch a glimpse of the team and the cup. However, the present me went to show solidarity with a cause. A cause that, we hope, will bring a change. A cause that, I believe, has brought a change. When people of all ages and all social backgrounds can come together in front of the Quaid's mausoleum without any fear, on a humid Karachi day, that IS representative of the change that is seeping into our lives.

I voted for PTI in the last elections because I want a new Pakistan. But I also know that IK doesn't have a magic wand that will change everything. He is the harbinger of change. He can only do this much. It is up to us, through our actions, to bring the real change. For the simple truth is that Naya Pakistan, or something similar, is a dream which we've all had at some point. 

The question is can we play a role, no matter how small, to make the hope and dreams of a better future into a reality? 

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Little things matter

'Look for the little loves, find and shape the little bitternesses. Savor them in your mouth, try them on your typewriter'. 

(Zen in the Art of Writing - Ray Bradbury)

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

What are YOU reading this week?

There are some new books on the beanbag. I'm really looking forward to reading one of the books I got from Goa; Samhita Arni's 'The Missing Queen'.

And I've also got hooked to the epic saga that is the Malazan, House of the Fallen series. I read the second book, Deadhouse Gates, for our Desi Writers' Lounge - Karachi Readers' Club and now I'm reading from the beginning this amazing fantasy fiction series. So, Gardens of the Moon is also on the beanbag this week.

In case you're interested, check out my review on Deadhouse Gates here and a pictorial of our Readers' Club meet here

One last thing - there are some new titles in the book donation drive so if you'd like a free book delivered to your doorstep, just click here

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

How I lost my books to the aliens...

Or in other words, how I never managed to finish the 15/15/30 project.

It wasn't the number of books, or the number of pages, or the lack of time or motivation which led me to abandon the project. Nor was it the fact that no one was reading along with me although I had high hopes that someone might join this crazy attempt. I am now revealing the actual, real and TRUE reason behind why I lost steam. 

There was an alien invasion in my backyard the night of 11th of July and these particular aliens only wanted to read books by female authors and since they were short of time (if they overstayed there was a slight chance of detection by the dog next door. Who is actually a four legged creature, with a tail and all. No subtle references here!) they grabbed the first books which they found which just happened to be the very stack which I was planning to read. Of course you can imagine how I went into a state of misery and shock to find no books the next morning when I woke up and thus, I was forced to abandon the project. 

No? You don't believe me? 

Well, there is another reason but it doesn't sound very plausible to me. There just might be a teeny weeny chance that I sort of backed down from the project because I didn't like the quality of my reviews. And I came to the conclusion that I am a failure with words and what makes me think I can ever write?  But, the likelihood of THAT happening is so much less than aliens disappearing with my books. 

Or is it?

[In Search of Love and Beauty was the fourth and last book I read for the challenge and you can find the incomplete review here].
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