Thursday, March 23, 2017

The Perfect Fairy tale

"You are a born storyteller," said the old lady. "You had the sense to see you were caught in a story, and the sense to see that you could change it to another one. And the special wisdom to recognize that  you are under a curse - which is also a blessing - which makes the story more interesting to you than the things that make it up. There are young women who would never have listened to the creatures' tales about the Woodman, but insisted on finding out for themselves. And maybe they would have been wise and maybe they would have been foolish: that is their story. But you listened to the Cockroach and stepped aside and came here, where we collect stories and spin stories and mend what we can and investigate what we can't and live quietly without striving to change the world. We have no story of our own here, we are free, as old women are free, who don't have to worry about princes or kingdoms, but dance alone and take an interest in the creatures."

(The Djinn in The Nightingale's Eye - A.S.Byatt)

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Book shots



Presenting the first 11 reads of my 100 book reading challenge for 2017. Keep a lookout for more book shots and read all about why I'm undertaking this mammoth task again this year here


Beanbagtales is also on Instagram and I'm posting pictures of books recently read with mini reviews or 'book shots'. For more clicks follow @beanbagtales on Instagram. 

100 books. 365 days. bring it on!

I have, yet again, embarked on the crazy journey of reading a 100 books this year even though I failed miserably last year. I managed to read around 40 books only. Okay, 39 to be exact. It might look like a decent figure and I thought so too till I saw some readers on social media who had finished, brace yourself, 200 books. 200! Instead of doing the intelligent thing and getting off social media or unfollowing these super readers, I added 'read 100 books' to my new year resolutions list again. 

So, why am I doing the undoable? 

One, to prove to myself (and my loyal blog readers) that I can read 100 books. Which, I hope, will encourage others to read also. If not 100, maybe one book? That’s still better than no book, right? And in my own little way, I will have made a small contribution to increase love for books in the world. *violins start playing in the background*

Second, I need to reduce my TBR pile. Firstly, because I’m sick of hearing people asking me (especially those who come to my house for the very first time) if I’ve read all my books? Seriously? Is that the only thing you can think of when you see my book collection? Sheesh! Secondly, I need to weed out the books which are collecting dust since the past who knows how many years and the only ethical way to get rid of them is to read them first and give them a chance. (Not liking a book cover, the sound of the author's name or the blurb are also very ethical methods.)

Thirdly and most importantly, I read so I can escape. Try it. It’s a better way to forget reality and is completely harmless unless you’re reading in bad light or are reading 50 Shades of Grey or both. 

How far am I? Considering that the third month of the year is almost at an end and events in the near future will probably digress me from my reading, I’ve just managed around 11 books to date. Stop rolling your eyes. How many have you managed to read so far, huh?

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

The power of words

Words have power. They help us to weave stories and narratives. Stories are powerful too. They are a barrier between us and reality. Words, stories, books - they are like a safe house. A space where one can momentarily forget life. 

I've been struggling a lot lately with words. They seem to have packed their bags and walked away from my little writing room. Only I am to blame for their departure for I betrayed them, yet again, even though I had promised to stick with them this time for better or worse. All through November last year they kept poring onto the page, helping me meet my target and what did I do with them? Come December and I turned away from them as if they never existed. 

Words have power but they never leave you. I know, deep down, that they've not abandoned me. All I need to do is believe. Believe in their power and more importantly, believe in myself. 



Thursday, February 23, 2017

au revoir classics!

A reason to do the 100 book challenge is to reduce my ever increasing TBR pile. The largest number of unread novels in this pile are classics. Flaubert, Balzac, Sartre, Stendhal, some Chekov, some Dostoevsky and many others. Whenever I decide to reach out for any one of them, I find myself gravitating to some other book and they remain untouched.  

So yesterday, after much hesitation, I picked up Flaubert's book, Sentimental Education. A young man in love with a married older woman seemed an interesting enough plot. The introduction by the translator was promising too with hints of an outrageous ending. Thirty pages in and all I wanted was to put it right back on the shelf. I even considered donating the whole lot but the thought of empty shelves was a bit disconcerting so I abandoned the idea, for the time being at least. 

But why did I feel this way towards this great writer? Was it the language? Was I not able to relate to the setting or the time period? I dismissed the latter as irrelevant because it is always the story which pulls you into the novel no matter what the setting or the time period. I mean, we've all practically grown up on Enid Blyton novels where usually the kids did stuff which was completely alien to us. Drinking tea at 4pm and having cucumber sandwiches was never a part of MY lifestyle while growing up!

It seems a bit silly but this recent aversion to classics was really bothering me. So I put this question to two bibliophile friends today and one of them simply said, “Life is too short to waste on books you don’t want to read. If you don’t feel like completing a book, don’t. There are so many other good books out there.” 

Now you might not agree with this but it makes SO MUCH SENSE! Why read something which doesn’t excite you, interest you or is unrelatable? Books are an escape. We inhabit another world when we read and it takes our mind off reality for a while. A good book is one which engages you at such a level, you don’t want to come back to reality! And at this point, classics are definitely not doing that for me. 

So with a spring in my step and a light heart, I place the Flaubert back on the shelf. The hunt for a new book begins!

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Journeys

I recently read 'Journey to Ithaca' by Anita Desai. In fact, I finished it last night after binge reading 'The Weary Generations' for an event yesterday. I personally think it isn't a good idea to finish a book at bedtime because your opinion about it is affected by the muggy state of mind you're in. At least that happens to me. As I skimmed through the last few chapters of Desai's book and finally put it down at an ungodly hour, I found myself slightly disappointed. Which is surprising because I love Desai and am a huge fan of almost all her work.

But books have a life and personality of their own. At least most books do and sometimes you truly understand them when you're least expecting. Earlier today I was looking for a notebook to write my present journey through a very special and interesting time of my life. And suddenly, the whole purpose of the novel just kind of hit me. It isn't the end of the journey that matters, I thought, but the bloody journey itself. In all honesty maybe that is a wee bit romantic but often, it's the journey which brings out the best and at times, the worst in us. And every journey is a quest. Whether it is a holiday or visiting family or writing a novel or having a child or embarking on a pilgrimage or trying to lose weight through a 50 day challenge. Each journey tests us in ways we never imagine but we carry on, hoping we'll be better off in the end than we started. 

We embark on many journeys in our lifetime. There are some we venture on alone and though we might find other travellers on the way, it is essentially our journey. Writing my novel is somewhat like that and though I have friends who are also undertaking this monumental journey and we are there for each other, each one of us has to travel the long, lonely hours of writing alone.  Then there are collective journeys which we embark on with many others (school, university, diploma courses) but as they reach their end, we find ourselves drifting away and finding our own separate paths to start completely new journeys. 

I don't know what the joy is in - the journey or the destination. Probably both. Even reading a book is embarking on a journey, you never know how it will change you. Reading the Malazan Book of the Fallen had a huge impact on me, both as a reader and writer, but that is a story for another day. Right now I'll leave you with the poem 'Ithaca' by C.P. Cavafy which inspired the title of the novel. [For the complete poem, click here]. 


Image: From the book- Journey to Ithaca

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Post NaNoWriMo high + 2017 writing goal

There has to be a name for the feeling you get when you are not just happy, but visibly impressed with something you've written. Regular adjectives like delighted, ecstatic, overjoyed, in seventh heaven and all don't come close to describing it. There is this deep level of satisfaction and probably a sense of relief. At least that is what I experienced today when I went through some parts of the novel I wrote during NaNoWriMo last year. Most important of all, my self -doubt (which I've struggled with so much over the years and have written about also) has evaporated into thin air. For the moment, at least. It might just make a comeback if I become too complacent and stop writing!

So the goal is to write 50,000 words before November. Or maybe even a bit more. Just a bit. 

You can read about my self doubt at the DWL official blog here and on my blog here