Sunday, February 26, 2017

Who Gets to Decide that You are a Writer?

I recently met a writer friend with whom I had lost contact since months. We discussed many things and when I broached the topic of writing, she told me she didn’t consider herself as a writer anymore. I was baffled. Just months ago, she was brimming with story ideas. At that time, she was halfway through her next novel.

“I don’t think I am good enough. You know,  this reviewer trashed my book last month. I am blocked completely. I don’t think I can write ever again,” she said.

I could completely relate to her. Hadn’t I gone through a similar phase last year? The agony of not being able to pursue the one thing that she loved the most was evident in every word she uttered. I am writing this post series for her and for all such blocked creatives out there.

We are all born creative. We think we are the best artists in the world till the age of three or four. That is almost the age when we first start hearing about what is wrong in what we have created. Our creativity sometimes dies at that point in time when we first faced our worst critic. Many of us can only draw stick figures how much ever hard we try. Because it was at that stage where we had stopped drawing or trying to draw. That was when, years ago, our art teacher/ classmate showed our drawing to the whole class and mocked it. Most of us stay blocked after that for a lifetime. The ones who survive become masters of their craft.

A writer or any creator, as a matter of fact, is always their own worst critic. It is after fighting their inner demons that they put up their work in public. And when someone ridicules it after ticking off their own checklist of what goes into the making of that particular genre of art, the doubts they had harbored long in their mind gets cemented. Many succumb to the insecurities within and stop creating art completely. The fear that gets awakened is often soul numbing.

Jane Austen published her books anonymously initially. Women in the regency era were not supposed to write. Wordsworth and Coleridge stopped writing poetry after an initial burst of creativity in their youth. Harper Lee didn’t publish another novel for many years after the massive success of her first novel ‘To Kill a mockingbird.’

Some others got recognition only after their death. When Vincent Van Gogh died in 1890, he had sold only one painting. His works were ridiculed by art critics then. His paintings gained popularity only after 1910.

Emily Dickinson hid most of her poems fearing public shaming as her writings were highly personal. It was after her death that many of her brilliant poems were published. 

Franz Kafka considered as the most influential writer of the twentieth century died without seeing any of his books published. No publisher was ready to publish them.

If you browse through history, you will find many other brilliant creators who stopped creating altogether after encountering creative blocks.

The question that needs to be answered is who gets to decide that you are a writer or an artist? Who gets to control your creative instincts?

The answer should be and is always ‘you’!

Only you know what you are capable of creating. Don’t let anyone judge you by a piece of art that you have created. Don’t let anyone brand you as a loser because your creativity did not appeal to them. Creativity is how your soul expresses itself. Never allow anyone or anything to darken the light that it shines upon your life. Never allow your inner child to cower in fear.

 So how do we unblock our creativity?

That requires another post.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

The Magic in the Attitude of Gratitude

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If I could have a superpower, my choice would be the ability to communicate via telepathy. It would be so nice if I could tell everyone around what exactly I wanted to tell them without going through the hassle of a face to face confrontation. Bliss! Words would get converted into frequencies which would be received and deciphered by the gray cells in their brain. They would cringe, laugh or curse according to what message I had sent them. No bodily harm would result as I would be sipping my coffee miles away.

Alas, no human being has developed this highly useful faculty of the brain. One fine day, I hope a Guru would arrive and teach us the ability to communicate via telepathy. Or maybe our friendly humanoid aliens from 'The Awakening' would be kind enough to teach us that. Or a miracle drug would be invented which would enable the human brain to explore all its hidden capabilities. We would then emerge as super humans and we would rule the universe. Yeah, my imagination is running wild after NASA announced the discovery of seven more exoplanets. Till then, unfortunately, we have to use our various means of communication available to say what we wish to say.

Especially when it is gratitude that you feel, express it right away. Not only will it make you feel good, the person at the receiving end also feels happy and content. It will also encourage them to repeat the act of kindness when the 'Thank you' is heartfelt. A simple 'thank you' message can do the trick. You can employ elaborate hashtags, selfies and whatever pictures you wish to accompany it if you are doing it publicly via social media (that is the trend) (*wink, *wink) or through a subdued private message. The more heartfelt it is, the more benefits it brings to the giver and the receiver.

The attitude of gratitude has the ability to cheer up two persons immediately, both the giver and the receiver. Remaining silent when you are feeling grateful is never the right thing to do.
So next time you feel grateful, don't hesitate, thank the person you feel grateful towards. And also when somebody thank you, receive it gracefully. Receiving gratitude is like receiving a bouquet of positivity. Cherish it.

So, who is #1 on your gratitude list this week?

This post is a part of 


Monday, February 20, 2017

Book Review: Open-Eyed Meditations by Shubha Vilas

Book Blurb:

Open-eyed Meditations is a beautiful compilation of thoughts wherein each meditation takes you on a journey to the past, bringing a secret herb to heal a problem of the present.
A true distillation of ancient wisdom tips for modern lives, this unique self-help book uses the wisdom of the Ramayana and the Mahabharata to solve your everyday problems.
Beyond the storyline, something deeper is waiting to be discovered from these ancient texts. This book is an attempt to uncover the hidden layer of wealth that is cleverly packaged within the commonly known storylines.

About the Author

Shubha Vilas holds a degree in engineering and law with a specialization in patent law. But in essence, he is an author, a motivational speaker, lifestyle coach, and a storyteller par excellence.
His leadership seminars, wherein he addresses the crucial needs of top-level management through inspiring seminars, are popular in corporate houses.

Shubha Vilas periodically interacts with the youth in premier institutes across the world, inspiring them to live a life based on deeper human values.
Traveling across the globe and meeting people from all walks of life, he teaches the importance of being governed by dharmic principles, meting out spiritual lifestyle tips and contemporary wisdom to deal with modern-day life situations.

My Review:

Stories often help us to introspect. We compare and contrast them with our own life. We empathize with the protagonists when we can relate to their thoughts and actions. You might think,” I would have done the same thing if I faced that situation. Then there are stories which become embedded in our psyches through generations of retelling. The myths, the folklores, and epics. They have innumerable gems of wisdom embedded in them. Most of the times we just treat them as mere tools of literary pleasure. The gems of wisdom thus remain hidden.

Author Shubha Vilas in his book ‘open-eyed meditations’, explores the epics Mahabharata and Ramayana and digs out these gems of wisdom. He then polishes them through cogent analysis, using comparisons with contemporary life and customizes them into tiny capsules of profound secrets which every individual can understand and consume with ease.

There are 64 chapters and each chapter sheds light upon contemporary conundrums. The narration is lucid and addresses the various issues every individual face in their life. It answers some of the most troublesome questions related to personal, professional and societal issues that we confront.

For example, in the chapter titled ‘A formula to rebrand the mind’ which happens to be one of my favorites in the book, he talks about how the human mind, thoughts, beliefs, values and culture operate through symbolism. He explains how for Bharata, Rama’s Paduka was symbolic of his brother’s principles which became his core guidelines to rule. He says how for Vrajavasis the flute represented hope and joy because Krishna’s flute easily made them forget all their sorrows caused by Kamsa’s atrocities.

In order to rebrand the mind, he asks us to choose a symbol that inspires, triggers pleasant memories and makes us embrace a higher value system.

Each chapter ends with a summary of what has been explained in the chapter. The chapters are short with two to three pages addressing one particular topic. Through these open-eyed meditations, Shubha Vilas gives practical tips to handle everyday life.

Highly recommended to all those who seek to become better individuals. This is a self-help book with a difference. It can be enjoyed by the young and the old equally.

This review is a part of the biggest Book Review Program for Indian Bloggers. Participate now to get free books!

Saturday, February 18, 2017

The Palace

Years ago, a little girl used to wait here, leaning on the arch.
She hoped her father, the caretaker, would open that little gate above those stairs and invite her into the palace that lay beyond. 
Instead, every time he would come down and take her back to their dingy cottage in the valley.
“No, my dear. The queen doesn’t want any kids wandering in the corridors of the palace. She detests kids.”
Now the queen is long dead. Royalty is not revered anymore. 
But I am the new owner of the still beautiful palace. I married my beloved prince.

Word Count: 100
This post is a part of #FridayFotoFiction 

Tina Basu

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Five vices I Love

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I have many vices, but like Yin balances Yang, they keep my life balanced.

My vices are:

1) Laziness:

I am thankful that I become lazy like a cow sometimes. If I were not this lazy, I would have become a workaholic, not taking care of my health or my other needs. Because of this bug, my system gets time to rejuvenate. Work goes for a toss then and long naps, eating out and takeaway dinners rule the roost. 

2) Forgetfulness:

I am thankful for this vice as I can let go and release my past easily. Except for a few instances, I have no memory of my past. I take care to store only pleasant memories of people. I modify my memories to make them seem silly and funny. I do forget to collect my handbag from security check-ins most of the times at airports and often get scolded by my husband for that. I once ran all the way from boarding area to the X-ray machine much to the amusement of airport staff at Dubai airport. The guy at the machine had his facepalm moment that day because of me. Yeah, I am the airport clown. That is a virtue, right?

3) Addicted to rice:

Rice is a weakness for me. I can eat rice for breakfast, lunch, snack and dinner. But I am in love with this addiction. East or West, rice is the best. 

4) Book hoarder:

I confess that I am a book hoarder. Last time I checked, I had more than 200 unread books.  Still, I continue to buy. I don't get unruly when I see a sale sign at a clothes store but if it is at a bookstore, I enter it without caring about the time, the amount of money I have, often ignoring the protests of anyone who is accompanying me. They can go straight to hell because I have to browse through infinite rows of books, books, and more books, looking for gems of literature.

5) Loose Tongue

When in a crowd, I often become nervous like a mouse, my tongue becomes loose and utter the wrong thing.  Once during a blogger meet, I told a blogger that she didn't resemble her photo at all. I know, wrong thing to say! What I forgot to mention was that I thought she looked better than her photograph. Poor me didn't understand why she ignored me completely after that. But I am thankful as I believe everything happens for a reason.

So that is it. What are the vices that you love?

This post is written for #ThankfulThursdays being hosted by Tina or Amrita, Mayuri and Deepa 

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

A Bookish Love Story

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He had met her on the metro. They smiled at each other because they were reading the same book. 

Phone numbers were exchanged between the bibliophiles when similar meetings began to be repeated in the company of more books.

Their dates were always book outings. They loved the same kind of books, croissants, and coffee. 

They went to book launches together to meet their favorite authors.

Soon they realized they were irrevocably in love.

Wedding bells and two years later, the stork arrived with a delivery. 

These days they are reading fairy tales with their little girl who loves books. 

This post is a part of 

Tina Basu
Indian Bloggers

Monday, February 13, 2017

The Power of Love

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Years ago, while I was browsing in the local library for a book to read, a book fell on me. 'You can heal your life' by Louise L Hay. It was just what I needed because then I was dealing with a mild depression caused by the death of my father. The book helped me heal from within. It also drew towards me many other tiny changes. I have felt that because I love books, books always find me at the right time. If a book falls on me while I am browsing in a bookstore, I surely buy it. I have found many gems this way. The latest is ‘Artist’s Way’ by Julia Cameron.

Have you ever noticed how the universe listens when you are filled with love? According to science, love has the highest vibrational energy and is hence the most powerful emotion in the world. When you fill yourself with this energy, synchronicities are bound to occur. You will attract into your love what you truly love. 

I have always felt that love is responsible for all the good things that have happened in my life. Now that I look back, I can remember many incidents.
When you sincerely love something, it doesn't take long for that dream to become a reality. Do any activity with love and passion and it would bring in success and happiness.

Love can arrive in many forms.

Love can arrive as a hobby which becomes the love of your life.
Love can arrive as a tiny little bundle of joy who will teach you all about unconditional love.
Love can arrive in the form of a new friend who will become your soul sister/brother and become your one passionate fan and guide.
Love can arrive in the form of a spouse who will become your soul mate and stand by you through all the ups and down in life.
Love can arrive in the form of a job which will bring enormous changes in your life.
Love can arrive in the form of a workout routine or habit that will make you into a fitter and finer version.
Love can arrive in the form of a book which will transform your thought pattern about love and make one realize that love is the most powerful healing energy in the universe.

I have noticed that when love becomes your dominant vibrational energy, people who do not match your vibrational frequency moves away from your life making space for better people to come in. Often these people are those who are acting as your friends but are in truth trying in every way to bring you down.

This is the reason why I am thankful for the presence of love in my life.
Love is a many splendored-thing and it heals us from within. Do you agree with me?

This post is written for #ThankfulThursdays being hosted by  Tina or Amrita, Mayuri and Deepa 

Monday, February 6, 2017

To the Love of My Life

Dear V,

The first question you asked me when we met was whether I was writing the PWD exams. I was totally unaware that such an exam was around the corner, nor was I interested. You also asked whether I planned to do, and obviously, I had no such plans. God only knows how I managed to pass with decent marks. I had dismissed you as one of those nerds who had come to waste my time. However, you turned out to be different.

Before I knew, we were engaged to be married and you were making me laugh with your insane jokes and hour-long phone calls. Your called me morning, evening and night. You said you were determined to know the person I was before we tied the knot. I took time to open up. You were an open book. You were mostly vegetarian and I loved non-vegetarian. I was a bibliophile and you read only Osho, IS codes or Civil Engineering handbooks. We were different like chalk and cheese.

By the time we got married, I knew I could trust you. Yet I was scared. You knew for a girl, it was such a huge step. She had to leave behind the comfort of her home and create a new home for herself in a stranger's home. So, you stood by me, became the ice-breaker to make your family warm up to me. Soon, your home became my home. You weaseled into my heart and cemented a permanent place there. 

We moved to Dubai to further our careers. With your experience, you made my job easier. As we worked on the same project, you were always there to guide me. The days were hectic, sometimes we met each other only on the road. I would be returning from my day job and you walking to your work site for your night shift. Yet, we became best buddies. We mostly bonded over food and you walked around our area to find libraries where I could indulge in my first love: reading. 

The only things that we had in common were our laziness and gluttony. Yet we managed to make even those vices into virtues.

We hunted down the best restaurants to experiment with food. Then we would walk home determined to lose the calories gained, talking about everything under the sun.

When it came to laziness, we struggled to understand who excelled in that area. We fought over whose turn it was to switch off lights, to put the clothes on the clothesline or take out the trash.

Now our dilemma has ended. We have our junior who has acquired both our lazy genes and beats us hands down at being the laziest in the house. 

Over the years, we have been through difficulties. We both lost loved ones. You lost your mother, and I lost my father. I have realized that whatever happens, I can always trust that you will be there to support me. You were the one who pushed me to start writing. And it has become my passion, my happiness. You surprise me with gifts and tolerate my tantrums when I am in one of my moods. 

I know you don't like public displays of affection, but hey this blog is my oasis. This is my private haven where I jot down my thoughts and you deserve a pride of place right here on my blog.

Therefore, in this month of love, all I want from you is a promise that you will never change. 

Be the same witty, kind, and handsome person I fell in love with.



P.S : (Thanks in advance for that gift you have planned to buy for me ;) )

Linking this post with #MondayMommyMoments being hosted by Amrita and Deepa.

The prompt this week was to write a letter to the love of your life.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Why do I Write Love Stories?

When my debut novel was released, I shared the purchase link with my friends in the hope that they would encourage this leap of faith I had taken.

“You and love story? How can you write about something that you know nothing about?” asked one of my friends.

Though taken aback by the arrogance lingering in the question, I asked how she was sure I knew nothing about love.

“You never had an affair in college and you had a proper arranged marriage. What do you know about love?”

Yes! What do I know about love? How could someone who had always been a wallflower, someone who was never called a beauty, someone who hadn't canoodled with lovers in the darkness of movie theaters, write about love? According to people like her, love was something that was reserved for people who were smart, handsome/beautiful and had the guts to go against the society.

But being a wallflower came with its own perks. You went through heartaches and disappointments more frequently than normal. Your crush would never ever look at you. Even if he did, someone would dissuade him saying, “Are you crazy? What did you find in her?” Your Mr. Darcy would look down upon you and ignore you royally. And if you were unlucky enough, he might even end up flirting with your best friend. Yet, I had allowed myself to experience the psychedelic effects of a heady crush and enjoyed it while it lasted.

Though I didn’t live a heroic love story, love did find me eventually. Love came softly to me. I fell in love with the man I married. Truly, madly and deeply. It came with its own share of highs and lows but is progressing steadily from strength to strength.

In addition, I was always surrounded by love stories. My parents had a love marriage, some of my friends and cousins too fell in love before becoming hitched. I was lucky enough to be their confidante, and they were eloquent when it came to talking about their escapades.

What she also didn’t know was that writers were scavengers. The way people dig for treasure, we dig for stories. We eavesdrop, we listen carefully when you talk and we observe.

So when I write my stories, I draw in from the energies hidden in the stories I have heard. I recollect their happiness, their dilemmas, their worries, and the general air of drama that surround such stories. Also, when you write their stories down, some get their happily-ever-after which never happened in real life. For some, frozen in time, their story never loses its charm. No one ever kills 'love' for them.

I will hence always remain in love with love. I will continue hunting for stories, which I will pen down with euphoria. They would work like a drug, releasing a plethora of endorphins making me feel like I am in love again. With every story, I get to live another love story. And when readers tell me, I have written their love story, I smile. Love is so universal and easy to fall in love with.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

The Legacy

David ran his fingers on the keys of his Grandmother’s old typewriter.
It was a unique piece. He had found it discarded in an old trunk in the attic.
This machine had created dreams, the many books that she had written. 
People still loved them.

He scrubbed the rust on it and his fingers pushed open a secret compartment in the bottom. 
Out fell a velvet bag containing a beautiful diamond necklace, one that had gone missing during World War II. 
Perhaps, she had hidden it there in a hurry when the Germans attacked and had forgotten all about it. 

This post is part of 100 word fiction prompt as part of #FridayFotoFiction hosted by Tina and Mayuri 

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