Monday, August 12, 2019

Writing in the Library

Did you ever consider writing in the library? You may ask — why the heck would I do that? Why not in my home, or at a cafe? 
Well, a cafe is too noisy and though I get some juicy eavesdropping dialogues, it is too distracting for me.
Home? It has another set of problems. The sink is full of dishes, a basketful of laundry, cluttered coffee table, the constant ringing of junk calls and the long to-do list hanging on the refrigerator door intimidate me.

So My writer friend Francie and I gave our favorite Lafayette library a try. The tall trees, vine wrapped deck across the large windows, the wonderful smell of books, whispering voices and page-turning shuffles of quiet readers proved just the right ambiance.

We decided on a forty-five-minute session first. As I was doodling on my journal, the old-fashioned way I could hear Francie clicking away on her keyboard. We got immersed in our own worlds and individual projects sitting across from each other sharing the same table, same light. It was like a parallel play with a dear friend we did when we were kids.
“How’s it going?” Francie asked when the timer dinged. 
“Good flow,” I replied.
We decided to give another forty-five-minute try.  

I thought of my childhood days when I used to go to the Calcutta National library with my father. The same smell of books and wood shelves, the same tranquil atmosphere I felt, only twelve thousand miles away and many decades later. It is the feeling that the library is such a sacred place resonated again. 

Calcutta National Library.

“My temple” -admitted Barbara Kingsolver. “The first library I knew was an upstairs room over a storefront in my little town, with a librarian who didn’t approve of children handling books”. At the end of this article, Ms. Kingsolver shares that there was a special book at the University of Arizona library’s special collection. ‘It wasn’t supposed to leave the room, but I am persuasive. I said, “Something good could happen if you let me borrow this book.” I took it home; The Poison Wood Bible happened.’

Ramona Ausubel shares how the Newport Beach Public Library “Made Me a Novelist. Each morning I packed up my laptop and some snacks and left the distraction of home and nestled myself near the library’s big window….After six weeks I had a draft. It was a mess, but it was alive. When I left my carrel, that last day I gave the window a high five. The library and I had done it together.“

Thinking of all these inspirational stories I felt enthused to incorporate this new routine in my life. 

As I reached my parked car, I found a tiny note stuck on my windshield. A parking ticket. 

$45 for two hours of writing!

Well, this must be a test. The more the obstacles the stronger gets your will power, whispered my obstinate alter ego. There must be a way out. 

Mind you even when you are writing a grocery list or a text message to your friend, you are writing. You are a writer.

 So...What's your favorite place to write. 


Sunday, May 19, 2019

To Ava - the Young Writer

To Ava

It was wonderful yesterday honoring the young writers at the Young Authors’ Prize ceremony. I met Ava, the girl who wrote a story about an autistic brother and a sister. I told her while handing her the name tag, 

“You are Ava! I read your story. We, all  six judges knew  that your story deserved the First Prize.” 

The girl, with a headful of braided Afro hair, wanted to crawl somewhere, hide under something, her eyes downcast, face touching her chest. Mom beamed and her teacher Mr. Somebody came and sat beside her with a proud smile. 

“Ava, look at her. Say ‘Thank you’!” Her mom nudged and apologized, “So shy!” 

“Shy people write best,” I said and left. 

There is so much to this writing life. The writer self differs from the real one that the rest of the world sees. Ava is so shy in person but not on paper. 

Her mom confessed later while she was not around, “God knows where she gets those ideas!” she rolled her eyes, “People who read her stories may think ‘Is the family okay, does her mom really abuse her like that and so...”. Mom giggled.

I know exactly what she means and to some extent how Ava feels. While she needs to let those imaginary characters free of her rib cage, she will also have to think how it may impact her close relatives or friends especially if she writes in the first person. Or in memoir form. Many things would be vividly true while much just made up, lies. She’d have to weave lies to tell the truth. That’s her obligation as a writer. 

For that, she’d risk losing friends and loved ones. They would misunderstand  her when her muse would take her by the hand to a mesmerizing world that doesn't exist for the others. She’d forget her known world, abandon her close ones,  lose herself to that  imaginary world.. She might  try to create that world she'd experienced for them later but no one would understand.

And when she gets to the top,  become the best author or so, many of her friends would curl their lips “I could write that too, only if I had given a chance!” 

Ava, you’re on the right track not letting yourself blown away with  prizes and awards, compliments and kudos. You don’t want to spoil your writer’s soul with rewards and praises or crush it with neglect, silence and harsh criticisms. Your writer- soul is much pure and delicate. Protect it, my young friend. Polish it alone. It’s a solitary thing. 

Write away, my dear girl. Young writer, tell us the stories of those who are suffering and we are not hearing. Bring hope to the world with your words for you have the softness in your heart to feel, the strength in your voice to speak up  and the gift in your pen. 

Crawl inside your shell if that be a better shelter for you to thrive. I am waiting!     

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Where did my day go?

Open Book Blog Hop 

If you didn't have to sleep what would you do with the extra time?
I'm late, I'm late

 With that extra time? Oh, so many things. So many things, my friend, only if I had that extra time. 

But I hear the rabbit in me scurrying ‘I’m late, I’m late!” 
Late for what?  you say?  

For everything. Starting from this blog hop Richard so kindly arranged to all the other things I meant to do today. Like… like planting the lily bulbs I had bought last month. Yesterday I noticed lilies were blooming in my neighbor’s garden already. And shame on me, my bulbs are still in the packet. 

Then I remembered that I should have submitted that article I wrote, hope the deadline has not passed and before that, it needed some editing.  

Before all that I must exercise. That is what I had promised myself. Health comes first. And I better not forget to defrost the chicken for tonight’s dinner.  

Shucks! is it past five already? I should have returned those phone calls. What would they think of me?

And what did Richard mean by ‘Parkinson Law’? I must google that term. Oh my, how did a whole hour pass just looking into one little word that tells that no matter how much time you have there will never be enough, more work will eat up that time? Duh! Didn’t I know that? 

When my friends, those who are still in the nine-to-five rut ask me what do I do with my time now that I am retired, I can’t convince them how the hours slip by. Now I have a concrete theory,  a solid term to explain- the Parkinson Law. 

I wake up in the morning with a bunch of plans and find myself with droopy eyes ready to crawl under the blanket- the day’s over. I refresh my to-do list the next day and soon it’s time to change the calendar month! Today rolls onto tomorrows. C.N. Parkinson smiles, “I told you so !”

I remember someone took a poll on Mother’s Day asking a group of mothers- ‘What would you like best?’ choices were - a bouquet, a dinner, a jewelry piece, card and fine perfume and some extra sleep. 

Sleep was the winner. 

May 13, 2019

If you didn't have to sleep, what would you do with the extra time?

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