Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Letter from a decade past

Do you have a favorite age? I think mine so far has been 17. It was my most defining year because it was a time of lots of change. I moved country twice, had my first encounters  with grief, and figured out that no matter what I did in life, I also always want to write.

Today, a decade later, I look back on my 17 year old self and decided to write a letter from that me to today's me. Of course, technically my 17 year old self doesn't exist anymore so how can it write a letter? But that's where memory and imagination come in, I think.

Dear 27-year-old self, 
Remember me? I am the person you used to be, fresh out of high school, aiming to study medicine, and over keen to prove your (my) brilliance to "the world". You wanted to be a doctor and a writer and devoted considerable time to thinking how you would manage the two professions even when you were as yet not part of either one. You loved planning. When you started undergraduate studies, you spent hours figuring out an elaborate course schedule for the entire four years of the degree because you were so keen to study every single course that piqued your interest. No wonder you were so dejected when circumstances forced you to drop out after just a semester and start college afresh in another country. That was a lot of time wasted in planning things that were never meant to be. Hopefully, you are more of a do-er than a planner now.  
Once you moved country for the second time and restarted college, the "plan" to be a doctor was dropped and the writing ambitions intensified manifold. Surely, by 27 you would be the best selling author of the book I first started writing and - of course - planning. :P 
Or maybe you haven't yet realised that ultimate dream and that's okay. I repeat that's O.K. If there's one piece of advice i can give you even though I'm younger - or rather especially because I'm younger and less jaded - it is this: Do not compare yourself to others. No not even to the 23 year old bestselling author or the famous 25 year old YouTube vlpgger and especially not to the young internet millionaires. Everyone has their own unique path in  life and you have to follow yours even though it may mean delayed success or late fulfillment of dreams. What's important is to keep going and Never Give Up. Focus on what you have already achieved. I am sure there are lots of things. At the very least i hope you got a masters degree, lived away from home and traveled a bit. Even if you didn't that's okay too. You must have made the decision that is right for you. I trust you to always do that. Being a teenager was not easy - its not easy for most people, I guess - but i hope the decade that followed has been a redeeming one.
I'll refrain from commenting about romantic experiences because I expect that's still a touchy topic, but do remember what I said about everyone having an individual path in life and don't compare yourself to peers who are "settling down" in life with marriage and children and stable careers. Life is not meant to be "settled" into, you always believed. It's supposed to be governed by independent choices and seeking whatever new experiences excite or fulfill you. I hope you are doing that as you progress toward the peak of adulthood. 27 sounds old but its not that bad, really. At least it's not thirty. :P 

Sending love and birthday wishes from a decade past,
Your 17-year-old self

Saturday, November 1, 2014

My NaNoWriMo Survival Kit or Things that help me write

So it's the first day of November otherwise known as National Novel Writing Month! To pep up myself to participate, I watched a couple of videos on YouTube and noticed that a lot of people compile a "Survival Kit" for the competition so I decided to do the same. But instead of a video blog like the ones I watched, I've put together a photo blog or at least my own amateur version of one:


So first off, the obvious stuff - my laptop because I'm more comfortable typing rather than physically writing. This is because it’s so much easier to edit stuff. I tend to edit on-the-go as I write which is actually a bad habit because it hinders the actual writing process. In fact one of the guidelines for NaNoWriMo is to switch off the inner editor and I have a feeling this is going to be especially tough for me. My inner editor is a massively obsessive-compulsive bitch and very hard to shut up. Sometimes, music helps which explains the earphones in the picture, even though I usually need silence around me when I'm writing. (And silence is really hard to find when you work from home; my home at least. :P)

Also in the picture are: 

2. My phone, which I use to write when I'm away from my laptop. I use the OneNote mobile app and also MS Office mobile which are both incredibly useful because all my notes automatically sync to my computer through the cloud storage of OneDrive. When I'm especially lazy, I speak out and record audio notes which I transcribe later. God bless technology. :)

3. My Kindle - which I've included in this list because it has the NaNoWriMo bible in it - "No Plot No Problem," by Chris Baty. I'm going to need it for inspiration and motivation throughout the month.

Next comes this lap-desk which I recently bought. It allows me to work comfortably on my laptop almost anywhere - the sofa, the bed, the floor - without getting nasty wrist and neck aches. 


I would never manage to organize anything in my life without a notebook to write things down. This diary is full of all kinds of scribbles – from to-do lists and plans to story ideas, random thoughts and even doodles. It's my current treasure chest of musings. Almost an extension of myself, just like my glasses. 

I am a little obsessed with pens even though I do most of my writing on the computer. I love colored pens but have run out of them and decided not to buy any more until I use up at least some of these regular black and blue ones.

A lot of participants include junk food or chocolate as part of their kits but my snack of choice is good old Gujju Sev-Mamra. It’s light and crunchy and easy to munch on while typing because it can be eaten with a spoon. My mom's made a huge jar full of it so it'll last throughout the month :)

My drink of choice is lovely healthy caffeine-free paani. I also love chai because it wakes me up but I don't have it while writing because chai is meant to be relished with chit-chat and snacks, not sipped in solitude while you work. Just my opinion. Besides, if I'm going to spend hours writing, I might as well keep healthy by drinking enough water. 

This is chocolate mukhwas. It's supposed to be had after meals but I tend to get addicted to it so I've decided that it's going to be my reward. That is, IF and only IF I meet my word-count goal of the day, I'll be allowed a spoonful of this yummy-ness.

10. Last, but perhaps most important comes inspiration:

I find burning incense incredibly inspiring. I love the smells of rose and sandalwood incense sticks though others are all right too. So I like lighting some incense before I write and then try to type non-stop until it completely burns out. This is usually impossible because I'm bound to be disrupted in the middle of my writing by someone/something or the other. But oh well, I just try to keep at it as best as I can. I also find the scented smoke helps me keep calm and focus on my words. It also lends a spiritual atmosphere like my words are my worship or writing is sacred, which I think is kind of cool. 

So that's my "NaNoWriMo Survival Kit" of sorts or basically just the stuff that helps me write. Time to get cracking on that novel now.