Sunday, May 24, 2015


Recently, I came across this article featuring Jhumpa Lahiri, best known for her novel, the Namesake. 

Expecting some great life-affirming truths the author wished to impart on the world (which in a way, she did), I was shocked by what the article did clarify for me. Truth: I am not a fan of Lahiri's work. I think she's a brilliant writer, and has written brilliant books. But, I am a happy-ending kind of reader and I find her stories a bit too melancholy...actually I find them depressing.

Even before I started writing, when I looked at novels purely from a reader's perspective, I found something missing in her stories. I've read only two: the Namesake and Unaccustomed Earth. What I found missing was sunshine. Happiness. A meaning to the sadness within her characters and stories. For me, there has to be one. It's fine to write about the sadder truths of life, but there must be a reason for it. In fiction especially, I want to see the light at the end of the tunnel. I want to be left with that glimmer of a rainbow. And I don't get that from Lahiri's works. I understand that others might. But I don't, at all.

So, the article about her move to Italy and back validated some things I'd always thought about her. That she's uncomfortable with her lot in life. She feels misplaced in most surroundings. Mainly, she's a depressive personality. And maybe the reason why her work reflects that. She could've chosen to paint the article in a positive light about experiencing a new culture or broadening the horizons of her family, but she chose to focus on her inner displacement and non-fulfillment issues.

What I don't understand is if she doesn't feel like an "expert" then why teach Creative Writing at Princeton? Those students enrolled in that class expect an expert teacher. If being a writer feels "fraudulent" in some way then find another way to fulfill your creative side. The world has many, many options, you know. Find one that appeals to you, speaks to you. Don't beat the same door, if it doesn't make you happy. Some people don't have a choice and are stuck in professions that don't fulfill them. Lahiri does have a choice (after several bestsellers and a pulitzer, you bet she does) and yet is choosing to be stuck. Why?

Which brings me to this article: WHY WRITER'S ARE PRONE TO DEPRESSION The gist:

~ some writers feel the need to FEEL all what their characters feel. If the character is suffering or is miserable, well then, the writer is screwed. (Bloody hell, Hemingway!)

~ it's a solitary occupation. Writers tend not to interact much with the outside world, especially while writing. 

~ that leads to feelings of loneliness and of being misunderstood. 

~ sometimes writing leads to lack of exercise, lack of basking in the sunshine and/or people-bonding, which are recipes for depression.

The article gives some great advice on how to combat the Writer Syndrome...or at least try to voluntarily or by force. Get exercise. Go look at the sun, flowers, water or forest. Socialize. Get those endorphins chugging. 

The only point I sort of disagree with is about joining writer groups. While it may be a necessary beast to tackle, I think if you're not a group sort of person, then it's not for you. Though for a beginner writer writing groups can be the boost you need to push forward. 

So, long story short, this is what I picked up from the two articles: Every writer must follow his/her own Yellow Brick Road home. A writer's journey is individual and personal, there isn't a ONE SIZE FITS ALL Dorothy Shoe. I am a happy writer. :) 

Monday, May 18, 2015

Terrible, horrible, very bad villains I love.

ICYMI I'm writing a romantic suspense novel so villains are on my mind. The best villains I'm told are frightfully relatable and/or sympathetic characters. They are often the polar opposite of the protagonist, in fact the villain is the reason the protagonist displays goodness. A "good" villain isn't evil simply for the sake of being evil, he/she will have a good reason for his evilness. He'll give you gooseflesh because he'll make you want to tame him, change him, make him better. He'll make you like him in spite of himself. And if that's not scarier than scary, I don't know what is.

Villains that made an impression on me (listed in order of appearance in my life):

This less-than-human evildoer literally brought on a fever. I was sick for 2 days, and did not sleep peacefully the whole month after I was tricked into watching Nightmare. 

This one put me off impulsive, spontaneous travel for life. Not to mention curtained bathtubs. And until Bates I truly thought villains could not be human...or a human being could not be truly evil.

A cannibal as repulsive as he is beguiling to the detectives who try to catch him. He's highly intelligent, sophisticated, a other words, every woman's dream apart from his flesh-eating fetish.

A nasty piece of work who takes jealousy and retribution to a transcendental level. Psycho is too tame a word for this villainess. Notice that there's only one villainess in this list. She's scary but not as scary as the dudes. Which simply means that women aren't as bad as men.

My latest villainous - ahem - obsession is an everyday dad and husband, a bereavement counselor who genuinely seems to care about his patients. his secret serial killer life, he's a stalker, a sadist, a misogynist, a possible pedophile, a psychopath whose sense of self deteriorates with every episode. You know you must hate him absolutely...but the thing is you might not. And that's scary as hell. (The absolutely slow-cooker storyline of The Fall is riveting, and IMO brilliant in the way it's handled some very uncomfortable and hard to watch subjects.)

Who are the villains that keep you sweating through the night?

Friday, May 8, 2015

HIT and RUN: a test of character

There's a Bollywood actor, SALMAN KHAN, a superstar with a massive fan-following. His movies are more often hits than misses, for sure they are entertainment of a certain kind. But, the reason he's trending in the news around the world hasn't got anything to do with a box office hit. It's to do with a hit and run he was in 13 years ago.

Driving drunk, he'd run his car over a pavement where unfortunately (for all concerned) some street-sleepers were squatting. This was late at night, and the homeless were fast asleep oblivious of what fate had in store. Salman Khan killed a man that night. I'm not sure of the particulars of the accident. Honestly, I don't know if Salman Khan even stopped his car or sped away? Did he even realize, as he was drunk, what he'd done? If he did stop, did he call the police or an ambulance? Did he feel remorse much less show it?

I don't know any of that, and I don't care. What happened next is  what concerns me. Unbelievably, it took the Mumbai's sessions court 13 years to bring this case to hearing. 13 years where the star of Salman Khan continued/continues to reach new heights. Then 2 days ago, the court found him guilty and sentenced him to 5 years jail.

Then, Salman Khan appealed the sentencing at the High Court, where his sentence has now been reduced to a year, while multiple advance bail/ paroles are in place already. So, long story short, Salman Khan's glitterati, for all intents and purposes, is free to rise even higher over the coming years.

Is this fair? Depends on whose side you're on. For the dead homeless man obviously there has been no justice. But he's been dead for 13 years. Does he even care about justice at this point?

It's most certainly more than fair for Salman Khan...and forgetting for a minute that he did do a very very heinous thing and that he seems to be getting away scott free, he must be feeling some kind of remorse and guilt and will for the rest of his life. We hope you are, Salman Khan. We hope you don't sleep well at night at all.  We hope you know the real meaning of BEING HUMAN and not simply the title of a charity you run. Otherwise, you are an awful awful man. 

So, is lifelong guilt and remorse enough of a punishment? 

What about justice for justice itself? Let's forget that the hit and run was between a superstar and a homeless man. There was a crime committed...and was there justice served? I don't think so, but again if you take the above 2 explanations, in some weird way maybe it was.

Let's put ourselves in his shoes...oh you don't wanna? Fine, I'll put myself in his shoes. If I were him would I want to go to jail? Yes, it was awful of me to drink and drive, but I made a mistake. And I swear I'll never repeat it...have not repeated it in 13 years. I did not mean to kill anyone. What kind of a person do you think I am? And I have this awful lot of money and power that can get me off. And I have tens of millions of fans rooting for me. Am I a big enough man to want justice for justice's sake and surrender to fate? 

Honestly, I don't know what I would've done in his shoes. We hope we're the good, noble people we actually think we are. We make judgements against people we think are less...but in their shoes would we be any different? I wouldn't want to be jailed if there was a way I could keep out of it and yet feel that I've appropriately paid for my crime...through remorse and charity and community service hours. Forget me personally, I would do/feel the same for a loved one. I'd do everything in my power to keep them out of jail. 

Wrong or right, who is to say? Because each man is right in his own shoes. Each man is right and has the right to defend himself.

What would you do? Have you thought?

Related articles worth reading:
HIT AND RUN survivor.
Bail tamasha.

Sunday, May 3, 2015


These days, the advice writers, writing blogs, Twitter, Facebook author groups, writer's conferences, author/agent/publishing panels, your neighbor's grandmother's niece's dog walker's writing guru gives is to WRITE FAST AND PUBLISH FASTER.
Get a book out every three months and beat Amazon's algorithm. Which is fine if you're a fast writer and confident of the quality of the product you're putting out. But what happens if you're not?
Does the slow writer need to pack up shop and move to Tahiti in hopes of securing a neverending muse? Does he need to compromise on his end product? Does anyone even care what the end product is anymore? Evidently, bad writing and bad editing has become so much the norm that its actually a shock to read a really good book these days. 
I've been plagued with these questions these last few weeks. I even got lost in the rat race for a bit, trying to churn out pages, make ulcer-inspiring deadlines, shmooze with agents and editors who all seem as confused by the changing book market as me...until I asked myself what I hoped to accomplish with my writing?
Did I simply want to become an author who beat Amazon's algorithm? Why do I write? What do I hope to accomplish at the end of a book?
I won't deny being a bestseller would be appealing. But do I want that at the cost of my end product...not to mention my sanity? I don't think so. What I want most is to find a few patient readers who'll love my book and the care I've taken to bring it to life. 
This is not writing advice. This is just me remembering what I love about writing simply write.