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Drafting Write

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It is often said that nothing scares a writer more than the evil blinking cursor - yes, the very same one that taunts you and sometimes even laughs at your wordless-ness (in the surround sound “super-villain” voice, no less). And if we’re being honest, we’ve all been there, experience that, and got the hypothetical “Writer’s Block” accessories. But as any one who writes will tell you, it is always a phase. For, the ideas and inspiration to write exists all around you. It exists in that lone, yellowish - orange leaf that you watched lazily drift down from the branches of the great oak tree and on to the once-green grass. In that group of rowdy and almost hooligan-like, yet oddly cute set of school kids returning from school. In that bowl of Chocolate Pops that slowly drown in that stream of cold milk. In that mischievous eyes of your adorable child, who is plotting his next adventure. The list is pretty endless.

Writer’s block is not a lack of ideas. If anything, it is often the lack of a conducive  environment to think and write. A couple of days ago, as I was scouring the internet for something different to right about, I came across a rather satirical and funny article on the Huffington Post. It was about a blog site called, “Shit Rough Drafts”. Paul Laudiero, a New York, writer and comedian, decided to take Hemingway’s famous quote , The first draft of everything is shit.” and imagine how the first drafts of many best-selling books and classics could have been. And some of them are quite funny.

These two for example :

How the first draft of Fifty Shades of Grey would have looked

How the first draft of Sense and Sensibility would have looked

 

Anyway, that got me thinking. As some of you may know (yes, I’ve made plenty of hue and cry about it) I won a small prize in the Indireads Short Story 2 Competition, a few months ago. This has resulted in them offering me a ‘tentative’ contract for a novel. I said tentative because the details are still in the pipeline and of course it depends on me writing a not-so-shite book. Of course, since this would be my first attempt at a full-fledged novel, I’ve been literally having the runs since I knew that I had won.

See, here is the thing. I’m not one of those people who “writes, because they would die otherwise” or “writes, because they have stories bursting to come out of them”. No offence to any of those types, but I just am not that. I’m not even sure why I got into writing, in the first place. I used to both read and write as a child. And then here I am, circa 2013 - a relocation to India, sabbatical from the corporate world, blogging - about my toddler son, about life’s funny little lessons and occasional short stories. And before I knew it, I had dived head-first into this world of writing  stories - sometimes emotional, sometimes funny and often in between.

And then I started to dream the dream that almost every writer has these days. That I had it in me to write something which is slightly more than mediocre and better than trash. And then came this opportunity. In a market where writers struggle to find publishers - print and electronic - I had a publisher offer me a contract. And I’d be silly to turn that away. But there was a problem - I had plenty of short story ideas, but none for a novel.

Necessity is the mother of invention, they say. So I did what any writer would do - Like a goose flying blind through a blizzard, I followed the skein in flight and signed up for the one thing that November has become famous for - no, not MOvember, for I am a little follically challenged in the facial department at times. I signed up for NaNoWriMo. For the non-writers, that is the National Novel Writing Month, where the tag line goes - The World wants your novel. Gulp!.

And if we go by Hemingway’s quote, the first draft of even this NaNoWriMo novel is bound to incomplete because it needs to be edited, proof read, re-written and a lot of meat added and fat trimmed, to use the food analogy. As per the famous NaNoWriMo calendar, at the end of the day today, I should have completed  a minimum of 13,333 words. Which means, I’m about 13,323 words short. And out of those 10 words that I’ve written, five form the working title and the remaining five boldly state : “I must start writing today”.

So there we are, eight days in and my first draft is officially doomed. Or not. For, I have never been one to follow a writing time-table. So here’s to me hoping that as shite as my first draft may be, I will deliver a novel that I am proud of. And that readers will not have “readers block” after the first few pages.  So as the famous BuzzLightyear from Toy story would say, if he was a writer - To writing and beyond….

First-drafting-inly yours,

SidSign

 

 

 

 

[This post is written for the Project 365 program at We Post Daily aimed at posting at least once a day, based on the prompts provided. Todays prompt was : Scour the news for an entirely uninteresting story. Consider  how it connects to your life. Write about that.]

 Image Credits : shitroughdrafts.com and Pinterest.com

The Writer

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“There you are!” exclaimed Amit as he threw open the door to the terrace. “Everyone’s been looking for you. The event starts in 40 minutes. Come down, will you?” he added with a smirk on his face. Tina took a long drag of the cigarette and felt the menthol vapour fill her throat and windpipe. It was a welcome contrast to the chilly London air. She looked back at Amit and smiled. As he came closer, she blew the smoke onto his face. Amit instantaneously retched and took a couple of steps back. “I’ve told you not to do that. It’s bad enough that you want to kill yourself smoking. I’m not going to die from passive smoke. I love my lungs, thank you very much!” he said in mock anger. Tina shrugged her shoulders and turned back to the view she had been enjoying until Amit had suddenly made his appearance. She really liked Amit, but it was moments like these, she felt he was really uptight. “Leave me alone for a bit longer, Amit. I’ll be down shortly. I am calming myself down” she said, as she gestured to Amit to leave. As Amit muttered something under his breath and left, Tina leaned against the wall. She was going to have to somehow get through today. And from the looks of it, it was just the beginning. Having been an introvert all her life, she'd often politely declined being part of any kind of public gathering. But this time around, she hadn’t been able to excuse herself. After all, the event was being thrown in her honour. A glimmering light drew her attention to one of London’s iconic buildings - the Gherkin. Within minutes, lights of different colours and intensities had lit up the city of London. Standing atop the tallest building, not just in London, but also in Western Europe, Tina felt a strange surge of satisfaction.

The City of London at night : Google Image search

“It’s funny how things sometimes work out!” Tina thought to herself, as she wrapped her sweater tighter around her.  She’d never even dreamt of being a writer. Though she’d found solace in books, it had just been a much-needed escape from all the routine problems of her world. As she grew up, so did her choice in books. The Enid Blytons were replaced by other literary classics, which were then soon replaced by books on modern literature. Considering her love for the written word, she had often contemplated doing a degree in arts and creative writing or even journalism. The only thorn in her side had been her father. Though he’d been in the UK for years, the urban lifestyle hadn’t quite rubbed off on him. He was still very traditional and was adamant that he was going to get both his daughters married off as soon as they finished their basic education. Her sister, Nina, had been a really good painter and had been even offered a scholarship from the esteemed Slade School of Fine Art at UCL. But her father had been obstinate and in no time, she had been married off. Unfortunately for her sister, she’d fallen pregnant soon after and was now a homemaker looking after their two kids. Tina had known all along that she was going to have do something drastic, if she was to avoid her sister’s fate. So during her final year of high school, she decided to grab hold of a work internship with a London financial firm. Her father had vehemently disagreed stating that he’d almost finalised her marriage with a “nice Indian boy who had his own corner store”. “As if I’m a piece of property!” Tina had thought whilst she quietly packed her bags in the night to leave for London.

That had been five years ago. She’d only met her father once since, which was for the second birthday of her sister’s first child. The internship had gone smoothly and they had even offered her a full time position, which she’d quickly grabbed. Her penchant for numbers and ability to think outside the box had ensured that she was promoted regularly. She’d even managed to complete her business degree whilst continuing to work full time for the firm. And that’s when she’d met Amit. A few years older to her, he’d been pursuing his MBA in the same university that she had been enrolled at. Amit worked part time at a publishing company and she was often privy to a lot of gossip about stories that they had either rejected or ones that had been delayed indefinitely. It had initially been exciting to listen to the stories, considering her affinity for reading and books. Soon that excitement had turned into a reality check; a realisation that she should try her hand at writing. She was fortunate that Amit too pushed her to follow her heart. As with most newbie writers, she too had tried her hand at blogging. Amit had managed to persuade his publishing company’s editor to give some of her short stories a read, and fortunately for her, he’d been impressed. Shortly after, she’d started contributing articles for Metro & The Evening Standard. Buoyed by her almost-overnight success, she’d decided to write a romantic novella, which unfortunately had not found many takers. Dejected, she’d vowed never to write anything ever again. And she hadn’t, for almost a period of six months. But everything changed, late one winter’s night, when they’d encountered 7 year-old Monisha decked up as a bride in the alleyways of Brick Lane, in East London.

“Tina. It’s time!” Amit’s sombre voice snapped her out of her trance like state. Flicking the cigarette butt away, she slowly walked towards the exit to the terrace, where he waited. She smiled and gave him a tight hug. He smiled back and gave her a reassuring squeeze on her shoulder. Together they descended to the mezzanine floor of the Shard, where the event was scheduled to take place. Tina squinted against the bright spotlights that adorned the ceilings of the building. She saw Mark, her literary agent, pointing towards his watch and gesturing towards the seat that had been reserved for her. She slowly walked towards the front of the room, vaguely aware of the camera flashes that were snapping her every move. As she took her seat, she glanced absentmindedly towards the far end of the room. For a moment, she thought she recognised an elderly gentleman in a worn out beige blazer. Almost instantly, a photographer’s flash temporarily blinded her, and she was forced to look away. When she looked up again, he was gone. As she glanced down at the table she was seated at, Mark promptly slid across a copy of her best-selling book. “Great, another copy to sign” she mused as she slowly ran her fingers over the gold-embossed title of her book - “MONISHA”. Grabbing a pen from the table, she slowly turned the cover to write the so-called personalised words that she’d written at least a hundred times since the book released. Realising that she didn’t know who she was signing it for, she threw a questioning glance at Mark, who seemed to be busy on the phone. A small note slid out of the book and fell onto her lap. She picked it up and glanced at the hastily scrawled writing on it.

Click to view a larger copy

Teary-eyed, Tina looked up at Amit, who was smiling at her, a short distance away. She smiled back and silently mouthed "Thank you!" 

[This post is written for the Project 365 program at We Post Daily aimed at posting at least once a day, based on the prompts provided. The prompt for today was "Proud : When was the last time someone told you they were proud of you?"]