Tag: writing

#BlogHer17

1080x1080 VOTY Awards_060817-short blog post3It turns out I am one of the Voices Of The Year at this year’s BlogHer conference. It wasn’t a miracle – I submitted a few of my blog posts and somebody liked what they read. I am almost embarrassed to admit how much I’m looking forward to attending the conference in Orlando later this week.

But the excitement brings with it a small helping of shame. I wrote about my grief, and this brought me recognition, which leaves me feeling uncomfortable. I mined my loss for attention.

Maybe if my grandmother were around, she would ask me to just enjoy myself.

More bits and pieces

The other day, I attended a book launch, because I found out K. Srilata would be in conversation with Sharanya Manivannan. I felt like an impostor, in my straight-out-of-work clothes and the anxiety that comes from knowing I was going to meet a writer. I stood awkwardly and had in place nervous smiles for everyone whose eye I caught.

Turns out I had a great time after all. I got my copy signed, and I asked a question, even if I hated the way my voice came out, more high-pitched than normal. It seemed like everyone knew everyone else, but nobody knew me, which is really the best situation. I hate showing up and having to say Hi to at least three people I know from school, college and the neighbourhood, especially if I’ve been trying to avoid one or all of them for the better part of a decade.

“What do you do?” She’s a blogger, I heard from behind me, even as I started to say I’m an engineer. This was a pleasant surprise, because I tend to forget that I could have an alternate introduction for myself, if I so choose. I often wonder about the negative connotations that the word blogger carries, as though a blog was just a big cry for attention in the guise of poorly written diary entries. This is somewhat true, of course, and I will not deny I like the attention – I have not risen above cheap thrills just yet. I also keep hearing that blogs are losing their relevance, especially if they aren’t about something specific, like fashion or cooking or movies or parenting; but I’m not too sure about that. I shall give myself some more time to figure that out.

***

This past week, I finally finished reading all of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s books, the one I had left out being Half of a Yellow Sun. The titular yellow sun is the symbol of Biafra, which was the name of the country that broke away from Nigeria in the late 1960s and managed to stay afloat for only three years. Her novel focusses on how war affects the lives of civilians and changes them in unrecognizable ways.

I remember when I was in primary school, there used to be a chart in our science textbook that listed out the various diseases we would contract if we suffered from any deficiencies. Vitamin D, the teacher would call out, and we would sing back Rickets. Protein, she would say next, and we would say Kwashiorkor. So finally, I learnt of the deprivations of war through this book, what Kwashiorkor means to a country, and the stories behind starvation and malnutrition that we flippantly associate with the African continent.

The war is at the centre of this novel, but the author takes time to help us get to know her characters. We observe how they behave with each other, how they react to the world at large, their ideologies and emotions. There are any number of beautiful observations – about grief, love, relationships, post-colonial toxicity and the futility of war, all written in prose that is never pretentious. We also find out how a situation such as this specifically impacts women, who are more vulnerable for they are often seen as spoils of war, how they find within themselves an impossible courage and resilience that allows them to continue trying to live.

This is a difficult book to get through, because the images it brings to mind aren’t comforting, they demand you acknowledge the atrocities that once happened.

***

In other news, I started the year right watching Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, which I thought was an enjoyable take on the magical universe created by J.K. Rowling, without the need for any of the usual suspects. The 1920s New York city setting was interesting too – there were many little details, like the American word for Muggle is No-Maj (short for Non-Magic), and all the fantastical powers that magical creatures have. There’s an adorable creature that picks locks! Yes, the movie is in 3D, which is the norm these days. To paraphrase Amy from The Big Bang Theory, it probably goes to show the studio has faith in the movie.

After what seems like a long long time, I happened to watch a Tamil movie in the theatre. I think I missed hearing Tamil on the big screen. I was glad to have picked Dhuruvangal Pathinaaru, which I chose after reading the headline to the review on Baradwaj Rangan’s blog (in keeping with my policy to not read about the movie until after I watch it, if I plan to watch it). I wouldn’t have known otherwise there was a movie of this name playing in theatres. I am a bit out of the loop.

Dhuruvangal Pathinaaru is fantastic, and one would use words like solid and craftsmanship to describe it. To think the director is only twenty-two…and no, I’d rather not think of what I was doing at twenty-two.

***

I acknowledge this is an uninspired post, and I resorted to giving you generic updates because I felt practice was important; and if an idea doesn’t strike me, I might as well resort to verbal diarrhea. Worry not, your patience has been recognized.

It will take you 2 minutes 16 seconds to read this

As though it weren’t obvious enough by now, I want to state that I love to write. No, not the lofty concept of writing, but the act of writing. This obsession to write things down can be traced back to the time my parents gave me a slate with a green border, and some chalk pieces. I copied out everything I could see.

Have your school teachers told you how writing once is better than reading the same text ten times? I am not sure if I took that to heart, but that is how I studied. (Though I wasn’t making any actual efforts to study better.) My right hand would write down all the words I was reading, as I was reading them. I can’t say if this helped me in remembering complex equations, but it gave me a satisfaction that is hard to replicate.

This is why I take a notepad to meetings and write ‘2/7/2016 Meeting with EFG 10:30 AM’ in my best cursive handwriting. This is also why I have a notebook at home which I fill with mundane details. Lists, errands, recipes that were successful and alterations to recipes that weren’t.

While discussing with a friend about reading reject letters from editors, it occurred to me that I do not have much experience dealing with that kind of emotion. I realize that in spite of all this writing that goes on everyday, I feel uncomfortable calling myself a writer. Surely, that isn’t me. And so I don’t send my work to numerous literary magazines and wait anxiously for replies, and I don’t feel too bad when one or two write back saying they can’t feature me in their monthly issue. And I think, “That’s alright, I wasn’t expecting you to anyway.” This is not to say I am an overly modest person (hah), just that I don’t take myself too seriously. Or maybe I operate (unknowingly) on a principle of No Expectations No Disappointments. (Wait a minute, am I fooling myself into thinking I have no expectations, so as to shield myself from disappointments?) Ah, don’t mind me.

And because you have patiently read the preceding paragraphs, I am going to reward you with a little more of talking about myself. A blog post of mine (Speaking in tongues) was published in thREAD, and you can read it here. If you have already read my post and don’t wish to refresh your memory, I understand; and in order to save you five minutes, I would like to mention that the version in thREAD is longer and better looking, and has a couple of nice introductory lines as well (which I didn’t write).

P.S. I am more excited than what the last paragraph reveals.