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Archive for the ‘On Writing’ Category

Of course, I was an early reader and writer.

No shit, Sherlock!

Though my early attempts were rather laughable, they make for great anecdotes! Get this, at one point, I hand wrote a newspaper about the goings-on of my home and was selling it to my family for 25 paise a story. I think I set a precedent right there.

I wrote poems, which rhymed but never actually said anything. There was even a soon-abandoned novel – about someone using scorpions as a murder weapon to kill people (I had just discovered what scorpions were and they both horrified and fascinated me). It was, of course, full of plot holes:  the ten-year-old me was definitely no master novelist.

All said and done, writing has always been therapy: a way to empty all the garbage in my head. I’ve kept a journal regularly since I was 21. But my fiction – both short story and any attempts at long-form – continued to feel half-baked and superficial for years.

This changed when I returned to Delhi, following 15 years abroad. Adult life in India, with all its peculiarities and challenges, somehow shifted something in the way I wrote, or perhaps it was age and experience.

Don’t get me wrong, like many writers, I regularly suffer from imposter syndrome, when I read the work of writers I admire. But then I have to remind myself that writing and stories are an integral part of who I am – and that while not everyone will enjoy what I write, that is okay.

Getting something published – even in e-book format, is one of the most terrifying things. First of all, you must place something you have toiled over in front of a stranger’s eyes – and then lay it bare to criticism and judgment.

Then you have to promote yourself and the book, all the while battling that little voice in your head that keeps whispering “what if everyone hates it?” Self-promotion for me, like many writers, feels unnatural and contrived. But at the end of the day a book is a product, and if we don’t tell anyone about it, how will anyone read it?

I had great publisher partners who gave me guidance along the way, answering loads of stupid questions, and doing an amazing job with the edits. I also had a friend whose been through the process who has been a constant source of advice and reassurance.

These stories were all started at different points in time, and I first started revisiting them in late 2017. There is a lot of joy in re-writing older work. I found I was able to add a lot of substance that was previously missing, though it took a lot of reworking to get them to where they are today.

Solitary Confinement was inspired by the way we see the events that happen in our lives, and the narratives we create, and how they impact us.

Spilling Over the Edges was in some sense a result of my own battle with guilt, and perhaps my feelings of inadequacy, and not quite being comfortable in my own skin.

Senseless Worries was written at a time when I was contemplating the dynamics of friendship and neediness, originally for a short story course I was taking online. I’ve changed much of it since.

The Mirage actually started as a result of a writer’s meetup I attended in Delhi, as a result of a free writing exercise. It was actually triggered by feelings of self-doubt in previous relationships due to gaslighting type effects – and the result of not being sure of what’s happening and whether it is right or wrong.

The Storyteller was written as an ode to the city of Delhi, originally as a contest entry, but later withdrawn (the said contest was quite suspect!) It is also a personal tribute to storytelling.

All five of my protagonists are flawed. They make mistakes, things do not happen to them. And that’s what our lives are, in a sense: imperfect, bumpy, inconsistent and unpredictable. We don’t always do the right thing, and because of this, we must deal with the consequences of the wrong thing. And that’s okay.

We look at mental health, stability, happiness, and positivity in a very tunnel-vision type of approach. Perhaps this is enhanced now by social media, but in a sense, the expectation to conform has always been there.

We feel this pressure to achieve, to have our shit together, and to be winners at everything. But sometimes, in chasing after these things, you slip into your own darkness. We tend to struggle against this, banishing thoughts we deem negative, pushing them so far down that we don’t need to think about them.

But that doesn’t make them go away, and it’s these very thoughts, that I wanted to explore in this collection. What each reader gets from this might be different, but if you are all able to walk away having resonated with one of the many emotions I poured into this book: my job is done. Happy reading!

Mira Saraf’s debut ebook The Boundaries of Sanity is now available on Amazon Kindle.

This blog was first published by Readomania here: https://www.readomania.com/blog/the-journey-of-my-ebook-debut

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A few weeks ago, a woman named Shilpi A. Singh messaged me, as she was doing a piece on acroyoga (a blend of acrobatics, yoga and Thai massage) and wanted to speak to some practitioners and members of the community. Those of you who know me, know that I have practiced this on and off for a few years. Last year I became, what they called a jambassador, with the goal of promoting and facilitating jams, and helping build a community.  (more…)

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As a writer, I’m often faced with the problem of language and it’s limitations. Words are our tools, tools we use to shape and create images and characters, to reach into the brains of our readers and show them something they have not seen before at least in our specific version of an event or a story. (more…)

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Bias vs. Opinion

Earlier this year I took a Travel Writing Class at George Brown. Our instructor told us that our job was to report, not to offer our rather inexperienced opinions. There seems to be a fine line between just the facts and your experience of what happens.

He said it doesn’t matter if you hate all-inclusive resorts, if you are the only one sulking at the pool among hundreds of people that are having the time of their lives, then you have to take those peoples experiences into account. You can’t just condemn the resort because it’s not your thing.

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One of the most formidable challenges of working largely from home is managing distractions. If you’re me this could be anything from food, to laundry to open Firefox tabs, beckoning me away from my interview transcription (usually transcription is when I am most vulnerable to temptation) and towards creeping random people’s facebook pages (to the point that these are people I am not even really that curious about) and yesterday my discovery of the power of twitter.

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I’m back

My last blog post was January 16: over six months ago. So much has changed and happened. I started and finished an internship while taking three classes and completing a 60-turned-95 day yoga challenge. I got the opportunity to write more than I hoped, and learned so so much.

I still feel I have so long to go, and so much to learn. But I’ve felt alive, everyday of this absolutely bizarre life that I have led over the past six months. More alive than I ever remember feeling while in the 9-5 grind.

I got the opportunity to meet interesting people, interview the Prince of Pot, write a feature for TalentEgg (who I still write for quite regularly) and cover a panel discussion at the Canadian Journalism Foundation. In addition I have become the assistant editor for a theatre website called Mooney On Theatre, where I’m learning tons!

The most exciting thing that’s happened to me though happened only last week. After an intense (and quite educational) interview/recruitment process I was accepted into the internship program at The Walrus. I start in July, and I’m so so excited.

I’m not sure where I’m going to take this blog, but I am going to start experimenting a little bit, so bear with me, and hopefully keep reading!

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Endings

Endings are my weakness. When discussing personal/memoir style articles in our Travel Writing class, we were told to ignore any sort of writing “rules” we had learned in school besides the basic grammar stuff. We were free to use “I”, we didn’t have to follow structure and last of all we didn’t have to have a formal conclusion. I’m good with this, mostly, (i.e. in the beginning and the middle). Truth be told, endings always have and continue to haunt me. I feel that I need to wrap up any sort of non-fiction with a “what we have learned above is…” and in fiction they make me extremely insecure. I can dream up all sorts of situations, complex and simple, but I’m incapable of figuring out how they would work themselves out in a realistic un-abbreviated way. I can build tension till the cows come home but when it comes to conflict (the non-confrontational person I am), I prefer to skid through it at high speeds and wrap-up/conclude as soon as possible, to the point that even now I am having some trouble finishing this little piece on endings. So my goal for the next little while is to work on that skill, try to teach myself to end things properly and fully, even if it means that a story stays unfinished for so much longer, or I need to create fuller outlines. THE END.

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