Sunday, October 30, 2011

Why I decided to NaNoWriMo

One month ago, I didn't know I was going to do NaNoWriMo this year.

Then one day three weeks ago, I decided I would. It was only a question of choosing one story from the two outlines in mind.

For a person who took two years to write 50K (I love repeating this every now and then), NaNoWriMo is going to be a real challenge. But then, for my first book, much of the thinking was done between the writing. The plot and the storyline were very vague when I started, and today it looks nothing like what I imagined in '09. I took long breaks intentionally and otherwise, that helped me improve the flow and reduce the rewriting effort.

Thinking out the entire flow beforehand is definitely good, which is the best thing I see about NaNoWriMo. Today I have a fair enough idea of the story I am going to write. That part of the homework seems to be fairly done.

I would not have decided to attempt NaNoWriMo this year had I not confidence that I have enough material to fill in the 50K. I have heard others say they 'wrote 50K with no plan, even though much of it was crap'. I don't think I can write 50K of crap in 30 days. I'm not that good.

Much has been said about the pros and cons of NaNoWriMo novel-writing. I would not dwell on those. I believe the quality of the MS that emerges at the end of the month depends on the effort put in before it begins.

As far as I am concerned, NaNoWriMo is just an excuse to keep me from procrastinating. There are always other things to do whenever I begin writing. This exercise probably would keep me in Focus. It should, given that I have announced from the rooftop about my participation, and people are bound to ask.

I am not quite used to the concept of 'writing without thinking or editing', the idea being the thinking should happen before November and the editing after November. The very thought gives me the jitters.

There's a lot of "Make sure you do this before you start" guides on the Web. I try to keep away from them - coz they intimidate me. But I still take a peek - what if I overlook some vital preparatory activity and get stuck in the middle of the writing?

Then I tell myself, even if I reach only 30K, I would still have achieved 30K. I will be closer to the end than if I never participated.

Preparation for NaNoWriMo is not only about planning and plotting the story or developing characters or jotting down notes. It also means we're going to give less of our time & attention to other things in life - family, job, medicines, food, hobbies, friends,... I did some planning on that front too - trying to do some things in advance, identifying the days on which I will not be able to work as much as required, allotting time for daily chores, etc.

Bangalore boasts of unexpected & unscheduled (as well as scheduled) power supply failures during the day. Being a so-very-Bangalorean, I am prepared for such interruptions to my daily dose of 1667 words.

That's all there is to it. The rest of the stuff I hear about writers surviving on coffee and chocolate for one month - I have no clue on those yet. When (and if) I do figure that out, I still will be going for tea, not coffee.

As to what happens after NaNoWriMo, who can tell? Maybe I will continue to work on the story. Maybe I will abandon it and start something new. Whatever happens, I am sure the effort will not be wasted.
It will be another lesson learnt.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Parenting dilemma

"Wow, you got A+ in this paper!"
"Is that good?"

"Oh, it's wonderful. It means you know the subject very well."
"What about these two?"

"Let's see now...This is a 'B' and this is a 'C'."
"Is that bad?"

"No... it just means you know it alright, but if we work on it a bit more, we can make it A and A+."
"So, B and C are bad, and A and A+ are good?"

"No, not at all. All these grades are good. A+, A, B and C. All are good grades."
"But will you be upset if I get B for this next time?"

How do I explain to him that I want to appreciate his good grades, but that doesn't mean I worry about the low grades? 
How do I make him understand that the grades are only feedback from the teacher to the parents?
How do I make him understand that everything is not about 'good' or 'bad', and most of the things in life lie somewhere between the two?

* * * 

"Aren't you my dearest child!"
"What about R and N?"

"Yes, I love them too."
"But R is your most favourite, right?"

"No, nothing like that. You three are like my own children. But of course you are my actual son, R's and N's  Mothers will protect and help them more than I do, so when you need me I will be the one who helps you, *blah blah blah*... why don't you go to sleep?"

How do I explain to him that all his friends are like my own children but there is something about him that makes him special to me?
That I sometimes praise the other children because I want to make them feel comfortable?
How do I make him understand that people can love many people in different ways - and it is not just about 'like' or 'dislike', there are things in between the two?
How do I make him understand that if there is such a list of loved ones, he would definitely top my list, but that does not mean I dislike the rest?

Thursday, October 13, 2011


I had been warned before I went. But I was unprepared for what I saw.

I glanced at her and looked away, pretending to be talking to someone else, so that she would not see the shock in my eyes.
God knows how many times she must have seen it - and how it must have scared her.
She had deteriorated so much in the few months since I last saw her.
Last time, I thought she was just skin and bones. Now it seems like she was much healthier then.

She sat up to talk to us. I could not allow my eyes to stay on her face for long... I was afraid I would not be able to hide the disbelief, the pain, the memory - the memory of her ten years ago at a wedding, her face healthy and glowing and bright with happiness.
Who would have known.

We talked, smiled, enquired generally about each other. I kept skipping over topics, almost with no break. Silence could be dangerous, silence could bring back unpleasant thoughts. The distraction might do her good.

If the sight terrified me so, how much more would it be for her - to feel every day, the fear, the knowledge, the dread of the inevitable.

She went back to bed because she was tired. I said it was okay, she didn't have to get up when we left.

I try to keep it away but the thought continues to return to mind.
It is only a matter of time...

Thursday, October 6, 2011


"Do you know today is your cousin's birthday?"
"How old is he?"

"And next month I will be six."

"Yes, so how much older is he than you? How do you do that math?"
"Ten plus six?"

"No, that is not correct. It is not addition."
"I don't know."

"Okay, let me put it this way. Your brother is ten, you are six. You need to find the difference between the two. What is the difference between ten and six?"
"Oh the difference between ten and six! Got it."

"Tell me."
"Ten is BIGGGGGGGG and six is small."