Be The Change You Wish To See In The World!

Let me tell you a story today.

Once upon a time, there was a little boy who loved eating sugar.  He would chew on his sugar granules throughout the day. His mother was worried that this excessive gorging on sugar would take a toll on his  health. She tried everything from gently coaxing him out of this habit to scaring him to hiding the containers, but to no avail. Finally, she decided to take him to his idol, Mahatma Gandhi, so that the great man could talk some sense to her child.

So the next day, she started on the journey with her son. When she finally reached his Ashram, she saw that hundreds of people were waiting to meet the great man. When finally their turn came, the mother explained to  Gandhi the whole situation, and requested him to talk to her son. Gandhi smiled at her and said, “Please come back in 2 weeks time and I shall speak with your son”. She was confused, but she left without any protest.

Two weeks passed, she went back to the Ashram with her son and this time, Gandhi immediately spoke to her son. Curious, she asked Gandhi why he hadn’t spoken to her son the last time they had come. Gandhi smiled and said, “Well, two weeks ago, I too was eating too much of sugar”. He couldn’t preach what he didn’t practice.

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It’s easy to complain about the world and other people, but if you cannot implement the changes in your own life, then you have no right to complain. Don’t be a hypocrite!

We do not have control over others. We cannot change others, only ourselves. If you want to see some change in the world, you must start with yourself. Every significant change that has ever happened in this world has been the result of changes which began at individual level. Revolutions have happened because one person had the courage to stand up for what they believed in  and didn’t wait for others to take action. Now, you don’t have to pick up your megaphone and yell for a revolution if that’s not something you want to do. Just be an embodiment of what you believe in and you might be able to move others with your belief too.

But in order for things to change, you have to change. Don’t just complain how this world sucks. Be the Change!

Image Source

#mondaymagic

#weekly

Finding Time

One of the biggest myths around writing is that in order to do it we must have great swathes of uninterrupted time.
–Julia Cameron, The Right to Write

“I just don’t have enough TIME,” I told my boss, Mike, ruefully shaking my head.  We were talking about an invitation I’d received to be on a college committee that had no relationship to what was then my professional role.

He grinned at me: he completely agreed that this particular committee was not one I should invest my resources into abetting. “Oh, you have time,” he said.  “You just don’t choose to spend the time you have on this pursuit.”

His words rang true then, and they have come back to me often over the years. I DO have time—after all, time is the only thing we really do have. I just need to choose how to spend it in wise and worthwhile ways.

That is as true for my writing as it is for anything else I long to pursue. If I don’t have time to write, it’s because I don’t choose to spend the time I have on writing’s pursuit.

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Many of us have a dream of long stretches of unencumbered time.  I see myself, post-retirement, at a pristine desk.  First, in this vision, I sit contemplatively.  Then I rouse myself and flex my fingers and begin.

Sometimes I see myself picking up a pen and pulling lined paper toward me and just taking off, scrawling away. Sometimes I see myself hunching up to my IPad and letting my index fingers fly. Whatever the variation of the vision, it’s the luxury of time that allows me to be prolifically brilliant, to produce vibrant prose that never fails to move and sway and enchant my mythical readers.

Even as I dream this pretty dream, I know it’s hogwash.  Probably, confronted by those long open spaces of lovely, unscheduled time, I would choke, and crash, and burn. I would look around and find a dish to be washed, a letter that absolutely HAD to be written, a bill to be paid…some chore to be done.  I would remember that I had promised somebody something, and of course, the good thing to do, the righteous thing, is to put that person’s need before mine.

I would get up from the desk; I would embark on my busy work, and if someone asked me, later that day, what I’d written, I would lament, “Oh, I didn’t have TIME.”

And I might even believe it, too.

Often the greased slide to writer’s block is a huge batch of time earmarked: “Now write.”
–Julia Cameron, The Right to Write

 

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Time expands if we need it to expand.

Way back in the 1980’s, when I was teaching at a Catholic middle school and working in the lingerie department of a fancy department store to bridge the gap between my salary and my bills, I discovered Julia Cameron’s book, The Vein of Gold.  I ordered it, I think, from a bookclub I’d stupidly signed up for.  I had a yearly commitment to making four purchases; The Vein of Gold at least sounded like a sort of useful kind of book.

I had missed Cameron’s The Artist’s Way entirely, but when The Vein of Gold arrived, I just fell into it–the perfect book at just the right time.  In it, Cameron told me there were three things I must do if I wanted to unleash my creativity:

I must take myself on a one-hour ‘artist’s date’ each week–just me, by myself, looking, say, at beautiful fabric at a craft store, or touching lovely handmade paper at a stationer’s.

I must walk daily, and take a long walk on weekends.

And every morning, I must sit down, first thing, pull out three sheets of paper, and write until I filled them.

“Oh, puh-leeze!” I thought, looking at my two-job, busily social, life,–a life in which I constantly felt guilty because lessons weren’t planned a month ahead and papers weren’t graded immediately. “There is no room for these lovely-sounding things.”

And then, somehow, someway, I did them anyway.

I took the artist date when I picked up my department store paycheck on Thursday afternoons, detouring to a museum or a specialty store before I headed home for dinner.

I took my walks at the beginning of the two hour break between school letting out and store letting in.

And the morning pages took me thirty minutes every morning. At first, the writing was a horrible chore; I had to drag myself out of bed in the morning, half an hour early, and slam my head on the table before picking it, and my pen, up and starting to write.

But after a week or so, the writing became not an obligation, but a necessity. Skipping a day had fuzzy, foggy consequences, and I didn’t like it at all. Morning pages were a commitment to myself, as were the other two creative duties.

My time expanded because I had made those things priorities.

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Writing does not need long spreads of pretty, smooth, unruffled time.  Writing needs great ideas and the time and the will to put them into written form.  The ideas, I find, never come when I pull out a blank sheet and sit expectantly, waiting for the lovely words that will surely float into my head so I can fill that pristine paper. They come when I am walking and nowhere near a keyboard.  They come when I drive by myself, NPR whispering in the background, and my mind is free to roam where it will. They come in the middle of a workshop, when I’m on the treadmill, when my hands are plunged into soapy water.

I steal the time to write them down.  I burst in the door from work, quickly get the dog out for her necessaries, and then run to my IPad and tap away, getting the gist and the shape of the idea into a document before it flies away.  And then I swing back into the whirlwind of the day, changing clothes, taking care of laundry, getting dinner on the stove.

But later, just as day fades into dark, I come back, and the idea waits there for me.  Like a lump of dough, it is, and I flatten it onto the table, knead it and shape it.  Because, if you’ll excuse the labored metaphor, it’s risen while it rested.  Now I can form it, make it into the creation I need and want it to be.

Ten minutes?  Fifteen, maybe–to get the idea down, pinning it for later use?  Half an hour, later, to shape it?  I waste more time than that on Facebook, on minesweeper, on idle chatter, every single day.

Of course, once shaped, the words, for me, are not done, not ready for reading.  I come back to them obsessively, over and over again.  (My WordPress blog lets me know how many revisions my drafts undergo.  I sweep in quickly, over the course of a few days, tweak and save and exit.  Often, my report will say something like, “57 revisions.” It’s how I work, it’s the way I write: the swoop-and-tweak-and-fly-away method.)

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I first started teaching research writing back in my middle school teaching days.  There was a very specific method we were to have the students follow.  You’ve probably been forced to use this method–one where research goes on index cards, then a source list grows.  From the cards comes an outline.

From the outline comes a paper.

Tweak, edit, format, put the footnotes in–neat and tidy: done.

The only trouble is, not everyone writes like that.

In my experience, half the class writes a paper from an outline.  The other half writes an outline from a paper.

I belong to the latter group: the act of writing is the act of organizing for me.  I suffered a lot of frustrations until I finally gave myself permission to sit down and just write, to let the ideas flow and stain the pages. To go back later and organize and make sense of them.

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To use the time we have, we need to know how we write best.

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I know people who very effectively draft and edit all at once. Writing books often tell us to use techniques that quell the Inner Critic and allow us to forget punctuation, to damn bad spelling, and to just write, full speed ahead.  But I know people who can’t do that.

These people can’t move forward if ‘friend’ is spelled ‘firend,’…they just can’t go on.  It’s like their writing spirit is snagged on that misspelled hook.  No matter the great advice in writer’s manuals, their need to correct that word builds a barrier.  No ideas will emerge until the barrier is removed.

So those folks should edit as they go.  I have a friend like this.  It takes her a week, sometimes, to write an essay.  But when she is done, it is flawless.

She’ll tell you she never revises, but she does: it’s just built in to her process.

But she, too, writes in the nooks and crannies of time available; she’ll take fifteen minutes after the kids are in bed and add a paragraph, write a little more in the morning, add an essential thought when she comes back home from work.  With her busy schedule, if she waited for even a one-hour block of clear time, she’d never, ever put finger to keyboard.

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So first, we have to figure out how we write, and then we just steal the time and do it.  A paragraph here.  One gleaming, amazing sentence there.  The writing seeps into the brickwork of our life.  It grouts our thinking. It takes our dreams and our visions and it builds them into a fine structure–a sturdy wall, a decorative pillar, a fine and funny fancy.

It does that, not all at once in some open-ended frenzy of time, but in the niches and the spaces between.

We may not have leisure time, but we do have time. We may be choosing to spend it elsewhere, but, when we stop to reckon, we  really do have the time to write.

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Happy blogging, my friends!

#weekly
#creative writing

Authors Who Made History: Sarojini Naidu

This week having celebrated Indian Independence Day on August 15th, it seemed to be the perfect time to write about someone who was part of the Indian Freedom Struggle.

Sarojini Naidu, The Nightingale of India. She has achieved a lot in her political career and also played a major role in Indian Independence. A feminist, who had a flair for poetry. We’ve read a lot about her part in the Freedom Fight as kids, but it was in my late teens that I came across one of her short stories. It was a book on Indian literature and out of all the other stories, hers had a great impact on me.

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Sarojini Naidu was born on February 13th, 1879 in my hometown Hyderabad. She graduated from Kings’ College London and got married at the age of 19. Her poems were blithe and beautiful. Many admired her writings. Some of her published and popular works are, The Golden Threshold, Bird of time and The Broken Wings.

Her writings were mainly focused on the history, culture and the ongoing practices of the society. Her stories, many of which, directed towards the suppression of women in those days are weirdly the mirrors of how women are treated today. When asked if she was a feminist regarding her writings about women, she replied politely that she writes facts, things that are happening and are nothing new or fantasized, whatever it was to be tagged is not my decision, but I do write for women empowerment.

Having married someone out of her caste at the time where inter caste marriages were not allowed, she was one of the very few who asked why women don’t get to have their own name and why it’s her father’s before marriage and then husband’s. These little details show how rebellious she was and being highly educated gave her the strength to question the customs. Her father deserves a great mention, for having given her the freedom to explore and express her own self.

If anything she is an inspiration to every woman and writers globally. It is sad that how her writings of women’s sufferings still apply to this day.

Oh, we need a new breed of men before India can be cleansed of her disease

— Sarojini Naidu

#AuthorStory #Weekly

Grace Anne

 

Stronghold!

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Refuse

to

Hate.

#weekly #mondaymagic

#13wordsstory Life is not so…

#13wordsstory
Life is not so complicated probably, my wrong choices made it so, perhaps.
#13wordsstory
#weekly

Timeless Writing Advice

I’ve been reading a controversial collection of short stories called Crimes of Love. (Oxford World Classic, translated by David Coward) The author is none other than the notorious Marquis de Sade. That’s right, the man’s whose name is the origin of the term sadism. Before you bail on me, just listen. As a preface to the collection, the Marquis includes his insightful Essay On Novels.  I am pleased to share some of his timeless wisdom with you today.

“The novel, if I may express it so, is the ‘picture of the manners of every age’. To the philosopher who seeks to know the nature of man, it is as indispensable as history. The historian’s pencil can draw a man only in his public roles, when he is not truly himself: ambition and pride cover his face with a mask which shows only these two passions and not the man entire. The novelist’s pen, on the other hand, captures his inner truth and catches him when he puts his mask aside, and the resulting sketch, which is far more interesting, is also much truer; that is the point of novels.”

“The first and most important requirement is an understanding of human nature.  … A man learns nothing when he talks; he learns by listening. Which is why those who talk the most are, in the ordinary run of things, fools.”

“Any fool can pick a rose and pluck its petals, but the man of genius breathes its scent and paints its forms: that is the kind of author we will read.”

“But while I advise you to embellish, I forbid you to depart from what is plausible. The reader has every right to feel aggrieved when he realizes that too much is being asked of him. He feels that the author is trying to deceive him, his pride suffers and he simply stops believing the moment he suspects he is being misled.”

“No one forces you to ply the trade you follow. But if you do choose it, then acquit yourself to the best of your ability. And above all, you should not think of writing as a way of earning your living. If you do, your work will smell of poverty. It will be colored by your weakness and be as thin as your hunger. There are other trades which you can take up…  Our opinion of you will not be any poorer, and since you will be sparing us acres of boredom, we may even think the better of you.”

Regarding characters:

“If you send your characters on a voyage, be sure you are acquainted with the countries where their travels lead them, and spin your tales with such magic that I can identify with them. Remember that I voyage at their side wherever you send them to, and that I may know more than you and will not excuse your errors in reporting manners and costumes nor forgive a geographic blunder.  …you must make your descriptions of your chosen localities authentic, or else you should stay at home. This is the only area of what you write where invention cannot be tolerated, unless the lands to which you transport me are imaginary.”

“Avoid any display of moral earnestness. Morality is not something anyone wants in a novel. … It should never be the author who preaches, but his characters, and even then only when the circumstances leave him no alternative.”

And finally, in his defense (because he was in trouble most of the time…) he writes:

“It is not my wish to make vice attractive. … I harbor no dangerous plan to make women love men who deceive them, but on the contrary, to ensure that they loathe them. …  And with this in mind I have made those of my heroes who tread the path of vice so repulsive that they will certainly inspire neither pity nor love. In this I make bold to claim that I am a more moral writer than those who make their villains attractive.”

Fascinating insight, no? And really, advice on novel writing that stands the test of time. As always I hope you enjoyed and found this helpful.

#weekly #creativewriting

100 Words Story – Unspoken Confessions

Hello everybody,
I am sorry for being so late with my Friday post. I was asked to step in at the last moment as there was a slot free for 100 words stories feature! I came up with this story at the last minute, please do share your feedback.

100 Words Story-

I gathered up all my courage that day and called her to the park near her house. My friend had said that I would never be able to tell her that I liked her. Incited, I bet him a cola that I would. I was waiting for her in the park and then, it rained. Drenched, I was worried she would never show up. Just then, I saw her in her polka-dotted dress carrying an umbrella. She looked at a girl passing by, and they exchanged a shy smile. Before I could say anything she said, “I am in love!”

#weekly #Fridayfeature #weekly #100wordsstory

Friday Feature: 100 Words Story…A lovely night

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It was a beautiful cloudy, moon night, I was again waiting for him, standing on the dimly lit balcony. There I see a sweet chakor hanging in the air, searching for a place to sit, so that she can enchant her beloved. A sight it was, one waiting lover, watching another, waiting one. And then it rained heavily, soaking me in its essence of love, taking away my pain of loneliness. I felt big warm hands trying to wrap me up in an embrace, gently kissing my knuckles, he muttered “Lover’s do get separated, to be reunited in the end”.

#fridayfeature #weekly #100wordsstory

Time to Revamp the Forum?

OK, I did not think I would have to do this again, but here I am explaining why we have rules and why as admins we ask our members to adhere to these rules.  This is what I know from my previous role as an Admin of this Forum and from my background working as an IT (Information Technology) Systems Analyst about maintaining an online forum/group.

Let us now analyze the confusing too hard to follow rules:

  1. The Basics! (As in the Guidelines from The Daily Post)
Rule Reason

Please do not post photos (unless it is for a weekly feature or photo post feature), movies, music, & similar multimedia here.

We have people in this forum connecting from different countries using different devices with access to the internet with varying speed. When the forum allows anyone and everyone to post content like photos, music and videos, it consumes more bandwidth to download, this becomes bothersome especially for people with slow internet connections as the site/page will either take forever to load or not load at all for them!

This is a forum for everyone’s use so a little consideration will not hurt anyone.

Avoid posting original content better suited for blogs here. Instead post a link and tell us what your link is about and what you’d like feedback on. This way the members do not have to scroll forever if they do not want to read your post. We have a slot called ‘Guest Feature’ for those who wish to post original content.
Please limit posting your blog link for feedback to just your own thread no more than 2 or 3 times a day.

Again, this is a forum for all members who are part of it. We (as in the admins) have the responsibility to ensure that everyone gets a fair chance to post links and feedback requests to their blog. If anyone and everyone who visits the forum just drops their link and leaves, then there would be nothing worthy in this forum other than a bunch of links!

Be the lovely, respectful, and supporting individuals that you are. We are all writers. We are all in this forum hoping to receive and provide support to one another and in the process learn a little something too.

The only way I see for one to be supportive is by respectful, encouraging and understanding to other members.

We can always politely disagree with something – nothing wrong there so long as you are not directly attacking/bullying someone.

Please respect copyright. Anything posted here should be your own work or you should have permission to share it.

Self-explanatory – you know, copyright issues!

These were the basic guidelines requested of the members. Now let’s move onto the next set of rules. Continue reading

#48hr, #b101, #discussion, #feedback, #help, #idea, #weekly

Shutterbug Showcase – Companion

It’s time for the Thursday feature to showcase your shutterbug talent! This week @beckybwinch gave me a prompt ‘Companion’.

Companion – the word brought to my mind my son and my sister, so I could not think of a better photograph to share than this one of us enjoying one of the days from the blizzard of Jan 2016. Hope you like it too!

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Now, it is your turn! Share photographs that depict Companion/companionship for you. You have until next Thursday to share your posts. After that @cathylynnbrooks will share her photograph for the prompt ‘Doors‘.

#photopost #weekly