Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Merry Christmas

I wish you all a Happy Christmas. From Christmas Day until 5th of January, I won't be online regularly, so at best there might a couple of quick posts. So wish you all a wonderful christmas and a Happy New Year.
Doing anything exciting? I will be at mother-in-law's on christmas evening, and then off to USA on 27th to see my parents. Tomorrow is last day at work until 6th, which is excellent :-) Though of course no rest for the wicked, as I still have to work on writing related stuff.
Looking forward to hearing about all of your christmas / new year plans.

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Blogging about Blogs - What do you like?

I follow a lot of blogs – so many that I don’t know how many exactly. I just check them through Blogger’s dashboard. Of course there are some I like more than the others; there are some blogs that I consciously remember to check, and the ones that I try to read even when I am very busy, and try to comment every time. Then there are others that I just skim through and only make occasional comments. There are professional blogs, newbie blogs, and in-betweeners blogs. So judging from that, I think I know well enough now what I enjoy and what I don’t. Though I follow blogs that have nothing to do with writing, for the purposes of this post, I am going to focus only on writing related blogs. Professional Blogs This is based on my definition, which people who are well established into their profession. If you have one short story published, you are technically a professional, but not for my purposes because you don’t have enough industry experience. (and no offense intended since you are way ahead than me) What I like from these is facts, and advice from professionals. Editors, publishers, agents – they know what they are talking about, so if they are talking about an issue that I am interested in or confused about, I read it. Granted, I don’t read every post, because I don’t have the time. But I know they are there when I need to go and look up something particular. Non-Professional Blogs (everyone else) These are actually the most important blogs of my blogging experience. While I may find useful information from professional blogs, these are the blogs I love. Because through the blogs, these are the people I get to know These are also the blogs that I try to stick by when I am short of time. These are the ones I take my time to comment. I rarely comment on professional blogs, because there are always hundreds of comments, and I don’t think adding mine makes any difference. I love reading about people’s personal journey as a writer. Each of us comes from different backgrounds, and we all began writing under different circumstances. We learn things differently. So I find it totally fascinating to read about people’s personal experiences. When I read these blogs, I am looking to get to know you, or at least the writer part of you. I am looking to read in your own unique voice. I especially love reading about lessons on writing that stem from experience. For example, when I wrote posts about outlining, it was after my own experiments. That brings me to what I don’t like – I don’t like reading posts when people post very professional sounding writing essays on their blogs. It’s not because they aren’t good or that they don’t make sense. But it’s simply because all these essays are no different than what I have read in all the writing craft books. They don’t tell me what these bloggers have learned from experience. They only tell me theories. Personal experience is the key ingredient in all of my favourite blogs. They all talk about what they are doing, and what they have learned from their mistakes. They talk about what they have tried and what works for them. Through these posts, not only I learn some valuable things about writing that I know are tried and tested, but I also learn about the bloggers as people. I get to know little bit more about them. And since starting to focus on making writing hobby into a career, I have pretty much given up social life (voluntarily because it wastes a lot of my time) my Internet friends/acquaintances are of a great social importance to me. How about you? What do you love about the blogs you follow and what annoys you?

Monday, 21 December 2009

New Year Pre-Planning

As mentioned previously, editing currently is pretty much on stop. I do hope to start again soon, and properly this time, but that's why I am going to wait until after Christmas, so I can start making regular effort, every day. The weekend was spent mostly working on a scrapbook for my sister's present, but I also made an overall plan of my goals for 2010 - 17 in total. I figured that since currently, I am not really focusing on editing or writing with all the Christmas stuff going on, I might as well plan when I am going to do those things. So the yearly plan is in progress and while it is not set in stone, I hope to achieve at least most of those things. Still working on it, so I will post those goals later. With writing, I am not on a total break. Still working on brainstorming for the new book, and hopefully I can finish at least one WB Assignment in December. I am using my NaNo Novel to do that assignment so it should give me bit more perspective on the story. I absolutely love making this plan for 2010 - makes me feel like the new year is full of possibilities. of course also makes me see that I have got a lot of stuff to do, so better get on with it. Are you making goals for 2010?

Saturday, 19 December 2009

Editing Ain't Happening

After that all exciting read through, editing has remained on my to-do list. I haven't really done any writing either, because since I decided to work on new project, as oppose to my unfinished ones, I am still working on brainstorming before doing a definitive outline. But editing was to be priority this month. There is a part justification that I have been pretty busy because of christmas, and I am making a scrapbook for my sister which is taking considerable time. But some part is just procrastination. I will have to get over my editing phobia. But this weekend, I have got a scrapbook to work on, hopefully finish and some boring tidying stuff to do (there is only so long I can avoid it :-P) so I am not really going to get into editing mood, but at least hoping to do a few more pages of brainstorming for the new project. So meanwhile, here is a little christmas cheer...

Thursday, 17 December 2009

Check Facts

Fiction is fascinating. It is interesting more often because through fiction we live the life of dreams that we may not have guts to do in real life. Of course in some cases, like worlds of science-fiction and fantasy, it is not possible to experience them in real life. But one of the main reasons why we reasonate deeply with fiction is because on some level they relate to us. So to write fiction you must provide basis of reality in your story. Here is a nice little post with some nifty links to help you do just that.

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Unfinished Pieces for Another Time

There used to be a time, not too long ago (about a week actually), when I would feel guilty for spending time brainstorming new ideas. The reason behind this that I always thought I should focus on finishing projects that are already open. From earlier days of writing, I have several books stuck at various stages. This year, as I learned more about the craft in a focused manner, I thought I should start focusing on finishing those, and setting them to right. There are projects which were merely ideas or had mere few thousand words written. I set them aside easily enough. The problem was mainly about 4 books, three of which actually have whole first drafts complete, except that those first drafts need a total re-write, plot needs to be worked on, and basically it is much more of a hassle than simply starting something new. But the guilt kept nagging me, so after finishing NaNo, I reviewed them, planning to pick one of them to work on. But as I went through the process, I had one of those “aha” moment. I realised that I didn’t HAVE to do them now. In fact, I was not yet ready to do them. First, I want to make sure that I can complete a book that is of publishable standard. With the things I have learned, and with things I am still learning, it is easier to focus on applying those things to something new. So why not? My old drafts aren’t going anywhere, and if I still feel the urge to write those stories, I can do that at a later date. Though I have already noticed that some things from those stories seep into my current stories. So those plots will need to be altered anyway to make them fresh. No more guilt. As soon as I made that decision, I was perfectly happy. I will just work on writing the new books I have in mind, and let those old ones rest for now. Making decisions is so liberating :-)

Sunday, 13 December 2009

First Impression After the First Read Through

I finished reading my first draft of my NaNo novel between yesterday and today. Total time spent: 5.76 hours Immediate Thought: It's not bad for a first draft Just the first draft, mind you. It needs hell of a lot work before it is even close to publishable standard, but for a first draft it is good. One of the main reasons is because there are very few plot holes, and even those ones aren't very big. It's the first time that I have a consistent enough first draft that is not missing a lot of thing, so it is a big plus in my book. And that is thanks to the outline. I best remind myself that when I am feeling lazy to do outline for the next book. The best thing: Dialogue Epsecially the parts that made me laugh out loud, and there were quite a few bits. No, it's not a humourous novel, but I have a couple of characters, especially a healer who is totally snippy, and his comments just make me laugh. The worst thing: Hardly any description to get the feel for the world When I read the story, I know exactly where these people are, and what their world is like. But I know it because it's in my head. I created it. It's like talking about a city that you have grown up in to someone who has never visited it. You will rarely mention anything special about your city, because take it for granted. It's just ordinary. But when a tourist looks at it, they look at it with fresh eyes, and they need more details to appreciate it. So while my world is build deeply enough, it is not conveyed in the story. Pace: Fast A part of it is definitely due to lack of descriptions - as you can probably tell since I finished reading all 81539 words in just under 6 hours. I would like to keep the pace fast, but perhaps it doesn't need to be this fast. Conclusion There are things to fix, no doubt about that. Writing needs to be improved. There are a lot of grammatical errors. And just generally the whole feel of the story needs more depth - not through plot, that's there, but through writing. What next? Because I am still working to figure out editing method that works for me, I am dividing it into steps. This was the first step, and it worked. It was useful. It gave me the whole feel of the story. Now, I am taking a very short amount of time to fix some common spelling errors and such, or things like putting a wrong name, and also correcting some formatting errors. But this isn't going to be a detailed step. Just a quick one, where I will only be correcting things that I can spot instantly. Anything that requires more thought or decision will wait for a later stage. Once I do that - then the next step will be to look at the few notes I made during the first step, and fix those things.

Saturday, 12 December 2009

Editing Journey Starts Today

My NaNo novel had long enough rest. About 2 weeks, maybe a few days less, and for now it's enough. NaNo novel resulted in a good outline method for me. Now, I am hoping it will result in a good editing method. I don't have a preferred editing method yet, because none of my previous edits have resulted into what I would call a successful result - the book that I am satisfied with, and the knowledge that it's as best as I can make it. So that is my intention for this novel. To make it as best as I can make it, and as I work through editing and revising, I will post on what works for me, what doesn't, and will be most happy to hear any tips/suggestions you have for editing methods that work for you. So first step is a simple read through - but out loud. Well, most of it aloud, because even my chatty mouth needs a rest sometimes. As I read through the book, I am not making any particular changes, though in places where it's an obvious but simple mistake - for example a typo where I have typed "and" instead of "end" or something like that, I correct it. But I don't pause to change any sentences or anything. If something strikes me strongly enough to make a note (i.e. reading one particular pargraph, I thought there should be more information from one of the characters) I make a quick note on a post-it with a page number. I don't see the point in printing out a copy so early after the first draft, because I know there will be a lot of editing required so it would be a waste of paper. I will print out a copy after I have gone through quite a bit of editing. Then looking at paper should provide a fresh view. I plan to get through the first step as quickly as possible, to get the feel of the plot and how it feels to read it. Then the real work will start.

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

2010 Reading Challenge

I am too tired to do a proper post, so just a little announcement and something for you guys to think about. I started keeping a record of books I finished reading since July 27, 2009. I just wanted to see how quickly I go through them, and basically just keep tabs on my reading. (I like lists) And now I love the list, because what I found suprised me. I keep this list updated on the blog. This is the post, and the link is available under "ongoing stuff" in the sidebar. So in just over four months, I have read 33 books. Hurray for that. And that leads me to think about 2010, because I actually want to set a reading goal too. Initially I was thinking 101 books. I can do it. HOWEVER...I must remember that I am supposed to be writing more. So I have decided on more realistic 75. And this reading challenge is what I would like you to invite for. Of course you don't have to read 75 books. You can pick any number that is good for you. But join the challenge, and we can keep each other posted. And maybe even do some blog chains for the books we read or something. Have a little think, and hope to do this with some of you. Meanwhile, how is your reading going?

Monday, 7 December 2009

The Golden Opportunity for Unpublished Writer

As I was sitting in the bus today, brainstorming a script idea for my WB assignment, the thoughts behind the title of this post came to me. I have never attempted a script before. While I don't mind trying it, my dream remains to write books. But I am glad that I am going to try this. Just as I am glad that I have tried poems, short stories of various genres and novels in various genres. This is the golden opportunity we have as unpublished writers. Currently, we don't have any writing income so we don't expect it. However you are paying the bills, it doesn't depend on the story you write. So right now, you have the freedom to try whatever the hell you want. You have the freedom to experiment. See if you find yourself falling in love with a genre or a form that you never considered before. If your book gets published tomorrow (congratulations), it's fantastic, and possibly your dream come true. But with that publication, there will be expectations. Your agent/publisher/reader will want to see similar things from you - unless you write mainstream fiction. Yes, you can write different things and you can diversify, but I don't think you can do that after just one book. You need to give people a chance to recognize your name as a brand name. So if your first book is a mystery, the chances are, everyone wants your second book to be a mystery too. But what if you suddenly fancy writing a science fiction? Well, you can't. At least not without spending a whole lot of extra time, because you have got a deadline for a mystery novel. But right now, while you are unpublished, you can write absolutely anything you want. You can take the time to decide what you enjoy writing most. You can take the time develop ideas that might not go anywhere, or even take the time to find new ideas even though you already have fifty of them waiting. So my point behind all the rambling is that as much as we want to get published, let's not forget to enjoy this period of being unpublished. The analogy that comes to mind is about single people - ok fine, single women - who worry a lot about finding the right man before a certain clock stops that they forget to enjoy the freedom of single life. When you are married, you will have the experiences of married life, so while you are waiting for the right man to come along, you might as well have fun being unattached. Same thing with writing. Publication will bring its own joys and pains, but until then, enjoy the journey to publication. Learn. Grow. Experiment. WRITE.

Friday, 4 December 2009

2009 Wrap-Up

For AW December Blog Chain our Theme is Wrap-up 2009. I am going to focus on how this year has been pivotal for my writing. I have been writing for several years, but not consistently, and not really in an organised or focused method. In the beginning of this year, I became acutely aware of that, and I realised that unless I did something about it, my dream to become an author was going to remain just that. In February, I came across an ad for writer’s bureau. I have posted here all about the signs behind that and why it was the right thing for me to do. But basically, that decision made the whole year productive. It wasn’t the course itself that changed things. But because of the course, I began to focus on writing. I learned about blogging, started my writing blog, joined AW, and began to connect to some wonderful fellow writers. I finally realised that there was hell of a lot of information out there about improving my craft, and so I began to look for that too. I feel that in this one year, I have made more progress than the last six years put together (Fall 2002 is when I first thought about writing a book). Those years weren’t wasted, because I did write a lot, and so I wasn’t starting with a totally blank page. But that learning wasn’t focused. Now, I know where I am going (I think). So here are a few things that I have figured out in 2009: Short Fiction
  • Short stories for popular magazines (i.e. women’s magazines) are not really my thing. I don’t like to read them, and I don’t particularly like to write them.
  • I prefer flash fiction over short stories.
  • Short stories that I enjoy reading are mostly literary. My favourite place to read them is the New Yorker.
  • Short stories I enjoy writing are quite hard to find markets for, because they are all non-mainstream.
  • A flash fiction can be a powerful piece if done properly.


  • I don’t lack ideas. I don’t believe in writer’s block.
  • If I am not writing, it’s because (a) I am lazy (b) I am not in the right state of mind (c) I am too tired. Usually, it’s (a).
  • I started off writing in only third person POV, but now I have realised that I am far better at first person POV, so I really need to work on my third person skills.
  • I am not quite sure yet what genre is THE ONE for me – if there is one. But I want to finish books in the three genres I have got going and see how I feel (Fantasy – various different types, Science Fiction, Multi-cultural)


  • I have finally figured out the outline method that works for me. I credit my NaNoWriMo 2009 success (full draft at 81K) to that outline. No more unplanned drafts for me
  • The most daunting thing about my current projects I face is sorting through the early finished drafts, which were written without any planning that it makes them much harder than starting something from scratch
  • I love NaNo. For first drafts, it’s a brilliant method, and I intend to do it at least twice a year. Once officially, and once in November.


  • Reading is just as important as writing, because if it wasn’t for the love of books, I wouldn’t be writing. I am happy that my reading for last three months (since I started recording) has gone well. You can what I have read here. I am going to set myself a goal to read a certain amount of books in 2010, and keep it on this blog.


  • Having a realistic dream to follow changes everything. Having a purpose fills the heart and soul with passion, and makes the life worth living. Achieving that dream might be very hard, but it’s still better than having no dream at all

And in the words of Warner Bros, “That’s All Folks!” I am the first in the chain, and the next person is Claire Crossdale. The rest of the participants are: Lost Wanderer -

Claire Crossdale - coryleslie - bsolah - DavidZahir - RavenCorinnCarluk - Ralph Pines - shethinkstoomuch - Lady Cat - truelyana - misaditas - collectonian laharrison - beawhiz - razibahmed - FreshHell - AlissaC -

Thursday, 3 December 2009

Writer's Meme

Erica over at Laugh Write Play tagged me in this MeMe (what the hell does MeMe stand for anyway?), so I am going to answer these questions, and as the tradition dictates, I must tag two people....and the lucky victims are... Jamie over at The Variety Pages Eric over at Working My Muse On with the questions-- 1. What's the last thing you wrote? What's the first thing you wrote that you still have? Unless you count scribbled notes for brainstorming, my NaNo Novel is the last thing I wrote. The first thing...hmm...I am sure I have some of my old poems somewhere. 2. Write poetry? I used to write it a lot in my teenage years. Now it's quite rare. I started writing with poetry. I still remember my first one was when I was 13. 3. Angsty poetry? Not anymore, but yeah, some of my best work was angsty (though I must point out that my English poems were rubbish. But when I wrote them in Gujarati/Hindi, they were quite good. It's funny, because I wrote better short stories in those languages too, but novels, definitely English. Weird) 4. Favorite genre of writing. Not sure yet. Fantasy in a way, because I love to read fantasy the most too, and it meets all the criterias of my escapist nature. However, I also have couple of multicultural WIPs on the go, and plan to write science-fiction, so haven't decide what I enjoy writing the most. 5. Most annoying character you've ever created. None of my characters have annoyed me. It's usually the plot that annoys me, characters are just fine. 6. Best plot you've ever created? Okay, I can see I am not giving very good answers here, but again, I don't know. I would have to have a totally completed book that I am satisfied with before I can decide if the plot created is best or not. 7. Coolest plot twist you've ever created? Same as number 6 8. How often do you get writer's block? No such thing. At least not for me. When I am not writing, it's due to my own faults, lack of discipline or sheer laziness. 9. Write fan fiction? I haven't tried. I have thought about it, but if I am going to work hard on writing something, I prefer to work on something that's truly my own. Besides, creating stories is sooooo much fun. 10. Do you type or write by hand? Both. A lot of my brainstorming is especially done by hand. But now, at least when I am actually writing the story, I try to stick to typing because it's a lot of hassle consolidating everything. 11. Do you save everything you write? Yes. 12. Do you ever go back to an idea after you abandoned it? I am an idea hoarder. I don't abandon them. Even if I haven't touched them for years, I have them saved, and I believe that it's just waiting for one day in the future when we will be ready for each other. 13. What's your favorite thing you've ever written? My favourite things are whenever I end up writing something that ends up making me laugh-out-loud and still does that when I read it later, or when I think about it. I have had a few of those moments, and I love them. Unfortunately, haven't had any where they made me cry, but would love some of those too. 14. What's everyone else's favorite story that you've written? No one's seen any of my stories so no answer as yet. 15. Ever written romance or angsty teen drama? A historical romance was the first book I ever wrote. 16. What's your favorite setting for your characters? I don't have a favourite. It depends on the story. 17. How many writing projects are you working on right now? NaNo novel is the definite one. Other than that, I am considering my options right now. I have 3 half-done books, which would real mess to start with because they are in a horrible state, and I don't even know where to begin. But I also have a couple of new ideas which I am considering. 18. Have you ever won an award for your writing? Nope. 19. What are your five favorite words. Bloody (as in Bloody hell - but only when spoken with British accent) Oxymoron Dithering Muggle Googled 20. What character have you created that is most like yourself. There was a character in one of my WIP that needs a total re-write. She was actually exactly me. Fortunately for me, there were 3 other major characters in that book. In my defense, when I wrote the full first draft, it was very early in my writing career. Eventually I realised what it was, so I deleted that character completely, and guess what - now I have a story, instead of an autobiography ;) 21. Where do you get ideas for your characters? From my head....from that wonderful place knowns as the Imagination Land 22. Do you ever write based on your dreams? No. My dreams are a complex, International Mix, which could be a head-quarters for UN. 23. Do you favor happy endings, sad endings, or cliff-hangers? Happy Endings!!! If I want sad endings or cliff-hangers, I will stick to real life, thank you. 24. Are you concerned with spelling and grammar as you write? Concerned, yes. Obsessed, no. I pay attention to them, and if I notice something is wrong, I correct it. But I don't worry about it. If something feels wrong but I don't know how to correct it, I move on. That is tomorrow's problem. 25. Does music help you write? No. Music is the devil of distraction. Music distracts me from everything, so I rarely listen to it. I prefer multi-tasking, so my choice of noise is TV, because that works for me. 26. Quote something you've written. Whatever pops into your head. Okay I cheated. I had to look something up, because nothing popped. This is from my NaNo novel - "Don't stick your whole hand in one pie, when you can have your fingers in many."

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Goals for Next 10 Days

Why 10 days? Because I have decided to start editing my NaNo novel from 12th of December since it’s a Saturday. I considered leaving it for a bit longer, but I am not going to hurry with editing anyway, and I might even take a break in-between drafts. But I at least want to review it quickly to decide what I am going to do about POV. So in the meantime my goals are: Writing
  • Review half-finished WIP, RAN (none of my WIPs have titles, so I use acronyms from either character initials or place initials), and organise written scenes in separate files. Then work on an outline
  • Work on outline for yet another half-finished WIP, SIM. Just look at it, not necessarily complete it.
  • Brainstorm the shiny new idea
  • Brainstorm something for next WB assignment
  • Resubmit a couple of rejected short stories (I just tend to ignore them when they are rejected once, so I really should make the effort to find new markets)


  • Finish Neverwhere, by Neil Gaiman
  • Finish Gilgamesh
  • Read tips about editing a book


  • Work on the scrapbook for my sister’s present
  • Buy few remaining Christmas presents
  • Post International Christmas Cards


  • Blog regularly as per usual on Writing Blog, and make sure to read and comment on other blogs (this slipped a little during NaNo)
  • At least one entry on Journal Blog


  • Finish organising books that have currently turned my living room floor into an obstacle course
  • Email neglected friends/family during NaNo
  • Journal


  • Play Sims 3

And even as I wrote the whole list, it occurs to me that I am going to have a hell of a time finishing all of that in ten days. So let’s see how far I get with this stuff.