Book: Along Came a Spyder
Author: Apeksha Rao ( https://twitter.com/apekshar )
Publisher: Tree Shade Books
Genre: YA spy thriller
Price: INR 315/- (Paperback)
INR 175/- (Kindle Edition)
A YA spy thriller? Didn’t I leave them way behind when I entered adulthood?
It was with scepticism that I picked up Apeksha Rao’s ‘Along Came a Spyder’, after my ten-year-old couldn’t stop raving about ‘The Itsy Bitsy Spyder’ which is a prequel to the book. The young girl has been on a high dose of Nancy Drews and an Indian teenage sleuth with her ‘grey cells’ seemed no less exciting. I decided to play along and that is how Samira Joshi walked into our library.
Blurb: At 17, Samira Joshi has only one dream in life. She wants to be a spy. And why not? Spying runs in the Joshi genes. Her great-grandmother was famous for sticking her nose in everyone’s business. Her grandmother had a flourishing side-business of tracking down errant husbands and missing servants. Her parents are elite intelligence agents for RAW. Yet, they want their only daughter to become a doctor. When she sees a college friend being trapped by a pimp, Samira does some spying of her own, and discovers the existence of a secret sisterhood often spies— The Spyders. And, she wants in! The question is, do they want her?
About the Author: Apeksha Rao is a homoeopath by profession, and a writer by passion. A polyglot, fluent in six languages by the age of five, she fell in love with words very early in life. She wrote her first story at the age of seven.
At the age of thirty-four, she wound up her practice and moved to Bangaluru. As she explored the new city, she was inspired to start a food blog, in addition to her already-popular fiction blog.
Apeksha has been lauded for her taut and gripping stories that always come with a twist at the end. She is a keen observer of human nature, something that is reflected in her stories.
Review: The adventure begins from the word go. Samira Joshi has had several previews of the life of a spy, having travelled with her parents on some of their missions, of course, only as a matter of chance. Her holiday in Dubai with RAW agents Alka and Ranjit Joshi, is no different. The stage is set for the Joshis to move on a critical mission straight after the Dubai holiday. Samira, who stays back with her grandmother, accidentally stumbles upon a group of teenage girl spies called ‘The Spyders’. That begins an unexpected journey, marking her foray into the world of sleuths, even as she overcomes personal battles along the way. A series of mysteries resolved with the help of her girl gang set the pace for a gripping YA thriller.
There are a few things about the book that are particularly appealing. The ‘make-believe’ characters are straight out of a regular Indian family. A doting grandmother, who is seemingly unhappy with the job profile of her daughter-in-law and well, even her son! Although my instinct says that Ajji might come up as a surprise package in one of the stories later. Samira’s parents are typical Indian parents, who understand the unpredictability and dangers of their own profession and would thus rather have their daughter take up something steadier. Samira and The Spyders are young girls, bold, intelligent, technically sound, can be stubborn, do have their cat-fights and yet are as ingénue as can be. They are the right example of a generation that has a mind of its own but is as willing to learn from its mistakes and grow. One is bound to enjoy the witty conversations between them, as also the war of words between Samira and her mother.
Samira continues to be a part of several sub-plots (read cases) which she solves while her parents deal with the bigger mission of saving the nation. The sub-plots can get a little exasperating, considering they are more than one or two, but the well-paced writing and continuous action makes up for this minor glitch.
The epilogue makes sure you know that there are more thrillers in the pipeline. My ten-year-old is sure to get a collection of The Spyders for herself (she says it’s added much to her vocabulary) and I am definitely going to borrow them all!
My Rating is 4/5
The Amazon link to purchase the book is right here!
This book has been reviewed as part of the Blogchatter Book Review Programme which you can join here.
More than four decades ago, in an army cantonment far away from the city, a young Captain and his new bride sat watching ‘The Little Tramp’ in action. As the Captain rolled over laughing, his young bride peered into his sparkling eyes with admiration. Her own eyes, then darted towards the wall clock. Half past eleven.
‘Another thirty minutes,’ she mused. She couldn’t wait to watch him spring out of bed, and produce a bunch of roses magically from under the couch or maybe he had already placed a bar or two of her favourite chocolate right beneath the pillow! She slid her hand under the satin covers to see if there was anything there, but then withdrew it immediately because she did not wish to spoil the fun.
The credits rolled on the screen. She looked at the clock once more. Ten minutes to go. She couldn’t stop marvelling at her husband’s perfect plan. Sitting late on pretext of a movie, he was leading them to a midnight birthday bash. But what excuse would he have to stay up for ten more minutes? She was only wondering, when he leaned forward and gave her a peck on the cheek, which immediately turned the colour of raspberry.
‘Good night darling,’ he said and then turning over to his side of the bed, switched off the lamp. It took a moment or two for reality to dawn on her. But she instantly waved it off.
She loved surprises but wasn’t a fan of thrillers. She hoped he wasn’t planning a ghastly celebration. Imagine glittery red roses flying towards her in the dark night! Or, ooh la la, did he have something else on his mind?
There was no way she could read the clock, so she simply turned her mind into the second hand and began to tick away.
1,2,3,4….576,577,578…600. That was it! Ten minutes over, well, not in a jiffy.
But the night had come to a grinding halt and her husband continued to lay on the bed, absolutely still, oblivious of his anticipating wife…and…uh…well…snoring!
Had he forgotten her birthday after barely a few months of their wedding? No! It couldn’t be. He had mentioned it just the day before, enough reason for her to have hoped for a pack of surprises. She waited long enough, her heart a flurry of emotions, before sleep stole her.
The next morning, as the rays of the sun tiptoed through the silk drapes, she opened her eyes to see the dashing Captain in a green camouflage and maroon beret, standing next to her bed holding a cup of tea in his hands.
‘Good morning darling. I made you some tea,’ he said, placing the cup on the bedside table. She smiled, waiting for him to pull out something from his pocket or from behind his back. Instead, he bent forward, carefully placing his moist lips on hers and then whispered into her ear, ‘Happy Birthday, my love!’
‘Thankyou!’ she said, returning the favour. The Captain then stood up, giving his lady-love a distinguished military salute and moved out of the room.
The woman sat right there, wondering if the whole thing was a charade. A contrived effort to shield something bigger that had perhaps been stashed away for the latter half of the day.
She spent the morning cooking some birthday-worthy cuisines, and getting the house ready for a supposed celebration. She pulled out a lovely floral dress from her trousseau and pearls to go with it. A gentle touch of rouge on the cheeks gave her the perfect shade fit for a bashful birthday girl. After plucking flowers from her mini garden, she placed them in a china vase which was a wedding gift from a dear friend. And she baked a cake as well! A tiny one. They were both wary of calories and with the Captain sure to bring one along, it would be a bit too much.
As birds began to fly home and the evening sun cast its long shadows into the living room, her eyes rested on the gate, waiting for her lover to walk in, sanguine that a most glorious evening awaited her. He did, soon enough, rushing in at the speed of light and melting her away in a titanic hug.
‘I love you, my sweetheart,’ he said, looking at her. ‘Ah! The birthday girl looks beautiful. What a lucky man I am!’ She fluttered her eyes that seemed to be working like a surveillance camera at that moment.
Releasing her, the Captain walked into the house, empty-handed, welcomed by the ambrosial scent of the cake wafting from the oven.
She, on the other hand, stood at the door, her mouth agape, her listless hands dangling in free air and her eyes, a pool of water.
‘Aaahhhh… I’m famished,’ he said, drawing into his nostrils the sweet, fragrant smell and turning around to look at his wife. But what was it that he saw? His beloved, his little birdie, the one he loved most dearly in the entire world, was standing at the door with tears flowing down her orbs, smearing the mascara that had embellished her long, black, eyelashes. Her cheeks were blotchy and redder than before.
It took him a moment to register the changed scenario. And then, with lines of worry cast on his forehead, he walked back to her.
‘What is it, my love? What happened?’ he asked, holding her hands, pulling her towards him and trying to wipe off her tears. She pushed him back, rushing to her room and burying her head in the pillow. He ran right behind her, shocked by the sudden turn of events.
‘Please speak to me once darling. What is it that makes you cry? Am I the one to be blamed today?’
She sat up, looking at him with her bloodshot eyes. She wasn’t sure if she should be the one to spell it out. He was supposed to know, wasn’t he?
‘My love, I can’t bear to see you like this. Please speak up,’ he implored.
‘When I was with mumma-papa, oh, what splendid celebrations we had on my birthday! Each year. They made it so special for me. It’s just…just that I’m missing them.’ She wanted to say so much more, but something held her back.
He stood there, frozen. Oh! He hadn’t thought of it at all! He loved her, yes, he did. But that’s how it had always been at the military school. Birthdays meant wishes. Maybe if his birthday had fallen before hers, he would have got a demo just the way they did at work. But now it was too late. Or, was it?
‘Give me a moment darling,’ he said, storming out of the room. The next she heard was the sound of the engine revving up. She ran out, only to see him speed away in his scooter. Where had he gone? The city was more than an hour away. She sat down on the stairs, right outside the door with the wind ruffling her hair. As the tears on her face dried up, it felt like a patch of earth in peak summers. She was parched, but she refused to move inside, not until he returned.
As night descended, she looked up at the blanket of stars, secretly cursing herself for sending her husband away at that hour. It must have been around nine in the night when she caught sight of a bunch of balloons at a distance. The rumbling Bajaj Chetak then appeared outside the gate, and the Captain alighted from it. In his hands he carried boxes and roses, bright-coloured balloons and party hats!
No prizes for guessing what transpired in the young couple’s home that evening. But what’s of more significance is how birthdays and similar situations panned out for them in the next four decades.
Well, the husband didn’t quite learn his lesson and regretfully the years only expanded his skills in forgetfulness. And the wife? The tantalizing glimpse of their forthcoming life, on that eventful day, taught her precisely how she was to have her way with the man.
And that is how love bloomed, in the midst of unharmonious music and brush strokes gone wrong. For, you know what, it is only the wild flowers that make the woods beautiful.
This blog post is part of the ‘Petals of Love’ Blog Hop by Swarnali Nath. (The Saffron Story Teller)
The acceptance of who we are is a daunting task. So hung up are we on the flawlessness of existence, that we spend long hours ironing away the wrinkles. The political correctness of living consumes us early on in life.
I remember a class-fellow at school whose fastidious devotion to carving out an impeccable life was a little annoying. There was so much effort in preservation of life’s niceties that it seemed no less than a façade. From a glorious academic time-table to personal grooming, everything fell perfectly in place for her. In contrast, we were always struggling with one thing or the other. As a student ‘All is Well’ was just another spurious expression for me. It didn’t really exist. Or maybe it did, along with ‘All isn’t well’!
The pretence of my class-fellow continued to flummox me for quite some time until a Bollywood blockbuster came to my rescue. In 1994, I watched the popular Hindi film Hum Aapke Hain Kaun. We didn’t watch many movies back then because there was no OTT and of course the parental nod was hard to get. But a goody goody picture could easily make its way into our weekend schedule. For those of you who need to jog their memories about this Madhuri Dixit – Salman Khan starrer, it was about a huge family that lived together…well, happily! There were no fam-gangs and if at all a quirky case did spring up, it all made sense in the end. The movie appeared bizarre to me because in my opinion and from my experience of large families (and even small ones) I could say that they struggled with more than just one-odd case. Gossiping was a given, accompanied by regular issues of jealousy, betrayal, snobbery, comparisons and other minor lapses. So, what was this flick all about? In simple words, it was a cover-up for our duplicitous lives.
Everything is perfect, everything is nice! I could now correlate my class-fellow’s efforts and reasons for carving out a near-perfect persona of herself to the movie I had just watched. In a way I began to feel sorry for her. I realised, she had only been trying hard to fit into the mould.
The books I was reading were no different. Allegorical and didactic, they didn’t quite represent life’s struggles. Even if they did, it would all turn out fine in the end. Kiss the frog and discover the prince!
I had had enough of Santa’s tales. I began to look out for real stories. Tales of struggle, tales of strife. And I discovered quite a few. They were not a revelation for me as such, but certainly a depiction of something far more real and convincing. For now, I was sure that I wasn’t the only one.
Some of the books that came to my rescue included the story of ‘Annawadi’ that suggested poverty, hunger, violence, the fear of being rendered homeless ( Behind the Beautiful Forevers- Katherine Boo) ; or the tale of Celie (The Color Purple), so accepting of life’s misfortunes as if that’s how it’s supposed to be until she was shown the other side. I was comfortable comprehending Nihilism in The Waste Land or despondency in Plath’s The Bell Jar or even in Tagore’s Kabuliwallah. The immersive reading experience that these books offered was something I had been chasing for a long time.
Was I beginning to enjoy grief? That sounds so politically incorrect, doesn’t it? I wouldn’t want to put it that way. Let’s say instead, I was becoming more accepting of the shadows that surround us. I was no longer looking at exemplary existences and wondering if I was stranded on an island!
Which isn’t to say that I was averse to solutions or unaware of the fact that things do work out… but sometimes we must learn to live with them. I was keener to hear stories where people continued the journey regardless of…
Recently, I watched A Beautiful Mind, a second time, as part of Blogchatter’s initiative ‘The Creative Soul Club’. On a personal note, I would say, what makes the movie work is the fact that John Nash’s story continues despite the several interventions. The acceptance of an imperfect life can be way more encouraging for others than the story of a life lived to a T.
When I read Damyanti Biswas’ ‘You Beneath Your Skin’ in 2019, it was not just the ‘whodunnit’ factor that made me recommend it (I finished reading this heavy tome in record time and I’m not a fan of thrillers) but also the fact that the life of the protagonists did not end in a ‘happily ever after’! They found their way out of the maze, of course, but a closure which is the norm made way for a more plausible and workable (read believable) solution.
Over years and with flourishing quotients of happiness on social media, my admiration for imperfect lives and of the people who proudly display their jagged edges has grown manifolds. It takes strength to keep it all bottled up inside you but it takes greater courage to unveil your wounds.
Reading and appreciating real stories of grief and survival (sometimes not) doesn’t mean that I believe that happiness is non-existent. But I do believe that life isn’t all about saccharine smiles. It is far more real than the big, happy, Indian family saga of 1994. And you never know, your real story might just help someone heal.
What do you think? Are you comfortable talking about life’s misadventures? Which are the books or movies about real-life situations that have resonated with you? Do mention them in the comments below.
Hello everyone! Happy IWSG Day!
The Insecure Writer’s Support Group (IWSG) is a place for writers to share their journeys and find like-minded people and support for their tough writing days. Of course, also a place to offer support to others in this journey. I missed posting and visiting the other writers in January as I was on a break from everything, literally! But I’m back this month.
Congratulations to the group for making it to the list of 100 Best Websites for Writers! To join the group click on the link below,
The co-hosts for February 3 posting are Louise – Fundy Blue , Jennifer Lane, Mary Aalgaard, Patsy Collins at Womagwriter, and Nancy Gideon! Thankyou to each one of them. Do visit them and show some love.
February 3 question – Blogging is often more than just sharing stories. It’s often the start of special friendships and relationships. Have you made any friends through the blogosphere?
I started blogging in 2018. Not very long ago, you see! I am also not a very people person. And that is where blogging has helped me tremendously. One of the earliest friends I made in blogosphere was Susan (https://writingsusanb-rouch.blogspot.com/). I met her during A to Z in 2019 and she was the one to introduce me to the IWSG and the WEP, both of which have been magnificent experiences for me. Thankyou Susan! It was through these groups that I met Denise, Jemi, Pat, and several others with whom I do not communicate regularly but who always have a kind word of advice or encouragement for me.
I have made more friends as well with whom I have connected over writing challenges and on this blog, because I identify with their words. They know who they are. The list isn’t long and I am solely to be blamed for that. As they say, to have friends you must learn to be one. I am still in the learning process.
Thankyou for being here and wish you all a lovely February!
Four of my poems found a home in the following books of poetry.
‘Women Who Read Break Families’ and ‘The Dance of Rebellion’ are part of the powerful anthology ‘The Kali Project’. The links to purchase the book are given below.
‘The Shooting Star’ and ‘Mom’s Universe’ have found a home in Manas Mukul’s debut book of poetry titled ‘You, Me & the Universe’. The purchase link is given below.
It gives me great pleasure to announce that two of my poems titled ‘Women Who Read Break Families’ and ‘The Dance of Rebellion’ are part of the wonderful ‘The Kali Project’ by Indie Blue Publishing. The links for the book are given below. Please support this powerful work by Indian women poets.
CONGRATULATIONS THE WAIT IS OVER … The Kali Project is LIVE and print copies are for sale via Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Kali…/dp/1951724062/ref=sr_1_1… For the first time ever we have also made the publication available via an Indian distributor Pothi, enabling our Indian readers to purchase copies locally:https://store.pothi.com/…/candice-louisa-daquin-editor…/ Book Depository: https://www.bookdepository.com/Kali…/9781951724061… Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/…/the-kali…/1138632460… A hard cover […]THE KALI PROJECT is published!
Between everything that goes on in life, the wilderness teaches me more lessons than all my reading combined. Even in a metropolis, I am capable of finding my own wastelands. Unattended and forsaken, they don’t care about the haphazard fashion statements of the civilized world. On another thought, I like to identify myself with the wild. When I visit the pruned lawns of swanky localities, I smile at our planned existence. But when I cruise the wild lands, I gasp at their abandoned beauty. Its rawness pulls me in instantly.
But an urban sprawl has its own peculiarities, ones that you cannot dispense with easily. Spotting the airplane during my walk through the wild is an inevitable exercise. These man-made birds irked me quite a bit in the beginning, but as I got used to them, they became one with the other surroundings. Every time one of these cruises overheads, I am reminded of goodbyes, going away, leaving, abandoning. And that’s what the wilderness is too- abandoned. And that is also what makes it more intriguing, doesn’t it?
I always feel it’s easier to leave and abandon than to let go. Who is the loser? The one who leaves or the one who is left behind? Whatever answer you may come up with for that, there is no denying the fact that walking away is much simpler than letting go. You can even choose to walk away in your mind. Be there and still never be there. But to let go is tougher. You want to hold on to a blade of grass, a whispering leaf, brittle branches, forsaken plumes, dying suns. You wear them like oversized robes even as they turn into sun baked pieces of land. Alone is beautiful, but only when you look at it from a distance. And so, letting go becomes harder.
Coming back to the wilderness, there’s a reason why it resonates with me. The customs of the world that wish to tame me and turn me into trimmed verdant greens fail miserably. I don’t fit into their box like structures. And so, I become the wilderness which I’d rather be. Because, you know not, that a tangled, unpolished and solitary trail has perhaps the most astonishing view, one that is corrupted by your mowed lawns. The wind forgets to greet your metropolis, where carefully grown plots of seeds display impeccable etiquette. The windfalls in my way make me rather unruly. I’m aware of that. But I’d rather have my bristly hair blown by this wind than smoothen out each strand with the rich emollients you offer. Because for me, this wilderness is my soul. I have tried hard to become the Keukenhof, but that’s not me. It can never be.
For the love of the wild, I leave you with a beautiful poem titled Wilderness by Ian McCallum
It can also be read here.
Have we forgotten
that wilderness is not a place,
but a pattern of soul
where every tree, every bird and beast
is a soul maker?
Have we forgotten
that wilderness is not a place
but a moving feast of stars,
footprints, scales and beginnings?
did we become afraid of the night
and that only the bright stars count?
or that our moon is not a moon
unless it is full?
By whose command were the animals
through groping fingers,
one for each hand,
reduced to the big and little five?
Have we forgotten
that every creature is within us
carried by tides of earthly blood
and that we named them?
Have we forgotten
that wilderness is not a place
but a season …
and that we are in its
‘If we were not so single-minded
about keeping our lives moving,
and for once could do nothing,
perhaps a huge silence
might interrupt this sadness
of never understanding ourselves
and of threatening ourselves with death.’ (Pablo Neruda; Keeping Quiet)
I’ve allowed stillness to greet me, each day, for over a month now. At the end of every single day, I sit down by the huge bay window at the side of my bed and watch the ziziphus tree, right outside. Sometimes, I leave for an early morning walk and sit on a lone bench by the roadside watching the silhouette of trees against a colour changing skyline. It hasn’t been deliberate or on purpose. I was just tired of having turned into a human “doing” from a human “being”. I wanted to simply “be” for a day or two. But what started off as an odd one-day exercise became so precious to me that I began to feel incomplete without it.
Then I read Neruda, asking me to keep still to the count of twelve. So, I went back to the bay window and sat right there for twelve minutes precisely. I watched in silence; a foliage huddled together in absolute quietude. What a wonderful way to be. To understand each other’s silences and never feel the need to speak. To exist without caring for what would befall you. To stoically face not just the changing season but all else that you can or cannot control. Twelve minutes were all that I needed each day.
But Neruda probably meant twelve months. So, I decided to extend my stillness to twelve days at least. Sometimes in the company of the ziziphus and on other days, in the presence of the solitary bench.
Gradually, the twelve days got extended by another week. I wanted to save my counts for this still outing and naturally, I had to cut down on something. I couldn’t give up everything. Some of the “doing” is part of survival, isn’t it? So, I decided to give up on several conversations that I was having for no reason at all. Because the fact of the matter was that despite all the exchanges I was having, there was an inexplicable sadness that hung by an unseen thread. I often tried to pin that sadness to my targets, to not being able to write or to other people around me. Neruda told me that the sadness that engulfs me arises from my inability to understand myself and to instead have that one conversation with myself. Only and only silence can interrupt this sadness, he said.
Like any other habit, silence is infectious. It puts you in a zone where you no longer care for others to speak with you. (That should explain my absence from the online world too). You immerse yourself in its warm blanket, just like you soak up the sun. It swells up your soul, its honeycomb-yellow sprinkles like stardust in your insides. This is the closest I can get to explaining how it feels. I wish I could do it better.
Neruda says a lot more in his poem. About how “Keeping Quiet” can help save the earth too. I might explore that as well, for I do agree with his observation. But for now, I’m glad it’s simply come to my rescue.
It’s already December and well, a year since I became a part of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group, spearheaded by the wonderful Alex J. Cavanugh. Thank you to my friend Susan Rouchard who introduced me to this wonderful writing space which is so supportive and non-judgemental of your writing journey. If any of you wish to be a part of this group please join here. They also have a Facebook group and you can check it out here.
Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!
Posting: The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Post your thoughts on your own blog. Talk about your doubts and the fears you have conquered. Discuss your struggles and triumphs. Offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling. Visit others in the group and connect with your fellow writer – aim for a dozen new people each time – and return comments. This group is all about connecting!
Do visit them and show some love!
Before I answer this month’s question, I would like to mention a beautiful anthology that I finished reading recently. Titled ‘Tea with a Drop of Honey’, the anthology which is an offering of ‘The Hive’ is as dewy as its title. There are twenty-eight short stories that tug at your heartstrings, make you chuckle, fill you with hope, make you shed tears, time travel to a different era and are simply a slice of life. If you are looking for a great eclectic read this holiday season, I highly recommend this book to all my IWSG friends. Diverse themes and an even more diverse treatment of the same. It would be unfair to talk about a few stories only but I must to give you all a little sneak peek.
‘Much Ado About Nothing’ caught my attention with the title itself. Imagine a comical treatment of the becoming of Shakespeare’s most popular romantic tragedy ‘Romeo and Juliet’ and calling it… well, this one must be read for its plot and language both!
Some intriguing titles to get your attention include ‘The Adventures in the Quest for her Pot Bellied Seahorse’, ‘Kingdom of Kitchen’, ‘The Raipur Reading and Writing Club’, ‘My Big Fat Punjabi Divorce’ ‘The Pigeon Man Sings’, ‘The Heimlich Manoeuvre’, ‘The Murphy Conundrum’ and ‘Natyakari’. The stories as diverse as their titles.
The book is available on the following link.
And now, for this month’s question.
Are there months or times of the year that you are more productive with your writing than other months, and why?
I daresay that whenever the house is lonely and silent and everyone else has left for work, I am my most productive. With the pandemic this year, we can then well imagine how productive I’ve been! But on a more serious note I think I am least productive in winters. Somehow, the weather really pulls me down and I need the sun to feel alive. Likewise, sunny days and a blue sky inspire me tremendously. Can I say that a season is my reason to (not) write?
Do months or seasons affect your writing pace too? Do share your thoughts in the comments section.
Wish you all a happy, blissful December and may we all see a brighter 2021!
I’ve been trying to write something over the past few days. If I give the excuse that life happens, I think it would be just lame. So, let me put it like this. There is a succession of thoughts, a thread but it is so fluid that before I know it coalesces into several streams and just flows away. I had even reached out to the writing community on Twitter asking for ideas to get the writing mojo back. Of course, I received some wonderful, practicable suggestions. It got me thinking. Why do I fear not being able to write for a day or two days or a week? That’s not much time, right?
When I had started out on this journey, it was to loosen up. I would say there was no fear. As I navigated through this writing world, meeting others, getting sucked up into groups and activities of the community, it began to worry me. I soaked up suggestions and dictums and rules. Yes, there was a lot to learn. And learn we must. But at what cost?
From writing at my own pace to making a schedule and writing every day. People began to hound me with questions about writing a book. Next, they would probably be asking me if it was a best-seller!
I wanted to shout from the rooftop, “Hey! I don’t have a story.”
It was nerve-racking. How far could I push myself? I felt conscience-stricken when I did not write. What had I bargained this for? As I looked around me, I realised that more and more writers were probably sailing in the same boat. The fear of not writing rules writers.
Much that many of us do profess it is for the love of writing that we write, I beg to differ. It is for the fear of not being able to write that a lot of us write. I sometimes console myself that it isn’t yet a vocation for me and I have an unfinished pile of work at my desk from my day job, but somewhere along I do think it is just another way to vindicate myself. I know I should be writing. Could you say that I have probably joined the ranks of the fearful.
They say fear can also give you courage. Quite paradoxical but I’ve seen that happen. I don’t know if my fear of not being able to write every single day will give me courage, and if yes, what sort…but I do wish to get rid of this fear. And I think the writing world by and large must get over the twitchiness that comes from not writing, the fear of losing, the fear of doors closing, the fear of being an outsider in the community, the fear of their writing being judged. Because when we set out, we had none of these standards to match. The arts should cease to be a race. The arts are meant to resuscitate. Not to extinguish.
If you do not think like any of what is written here, congratulations! You are writing for all the right reasons. And if you identify with any of the above, I hope our writing (yours and mine) can help deliver us from the fear of not writing!
How much time do you spend in silence? I have always embraced silence more than loquacity or sound. Ironic? Yes, may be in a lot of ways because my love for the performing arts makes sure I am surrounded by creative sounds. But I prefer calling it creative energy instead. My mother was a music and classical dance connoisseur and performer. Naturally, the house was always buzzing with sounds of the sitar and the tabla, not to mention the dance classes and the continual tinkle of ghungroos. My own inclination towards theatre and dance ensured the house was always resonating. And yet, I discovered my silences in these sounds.
When life happened and new spectacles unfolded themselves, I let go this paradox. Life embroils you in different ways. The humdrum is so overpowering that the only solace is in quietude. The passive state truly. Or, so you think. With writing taking over the part played by dramatics or dance previously, I indulged in the sound of words. What kind of sound do words make? I tried looking for an onomatopoeia for it. Well, I didn’t find one. So, I believed that words make this silent kind of noise. The kind that reverberates in the insides. Enough to keep you on edge.
With the internet and social media taking over our lives, I am inundated by the noise of words around me. Sometimes, when I read an ongoing debate/discussion on social media profiles I find bellowing, wailing words vying for attention. Oh, the noise they make.
Today when a friend quoted Rumi and wished for creative silences for artistic souls, I was left contemplating about creativity in silence and the silence in creativity and whether any of it actually exists. As I type this, I can hear my daughter practicing the aamad in the adjoining room and the tinkle of her ghungroos playing the background score for this piece of writing. I’m wondering if that is the silence I still crave for?
What kind of silence draws you inwards or what kind of silence unleashes your creative energy? The silent night or the honking cars? For we each have our own silences, don’t we?
I just finished reading Pebbles on Paper by Swati Khatri. A deep thinker has her own reflections about life. Swati’s collection of poetry and prose, is her own derivation of life. A lot like most of us. She talks about the past asking us how relevant it is; believes that life is not fair, not always of course but also that it is how it is and we might as well take it at face value rather than be unhappy about it; she also believes in dancing even when there is no music and doesn’t shy from talking about the emptiness of life. Parts of the book reminded me of the Chicken Soup series for there is something ‘On’ Winning, ‘On’ Participating, ‘On’ Listening. No anecdotes there, but plenty of similar musings. All in all, a quick read and feels very familiar.
You can follow Swati Khatri on www.swatikhatri.com
Or on Twitter at @swatikhatri_
The book is available on https://www.amazon.in/dp/1649198264/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_apa_i_AbbhFbXV8GT0H