Why do you write?

Last week, I blogged about reconnecting with reading. Today, I came across a post asking why write…. and it got me thinking, as an aspiring writer, and someone who dabbles in short stories and fan-fiction (judge all you like!), why exactly do I write?

For the most part, I think I write for myself. It is therapeutic in a sense, an outlet for my emotions, a medium to express my thoughts in a sensible manner. I find that I am a much better writer than a speaker, and more often than not, I end up talking in circles while my pen (or the keyboard!) tends to spin those very thoughts with brilliant coherence.

I started writing fan-fiction years ago, when I felt like I had nothing and no one to turn to, and it became a huge part of my life. It helped me grow into a writer, practice my writing skills, make friends with people who shared the same interests from a variety of backgrounds, and gave me a new identity. While initially it was a way for me to channel my love for Harry Potter – a series that shaped my life and ideals in more ways than I can describe – over time, it became so much more. Not only did constructive criticism help me build as a writer, but to this day, when I am stuck in a busy routine and need to think, leisure writing (be it a blog entry or a one-shot fanfic or a short original story) is what I turn towards to get my creative juices flowing.

cf93c8daec8de0dfd8d13c74ce4cb3b7

There is the other end of the spectrum too – writing for others. I also write because I have this need to share all these ideas in my head with others. Whether it’s a book or an online medium, it can create some sort of impact, bring about some sort of awareness, get someone thinking…. and in a world where everyone is entitled to their opinions, the more opinions we have out there, the more discourse it encourages, and the more we progress. After all, even if it’s only a handful of readers taking in my words, any knowledge shared is some progress, right? I may not be able to save the world like Harry Potter but what’s to stop me from trying to pass on some ideas of world peace to the young generation?

Regardless of which end of the spectrum you are at, writing is primarily about the writer. When you write for yourself, you’ve decided that you have a story to tell and you want people to take this journey with you. Some people will love what you’ve written, others won’t. But when you are done, you have the satisfaction of saying “I have a story to tell, and I told it how I wanted to.”

When you only write for others, you end up trying to please everyone which never happens. I express my ideas through my writing, my story the way I picture it, and sometimes people will not like what I’ve done, but that is the journey of writing. It helps me grow and, whether through a theme or a message or something else, it encourages thinking and discourse.

So, why do you write? 

Reconnecting with reading

I have always called myself an avid reader. However, it had been a while since I found myself engrossed in a good book, or touched by words on paper. Determined to discover my lost bookworm again, I read over 20 books in the past 11 months, and just when I had thought I would never reconnect with the written word again, was almost on the verge of losing hope, I was introduced to An Interpretation of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri. It was published way back in 1999 but I only got my hands on it recently, and instantly fell in love with it. It is unlike the usual stuff I read. For starters, I have always been more of a novel reader, and this is a collection of only nine short stories.

However, each of these short stories is poignant, moving, and plain beautiful. The writing is very ‘simple’ yet relatable. In only a few pages (per story), the writer makes me feel for the characters, gives me the minutest details about their lives, and brings the emotion out of the page(s).

My favourite from the entire collection is the very first story “A Temporary Matter.” It seems like such an ordinary tale and yet it is a tale of tragic romance. The details of love are described in the most intricate of ways, of loving someone for their little habits and knowing them inside out, and at the same time, it also shows a more painful, real side to a relationship, and how circumstances and time truly affect lives. It spoke to me in a manner very few stories have, and brought tears to my eyes.

598f8b686778f9ec20568232b2120988-w2041x

Another one that I connected with was “The Third and Final Continent” of the same book. Another story of a relatable, bittersweet, impactful, to-the-point, and humble nature. It speaks about the most basic of things – the human connection, or the social need of a man, and yet it really made me think about life and people and relationships that we develop, which is remarkable considering the bare minimum amount of time it took reading it.

They say  that everyone is a reader; those who claim otherwise have just not found the right book. As a child, JK Rowling helped me discover the reader in me, teaching me lessons on life, love and friendship… and as an adult, Jhumpa Lahiri has reinforced those very lessons with such a different type of storytelling, helping me rediscover that reader in me who had gotten buried in the fast-paced, electronically charged, hectic routine of daily life somewhere.

reading_quotes_crave_book4

Fifty days

Some real advice on love… and arranged marriage 🙂

Hello!

Two strangers. complete opposites. There was no way we could have been together. Except – fate works in mysterious ways.

It all began with a phone call. My dad handed me a phone and told me to speak to him. No pressure. Typical arrange marriage scenario in today’s Indian household. After getting over the shock of my parents trying to set me up with a “suitable groom”, I decided to have fun and see where it goes.

Little did I know that I had just walked into the trap. I never believed in love; it was just fairytale for me – limited to children’s storybooks. I mean, common I was surrounded by people who fell in love and out of love every few months! That’s the reality of our lifestyle. We try to run from everything – from relationships to responsibilities. I was no stranger. I was running from marriage, after all, it…

View original post 221 more words

#DreamingBig – The MTV Star

This post marks the launch of a new series on my blog: #DreamingBig. Under this, I’ll be featuring ‘ordinary’ individuals whom I find inspirational – particularly because they have not stopped chasing their dreams, and/or are well on their way to achieving them. These individuals can belong to any field, any part of the world, and be of any age/race/gender etc., and I’ll be personally interviewing them. The frequency of the posts under the series will range from monthly to bi-monthly. 


The MTV Star: Ermin Telalovich

12969288_956996567750051_1602717997_n

Ermin is a 28-year-old university student, studying English language & Literature, whose passion is composing music. He belongs to the city of Zenica (Bosnia and Herzegovina) and finds himself lucky to have been able to turn his dream of becoming a musician into a reality. Or at least, take a big step towards it. After all, he is a proud MTV-featured electronic music producer and multi-instrumentalist today.

Me: How is the experience of having your music played on MTV? 

Ermin: Having your name up there with all of your musical role models is a very distinctive kind of recognition. As such, it comes with great responsibility. It keeps me hungry for constant improvement, rather than feeling that I’ve reached the final destination. The greatest joy about it is having your music out there for someone, somewhere, sometime to discover, experience, think about and hopefully enjoy. Receiving fan mail from different parts of the planet and knowing that someone took the time to listen to and interpret your music in their own way, discover their own meaning of it – it is a special feeling and experience.

Me: That’s amazing, but how did this journey begin? 

Ermin: Well, it started when I first got in touch with composing in 1992 , at the age of 4, playing my niece’s piano, and creating numerous variations on this popular ‘Lambada’ theme. Discovering my interest in the area, I continued an education in music through Musical Elementary school and Musical High school, concentrating on, and mastering my skills on the piano, guitar and musical theory.

Me: When did this interest of studying music transform into a lifelong dream? 

Ermin: While in high school, my friends and I formed a pop-rock oriented band, concentrating on producing songs rather than covering someone else’s releases. It was then that I felt the urge to express myself rather differently, and was introduced to music making softwares like FL Studio. What started as a game, soon turned into a beautiful, lasting, musical experience that has continued to upgrade from track to track.

Snapshot of Ermin's music on MTV.
Snapshot of Ermin’s music on MTV.

Me: Who is your role model or inspiration? 

I have studied ENIGMA’s mega mind Michael Cretu and his modus operandi when it comes to composing and producing. I like to follow in his footsteps and aim to transmit  the erotic, melancholic, seasonal, romantic, mystical, playful and enigmatic themes and emotions through my pieces. Of course, throughout my life, there have been various role models, from superheroes, to astronauts, to composers. I like to draw inspiration from all of them to channel into my music. 

Me: How would you describe your music? 

Ermin: Although sometimes conceptual, my music is a direct, frank and encrypted report on everything I encounter, be it the sounds of my surroundings, visuals, feelings, textures or scents. Music is a tool I chose for documenting the age I live in. Hence the decision to use the synthetic instruments rather than the classical ones. They represent this millenium.

Me: The big question: what now? 

Ermin: I would say that, so far, I’ve only achieved a goal, rather than my dream. What now? To keep achieving the goals I set for myself in this endless, everchanging game called music. The next one is engaging in film scoring and consequently winning an Academy award for Best Music in a Motion Picture. 

Personally, I find Ermin’s story inspirational. He never gave up on what he wanted, and from a hobby to a dream to a career, he has indeed come a long way. His simple advice for others like him: There is someone, somewhere who will find your work inspiringSo, continue to challenge yourself. 

One of the pieces he’s particularly proud of:

This is his YouTube channel & This is his soundcloud.


If you have a story to share about your dream, no matter how big or small, ping me at aditi.verma@hotmail.com and I will get back to you 🙂

 

Trapped in mirrors

Growing up, most of us are taught that we’re “different”, we’re unique, that we’re our own person. While that is not entirely wrong, it presents this skewed notion that we’re somehow isolated from our environment. Looking around me and within me, I have come to realise that we are not that different after all, and we’re certainly not separate from our surroundings. We’re constantly looking at the people in our lives and the experiences we come across to help us build and see who we are. Our environments are essentially our mirrors, and more often that not, we find ourselves trapped in their definitions.

A girl who wants to be “pretty” but doesn’t look like the definition of “pretty” according to those in her environment will never see herself as pretty. A boy who wants to be “rebellious” but doesn’t fit the definition of “rebellious” according to those in his environment will never see himself as a rebel. So, we strive to become what we want to see in our “mirrors”, moulding ourselves according to a certain niche in the society that we live in. And if somehow, we fail in that process, we feel excluded, left out, alone – a bad different.

But is it really so bad? For most of my life, I felt that I existed somewhere between flawed and full of potential. I felt that I did not fit in the ‘group’ that I wanted to in school, I did not experience a college life that I was ‘supposed to’ live, and that I did not become a person that my environment expected me to.

In the end, I said “chuck it all” and decided I was different, but that’s where the irony comes in. There’s a niche to how “different” is supposed to be too – and I found myself trying to adapt to it.

I could go on and on about the mistakes I made and what I did and how I behaved, ever since I was a teenager to the present point in my life, to mould myself into what I saw in the mirror, but that’s not the point. Looking back, I only see years and years of trying so hard to “fit in” and “be normal”  and “be like so and so” by doing numerous things that I probably didn’t even want to do, or by saying things that I didn’t even want to say.

And last night, as I struggled to meet a crazy work deadline, I realised I was fighting so hard not because I wanted to but because I was expected to. At home, at work, with friends, with family. I was expected to abide by perfection – that had somehow become my mirror in the past few months – and when I couldn’t, it drove me crazy. It was like waking up from a dream – learning the difference between what I really want for myself and what others want from me. There’s no harm in trying to do good, to be good, but the definition of good – that is one that should be defined by my experiences and my ideas – because I am me and not my mirror.

I don’t want to be understood by everyone and to desperately adhere to what is needed from me. I don’t want to be trapped in the definitions of my mirror. I want to break free and understand myself before I spend a life blended into my environment without a speck of personality to call my own.

Confessions of a Book-a-holic

I stumbled across a random post on Instagram today: “Name one feeling that you miss the most right now?”

The question made me stop and think. You hear often of missing something or someone, but missing a feeling… now that’s different. The answer came to me after a few moments of retrospection though.

I miss the feeling of being absorbed in a book, of travelling to another land while sitting curled up on my favourite spot on the bed with a cup of coffee by my side, of being so engrossed in the pages of a novel that everything else fades out of my mind.

book-books-happiness-life-favim-com-894706

Reading and books have always been, and will always be, my life source (besides coffee 😉 ). Yet, I realised, owing to the daily routine I’ve found myself wound up in, I haven’t been able to make much time to do so.

Even if I do manage to squeeze in 10-15 minutes of reading before heading to sleep everyday, the feeling is not one that I described a mere sentences prior – my mind is not carefree, I don’t find myself travelling, and I fail to be entirely captivated by the words in front of me.

The difference that it makes to my being may be unnoticeable to others, but not to me. I realise I’m more easily upset, definitely more emotional, a lot less relaxed, and a lot less affectionate on a usual basis. My sister could probably vouch for this behaviour.

The only reason for it? I’m a book-a-holic experiencing withdrawal symptoms.

reading-icarly

So, I’ve come to the conclusion that the only way to rectify this is to make my peace of mind a priority above work and routine, and return to my beloved books. After all, I’d much rather be a happy book-a-holic than an irritable addict in involuntary recovery 😛

Splattered

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt Frame of MindIf you could paint your current mood onto a canvas, what would that painting look like?  What would it depict?


Chaos. Splatter of paint. Collage of memories. Web of happiness. Threads of fear.

Probably abstract.

I’ve undergone numerous changes in the past couple of months. They’re perhaps inconsequential to the average person, but understandably, big to me. They’ve contributed to the person I’m today, to the person I’m growing to be everyday.

Recently, I’ve spent some amazing time with loved ones – on vacation and at home – and those memories are ingrained in my mind, bringing a smile to my face every time I think back. Past days have been a series of ups and downs, but the people that matter make it worthwhile. A splatter of red and yellow. 

Retreating a couple weeks further, I’ve started a new job. My first job ever. I am still ploughing through it, finding my way in the labyrinth of the media industry, in the production world, learning the reigns, moving forward. There’re times when I find myself in a rut. And then I don’t know what the future holds. Is this where I want to be? Is this what I want to keep doing? I don’t know. I guess I’ll find out as time goes on and I continue on the road to self-discovery. A splatter of grey and green. 

Few more steps backward, it’s the big move from UK to India after graduation. Returning to live in my home country after an absence of about eight years. It’s scary, daunting, frustrating. I miss UK. I miss Tanzania. I miss Malaysia. I miss my friends. I miss who I used to be earlier. But I’m growing and changing and maturing, and more importantly, learning to accept my new reality. A splatter of brown and blue. 

Back to the present, it’s a whirlwind of emotion. I’m happy and confused and nostalgic and stressed and settled all at once. Still evolving, still growing, still moving forward. Grateful that all of this exists, that I’ve had these experiences. Taking it one day at a time colouring my canvas. It’s a rainbow. 

 

 

 

2015 in review

Thank you everyone for supporting my blog. Here’s to another year of writing and pondering and sharing! Happy New Year 2016!

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2015 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 990 times in 2015. If it were a cable car, it would take about 17 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Beautiful?

The sun is a vivid red this evening. You watch it set with burning eyes. The clock is ticking. Soon, the moon will be full and another day would have passed. The night would welcome you with open arms, darkness engulfing you, bringing back the monsters of your past. You can feel the clench of your stomach, the tingling in your bones, the thump of your racing heart, and the time draws near.

The silence screams in your ears, the solitude crowds your mind, as the nightmares lay waiting to claw their way out of the dark recesses of your mind. Another night and you’re alone. You should have gotten used to it by now. Day by day, month by month, year by year, it is the same. It has always been the same.

You touch the smooth wood of the cabin wall, the scent of pine infiltrating your senses. Crashing water gushes far into the distance, and the whistle of the wind is noise nestled in the neighbouring hood of trees.

You hear it all and you don’t blink. A ripple of pain but you are numb. Or that’s what you tell yourself as you watch eyes of brown stare back at you from the window. Your long tresses, which were once a dark shade of black, are streaked with grey. The lines that mar your face appear distorted in the reflection; as distorted as you. So young, and yet so old.

A crow caws into the darkening night, masking the gasp that escapes your chapped lips. The onslaught of memories, the terror you felt as the vile creatures took away your innocence, seeps into your skin.

You can’t bear to lie down on the bed, you can’t bear to close your eyes.

Your insides are burning and you want nothing more than to shatter the glass in front of you. You turn away, walking to the other side of the barren room.

Barren except for a lone frame hanging on the yellowed wall. Your eyes inadvertently fall on it. There is a beautiful girl in the picture, unmarked and untainted. Her lips are curved in a half-smile, and her eyes shine with a bright light. You watch her, stare at her, transfixed. That laughter; you have not heard it in a decade and yet it rings in your ears. That light; you have not seen it in a decade and yet you remember the exact moment it burned out as if it were yesterday.

Has it really been only ten years? You don’t know. It feels like a thousand.

But you do know.

You have counted every moment, every hour, every day. You have counted and writhed in torment; hearing and watching and feeling as pain rips apart the fragments of your being, as shards of ice pierce your bleeding heart, as smouldering fire burns down the remnants of your soul. You have counted it all.

A bitter smile spreads across your lips and a million memories race through your mind. Memories of a time when you were just you, when the monsters hadn’t taken control of your body, hadn’t crushed your soul and revelled in your pain, when your days had been spent carefree, and the world was a beautiful place.

You laugh; beautiful. It is a strange word.

You were beautiful once – the beautiful, girl next door. And maybe you are beautiful today – a beautiful victim of a crime that the world says is your fault.

Why I refuse to (just) pray for Paris

When I woke up to the news of the terror attacks in Paris yesterday, I was devastated. My heart ached for the victims and I prayed for the city along with the rest of the world, showing my support through Facebook posts and tweets. When I woke up today to several posts talking about the atrocities happening around the world, I realised how wrong I was. It is not just Paris that we need to pray for, it is the entire world, it is humanity.

The deaths of the victims in France are a tragedy. I believe that with every part of myself. I believe every death brought about by violence is a tragedy, no matter what.

12208447_10153141462277624_5631361016954318469_n

Yes, the world is hurting; we have lost so many lives in the span of 24 hours. There has been an earthquake in Japan, a suicide bombing in Baghdad, deadly blasts in Beirut (Lebanon), and perhaps many, many more lost lives elsewhere due to disasters (natural or man-made) that I may not even be aware of at this time.

What is more, I cannot even imagine what the people in these places, be it Beirut or Paris or elsewhere, are experiencing right now. Nothing I do or say can even begin to solve this crisis, but I’ve felt restless and unsteady ever since I heard the news. As one of my friends put it, “So much has been lost, and for what?”

In times such as these, is it right to mourn for one and not for another? Do these places, these people, deserve this? Were they not all innocent lives lost? Does the larger impact of one outweigh the smaller impact of another? Is the value of one lost heartbeat lesser than that of ten? In the end, does it matter who is suffering where on what scale, if they’re suffering at all? Is it justified to pray for one and not for another?

(while it is oh so beautiful to see the world come together like this, it is so very sad that it takes a tragedy like this to make it happen)

Since an (unverified?) news surfaced that the ISIS is behind the attack(s), I have seen anti-Islam sentiments spread like wildfire across the Internet, and even in people around me, and that makes my heart ache. I have numerous Muslim friends, I live in a place where many of my neighbours are Muslims, and they are all such good people. The idea that they, along with others like them from around world, are being subjected to hate for something senseless and cruel committed by one terrorist group is sickening.

When the world is hurting so much, would it really help anyone to point fingers? Would violence rectify violence? Would hate cancel out hate? These are questions I ask myself as I see blame everywhere, when all I (and hopefully many others) want to see is love and support.

Really, the violence and inhumanity around us frightens me. I am a pacifist at heart. I do not understand violence. It is Paris today, was Gaza yesterday, and could be Delhi tomorrow. There is always some form of suffering somewhere in the world; those of us who are not able to do much, can at least refrain from pointing fingers and causing blame, and instead stand united and stand strong to support humanity.

In the end, all I’d like to say is, I refuse to just pray for Paris, because I pray for the world in which countless cities, places, and people burn in suffering and pain. Because it is my world, my home, and my people, regardless of race or religion.

(and I hope one day we all stop hurting)