Monday, March 23, 2009

Whimsy Me

I wanted to blog about a million different things tonight, so I decided to blog about all of them and not have them make any sense. Because that's just the kind of whimsical mood I'm in this evening.

1. Every once in a while, there is a strange, howling animal wandering my street. It usually makes this sickening, yelping, howl-like sound about once every 15-20 min. and this will go on for at least 3 hours. All it does is remind me that I don't live in the country because howling animals are not really found in New York City. Me-thinks it is a beagle...baying.

2. Sometimes, I think the girl upstairs is a salsa instructor. Because she listens to salsa music very loudly and there are lots of frenetic fancy footwork sounds. I think she is saying: 1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 3, dance with me, dance with me! I swear. But I've never really heard her say it.

3. I've decided, the only way I'm going to get a dog is if:
a. one follows me home.
b. someone gives one to me.
So, I'm begging someone to please give me one.

4. After realizing I left my USB key at work, which had the latest 4 pages of my novel on it, I couldn't move forward because I couldn't remember the last thing I wrote. So I did some chapter summarizing instead, which I found to be a really useful exercise. I wanted each chapter summary to be nice and tidy and I realized I was missing a lot of important things that would tie the chapter together nicely. I also figured out my main character's entire relationship with her father and it hadn't hit me before. It also helped me realize what I was trying to do with each chapter. a good thing. Obviously.

5. When I saw Jhumpa Lahiri, I was very happy when she told me that it took her 200 pages to figure out what was really going on in her novel. Phew. That's a relief.

6. I wonder how many pages it takes her to figure out a blog post. Because that would be a nice guideline for me right now.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Timeless Stories

Listening to the Dixie Chick's Travelin' Soldier today and thinking about timeless stories. This particular one about a tragic romance between two innocent young people as one of them heads off to war and dies. There's all kinds of letter-writing. And telegrams. And girls with bows in their hair.

It made me think a little bit about this really powerful Josh Ritter song, Girl In the War about... just that...someone who has a girl in the war while he waits at home for her safe return. Of course, this song has a lot of layers of meaning about Gods and devils and angels and doves and what not.'s a love story. About having somebody go off to war while someone is left behind.
And this tale has been told millions of times and we never get tired of hearing it.
Because no matter how modern its telling, I feel like it always takes place in a forest as a young woman buries her head in her lap and sobs, while the young man stands stoically next to a tree, a gun dangling from his left side as he stares off into the great, wide, yonder, ready for whatever daring feats lie ahead.

I love timeless stories.

Monday, March 16, 2009


Today was a long day at work. I tried to catch up on only 2 and 1/2 lost days last week (lots of meetings plus business and personal travel) that somehow amounted to an enormous amount of lost time. Completely overwhelmed at work, I came home quite exhausted. And there was some serious self loathing going on. I whined and whined that I haven't written my novel since my breakthrough, that all I do is eat bowls and bowls of pasta and never go to the gym, that I have no discipline, no willpower, no real motivation, no ability for success. It was all very ridiculous and pathetic.
Well, it must be some Sarno/Gangi bloodline connection, but my wonderful cousin Priscilla e-mailed me with encouraging words. Having no idea that I was in this pathetic state (I didn't even post a sad, whining facebook status or anything!), she practically sent me a motivational speech. And will certainly be a convincing lawyer in the future :-)
So, this is me being grateful to all the wonderful, supportive people in my life who claim they want to read my book. Who claim that they want to hear more about my writing on this site. Who claim that they're going to buy it when it comes out- even if its in hardcover. (You can't take it back now!)
Thank you!
You asked for more updates on the process. So you got it :-) Right now you're witnessing the 'I'll never hack it as a writer/I have no skills/I am a good for nothing couch potato/I'm a whiney time-waster who is complaining rather than writing' moment. I'd like to believe it happens to people who call themselves writers. And that, this too shall pass...
Yes, there was a reason I named my blog what I did.

Monday, March 9, 2009

5 Words Later...

Tonight I made a breakthrough about my entire novel. It happened during some dialogue. I threw two people into an odd situation and one of them said something. One little line. It was no longer than 5 words. And I felt like everything came together right then and there. I've been so worried about moving forward and getting pages and getting words and feeling stuck, that I forgot how powerful 5 little words can be. I feel very happy :-)
That is all.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

A Writer's Responsibility

Yesterday I was fortunate enough to see Jhumpa Lahiri read from her latest book of short stories, Unaccustomed Earth, and answer some questions. I learned that the same simplicity and emotional restraint in her storytelling was reflected in her personality. And I was truly inspired by her approach to life and writing.

A lot of questions came up about the 'responsibility' she has as a writer. When asked if she would consider writing children's books, she claimed that, as of right now, the responsibility would be too great because children's texts are too sacred to her. When asked if she felt a similar responsibility to high school aged students who are, in some cases, required to read her texts, she said she simply doesn't write with that in mind. It was similar to her response when asked if she felt a responsibility to the South Asian community to be a literary 'spokesperson' of sorts. This was not something she felt she could personally take on.

I was glad to hear it. Because I feel that writers shouldn't have responsibilities to entire ethnic communities! They shouldn't be expected to mold a child's youth! They shouldn't be responsible for a teenagers entire high school literary education! Writers have plenty of responsibilities. To family. And friends. To characters. To words. To the stories they choose to tell. That's responsibility enough.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Inspirational Women

I apologize that I haven't been able to blog this week. But I've been occupied with a massive project at work and hanging out with Dora and her Explorer girls every single minute of every single day.

Anyways...I am looking forward to a reading and conversation with Jhumpa Lahiri this evening. Lahiri is the Pulitzer Prize winning author of The Interpreter of Maladies. She also wrote The Namesake. And, most recently, Unaccustomed Earth. All of which are worth reading and I urge you to run to your nearest bookstore to purchase them. The South Asian Womens Creative Collective is putting on this lovely event. And while, I'm not South Asian, I am a woman. Who may or may not be creative. So I am thrilled to be able to attend. I can't wait to share it with you later this weekend.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Te quiero Barcelona

This weekend I saw Woody Allen's latest film, Vicky Christina Barcelona. (Yes, I realize I'm several months late). While, I am a huge Woody Allen fan, I breathed a sigh of relief to learn that he was not in it. And I was even more relieved that a neurotic, cerebral, east coast male was not central to the plot. Instead, it involved a seductive Scarlet Johanson, an explosively passionate Penelope Cruz, a sexy Javier Bardem, and a headstrong Rebecca Hall (who I was recently impressed with in Frost/Nixon). The sensual city of Barcelona must have inspired something in my friend Woody, because the plot and characters were some of the best I've seen from him in a long while.
The film conjured up a lot of thoughts for me and what better place to spill them than on this darn here blog.

1. I was especially intrigued with the idea that all relationships are dependent on a kind of balance that may or may not involve two people. A dynamic of 'three' could be essential, certainly with friendship, and, as this film explored, maybe even in matters of the heart. (Ex. Penelope and Javier could only make their romance work with Scarlet around)

2. While that actual threesome was going on, Vicky (Rebecca Hall) was struggling with wanting two different men. One, was the man she always envisioned herself with: sturdy, practical, solid, and settled. The other was someone passionate and spontaneous. It begged the question: why on earth should she have to choose? Oh yeah, because we're only supposed to want one.

While I'm not proposing that we all run off and find two people to balance all of our desires out (don't worry Tyler) , it's just an interesting concept. Perhaps we're not wired to desire one type of person at a time. And if we choose one person, maybe we have to make sure that just the right balance exists before we commit. Just something to think about. Something important to think about. Because, this film would have us think (and, in my opinion, rightly so) that happiness depends on that balance.