in US

One day left before 2011

As the year crawls to the deadline, who is it knocking at the blog that never was. Okay I’m writing this just to write something. If you don’t believe in writers’ block, you haven't met me.

No RANTS, so this one is over even before I start.

Here’s my latest cool idea to kick start my writing. I’ll be writing a synopsis first. slight technical fault though, I don’t have a premise, or a MC.

And in the meanwhile I have a finished short that needs one last polish, and i can’t even do that. Actually…down RANT down.

Till we meet again, and may I be writing.

in US

Drafts—Lots of Drafts

Now here’s what you don't do while writing a novel: Don’t write variations of your singular idea, and don't write them to completion, so that you end up with umpteen drafts floating in your head and on paper.

But your friendly neighborhood advisor did just that, and is now paying the price for his sins.

After much contemplation, I’m narrowing myself down to a fresh outline. This shall be a combo of all these drafts. Before I do that I need to look at the outlines of the original drafts. Once I do that, and let me tell you, I do not want to have anything to do with outlines at the moment—then I shall proceed to work on that one outline. Till then I’m not writing my novel. Just outlining.

What did you say, every black cloud has a silver outline ;)

in US

In Multan

 Right now in Multan in my hotel room. Tomorrow I have a whole day of work. Wonder if i can complete the scene I want to rewrite.

Now I'm also wondering if my decision to change the last scene to step up the pace was a good idea. I combined two plot elements into one. I think I should go back to the previous person, and the pace should be increased some other way. These what if questions are killing me.

Better read the scene before dinner starts  in a hour or so. Yep dinner tonight is at 12,  at night. Crazy huh.

I'll try to get some pics of Multan, if I find the time. It's a wonderful city with lots of things to admire: history, Sufism, first major seat of Muslim power in the Sub-continent, mangoes. Ah, well, back to work.
in US

starting all over

I've officially started my new WIP, on 25th December 2008. I've been pondering this for some time now and had made some notes in my diary. I had also written the first chapter longhand in the journal.

When the story started bubbling, I had a different premise. As I revised the MS I am currently shopping, the premise of the new MS (titled NOT A WAR)changed to one with political overtones. Perhaps, because of what is happening all around me. I am not sure what to make of this change. Whether this should be a more social issues oriented novel, or like I said the modified political one.

I am, for now, writing in the first person--though, I have yet to find the voice of my character. This character is a less roguish, more introverted version of Dilbar (for those friends who know Dilbar from The Dickens Challenge, you know he is a scoundrel.) He'll have traits of Dilbar, but I can't find that mid voice he should have.

I'm not even sure it should be in first person. The only way to find out is experiment with a few chapters.

Well, it's early days yet. My target a 1000 words a day, to get the first draft done in a 100 days.

Let the games begin.

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Query Time

Well, here I am. I have finished with TLC, my novel, and have started querying. Any advise welcome.  Yep, they've gone out; my letters introducing myself to the publishing world.

Fingers crossed and aching.

in US

Eid Mubarik and a Madrisssah

 Eid Mubarik, everyone.

I'm off to my villge to have this Eid with friends and family. I'll also visit our lands also
There is also a madrissah set up by my grandfather many years ago.; don't jump out of your seats. This is a a totally innocous madrissah that only teaches basic education and things like reading the Quran to farmers whose children can't even afford going to schools.

I have some ideas to set up a small library there and start talking to the villagers to modernize the madrissah. I need the people to understand that this is in their interest. If the stakeholders don't agree, nothing works. \that is my experience in life. Give me your ideas as to how \i can achieve this. Oh and don't say you don't know the area...sometimes, not knowing is also a way to unlock new ideas. I'll talk about this some day.

For now I have to pack.

Again Eid Mubarrik.
in US

The Middle of Nowhere.

Sometimes our deepest thoughts reside only and only in the 'middle of nowhere'. It is a stupid question that a person like me asks when he knows the world is not offering answers to other, more real questions. So where is nowhere?

I guess, it is that ethereal space that lies hidden in the empties between the physical world of neurons and synapses, chemicals and electrical sparks -- somewhere, between all this matter. And sometimes, just sometimes, one of our elusive neurons forays beyond its natural territory; or perhaps the normally ordained gray matter disrupts its normal spatial arrangement and viola: we are in the middle of nowhere. We discover a new idea, a new thought, a new phrase, or story. Only that it isn't new. It always existed within us, a child of our experiences and life. We just had to make contact.

I have felt that these connections are not just chance occurrences. They happen, and they happen more when we allow our minds to roam  free; our thoughts to wander. The more freedom we give ourselves in the abstract, the more likelihood we have of violating the sacrosanct physical territory of matter.

How I love to transgress this domain. It happens sometimes. But not often enough. But as I focus more and more on my writing, the frequency is on the up.

As I prepare myself for tomorrow; I love being alone tonight in Lahore, which is not the middle of nowhere; but right now I am.

PS; I am not doing drugs right now. Though that is also a shortcut to that middle of nowhere. Hashish anyone?

in US

Banned Book Week

Since time immemorial, man has tried to control the thought process of others around him. So when I heard of Banned Book Week in USA, I was surprised. I mean, this is a country which prides itself on Freedom of Speech.

Even worse, the list of of books that were banned: To Kill a Mockingbird (which is part of my daughter's English studies, here in Pakistan.)

The Catcher in The Rye, Call of The Wild, Harry Potter, Gulliver's travels, The Lost Paradise, Gone With The Wind, Don Quixote...the list goes on; all form part of this illustrious club.

                                     book in chains  I remember when the hullabaloo over THE SATANIC VERSES, was at its height in Pakistan. The mullahs were howling for Rushdie's blood, excerpts translated and published to show the filth he had written -- I made a request to my dad. He was going onvacations to UK and I asked him to bring me a copy. The conservative Muslim that he is, he raised his eyebrows, but said nothing else.

Obviously The Satanic Verses had been banned in Pakistan.

Both of us read it. I can vouch that it didnt change my views on Islam or the Prophet. Of course, Rushdie had written things that had no bearing on reality, and in a language that was derogatory. But in a 500 page book, it came right at the end. And I could barely survive the nonsense he created in the first 400. It was an absurd book that shouldnt have been published. If only because of the low quality of writing.

So read a banned book and form your own impressions.

I have just started Nana by Emile Zola. It was banned in England.

And , of course, Sarah Palin has added to the fire. The story says she asked a librarian to ban certain books.

Some people never learn.

in US

Shocked into Thinking.

Area: FATA, Pakistan.

The  fifteen year old boy makes it home, sweating, grunting, bruises over his body, climbing rocks, falling, flailing. The explosions, echoing in his ears.

His house is not where it should be; in it's place is a rubble of bricks. His father, mother, sister and brothers lie dead.

He isn't alone. Other houses in his village are razed to the ground.

He hears the drone of a plane overhead. Still in grief, the bomb hits not far from where he sits. He is thrown into the air, sails like a feather, and finds his arm broken, blood over his face.

He struggles to join the steady stream of people rushing from their homes; the bootmaker, the vegetable seller, the farmer and their families, his cousins and aunts. He doesn't know who and when, but someone lifts him before he falls unconscious.

He makes it to a refugee camp bereft of real support.

I ask him, days later, his vacant eyes staring at the sky: What happened?

He tells me his story.

I ask him, who did it, whose plane was it, who killed his family? I feel sympathy, sorrow at his loss.

He doesn't know. It could be the American drones, or the Pakistan Army. Both have been bombing the area. This was the first time they hit their village.

What will he do? A writer's mind always teasing, always searching a for a glimpse of a story.

He says: Revenge.

I ask from whom? I am a sadist, I shall learn later.

From the Americans, from the Pakistanis who killed his family -- Then he pauses, thinks and says, --America, is too far. But I can reach Islamabad -- it's only a few hours.

I stay quiet. I have just met my first suicide bomber. And he is targeting my home.