Thursday, November 30, 2006

The Beginning of the End

You win a certificate in pdf form, which is to be printed. And some winner banners that I have put up on the blog. Long way to go though. Planning to print the excerpt on the back of the certificate so that it reminds me of what I have to do :-)

Thursday, November 23, 2006

NaNoWriMo PepTalks

NaNoWriMo :: Week Four

Dear Author,

We've been through a lot together these past 21 days. We've laughed at our books. We've cried at our books. And, in the last three weeks, we've progressed steadily together through the five stages of novel-writing.

1. Denial
2. Anger
3. Bargaining
4. Depression
5. Acceptance

And together we've grown as---oh wait.

Those aren't the five stages of novel-writing. They're the five stages of grieving.

Well, there goes this week's pep talk.

But you know what? Those stages actually work pretty well for NaNoWriMo too.

Stage/Week One definitely had plenty of denial ("this isn't going to be that hard"). Stage/Week Two was full of anger ("why do I do this to myself every year?"). Then came Stage/Week Three's bargaining ("I'm spending Sunday in bed watching TV, but only because I'm going to get up at 4 AM Monday and write 18,000 words before I go to wor k.")

And now we reach Stage/Week Four. Depression.

Why depression? Shouldn't this be the all-out party point? What about the stuff in last week's email about 35K and the gravity changing and the Tibetan yak farmer with the superpowered writing totem? Isn't Week Four supposed to be the point when everything gets easier?

In a word: Yes.

This weekend, we'll hit the home stretch. Where our books leap into the 40,000s, and we bat out the last 10,000 words in an exuberant rush, crossing the 50k finish line with a few days (or minutes) to spare. A true storybook ending.

But there's also a certain bewilderment that comes with setting an impossible goal, working like mad, and then looking up to discover that you are on the verge of achieving it. Winning NaNoWriMo is something that you'll remember for the rest of your life, but winning means ending, and it's a little sad to accept (Stage Five!) the fact that the focus, pro ductivity, and imaginative mayhem of these last 21 days will go away soon.

I'll talk about maintaining that momentum year-round in my final email, which will go out the first week of December. For now, though, we have a challenge to complete. And whatever your word count, know that you are on track for completing it. If that means you need to write 49,900 words this week, so be it. People do it every year. We'll have the wrist-icer, massage technician, and a gilded novelist crown ready for you when you come flying around the 50K bend.

The end is in sight! I'll see you at the finish line.

32,100 words and counting

NaNoWriMo :: Week Three

Dear Author,

You remember those overachieving participants I talked about in last week's email? The ones speeding past us with word counts in the 20,000s, and "kick me" signs fluttering from their backs?

Most of them will be cruising into the 50,000-word winners' circle this week.


But you know what? I've been doing a little research. And I've discovered that thousands of participants haven't written word *one* of their books. Which makes those of us with more than 10,000 words to our name look pretty darn good by comparison. Not as far ahead as we'd like to be, maybe. But nowhere near out of contention.

And this is where I need to talk a little bit about 35K.

To me, there are two milestones in NaNoWriMo. The obvious one is 50k, when the champagne flows and the confetti falls, and your friends hoist you up on their shoulders and sing songs about your heroic novel-writing feat.

My favorite moment of the whole endeavor, though, comes at 35K. There's less singing, mind you, but when you hit 35k, you won't need a word-count tool to tell you you're there. If Week Two had a wall of fatigue at its core; Week Three is built around this glorious, chocolate-covered door called 35K. That portal opens into a wonderland of renewed energy, revived bookish enthusiasm, and serious happy-dances at the computer keyboard.

Because when you pass 35k, the gravity of the whole event changes. Writing is easier. Plotting is easier. And at 35K, you will see something in the distance that is both wonderful and bittersweet.

You'll see the end of this crazy noveling adventure.

We'll talk more about that next week. For now, the only important thing is getting to 35K. For those of us in the lower rungs of the word-coun t bracket, that may seem an impossible feat. But as NaNoWriMo participants, we eat the impossible for breakfast.

And just to make sure you have everything you need for this week's intense writing sessions, I've asked our technical overseer Russ to pack a little something extra into this email.

You see, eight years ago, while trekking across Tibet, I met an old yak farmer who lived alone in a small yurt filled with paperbacks. The older volumes were self-help guides to better living through topical applications of yak butter. But the more recent books included an array of detective fiction set in London, sci-fi tales about interplanetary wars between asparagus creatures, and a sassy series about a young woman just starting to make a name for herself in the publishing industry.

The farmer, it turns out, had written all of them.

When I asked him how he managed it, he explained that he'd found a secret totem on the s teppe that endowed its possessor with superheroic noveling powers.

I excitedly told him about my idea for founding a project where everyone in the world would write a 50,000-word novel from scratch. He wept. Then he went and dug out the brown, wooden totem, and placed it in my hand. "Share it with your people," he said. "I don't need it anymore. Book contracts have ceased to have any meaning for me since Bertelsmann AG bought Random House."

He then lowered his sad eyes, and disappeared, leaving me with the curious object and keys to his yurt.

Thanks to that totem, I've managed to write a 50,000-word novel every year, overcoming dastardly word-count deficits and my own diabolical procrastinatory tendencies.

But now I think it's time to pass the torch. This morning, I ground up the totem, and asked Russ to carefully imbed a tiny portion of it into every Week Three pep talk email. You have it no w, and its magical writerly effects will last at least through the end of the month, and probably much longer.

All I ask in return is that you honor the last request the old man made to me before riding off into the yak-filled sunset.

"Please be at 35,000 words by the end of Week Three," he said. I nodded. I had no idea what he was talking about.

But I know now. As do you.

The challenge is mighty, but you are mightier still.

See you at 35K, writer!

18,400 words, 4 yaks, and 1 jumbo latte

NaNoWriMo :: Week Two

Dear NaNoWriMo Participant,

Hi there! It's Chris Baty again. And if you accepted the challenge in last week's email, you opened a comfortable word-count lead right out of the gate, increased that lead in the first weekend, and are now sailing far ahead of pace, preparing to plunge into the 20,000s.

You are looking good, feeling great, and your back is slowly accumulating an array of "kick me" signs, placed there by your fellow participants as you sprinted past us. A few signs, though, are a small price to pay for victory. And you *are* going to be victorious. If you are a day or less from 20K, you have everything it takes to win, and win big. Keep it up. Don't slow down. We admire you, even if you made us feel so bad about ourselves that we had to put those signs on you.

But this email is not for those doing exceptionally well. It's for the rest of us---authors with underdeveloped word counts, overdeveloped novel-guilt complexes, and sensational procrastinating abilities. Because we are the ones who are going to begin having serious misgivings about this whole escapade in the next seven days.


Because it turns out we are too busy to do this.

Or because a crisis has brought some novel-eating turmoil into our lives.

Or because our stories are really, really bad, and we're wondering why we're sacrificing so much of our time to produce a consistently crappy book.

It all adds up to the fabled Week Two Wall---a low-point of energy, enthusiasm, and joie de novel that strikes most NaNoWriMo participants between days 7 and 14. This is when our inner editors, who largely turned a blind eye to our novel flailings in Week One, return to see how things are going. And their assessments are never kind.

The plot is draggy. The characters are boring. The dialogue is pointless, and the prose has all the panache of something dashed off by a distracted kindergartner.

If you're feeling any of these things---or find yourself starting to feel them this week---know that nothing is wrong. In fact, you're likely on track for a great NaNoWriMo. Just lower your head, pick up your pace, and write straight into the maw of your misgivings. If you are thinking about quitting, DO NOT DO IT IN WEEK TWO.

If you have to quit, do it in Week Three.

I'm serious.

Because if you quit in Week Two, you're going to miss an amazing moment---the moment when your novel begins to click. You'll miss a genius plot twist you can't foresee right now that will suddenly elevate your book from a distressing mess to a sort-of-tolerable mess. And then you'll miss the euphoric breakthrough that follows that twist, when your book improves itself all the way to not-half-bad.

Not-half-bad will make you scream, it feels so good.

And you know what? The more you write, the better it gets. So make it a priority to write in torrents this week. Allow your characters to change, and have change forced upon them. Follow your intuition, even if it leads away from where you thought your book was heading. And know that writing a novel is like building a car. Your only job this month is to create a clunky machine that will eventually move people from one place to another. If your beast rolls at all at this point, you're doing great. Pretty prose, snappy dialogue, brilliant metaphors---they're all part of the high-gloss paint job and finishing touches we put on *after* the body is built.

In December, we'll have nothing but time for adding flames to our hoods and airbrushing a majestic eagle or pair of sunrise stallions on the sides of our new rides. For now, the 20,000s are calling, and we can't get distracted by the small stuff if we're going to get there. In the challenging confines of Week Two, our books will truly be built. Characters will evolve. Plots will unfold. It's going to be difficult at times, but once we make it into (and out of) the 20,000s, everything gets much easier. And envious tales of our literary feat-in-the-making will begin circulating amongst our friends, family, and co-workers.

At which point, we'll probably find a note or two on our backs as well.

It'll be awesome.

Keep plowing onward, brave writer! Good things are coming. I'll be back next Wednesday for some thoughts on Week Three.

Dreaming about my airbrushed eagle,

8400 words and counting

NaNoWriMo :: Week One

Dear Author,

Greetings! My name is Chris Baty, and I'm the director of National Novel Writing Month. Welcome to this year's noveling extravaganza! It's great to have you writing with us.

As impossible as it may seem standing here on the precipice overlooking a vast November, NaNoWriMo will be over before you know it. This month---like the book you started writing today---moves at a frightful pace. To help give you a heads-up on some of the spirit-lifting milestones and spleen-poking hazards we'll be flying past on our way to 50K, I'll be sending an email like this one to you every Wednesday of the month.

Which brings me neatly to the subject at hand: Week One.

Ah, sweet Week One.
Whether you're a first-timer or a NaNoWriMo veteran, Week One is epic. We step onto its stage clutching a few crumpled lines of dialogue, and bearing only the haziest notions of setting and story. And, when the curtain closes on the seventh day, we're improbably directing a strange and wonderful cast of characters, all of them eager to make their mark on the tale unfolding around them.
The keys to thriving in Week One are straightforward:

1) Surge early. To be on par for the month, you should be writing 1667 words per day. In Week One, try to get 2000 or 2500 a day, and beg, borrow, and steal as much of the first weekend as possible to write. You won't need to keep up this pace throughout the month, but nothing guarantees a NaNoWriMo victory (and a fun month) like opening up a hefty lead in the first week.

2) Know that you're not doing any of this alone. As you dive into your book, 70,000 other souls are going through the same ups and downs of the Great Sleep-Deprived Novel. Whenever you're feeling like hurling your laptop out the window or setting fire to your favorite noveling notebook, come to a local write-in or stop by the NaNoWriMo forums for encouragement and reassurance. Likewise, whe never you've had a ferociously productive writing day, celebrate by sending a pep talk or sports car or box of fantastically expensive Swiss chocolates to a writer in distress.

3) Embrace the fear. It's okay to be nervous. Nervous just means you're pushing yourself beyond your comfort zone---which is when great and magical things happen. Even if you have a complete story outline to serve as a map for the month, it's still terrifying to be stepping out into the frontier of your imagination. I blame this on a lifetime of exposure to the perplexing idea that art should be made by artists, and novels left to novelists.

As someone who has done NaNoWriMo for eight years now, I can tell you this: Novels are not written by novelists. Novels are written by everyday people who give themselves permission to write novels. Whatever your writing experience, you have a book in you that only you can write. And November is a beautiful month to get it written.

Have a great first week, everyone! I'll be writing like crazy until Wednesday the 8th, when I'll drop by your inbox again with some thoughts about the spleen-tastic adventures awaiting us in Week Two.

Write on!


Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Taut for the Day

"One day you finally wake up and realise that 'Life is like a box of Chocolates', but by then you have diabetes !!!!!" ------ Alice in Never Never Land.

Right for a Cause

Friends, Family, Countrymen!

A few friends and myself have been running a ‘Writing Marathon’, where we are supposed to bring up 50k words in a month; each one on their own; from Nov 1st to Nov 30th midnight. Basically come up with a novel in 30 days. The competition is called ‘NaNoWriMo’, short for ‘National Novel Writing Month’. Their website is

If you want to understand what its all about the gist is out here…

And like other marathons this one too asks you to get ‘friends, family and countrymen’ to pledge stuff if you complete…. You can donate for the cause out here. The donations will go towards building ‘Libraries in South East Asia’. For more on how to donate check out details here.

Right now I’m at 28027 words…. 10 days to go with approx 2200 a day… Well I came up with a name for the Novel too, which is ‘Eight Queens’. I have uploaded an excerpt out here.

Thinking about a story is the easy part. But then trying to get it out in so many words is the tough part… and finding time to write is even tougher…. You realize that you can’t write with noise around you, with the TV on, with people talking…. So you try to find a corner of the house where you go and lock yourself… sometimes its late at night, other times its early morning…. when everyone else is asleep!!!!! But then you get frustrated that the words you are churning out are not worth it and you get depressed…. Your depression increases cause usually a world of feelings should be compressed in a single line but that is not happening… Then you make a pact with yourself that its just the first draft and you go on…. You create a character who one day wakes up and realizes that ‘Life is like a box of Chocolates’, but by then he has Diabetes !!!! And then you create another character who is surprised about the reasons behind his favourite colour being his favourite colour and is so appalled with his reasons that in the bargain becomes obsessed with going and standing at traffic signals !!!!!!

But its fun too in its own way…. Maybe I’ll just kill the guy at the traffic signal with a car that can’t see him cause its traveling at the speed of light. Or whatever :-)

The friends who are writing or were thinking of writing are in the CC list. Tell them that its good to write… CHEER THEM ON!!!!! Do your bit…. The links point to their orkut pages….

Reema – has reached 27000 words… will get to 50 k with a little bit of cheering on….
Goli – started writing and got depressed thinking about the topic he chose :-) so decided to scrap it and is writing on something else.
Prateek – is thinking of writing
Jaya – was thinking of starting to write from 20th ….
Neeti – would have loved to write but as usual is busy.

After November will be the time when I put some patterns to the randomness of words and try to make it readable so NO I won’t let anyone read it November end :-) Still have to add symmetry to words and thoughts and actions and reactions…. Without symmetry and rhythm and structure and flow it would just be noise….

Came across this interesting discussion on Poetry and Prose:
Poetry is not a turning loose of emotion but an escape from emotion. Poetry is not an expression of personality but an escape from personality. But only those who have personality and emotions know what it means to want to escape from these things --- T.S. Elliot.

Poetry is like severing an artery and watching one’s lifeblood gush out. It demands emotion. Prose on the other hand is a flat, tranquil sheet of water on which one can tack about at one’s leisure, making patterns on the surface. Prose does not demand emotion. In poetry the action can take place everywhere and nowhere but prose demands a specific setting…

Right on!



Noble cause and all. The earth is but a global village and we are all bound together as humans, no? There is a level where one rises above the mundane run of daily affairs and sees things from a macro perspective - a level where one fancies that one can make a difference yet.

There are those who say that these are all momentary delusions of grandeur that afflict the romantic at heart. They say that we are all too insignificant to be able to make a difference. This too shall pass, they say, all the while sagaciously nodding their heads as if they know something that the others dont and passing knowing smiles at others like them. Causes are subjective things, they say.

I must admit that they create doubts in my head. "Is this the difference I really want to make to the world? I am sure the kids in South East Asia are in desperate needs of libraries. Libraries are great things. Each time I enter one, I feel as if I am a little kid in a candy store. And yet, I cant choose between the kids in Laos who want books, the kids in Somalia who dont have food and water, the kids in Darfur, Iraq, Afghanistan and all around the world who dont have parents or guardians and my own desire to buy that beautiful 32' plasma TV."

I am not that cynical. Not yet. Doubt is good, I say. Makes us re-examine and rediscover that what really matters.

Cheers to you and the others who have embarked on this mission. Kudos to you for the very fact that you took it upon yourselves (regardless of whether you get there or not). Years ago, when I made a documentary (only draft- being a dreamer, I ran out of funds before I got through to the end), I realized in the end that I was paying too much attention to the end all the time. In the end, its the journey that you relish more than anything. Nevermind what the cynics say about your ideals, your dreams of making this world a better place and about (and this is where the fear gets personal) your writing skills. March on full steam and complete those goddamn 50k words.

One thing though- please dont write 50k words just because that is what the competition (or whatever Nanowrimo is) mandates. Some of the greatest books I have read have been 100 pages odd - perhaps about 15000 words or maybe even lesser. Come to think of it, I dont even know how many words they had. It was enough that they provided joy, or new thoughts or ideas of whatever it was that I was seeking when I read them. That ensured that I just flowed with the wordstream and never bothered to stop and count the number of words. I am not a great one for quantification. A picture, they say, is worth a thousand words. I dont know how they arrived at that number. I suspect something missing because the most beautiful ones I have seen have left me wordless. So write or paint or photograph or whatever it is that you feel like doing. Please pick your own style, your own way of making a difference to the world.

And please dont choose your cause just because it seemed better than the rest in the list provided by someone else. Libraries in SE Asia or food and water in Somalia, do it for reasons that matter to you the most. Heck, do it for a plasma TV if that is what appeals to you. Better than the other causes is, in my humble opinion, not good enough.

If some day I found out that our dreams can only be picked from silos of prebundled ideas, it will only go to prove that the cynics were right all along. Dream on then and if you feel that you did justice to yourselves at the end of it all, please send along the novel(s) that you write.


Monday, November 20, 2006

Poetic Licence to Kill

Mission Royale Swap Jack: A job worthy of the master spy James Bond. But u can do it. You have been given the Poetic Licence to Kill.... And Kill you must. Your brief is to unravel the truth hidden within the nursery rhymes that have been passed down through the ages. Complete the ryhmes with the sounds of your soul and the truth will be revealed. Yeah Yeah :-)

Jack and ........
Went up the ........
To fetch a pail of ...........
Jack fell .........
And broke his ............
And Jane came .............. after

.......... ......... quite contrary
How does your garden........
With silver........
And cockle.......
And .......... .......... all in a ...........

Hey ........... ..............
The ...........and the ..........
The cow jumped over the........
The little .......laughed
To see such..........
And the.......ran away with the ........

.......... .......... pumpkin eater
Had a ......but could not keep her
......... put her in a pumpkin ........
And there he kept her......... ............

Hickory dickory ........
The mouse ran up the .........
The ...... struck ........
The mouse ran .........
Hickory dickory .............

..................... see how they run
They all run after the ................. wife
Who cut off their tails with a ......... knife
Did you ever see such a thing in your ..........
As .......................

....... ....... Sat on a wall
....... ........ Had a great fall
All the kings horses
And all the kings ........
Couldn’t put ...... ....... together again.

........ Bridge is ...... .........
........ ........., ........ .........
........ Bridge is ...... .........
My ......... lady.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Monkeying around

During our trip to Hampi we took a detour to the Chitradurga. We found the 'monkey man' practicing out there along the perpendicular fort walls. He told us that the monkey was his master as far as his style of climbing goes. He is a national level free climber and uses no equipment whatsoever. I challenged him to a climb which we caught on video. We have uploaded the video on 'YouTube'. The link to the video is here.

The Remains of the Day

The weekend was approaching and we awoke in yet another predawn to find our way 350 kms away from our current location. We had decided to explore an unknown world where the stones would tell us their dreams; and if dreams were made of stone, it would have to be Hampi; the ruins of the erstwhile Vijaynagar empire which reigned supreme from 1336 to 1565. Hampi, the capital of the empire in ruins; lies at the banks of the Tungabhadra river, and covers an area of 26 sq kms of stones; stones awaiting to whisper their secrets and bare their soul.

The four of us; Bala, Dhruv, AJ and moi; groggily positioned ourselves in the car. I took the shotgun position, only to realise later that I had placed myself on some pringles (chips), well protected by the cardboard cylindrical box, 15 inches in height and 3 inches in diameter, intended to rarely face such eventualities. After a little while I felt a bit uncomfortable and a thorough investigation of the area revealed that the cardboard box was not doing too well. The taunts dived in from all directions but I was brave enough to sit my ground, and munch on the remains of the squat.

We took a short detour enroute and explored the Chitradurga fort. At the entrance we decided to capture our very first conquest and in the bargain my camera tossed and turned in the hands of another, and flipped and flew; if it had wings it would fly but its hopes were pulled down to ground level by gravity and it landed on hard rock. It took a few hits below the synthetic belt but like a wounded soldier it decided to march on, gathering its bearings from the remains of the fall.

Up in the mountains, deep inside the fort, well protected by temples and a less trodden path, lined with thorny bushes, blades of grass, and dungeons and dragon(fly)s, lay the mud ruins of a palace. The reddish brown clay contrasted well against the greenish yellow grass, with the giant boulders that observed all from their peaks, ready to roll over and take on any intruder. The palace appeared to be taken over by ants, the walls showing signs of their inroads; an empire in organised motion. Nicely tucked into the mountains lay a small lake as green with algae as the sky was blue with pride.

Hampi is identified with the mythological Kishkindha, the monkey kingdom which finds mention in the Ramayana. On our way down from the fort we were treated to the monkey man. He told us that the monkey was his master as far as his style of climbing goes. He is a national level free climber (no equipment) and was practicing on the perpendicluar walls of the fort. I challenged him to a climb which we caught on video. And then Dhruv attempted the same and ended up scratching his goggles on the unforgiving hard rock; the remains of the climb.

We then moved ahead to Hampi which was reveling in festivities from Nov 3rd to Nov 5th this year. The festival manifested itself in already booked hotels, and sykrocketed prices for menial dwellings which we luckily stumbled upon. I carried my sleeping bag just incase we had to sleep in the car and moi in the open. We then headed towards the center of all the commotion and found ourselves walking amongst temples and stone carvings. Seated on the heights we could see the wrestling matches taking place far in the distance as sweat and muscle collided to produce an uproar of the spirit. As night took over we walked along the streets of Hampi desecrated with banners of politicians touting their good deeds. It was yet another opportunity to lure the people into false impressions. The only temple that still maintained its idols was overflowing with people and the entrance was marked by a man who stood on nails and had other piercings on various places on his body.

We decided to escape the human crowd at the Hampi Bazaar and headed towards the Vithala Temple that is undoubtly the most splendid monument of Hampi with its 56 musical pillars. Our path along the Tungabhadra river was lit up by the moon in all its glory, overjoyed to show us the way. Our moonlight trek was lined by giant boulders on surrounding hills that reflected the brilliance of the beauty of nature and shadows of stones and carvings. The Vithala temple was lit up to welcome us and the sound of the musical pillars resonated in the night. To the east of the hall is the famous Stone Chariot with stone wheels that actually revolve.

Our humble dwelling awaited our return. On closer inspection the fan didn't work, the TV didn't work, and the AC seemed to be missing some parts; it had given up its ghost. We did come to an agreement with the remaining equipment, but only after caressing he TV. Well caress is a gentle word but you get the picture, and we did too :-) The fan required a little coaxing with the help of a broom and we were off into neverland. The next morning after a rollcall of energy we started to freshen up. As I came out of the bath with wet feet the room relieved me of all its resistance as I slid and went for a royal toss that any WWF wrestler would be envious of. However instead of finding myself in a ring, I found myself competing with a table and as they say in Chinese," Ai Bang Mai Ni". We then bid adieu to our humble dwelling with the remains of my slide.

After breakfast we loaded the car with food and fruits and found that we were running short of comfortable space. We unanimously decided to unload unrequired luggage; lets make that unrequired inanimate luggage so that we can focus on the task at hand. While going through the heap the box of pringles opened and the remains of the chips were strewn all over. While we were deliberating to do away with the spilt remains I turned over from the shotgun seat and nibbled on some chips and then finally bit them adieu. Dhruv then took the crumbs and walked around a bit wondering where to throw them. He then came back to the car not knowing where to dispose of it, shrugged his shoulders and then dropped them just infront of his entrance to the car. He then had to manouveur himself over the crumbs so as not to bring them back in. But some did manage to do so :-)

Hampi is home to a lot of monuments; like the King's Balance where kings were weighed against food, gold or money which was then distributed to the poor. The Queen's Bath, a swimming pool with inlets of perfumed water. Lotus Mahal, in the shape of a lotus flower from top. Elephant Stables; Hindu-Muslim style of architecture housing the gaints that carried royalty. Pushkarini Tank, Mahanavami Dibba; a platform which looked like a miniature version of what the Aztecs built, from where royalty would look over the surroundings. This platform has beautiful carvings, and many many more such monuments.

On our way back we also visited the Tungabhadra dam. We covered the 350 kms return journey under 5 hours frantically checking and rechecking that our seatbelts work, touching a max of 130+ at some points, initiating our interest in the intricacies of seatbelts and the circuitry that made them stop only when the belt was pulled too fast from its casing. The locking mechanisms used by seatbelts are explained here. Dhruv who was now in the shotgun position was unconsciously trying to see if his head would hit the windscreen or the dashboard, if inertia ever beckoned his bearings. We reached home in one piece; mind, body and soul; the remains of the drive.

In retrospect, I revelled in the labyrinth of ruins as I caught them on camera. But the shot that caught my fancy was that of an old shepherd sitting along a large rectangular window; part of a wall that had once belonged to a home. His flock in the far distance, and the stone ruins in the background. He was lost in his thoughts as to how he had found himself sitting there; the stones whispered their dreams, carried along with the winds; that very ground was once witness to grandeur, splendor, and fabulous wealth and more so it was a cradle of talent and creativity only to be overwhelmed by the combined forces of the Mogul invaders and the destruction that followed; what lay in front of him were the remains of dreams, the remains of the day.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Its not about the bike!!!

He came, he cramped, he conquered.

Lance Armstrong ran his first marathon and he did it in 2:59:36 !!!!! Wow. He had set himself a goal of under 3 hours. He was paced through his run by two former marathon champions. Doing it under 3 hours would be a dream for me, especially in the shape I'm in :-)

Well the Mumbai Marathon is on Jan 21st 2007. I registered for it yesterday. Why so early... Well I ran the Bangalore full marathon and wanted to run the Delhi Half Marathon but registered too late. So didn't wanna miss the Mumbai one and registered well in advance :-)

Yet to receive a confirmation of the same. I have set a goal of 4 hours 30 minutes for myself considering that I finished my first marathon in 5 hours 11 minutes. A tough goal for an average runner I think. Getting under 4 hours would be nice but definately undoable at this point. Maybe someday that will happen too... hmmmm....

Important dates to remember :
Race Day Sunday, January 21, 2007
Online Registration Start Date Saturday, November 4, 2006
Registration Start Date for other entry modes Thursday, November 9, 2006
Registration End Date Thursday, December 7, 2006 or as soon as running places for each race are full, whichever is earlier.
Collection of Running Number Bibs & Goodie Bags January 17 - 20, 2007

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

To Write or Not to Write

What is NaNoWriMo?
National Novel Writing Month is a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to novel writing. Participants begin writing November 1. The goal is to write a 175-page (50,000-word) novel by midnight, November 30.

Valuing enthusiasm and perseverance over painstaking craft, NaNoWriMo is a novel-writing program for everyone who has thought fleetingly about writing a novel but has been scared away by the time and effort involved.

Because of the limited writing window, the ONLY thing that matters in NaNoWriMo is output. It's all about quantity, not quality. The kamikaze approach forces you to lower your expectations, take risks, and write on the fly.

Make no mistake: You will be writing a lot of crap. And that's a good thing. By forcing yourself to write so intensely, you are giving yourself permission to make mistakes. To forgo the endless tweaking and editing and just create. To build without tearing down.

As you spend November writing, you can draw comfort from the fact that, all around the world, other National Novel Writing Month participants are going through the same joys and sorrows of producing the Great Frantic Novel. Wrimos meet throughout the month to offer encouragement, commiseration, and -- when the thing is done -- the kind of raucous celebrations that tend to frighten animals and small children.

Writing for a cause:
Its like running a marathon for a cause. The funds raised will pay for the purchase and transport of 600-800 books in both Vietnamese and English, kid-sized furniture, maps, games, and ongoing librarian training for Libraries in Southeast Asia. You can also pleadge a certain amount per word that I write and then write a check at the end.

Q> If I'm just writing 50,000 words of crap, why bother? Why not just write a real novel later, when I have more time?
A> There are three reasons.

1) If you don't do it now, you probably never will. Novel writing is mostly a "one day" event. As in "One day, I'd like to write a novel." Here's the truth: 99% of us, if left to our own devices, would never make the time to write a novel. It's just so far outside our normal lives that it constantly slips down to the bottom of our to-do lists. The structure of NaNoWriMo forces you to put away all those self-defeating worries and START. Once you have the first five chapters under your belt, the rest will come easily. Or painfully. But it will come. And you'll have friends to help you see it through to 50k.

2) Aiming low is the best way to succeed. With entry-level novel writing, shooting for the moon is the surest way to get nowhere. With high expectations, everything you write will sound cheesy and awkward. Once you start evaluating your story in terms of word count, you take that pressure off yourself. And you'll start surprising yourself with a great bit of dialogue here and a ingenious plot twist there. Characters will start doing things you never expected, taking the story places you'd never imagined. There will be much execrable prose, yes. But amidst the crap, there will be beauty. A lot of it.

3) Art for art's sake does wonderful things to you. It makes you laugh. It makes you cry. It makes you want to take naps and go places wearing funny pants. Doing something just for the hell of it is a wonderful antidote to all the chores and "must-dos" of daily life. Writing a novel in a month is both exhilarating and stupid, and we would all do well to invite a little more spontaneous stupidity into our lives.

Other writing events:
NaNoFiMo is in December, for those that couldn’t complete their novel in November…

NaNoEdMo takes place in March, basically to edit your novel…

NaBloPoMo is also in November, for those who cannot write novels but can blog :-) basically a blog a day…