My Writing · writer's block

“Sometimes Writer’s Block = Depression”

Hello, friends!

My apologies for not posting yesterday, on Wednesday. I had a rough day, and am still somewhat going through it. But, I will be posting again on Wednesdays as usual, starting next week. In addition to reviewing After Dark by Haruki Murakami, who we discussed in another post, I’m going to be reviewing a controversial book…to be announced!

Currently, my writing is going well, but I would still like to share this article about writer’s block and depression:

Sometimes Writer’s Block is Really Depression

I hope you have a great day!

Until next time,

Chaitanya

My Writing

A Piece of History

Hello everyone,

Today I’m sharing a snippet of my own writing, a piece of history, if you will. Currently I’m working on a YA historical novel set during the American Civil War era, as well as researching publishing a poetry chapbook the traditional way. If you have any ideas or resources, let me know!

1850s woman, via https://carolathhabsburg.tumblr.com/
Inspiration for my main character

My book is a draft right now, and I’m still figuring out a lot of details. My story follows Patience, a middle-class young woman in New York who gets displaced during the Civil War, and learns how to become assertive and finds her purpose in life, as she’s forced to face challenges she had never imagined.

My story asks the question: How can we find the strength within ourselves to keep going, even when we are afraid? It’s about finding confidence and self-love and self-esteem, even amidst bullying and self-doubt. The story is for young adults who, much like me when I was a teenager, feel like a bit of a wallflower, invisible, a bit lost in the world, and may suffer from anxiety or depression. Looming over and intertwined with these emotional and communication issues throughout the story is the larger issue of racism that was prevalent during Civil War times (to make a huge understatement!) and sadly, remains prevalent today. I hope that through Patience’s story, readers can find some inspiration to keep going, and to love and believe in themselves.

The Wide Awakes, a paramilitary squad in the 1860s that supported Abraham Lincoln
via https://fredgooltz.com/

Here is my little snippet, wherein Patience gets bullied by her sister and her friends:

An icy winter gust blasted past, fluttering Patience’s scarf in the wind. She took advantage of the distraction to look down and wrestle with it, hiding her tears. She blinked furiously, waiting for the birds with gold-limned blue bodies on her scarf to be more than blobs in her vision. There. She gulped back mucus into her throat and looked up again.

Celia’s fierce blue eyes were needling her still. She tossed her red curls and turned to her newest friend, Thomas. “Wait until you see the silly things Patience comes up with about the seasons! As if her blathering about Pastor Ellings’ service wasn’t dull enough just now. She walks around the house with her stockings half on like a child, regaling us about the newest snowflake she saw on her windowsill. I’m so glad I’m old enough to not share a room with her anymore.”

Everyone except Patience laughed. Celia knew just as well as Patience that they hadn’t shared a room since Leo moved out when Patience was fifteen and Celia was seventeen, two years ago. She always liked to make her newest complaint or sorrow sound immediate.

Patience knew there was no use saying anything. After all, Celia would just refute Patience’s claim, or laugh at her. Celia’s new friends Thomas and Arthur, and especially her old friends Margaret and Anna, would laugh with Celia and never believe she was as unkind or vindictive as Patience knew her to be. So Patience swallowed her words as usual. She tried to turn her mouth up to make it seem like she was laughing with them, not being laughed at.

Untitled, (C) C.S. Kinnaird, 2021
A historical photo


I feel so shy to share my work, honestly. It’s been so long since I’ve written consistently. My writing is quite rusty, like a rough-hewn piece of granite rather than the exquisite marble I’d like it to be. Posting on this blog and participating in NaNoWriMo 2020, even partially, has really helped me. I’ve been feeling much more encouraged than in recent years; if you go back through my archives, you can see my lack of posts; that correlated with a lot of depression and self-doubt I’d been experiencing. I’m so glad to have gotten out of that. It’s also rare that I posted any of my own writing, which I’m also hoping to do more of in 2021.

I really tend to be a perfectionist. It took having the free time that quarantine in 2020 granted, for me to stop listening to my Inner Editor and try my hand at being creative again. It started with going back to oil painting, and singing a couple successful “Amazing Grace”s on my new ukulele, to spark a sense of confidence and fun that I needed to dive back into writing, too. Also, putting aside my fantasy story, which I mentioned before and have done some drawings for, helped – to give myself permission to work on something else! It has been a breath of fresh air.

I haven’t done any drawings for this unnamed draft so far. But here are some images that have inspired me, from Pinterest:

via War History Magazine
Civil War Battles poster, via Etsy

I would be honored and curious to know what you think of this snippet of my writing, and of the Civil War images. Also, if you have any ideas to lend in regards to the Civil War era or historical writing, I’d love to hear it!

Until next time,

Chaitanya

Book Reviews · Writing Mentors · YA-related

Book Review: “Tempests and Slaughter” YA Fantasy by Tamora Pierce

HOW IT BEGAN…

Ok my friends, this…this is going to be a doozy of a post, indeed! I’ll explain why a bit later. First of all, a few of you responded to my poll from the post two weeks ago, where I asked what content you’d like to see on this blog in 2021. I kept the post up for longer in hope of getting more responses, since initially it was a small group. Then, I just accepted – it is what it is, those who respond get to have more choice on what appears here.

Many responses said, you would like to see more Young Adult Fiction content, and more book reviews, and also more of my writing, and more beginner writer tips. The first thing that popped into my head was an excellent book I read last year that is YA fantasy, so I decided to start with that!

This is a doozy of a post because, the whole thing began when I was 12 years old. I was a bookish, stick-legged girl who was always looking for a good book to read. One day, my friend called me up and said, “Chai, you HAVE TO read this book! It’s part of quartet of 4 books, about a girl who wants to become a warrior. She disguises herself as a boy to get into the court, to train as a knight…”

I read book 1, and the rest is history!!! I can’t even tell you how much this book *permeated my soul* as a teen, haha. I read it SO MANY times and have reread it as an adult and still love it. I own a copy of the quartet in one volume, and was once tempted to buy multiple copies just so I could collect all the covers of each of the 4 books. That’s how much this quartet swallowed me up. Here it is:

Image result for alanna of trebond
First books I ever read by Pierce – “Song of the Lioness” quartet

Funnily enough though, that’s just my intro, because – that’s not the book I’m reviewing today!

The book I’m reviewing today is also by Tamora Pierce, a prolific YA writer who is known for her focus on strong female characters. The second quartet I read after the Song of the Lioness quartet was this one, and it introduces the main character in the book I’m reviewing today:

Image result for alanna of trebond song of the lioness fanart
“The Immortals” quartet – where we first meet Arram Draper, AKA Numair Salmalin

REASONS I LOVE HER BOOKS

I hate to say this, but after having read these 2 quartets as a teen, later books I read by Tamora Pierce didn’t hold up for me. I was disappointed by her Trickster series, by her Protector of the Small quartet, and others. So, I was surprised and pleased when I picked up her newest book, Tempests and Slaughter (2018), and found myself just as delighted with her work as I had been before.

Some of the reasons I love her books:

  • Her characters are flawed and realistic
  • Her characters go up against quite a few challenges – evil sorcerers, their own flaws, other characters’ conflicting needs and motivations
  • Her young adult characters truly feel young adult, and none of her stories are dumbed-down or cliche.
  • Her magic system is easy to understand, but also variegated.

    A word for worldbuilding: It’s good. But honestly I find her characters to be stronger, and I personally enjoy that character-driven sense, when many fantasy books get -too- caught up in worldbuilding! Like yes, show us the world, but what happens next, why should we care? Pierce makes you really, really care about these characters!
Image result for tamora pierce
Tamora Pierce

HER NEWEST BOOK, Tempests and Slaughter

When we first meet Arram Draper, he’s a Black Robe Mage in The Immortals quartet, and he’s training young Veralidaine Sarassri on how to use her wild magic. Wild magic is very rare, and it enables Daine to speak with and understand animals’ speech. Arram Draper is her teacher. I won’t say more, because I don’t want to spoil her story or his.

Ok, so let’s finally dive into this book. Arram Draper is the youngest mage at the Imperial University of Carthak, where students of many ages and talents come to hone their magic, called their Gift. He’s only 10 years old at the book’s start, and he pretends he’s 11 so that the other students might take him more seriously. His magic is really powerful, always exploding things, and he gets in even more trouble when he befriends arguably the most politically powerful student in the whole school – Ozorne, the Emperor’s son!

Many shenanigans ensue between Arram, Ozorne, and their friend Varice, the female group of the trio. But, this story is much different from Harry Potter!

In Tempests and Slaughter, our protagonist is very confident, very magically powerful, and very stubborn. Some of his adventures include helping a sortof urgent care clinic during a plague that sweeps through the poor portion of the city, clashing with people of higher class and with more money than him, and freeing a slave who is a gladiator at the local arena. Arram is compassionate, fiery, and awkward, which makes for a lot of accidentally funny situations where we get to laugh at him, rather than with him, a bit.

I’m going to break my review down more, but before I do that – Here is an official summary of the book:

Image result for tempests and slaughter
Tempests and Slaughter cover

“Arram Draper is on the path to becoming one of the realm’s most powerful mages. The youngest student in his class at the Imperial University of Carthak, he has a Gift with unlimited potential for greatness–and for attracting danger. At his side are his two best friends: Varice, a clever girl with an often-overlooked talent, and Ozorne, the “leftover prince” with secret ambitions. Together, these three friends forge a bond that will one day shape kingdoms. And as Ozorne gets closer to the throne and Varice gets closer to Arram’s heart, Arram realizes that one day–soon–he will have to decide where his loyalties truly lie.

In the Numair Chronicles, readers will be rewarded with the never-before-told story of how Numair Salmalín came to Tortall. Newcomers will discover an unforgettable fantasy adventure where a kingdom’s future rests on the shoulders of a talented young man with a knack for making vicious enemies.”

Synopsis from Pierce’s official website
Image result for numair fanart
Art by waterysilver on Deviant Art – Numair Salmalin

WHAT’S TO LIKE

I enjoy how this book shows what daily life for Arram is like, while also progressing sinister, sneaky plots. Time proceeds at a manageable pace; we see him age from the 10 years he is at the book’s start, to a few years older. We see him learn from his mistakes, defy his teachers, learn from his best teachers. We see puberty and its struggles, and how he deals with that. I found it interesting and funny to read Pierce tackling male puberty, because I’m used to her young characters being female, and in a female body myself, I found those puberty tales funny, painful and relatable. She makes Arram’s puberty story very human, funny, and painful too, so I think young men reading this book would enjoy it (including of course some adolescent-style joking about body parts, of course).

Another thing I really liked in this book that stood out to me was, the female character of Varice. Varice is friends to both Arram and Ozorne, and she IS a feminine, delicate girl who enjoys decorating herself in jewelry and makeup, but at the same time, I see her being strong, smart, showing off her magic, navigating the subtleties and dangers of talking to important people at court and at school, etc. She’s both strong AND full of feminine wiles and sensibilities. I found this a refreshing breath of fresh air!! So many female characters in YA, especially fantasy – and even adult fantasy genres – the women are either strong and stout, able to fight aside the men, OR they like makeup and gowns, etc. but are damsels in distress. Newsflash – real women aren’t like that! Pierce makes Varice a great example of reality.

A third thing I enjoyed about this book was the main plot. Pierce weaves the subplots and the main plots very well. I won’t say much more than that, for fear of spoilers.

WHAT’S NOT TO LIKE

At first, until later in the book, Master Chioke seems like a bit of a cliched, arrogant teacher who doesn’t like the main character. Filling the Snape sortof role, to make a Harry Potter analogy, but minus Snape’s big backstory. Sometimes I wished while reading this, that Chioke would show a bit more nuance. But as the book goes on, the main plot proceeds and reveals more details that flesh him out more.

WHAT’s NEXT?

This review is way too long, so I’ll stop here. I feel it was a very scattered review, and my apologies for that. Sometimes quiet days make me feel sleepy. But I hope you all check out some of Tamora Pierce’s books, if you’re at all into YA, whether you are an adult or a teen.

If you have ALREADY read Tamora Pierce’s previous books, I recommend this review, which shares more of how Tempests and Slaughter connects to the other books, how characters we see grown there are kids in this book, and some intriguing questions. But I would warn you to NOT read that review UNLESS you’ve already read previous books by Tamora Pierce.

Next up: A little slice of my work! *dances nervously*
Then we may dive into Marge Piercy and Haruki Murakami reviews, touching upon my previous posts about discovering them, and their interviews. Or, something else! Who knows??

Until next time,

Chaitanya

Announcements

New Content for 2021!

Good afternoon my friends,

How are you today?

I wanted to start this year off right, and since we’re still in February, I thought it would be a good time to ask you: What do you want to see on this blog more? In the past I’ve had readers respond wanting more book reviews, more of my own writing here, more NaNoWriMo content, etc. I know I still have a lot of those to cover, but in addition, it’s a new year. What would excite you to see on this blog in the near future?

Please take a minute to fill out my poll here. This will be left up and sit to get results; the next new post will be on Wednesday, February 17th:

This poll just has some of my ideas, but YOU might have more ideas for what you’d like to see on this blog soon! Please share in the comments!

Until next time,

Chaitanya

Writing Mentors · Young Writers

Discovering Poet Amanda Gorman

Good afternoon my friends,

As of today I will be posting weekly on Wednesdays. Also, I’m experimenting with showing the full posts on the blog homepage instead of excerpts; let me know which style you like more in the comments.

Poet Amanda Gorman

Last week we discovered writer Marge Piercy, a feminist and prolific writer who has published 20+ novels and poetry collections. I just got one of her books from the library, and at some point in February I will be following up with a review of the novel. At this moment I can’t remember the title of it. Also in February, I’ll be reviewing a novel by another writer and poet we studied earlier this month, Haruki Murakami. I am excited to see what the writings of these two edgy successful writers can teach us, and how their writings resonate with me as a reader.

Since it is still January and we just recently had the Presidential Inauguration of 2021, I’d like to shed even more spotlight, if possible, on the amazingly talented young poet who read at the Inauguration, Amanda Gorman. Her poem captivated me during the ceremony, and I wanted to capture her on my blog before time chugs on.

You can read more about Amanda Gorman here.

5 more poems to listen to from Amanda Gorman
Poet Amanda Gorman reading The Hill We Climb at the 2021 Presidential Inauguration
Incredible: A Poem By Amanda Gorman | PORTER
First Youth Poet Laureate, Amanda Gorman

She is an inspiration!

Just look at this lady! She’s only 22 and she’s already a National Poet Laureate, was the first-ever American Youth Poet Laureate, read at the 2021 Inauguration, and will also read at the Superbowl 2021. Not only that – her fashion is on point (she really seems to love yellow)!! I am so impressed and intrigued by this person. No matter which way you fall on the political spectrum, you have to admit that this woman has to be very talented and brave to be out on these big stages reading her work at such a young age.

Not only that, this woman is a representative and a torchlight for people with disabilities and people of color. She shows that you can pursue your dreams no matter what obstacles may be facing you! According to her Wikipedia, she has an auditory processing disorder, is sensitive to sounds, and used to have a speech impediment. Not to mention the systemic racism that all people of color have to go up against, which 2020 only served to highlight (especially in the USA). And she STILL gets up there to recite her work on the stage!! Wow.

The Hill We Climb, Poem

Here is her Inaugural poem The Hill We Climb, just as a reminder:

When day comes we ask ourselves,

where can we find light in this never-ending shade?

The loss we carry,

a sea we must wade.

We’ve braved the belly of the beast,

We’ve learned that quiet isn’t always peace,

and the norms and notions

of what just is

isn’t always just-ice.

And yet the dawn is ours

before we knew it.

Somehow we do it.

Somehow we’ve weathered and witnessed

a nation that isn’t broken,

but simply unfinished.

We the successors of a country and a time

where a skinny Black girl

descended from slaves and raised by a single mother

can dream of becoming president

only to find herself reciting for one.

And yes we are far from polished.

Far from pristine.

But that doesn’t mean we are

striving to form a union that is perfect.

We are striving to forge a union with purpose,

to compose a country committed to all cultures, colors, characters and

conditions of man.

And so we lift our gazes not to what stands between us,

but what stands before us.

We close the divide because we know, to put our future first,

we must first put our differences aside.

We lay down our arms

so we can reach out our arms

to one another.

We seek harm to none and harmony for all.

Let the globe, if nothing else, say this is true,

that even as we grieved, we grew,

that even as we hurt, we hoped,

that even as we tired, we tried,

that we’ll forever be tied together, victorious.

Not because we will never again know defeat,

but because we will never again sow division.

Scripture tells us to envision

that everyone shall sit under their own vine and fig tree

and no one shall make them afraid.

If we’re to live up to our own time,

then victory won’t lie in the blade.

But in all the bridges we’ve made,

that is the promise to glade,

the hill we climb.

If only we dare.

It’s because being American is more than a pride we inherit,

it’s the past we step into

and how we repair it.

We’ve seen a force that would shatter our nation

rather than share it.

Would destroy our country if it meant delaying democracy.

And this effort very nearly succeeded.

But while democracy can be periodically delayed,

it can never be permanently defeated.

In this truth,

in this faith we trust.

For while we have our eyes on the future,

history has its eyes on us.

This is the era of just redemption

we feared at its inception.

We did not feel prepared to be the heirs

of such a terrifying hour

but within it we found the power

to author a new chapter.

To offer hope and laughter to ourselves.

So while once we asked,

how could we possibly prevail over catastrophe?

Now we assert,

How could catastrophe possibly prevail over us?

We will not march back to what was,

but move to what shall be.

A country that is bruised but whole,

benevolent but bold,

fierce and free.

We will not be turned around

or interrupted by intimidation,

because we know our inaction and inertia

will be the inheritance of the next generation.

Our blunders become their burdens.

But one thing is certain,

If we merge mercy with might,

and might with right,

then love becomes our legacy,

and change our children’s birthright.

So let us leave behind a country

better than the one we were left with.

Every breath from my bronze-pounded chest,

we will raise this wounded world into a wondrous one.

We will rise from the gold-limbed hills of the west.

We will rise from the windswept northeast,

where our forefathers first realized revolution.

We will rise from the lake-rimmed cities of the midwestern states.

We will rise from the sunbaked south.

We will rebuild, reconcile and recover.

And every known nook of our nation and

every corner called our country,

our people diverse and beautiful will emerge,

battered and beautiful.

When day comes we step out of the shade,

aflame and unafraid,

the new dawn blooms as we free it.

For there is always light,

if only we’re brave enough to see it.

If only we’re brave enough to be it.

Amanda Gorman, 2020
Poet Amanda Gorman, 22, will read at Biden inaugural

What stands out to me

Now, that’s a mighty long poem, and I don’t particularly want to analyze it, because 1) I don’t want to get political on this blog, and 2) This is not an English Literature class in college or high school. But I would just like to share some things that stood out to me about it:

I love how, in the video of her reciting it, Gorman speaks very clearly, and with a very crisp, exacting rhythm. I think this is so important to poetry, and can make or break the moment when you read your work aloud, for a poet. I took some poetry in college, and reading it out loud was often the most intimidating part; not only because you’re being vulnerable and sharing your work, but also because if you get the rhythm or cadence off, it can come out sounding all wrong.

Amanda Gorman | Boston Pops July 4th
Gorman in Boston Pops: America’s Orchestra, July 2020

Secondly I’d like to just say, wow! I really love how Gorman’s poem rhymes, but neither is it hit-over-your-head style, too obvious. There’s a subtlety to the rhyming, where you ear appreciates it extra. It’s soothing and peaceful to hear a rhyme, in my opinion, just as we are soothed by seeing symmetrical things or hearing a song note that ends a line on the same note it began. These are the subtleties and abstract edges of poetry and song where they sortof blur together, and something we don’t deal with as much in novel-writing. But they’re equally as important as discussing and debating over character motivations, plotholes, cliches and other novelist concerns.

2021’s creative inspirational figure

Last but not least, I am just so inspired by Amanda Gorman. The fact that she doesn’t let her disabilities or systemic racism stop her. The fact that she has gotten so far in such short time inspires me to keep going in my writing, to not put myself in any box of any kind, to not listen to any limitation my Inner Editor or perfectionist may be saying, and just. keep. writing.

Share your thoughts in the comments!

What did you think of Amanda Gorman and her poem? Have you read her debut book, “Change Sings”? Let me know what you think in the comments! And here is her official website.

Until next time,

Chaitanya

In the Family · Writing Mentors

Discovering Writer Marge Piercy

My fellow writers and readers,

I’m always very excited when I get to discover a new writer! Today we’re discovering poet, feminist, and novelist Marge Piercy. Born in 1936, she is a New York Times bestseller known for her frank biographical writings, her writing about social concerns, and her unabashed upholding of women’s rights. She’s written roughly 20 novels and 20 poetry collections! You can find out more about her here.

Marge Piercy, 1936-

The piece that I stumbled upon that really struck me, was her description of the purpose of her writing, found here. It goes:

[Her writing purpose] ‘is simply that readers will find poems that speak to and for them, will take those poems into their lives and say them to each other and put them up on the bathroom wall and remember bits and pieces of them in stressful or quiet moments. That the poems may give voice to something in the experience of a life has been my intention. To find ourselves spoken for in art gives dignity to our pain, our anger, our lust, our losses. We can hear what we hope for and what we most fear in the small release of cadenced utterance.’

Marge Piercy

I really, REALLY love this quote. Why?

It resonates deep within my writer soul, encapsulating and explaining what I aspire to do as a writer. I want people to carry my stories and poetry with them, because it affected them or helped them. To read a book of mine and say about a character, “Their story is like mine.” To get help in a stressful or sad moment by remembering a scene or poetry line I wrote, like Piercy says. That would be so fulfilling!

It’s a way of helping others, to articulate my truth, and have others see, “Oh, that’s my truth too.” Not all of us will have identical truths, of course, but if some piece of mine can be echoed and in some piece of another person’s…it’s this deep, beyond-words sort of connection.

The quote also resonates with me as a reader. Because I’ve found that certain pieces of writing, especially scriptural writings, affect me, and I carry them with me. They help my heart when I’m feeling sad or discouraged, or they lift me up even higher when I’m feeling happy. Sometimes they help me realize things that I need to change or do in life, and that helps my life journey to progress, helps me to “level up”, so to speak.

So that’s why I loved Marge Piercy’s quote, and so much so that I’m awaiting a book of hers from the library now. I’ll let you know what I think. Please share:

  • Did this quote by Marge Piercy resonate with you? Why or why not?
  • Is there an author that inspired you with a piece of their writing, as a writer or as a reader?

I’m excited to hear what you all think!

Featured image (above post) by: InkedVoices

Until next time,

Chaitanya

How Writers Write · In the Family · Writing Mentors

From Daily Grind to Daily Mind

In these days where many are still in quarantine, some might have forgotten the daily grind; others remember it all too well. As we work from home now, or more often, we don’t find ourselves missing the daily commute, the way lunchtime flies by, or the freezing A/C at the office. Sometimes writing can feel like a daily grind too, when we’re staring at a blank page for five minutes straight. What if it wasn’t all a daily grind though? What if we could sit down to write with our notebooks/laptops/typewriters and really develop a habit?

I’ve written on this blog before about developing a daily routine, my own struggles to schedule myself, and organizing your writing space. I’ve shared tips for fighting writer’s block, tapping into the creative “zone”, and more. Now, let’s pick up our zooms lens and tackle it from a different perspective:

“I have to pound away at a rock with a chisel and dig out a deep hole before I can locate the source of my creativity.”

Novelist Haruki Murakami

This quote by Japanese novelist Haruki Murakami struck me as both strict and sensitive at once. He words it so poetically and beautifully, but he also makes the daily routine of writing sound rigorous. We have to show up every day to create something beautiful out of rock; to chisel the ideas in our mind and hearts in order to finally step away, wave away the dust – and reveal a completed piece of art.

Novelist Haruki Murakami

I really enjoyed this article about Haruki Murakami’s daily routine. It shares how he went from a part-time to a full-time writer. He didn’t just develop a daily routine; he changed his entire lifestyle, ditching smoking, moving to a more rural location, and getting up and sleeping early. He also swims and runs marathons! Plus, he is a short story writer in addition to writing novels.

There is a certain honoring of one’s craft when one is willing to follow a daily routine carved around it. Murakami writes first thing in the morning if he is having a writing day, and if not, he gets up at the same time anyway. He calls it a meditation to follow the same daily routine, “mesmerizing”. By doing the same thing every day, he gets so deep into the groove of writing that it’s a part of him. It’s as natural and steady as brushing your teeth daily, or checking the mail. You don’t think about it. You don’t get arrested by worries. You just do it, and it’s natural and flowing. You mesmerize yourself.

Of course, it takes discipline. Murakami acknowledges that, as you’ll see in the article. He said it took mental and physical strength. It reminds me of when one of my spiritual mentors chastised me for not taking part in the early morning meditation on an international spiritual internship of sorts that I took. I told her, “I want to, but…” and she said, “You don’t want it enough.”

If we really want it, we’ll do it. Just like Murakami. Yes, life is crazy these days, there’s chores to do, a gigantic To-Do list, and sometimes you just need to rest. That’s ok, too. But if you really want to, you can make the time. Just like I’m making time to write this blog post. I feel tired and I’m already late by 2 days due to bad internet; I could have just waited until next week. But I wanted to share this, and I wanted to keep my commitment to blog weekly.

Of course, just because I’m here blogging, and Murakami gets up achingly early to write, doesn’t mean you have to blog weekly or get up early to write, etc. Do it your style! Make it your own! Maybe you like to stay up late into the night, pounding away at your keyboard keys, “typing madly”, as this blog is called. Maybe you have to drink hibiscus tea and listen to jazz before you sit down to write. Whatever it is, find your groove, like Murakami, and chisel away at that rock. You might surprise yourself with what you create!

I will be trying to find my own groove, as I strive towards a daily writing habit of my own. Wishing you the best in yours – let’s keep each other updated!

Until next time,

Chaitanya

How Writers Write

Writing with Music

Happy New Year, everyone! I hope the year has been treating you and your pen and paper well, so far. Today I’d like to talk about music while writing.

Do you like to write with music? Why or why not? Is there certain music that really inspires you to write and write, and other music that makes you dry up and not know what to write next?

For me, I usually always like to have music on in the background. Lately, lofi helps me to write, because it helps me to feel calm, and there are no words to distract me from the words flowing from my keyboard onto the page. However, a teenage daughter of my friend just convinced me to check out BTS, the famous K-Pop band (oh no! lol). So, I am listening to sad foreign songs while writing, today. What new thing might it spark in my writing? We’ll see!

While researching writing and music, I found that many writers like to have music on in the background. Others, not so much, and others still, used to write in silence but then found that music did help them write! Some writers even make soundtracks for their novels, and I find that so fun and intriguing! I’d like to research it more and return with a follow-up post about it soon.

What if we listened to these authors’ soundtracks while reading their novels? Maybe it would enrich our experience of the book! If you’ve ever done this as a reader, please tell me! It sounds like a fun experiment, I’d like to know how it went for you.



Here are some stories from famous writers about their experiences writing with music: https://www.writingroutines.com/best-music-writing/

This article taught me that Stephen King writes to heavy metal, specifically Metallica. I found this funny and fun! Also…it kindof makes sense. To enter into the strange, eerie worlds and disturbed minds that he creates, no wonder King has to listen to heavy sounds.

Let me know your thoughts and what your favorite writing music or environment is, in the comments below!

Until next time,

Chaitanya

Author Interviews · Book Reviews · Writing Resources

Writing During the Holidays; &, a Book Recommendation

Hello everyone, and happy holidays! 2021 is just around the corner. Exhausting, right? Well, all I can say is – PLEASE remember to say “Jumanji” at midnight on December 31st, 2020! Then all the disasters might just end. 😉 haha, just a joke.

I’ve been researching continuously on the events of October 5, 1860 where the Wide Awakes did a march to support Lincoln as the Republican presidential candidate. Historical fiction is funny; at times, I’m afraid that I’m not portraying things accurately and I get frozen up in the details; at other times, it’s so engaging and freeing to be in another time, and not in this world. It feels very stress-relieving.

I’ve written a couple scenes so far, but still haven’t managed to make my writing habit daily again, yet. I’m reaaaally hoping to get it together before January, so I can start the new year off with a bang. That being said – this may not be for everyone!

I think there’s nothing wrong with resting during the holidays! I personally plan to keep going because holidays are very low-key for me this year, but in an exhausting year, it might be beneficial to just put your feet up for the holidays and then dive back into writing in January!

For anyone struggling with how to write even during holiday season, here are some articles I found on it:

5 tips

On making time to write during the holidays

Keep writing in holiday season!

Does anyone have any writing-related resolutions they’d like to share? How are your projects going? Plans for how to keep writing even during holiday season?

Book Recommendation!

For my fellow Arthurian-lore geeks out there, boy oh boy do I have a book recommendation for you! I’m not sure where I originally found this recommendation, I think it was somewhere on Reddit. It may have been in the fantasy writer group, or in a group where people can’t remember a book title and try to give details so other people can help them remember the book.

Anyway, the book is in fact book 1 of a trilogy, called The Lost Queen trilogy, by Signe Pike; the first book is titled The Lost Queen, as well. It’s set in medieval times. Our main character is princess Languoreth (bit of a mouthful there), the only daughter to a petty king who gives tribute to a higher king and is busy fighting off the Vikings. I think it’s set in the middle portion of England, or Wales.

At the start of the story, the main character is 10 years old and she and her twin brother see a mystical animal while grieving by the river. Their mother has just died and they can’t imagine life without her. Then, Languoreth’s brother gets a mystical vision of bad tidings on the way, and a messenger.

The story follows Languoreth into youth and adulthood, where she struggles with sexism of the time, Christians VS pagans, romance, family disputes, and other conflicts. She wants to be a mystic worker like her brother (the book calls it Wisdom Keeper, and I think it’s the path of the druids from history), but since she’s female, she’s bound to be married off to some lord for the advantages of wealth and protection from the Vikings, etc.

Image inspired by the novel, from the interview with Signe Pike in Enchanted Living Magazine

I don’t want to spoil the story, but I’m just going to say, this book was very suspenseful! A lot happens in a few pages, and the author does not skimp on giving the main characters a hard time, including character deaths, life not turning out as you thought it would, battles and gore, etc.

How does it all connect to King Arthur’s legend, you ask? Well, you’ll simply have to read it to find out…:) Let’s just say, the more the book goes on, the more the author sneaks little hints in. I really like how the author does not make it obvious that this is inspired by the King Arthur legend. It’s a very unique twist, so far, on a very well-known legend. I’m excited to see what happens in book 2 of the trilogy!

Here is: an interview with the author.

What books have helped you escape the stress of 2020? Is there any nonfiction about writing that you would recommend?

Until next time,
Chaitanya

Musings

Post-NaNoWriMo Struggle

Good morning, everyone! I hope you are all managing OK out there.

NaNoWriMo is over and I’ve been struggling. I had developed a daily habit, but now it’s fallen to the wayside. I’ve been struggling to know what to write, because like I said in my earlier post, I’m getting to more historical events in my story, and having to do more research.

But, I’m determined to not abandon this project. I have a completed outline. That in itself is an amazing achievement! I’ve struggled with outlines on other stories before.

What has helped me is diving into the research, and trying to make it fun. For instance, did you know that there was a group of Lincoln supporters that did street performances in 1860, and ended up fighting in the American Civil War? They were called the “Wide Awakes”, and they had a parade and a big show on October 5, 1860. I never knew about them before, and I found the news and content about them so intriguing, it’s helped guide my story forward.

One helpful thing I read about post-NaNo slump was, keep setting goals and striving toward deadlines. Don’t just write without a goal in mind – maybe, write 2k words a day until January 1? Write 3 pages every day? Finish the draft by February? Whatever it is, put it on your calendar, hang it on your office wall, and get to it!

I like this advice, and it’s helping me. I’m still currently researching the events of and leading up to the Wide Awakes’ October 5 parade, but when I feel I’ve researched well enough, I’m going to be diving back into writing.

How is your novel going, whether you started it for NaNoWriMo or not? Or have you been working on poetry or some other writing? Maybe you’re going through a slump, too? Please share in the comments! I always like to talk with other writers.

Until next time,

Chaitanya