Maybe you remember what it was like
When the stars died to give you lifeRead More →
Maybe you remember what it was like
When the stars died to give you lifeRead More →
The Ministry of Utmost Happiness by Arundhati Roy is the ultimate pick for Pride Month and it will take you places. It starts from the old Delhi, a time before Coca Cola had laid siege to the Roofafza empire. We meet Aftab when he is just a boy with a beautiful voice and a dream to change. The story takes us to a war-torn Kashmir that declares ‘normalcy’ over pools of blood and it walks us through a reminiscent India where it is luck to have been born a Hijra (Transgender) , but bad luck to have been born a Muslim.
Anjum, formerly known as Aftab now lives in a graveyard that she over the years extends the boundaries of and strategically constructs into her own ‘Jannat Guesthouse ’. One day she finds a baby left on her pavement along with puppies and it seems her dream to become a mother has come true. She is without any doubt the most vibrant of all the characters. A combination of dark humor, sensitivity and sharp edges knotted into something unique. Anjum isn’t a typical, victimized transgender character that we come across because she has an added streak of authority and dominance. This gives new and impressive dimension to the community she represents.
We come to know her hand-picked guests as well: Tilottama, puts us at a lack of words in her description as she impersonates being nothing so easily. She is retold as an emptiness that three different men who love her have to come to terms with. Many believe this Architect turned freedom fighter is written in Roy’s own reflection. We also meet Saddam Hussain, a vengeful dalit waiting for the opportunity to avenge his father death who was a victim of the Gujrat Massacre, something him and Anjum have in common. Unlike many that requested entrance and were shunned away, Saddam Hussain is granted entrance to Jannat Guesthouse and he become one of Anjum’s closest friends.
Speaking of Prose and the writing technique I feel a sense of relief having already read A god of small things as it makes you accustomed to the chain of events that Roy never delivers in the form of a actual chain. Indeed the book doesn’t follow a traditional plot system. As you read you already know how it ends and what brought the characters to that particular end or where it started. The plot is woven with confidence that reflects in the personalities of the characters and demonstrates Roy’s impeccable craft.
The Ministry of Utmost Happiness is a tragedy, a love story and yet it has an ending that fills us with hope. It comes off as a loud political statement sometimes and as a historical retelling at other times. It speaks of loneliness of these characters and yet the endearing company they come to have. The characters are marked with deep loss and profound victories. The Ministry of Utmost Happiness gives us the most flawed and fragile characters that put us in awe of their magnificent, unabashed survival over the course of many years.
The Ministry of Utmost Happiness is her first take on fiction since A god of Small things which despite its heightened acclaim (and Booker Prize Award), put the author under the unwanted spotlight curated by the image of a pretty face that writes a good piece of illicit romance. She renounced that image with the involvement in the non-fiction world. And after 20 years returned with a book has much of her experiences engraved in it. The book gives us a backdrop of Muslim resistance in Gujrat. It gives the leftovers of the Red Fort and The Khwabgah, surviving on the dreams of a past life as Mughal footnotes. The book moves you to tears with its depiction of the Hijra community which also becomes the most prominent feature of it. It uses a homeless PhD. and a freedom fighter like stops to catch our breath. The reason why I picked this book for the Pride Month tag is because it is an ode to the marginalized, the minority and the misunderstood. It is about their struggles that don’t exactly show up on the map but have helped determine the boundaries and the boundless.
Share your thoughts on about this book in the comments below.
Momina ArifRead More →
Holden Caulfield is a character that has largely been remembered for his distaste for the human race in general and yet his unwavering effort to find connection. He captures the essence of being a teenager in The Catcher in the Rye and it is among one of the first and most notable pieces in English literature that explore the teenage angst.Read More →
Writing a book is always hard. Getting it through the agents and past the editors to the publishers and all the way to the readers, having readers to begin with, is all very hard business. But the hardest part of writing is the ‘writing’. The hardest part yet is getting the pen to the paper and getting the words all out before you can decide if they’re the right ones.
The problem is that as a writer you’ve got a lot to express and more than often you have the skill to express it artistically. What you seem to lack is the work ethic to consistently do the one thing you’re actually good at. At times you might even have the idea. It’s not that you don’t enjoy it. It’s the expectations that get in the way of the process. So here are 10 steps that if you follow will lead to nothing but pure, unedited, unaltered, practical process of actually writing.
#1 The way to really write a book is to begin writing it.
It may sound as the most useless piece of advice but this is only real advice. You start and it doesn’t matter how you go about it but you keep going. One chapter day or one page a day. If it takes all the strength you’ve got, write one paragraph a day. But if you want to become a writer then write.
#2 And if writing it is important, trust me finishing it is also important.
Staying motivated enough to finish is important. Writing a sentence is easy. There is no mountain between one sentence and another and yet crossing enough sentences till you get a book seems like the most overwhelming task. The idea is to be consistent so as to make it less overwhelming and to keep the interest alive.
#3 Making lots of decision.
Being can writer can mean, at times, making lots of decisions. You have to decide what your book is going to be about. You have to decide your word count milestones that you can practically achieve in the day. You have to decide what you really want to write about because the lethargy that you face when writing might as well be a sign that this theme, or this process, or even writing, is not for you. Don’t let boredom go unnoticed because there is so much we can learn from it.
#4 Let the book happen.
One of the things that I find as repetitive advice is that you should let your trusted critiques have a look at the early drafts so they can point you into the right direction. And this is one I don’t agree to. If you let someone in on the process early on you don’t get to have the book or the draft, or the paragraph, just whatever you’ve got for the time being, all to yourself. You don’t get to write with the privilege of being completely unfiltered. And you can’t be as invested in your book if you feel in the early stages that it’s not even your book anymore, it’s just some book someone expects you to write. Isn’t writing hard enough as it is when dealing with your expectations that you go around getting involved in other people’s expectation. My advice would be to let the book happen. Writing isn’t meant to be done under a spotlight or a magnifying glass.
#5 Take the chapters seriously.
Every chapter has to be a short story of its own. It has to be a whirlwind of all the required events, all the crevices searched, all the literary devices exhausted. It has to be as complete as possible and incomplete enough to engage the reader into the next chapter. This is not necessarily a writing technique but this is how I like a book to be. I want to feel so lost reading that I’m surprised when the chapter is over that it was only a chapter that felt like a whole lifetime. This also doesn’t mean that the chapter has to be very long. It just has to be a fulfilling reading experience.
How is this writing advice? As a writer your commitment to the book should reflect in the amount of attention you paid to writing individual chapters. Individual chapters are not as paralyzing a commitment but if you write a good enough chapter you might find yourself wanting to top the last one.
#6 Blog about your book.
This might be one of those advises that contradict the previous ones. But here’s how it’s different. Blogs are different from editors or critiques. There is a variety of responses you come across and some the most unpredictable ones can make you realize something about your book. Blogging about your work is in a way staying productive while the book is in process. Blogging is can prepare you for how a ‘real’ audience will react to your work.
#7 Don’t let your ideas go missing.
Write your ideas down on a small piece of paper and throw it in a jar. That way you have a magical jar full of ideas. If that is not interesting enough you can fill up a journal with all of these and as a writer there really isn’t anything more aesthetically appealing than the ‘written’, written word. If not that either, use Evernote which is the best app for writing out there.
#8 Leave the editing for later
The writing cannot go hand in hand with the editing. You need to write with one kind of mindset and only after you’re done with that can you do the editing and with another kind of mindset. Writing has to be done freely and without the fear of any kind of judgment. Editing is quite the opposite. You have to judge your own work like you’re the professor presented with an assignment that reeks of last minute copy pasting.
#9 Don’t procrastinate
As the author of many things unfinished I can say that when it comes to writing there is nothing more difficult. It’s full part procrastination with only a pinch of initiative. You can add a little reading here and there to compensate for the time you don’t spend writing. It goes far because you’ll turn in the research paper that you have due but you won’t write the poem. I do a lot of what I call ‘planning’ and not as much of ‘creating’. We can all be such wonderful writers if stop doing that.
#10 Enjoy it.
If you’re going to stress about it, which is mostly the case, you will not enjoy writing anymore. And then the worst has already happened. What makes you a writer is primarily how much you enjoy it, not how much you stress about it.
Share your writing tips, and suggestions with me in the comments and let me know if this helped you start writing.
Featured Image Credit: VinstageRead More →
For a minute I forgot that the lights were out
And the bridges weren’t mendingRead More →
Remember that there are people who don’t mind when you lie to them.
They don’t mind when you tell them stories.
So long as you tell a good one.
For they have heard many.
They need you to make them believe.
Believe the things that they don’t see.
If you lie to them
You’ll have to believe
That these are the things you can’t feel
You’re humming lies to yourself now
And you don’t see
That these are the people that never believe.
They know every story that has ever been
And for all of our lies
There are hells of equal rim.
featured image credit: kissedbythevoidRead More →
Unless the walls shatter themselves in a collision to break free
Until the stars fall to pebbles to match the dust, you’ll seeRead More →
At the bottoms of misery’s ocean
Is a soul manic to its core
Pride that lingers the wreck
Doesn’t bring it back lifeRead More →
Right between home and nothing
Is the longing for truth?
What will you still want when you can have nothing.Read More →
I’m not scared of the starts that wreck you just a little bit enough.
I do not fear the benign stops that leave you gasping in puddles of truth.
I do not fear nothing that has ever been.
But the steady glide.
The straight line.
That feels like nothing
That becomes from nothing
And will come to nothing at all.
I fear just how long that line is.
featured image credit: Ariel R. DavisRead More →