"Keep working on a plan. Make no little plans. Make the biggest you can think of, and spend the rest of your life carrying it out." Harry S. Truman

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

The bookstore experience in Hyderabad

As pretty much everything else in India, going to a bookstore is an experience ! At times, a little baffling, when not downright frustrating, but always interesting ! For instance, you want to buy a particular book, and knowing that there is no way you will find it yourself, as there is no real logic to the way books are shelved, BUT everything is computerized, you walk up to the guy behind the computer and give him the title. He looks it up, finds it all right, and that's when the "fun" begins. First, he points in a vague direction, hoping you will look for the book yourself. If you've got time, and you're in a good mood, or if you simply fancy the idea of perusing at titles piled up vertically, you give it a try. Of course, you do not find the book, and so, you go back to him and ask him to send you someone who will. The man at the computer will then call someone, yell out the title of your book to him, give him some general idea as to where to look for it, and the guy will then proceed to spend a while trying to locate said book. Most of the time, unsuccessfully. And so, you either ask them to order it - an they will deliver it to your home - or you go home, get on your own computer, and order it on amazon.com and prepare to wait for it to arrive. The upside of that is that while you were looking for that particular book that you never found, you actually discovered others that you remember wanting to read, once upon a time, or books that you never knew about, and joyfully discover, and in the end, you go back home with a stack of books, anyway. Not the one you were looking for, but what the heck ! The main thing is that you have a book to read, right ?

Posted by Picasa
Posted by Picasa

Monday, February 18, 2008

The Peace Tree

On Saturday, we saw a lovely and important movie that has won numerous awards throughout the world : The Peace Tree, written and directed by Mitra Sen. It is the story of two friends, one Muslim, the other Christian, who dream of celebrating each other's festivals.

Here are the words I found on the film's website : "The Peace Tree shares the voices of our children who enlighten their parents to the importance of having an open mind and sharing and celebrating diversity together. Through their struggles and their dreams, the children create a unique symbol – The Peace Tree - a tree that highlights the symbols from all our vibrant cultures and faiths on one tree reflecting the beauty of diversity in unity."

After the screening, our kids went outside and decorated their own symbols of peace, before they hang them on a tree, creating their own Peace Tree.

Posted by Picasa

Mitra Sen, who is a teacher, as well as a filmmaker, adds: "It is our hope that the Peace Tree will be created in homes, schools and cities around the world in our effort to spread peace, hope, diversity and unity. [...] If our children grow up with an understanding and appreciation of all our vibrant cultures and faiths, we can one day hope for a world of peace and respect for all people."

Visit the website. It has lots of activities for children, information about different festivals around the world, and on how to participate in Peace Tree Day. Thank you, Preeya and Murali Nair, for organizing this screening and the Peace-Tree-making activity afterwards.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Why do we write?

One of my critique partners asked us a question, this week. "If you were stranded on a deserted island, with no hopes of a reader, would you still write?"

The four of us gave the same answer : YES, because we love to read our own words, over and over again. One of us even reminded us of that woman in The Importance of Being Earnest who says that she always brings her diary on the train, so if she gets bored, she'll have something "sensational" to read. I suppose it is crucial for writers to be able to read their own words endlessly - I didn't say to fall in love with our own words, because that is definitely not recommended - or none of us could ever revise, and what is writing, if not endlessly revising?

For me, writing is also the best way I know of sorting out my thoughts and feelings. Whether it comes out - subconsciously or not - in a fiction format, or as confidences in letters to a friend, writing helps me sort out the clutter, up and in there. It always has.

How about the other writers who read this, out there? Would you still write, even if you were stranted on a deserted island, with no hopes of anyone ever reading your words?

Monday, February 11, 2008

Two more blurbs

Jane Kurtz and Cynthia Leitich Smith have both written a blurb for Amadi's Snowman.

"Katia Novet Saint-Lot has given us an important and moving glimpse into the curiosity, wonder, and knowledge a book can bring—and into the life of children in modern African cities. As Yohannes Gebregeorgis, founder of Ethiopia Reads, says, 'Books change lives.' How terrific to have a story that shows how and why." —Jane Kurtz, Children's Book Author

"Amadi's first-ever glimpse at a snowman--one depicted in the pages of a book--inspires him to transform from a resistant to an enthusiastic student of reading. Children will identify with Amadi's initial reluctance, his mixed feelings about a new challenge, and his attempts to rationalize staying the same. Yet they also will likely be inspired, as Amadi is, by the possibilities of reading, the way it can fill one's heart and shine a light on the unknown." —Cynthia Leitich Smith, Children's Book Author

Thank you, both, so very much.

And so, what happens, now? Not much. The proofs have been sent out to the printer in South Korea. It's going to be another few months before I can hold the book in my hands. So, off to write another one, now. There is nothing better to do, and nothing I'd rather do either :)

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Monday, February 4, 2008

I'm creative !

You Are 69% Creative

You are beyond creative. You are a true artist - even if it's not in the conventional sense of the word.
You love creating for its own sake, and you find yourself quite inspired at times.

I need this kind of reminder at the moment. I'm going through a bad spell. I don't seem to be able to write anything worthy. I write, I read, I delete, I write again, I read again, I delete. I change files, go to another story, write, read, and delete. I think : OK, let's forget this one - a short story I've been trying to turn into a novel for what seems like forever - and go to another one - a chapter novel that's also going around in circles - and then to a new one - but then, the new one is too raw, needs a lot more work, and I'm soooo slow ! - etc, etc.
I'm participating in a writing workshop, it started last week, and I still have not been able to come up with something that I feel is worthy of being shown to others for critique. I'm totally freaking out. Everyone at the workshop has been incredibly supportive - Thank you ! - but I'm still going around in circles. So, I'm going to repeat this as a mantra. I'm creative, I'm creative, I'm creative, I'm creative. See it it works.