Novel Writing, Furious Creative Kolkata, and Tagore by da-AL


Tagore (c. 1925), by unknown author, State Archive, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=47866012
Tagore (c. 1925), by unknown author, State Archive, Public Domain

How’s your novel coming along? If you’re writing one, did you outline it first? Or is it evolving?

“I have spent many days stringing and unstringing my instrument while the song I came to sing remains unsung.” Rabindranath Tagore

In the case of the two books I’m working on, “Flamenco & the Sitting Cat” and “Tango & the Sitting Cat,” I outlined it, wrote a bunch, thought I was about done — and then a new character introduced himself!

“Reach high, for stars lie hidden in you. Dream deep, for every dream precedes the goal.” Tagore

Blogging has brought me the unexpected joy of meeting many new online friends from India, thereby stoking my curiosity about the country. It was only natural that my books include someone at least partly from there.

“Depth of friendship does not depend on length of acquaintance.” Tagore

Niks is a minor player. It’s the year of 2002. He lives in Southern California, the best place to surf and earn a living as a model and actor. He’s a gay man in his 40s. His parents were studying business when they met at UC Berkeley’s International House, a social club intended to help foreign students feel less alone. Pasta is the dish he makes best because his Italian mom taught him how to cook. His love of great Indian literature is thanks to his dad, who grew up in Kolkata.

“A mind all logic is like a knife all blade. It makes the hand bleed that uses it.” Tagore

Are you from India? If so, feel free to correct me and/or add to what’s here…

“The butterfly counts not months but moments, and has time enough.” Tagore

Kolkata has been called the “City of Furious, Creative Energy” as well as the “cultural [or literary] capital of India.”

“If I can’t make it through one door, I’ll go through another door — or I’ll make a door. Something terrific will come no matter how dark the present.” Tagore

Tagore performing the title role inValmiki Pratibha (1881) with his niece Indira Devi as the goddess Lakshmi, by unknown author - Indira Devi Chowdhurani. Rabindra Smriti — Kolkata: Visva-Bharati, 1974., Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=16150280
Tagore performing the title role in Valmiki Pratibha (1881) with his niece Indira Devi as the goddess Lakshmi, by unknown author – Indira Devi Chowdhurani. Rabindra Smriti — Kolkata: Visva-Bharati, 1974., Public Domain

Did you know that the world’s largest non-trade annual book fair takes place in Kolkata?

“Death is not extinguishing the light; it is only putting out the lamp because the dawn has come.” Tagore

The region is home to India’s major publishers. So are many great thinkers, such as Rabindranath Tagore (May 7, 1861 – August 7, 1941), India’s equivalent to Shakespeare.

“The most important lesson that man can learn from life, is not that there is pain in this world, but that it is possible for him to transmute it into joy.” Rabindranath Tagore

Rabindranath with Einstein in 1930, vy UNESCO - UNESCO Gallery, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=27489646
Rabindranath with Einstein in 1930, by UNESCO – UNESCO Gallery, Public Domain

To my mind, Tagore as much a sort of Leonardo da Vinci. He was a revolutionary politically and artistically. At eight years old, he was already a poet and went on to be a musician, artist, Ayurveda researcher, actor, playwright, and more.

“Love’s gift cannot be given, it waits to be accepted.” Tagore

Quite the globe-trotter, he introduced the world to India’s creative treasures.

“Love is an endless mystery, because there is no reasonable cause that could explain it.” Tagore

In 1913, he became the first non-European Nobel-prize laureate.

Rabindranath Tagore Cherishsantosh / WikiCommons
Rabindranath Tagore Cherishsantosh / WikiCommons

More quotes by Tagore…

“If you cry because the sun has gone out of your life, your tears will prevent you from seeing the stars.”

“A lamp can only light another lamp when it continues to burn in its own flame.”

“Love gives beauty to everything it touches.”

“Dark clouds become heaven’s flowers when kissed by light.

“Music fills the infinite between two souls.”

What’s your creative writing style?

The Power of Stories: a Video by da-AL


photo of da AL

 

Here, in another of my Toastmasters speeches, I talk about the importance of fiction. “The Power of Stories” is a subject that’s dear to me, in this time when people only read how-to. Fiction makes us more empathetic, smarter, and creative. It makes us better people …

 

Albert Einstein was asked how to make children intelligent. He replied, “Read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales.”

 

By intelligent, he meant beyond good grades and paychecks. He spoke of our becoming human beings, not merely human doings.

Imagine that in this video, my white sweater hood is red, that covering my head with it transforms me…

That an ordinary plastic bag is a wicker basket filled with fresh baked cinnamon rolls, and that when I hold my fingers to my lips, I’m licking the stickiness of honey. Under my feet, a forest of spicy pine needles and earthy wetness crunches to mingle with the sweet scents.

Imagine that beyond trees ahead, sound the yips of what might be new puppies that she’s adopted. The nearer we get, however, the more our skin tingles with panic.

Okay — a different scenario — when I rip paper into strips and place them before us on a pretend version of an oak table in an imaginary one-room log cabin, the scraps represent three sizes of bowls of porridge. When I toss paperclips about, they double as tufts of greasy brown fluff. The chairs we sit on are three varying sizes of them chairs, one broken to bits.

When we shut our eyes, warm steam rises from the bowls. We inhale the delicious scents of melted butter and hot maple syrup. Cold air rushes about our ears from an open door to the outside. We look around and discover that the prior inhabitants left in a rush.

Okay — now scratch both stories, and we’re back to reality.

Was either tale familiar to you? When you were quite young, did you hear, read, or tell the stories of “Little Red Riding Hood,” and of “The Three Bears”?

Imagining is a muscle — as essential to flex, deepen, and expand as it is to eat well, exercise, and think positively. Fiction helps us become better in every way.

If there exist cultures that don’t value the power of stories, I’m not aware of them. Most people I know barely read, and when they do, its non-fiction — spiritual, how-to, self-help, work facts, or textbooks. They say they don’t have time for novels or shorter stories.

If people understood the value of fiction, they would make time for it. As a former journalist, I know facts are important. As a reader and a novelist, I also know the unparalleled power of fiction. Facts help us become productive. Fiction helps us make sense of life. Fine literary fiction transports us into imaginary shoes, times, and places. We become more human. We take the time to value fun.

The best stories, it has been said, are those that make us cry as well as laugh.

Do you allow yourself time to read fiction?

Guest Blog Post: “How to make rational decisions while keeping your mind clear?” in Jeyran’s exact words


Ever feel too overwhelmed to make wise choices? Jeyran, who has a great book review blog, shares her tips here (at da-AL’s) for staying sane…

Albert Eistein photo and quote

How to make rational decisions while keeping your mind clear?

Here are a few tips and points that may help you when the time comes.

Pause and reflect

Many people like to prepare and plan and some like to be fast and respond to situations immediately. This can sometimes work both ways. Both traits are good to have but when you want to make a rational decision with a clear, unbiased mind, then pondering on the subject may be the better way to go about it.

Do Not Respond to Negative Energy and Criticism

There is a difference between negative criticism and constructive criticism. The moment you respond to negative criticism, you are biting the hook. These people are trying to hook you and get your attention. As soon as you respond, you are feeding the negativity. Other negative energies feed on this response and surround you as well. You have then become the “feeder.” It is important to remember that what you focus on in life is what you get. If you want less negativity, then it’s important to ignore it. As time goes by, it will go away or will reduce substantially. Don’t allow the negativity to over shadow what is important.

Make a Chart

Write down the pros and cons of the situation and try not to overreact to it before you have sat down and thoroughly thought about the issue. Try to be logical and have an open mind towards filling out your chart.

The process of making a rational decision is by using logic, objectivity and analysis over the subject matter. Therefore formulate your goal, identify the criteria, leave yourself some alternatives, make a chart and then you are able to make your final decision.

Thanks, Jeyran, for sharing your wisdom!