National Poetry Month

In case you didn’t know it already, April is National Poetry Month in the US! 

I am by no means an expert on poetry, but I’ve grown from an ambivalent reader who found poems confusing at first to someone who has grown to love it. 

In my school days, we learnt a lot of poetry as part of our English curriculum. It intimidated me at first but I soon got the hang of it. Here are a few of my favourite poems from school:

The Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Home they brought her warrior dead by Lord Alfred Tennyson

The Frog and the Nightingale by Vikram Seth

 

You can also join the Poetry Challenge on Writer’s Digest here.

Nowadays I read the poetry that fills the pages of the literary journals I read regularly or subscribe to, and I also subscribe to A Poem a Day.  

This is a wonderful way to keep in touch with poetry. Every day a brief new shiny poem will show up in your inbox and need not steal more than a few minutes of your schedule to read it and absorb the beauty of words. 

I believe reading poetry even if one doesnt write it can help writers appreciate the beauty and lyricism of words and recognize the beats in their own writing better. 

Though most poetry is non-rhyming these days, I’ve written a mix of poems, including limericks, rhymes and the like. You can read some of my poems here (scroll down to the end). 

Do you read poetry at all? If you do, what are your favourite poems? If you write poetry, please do share some links for us all to enjoy!

Third Flatiron

I’ve always been a fan of the science fiction and fantasy journal Third Flatiron. Their Spring anthology, “Monstrosities,” is now available in ebook format on Amazon 

It is available free to Kindle Unlimited members. 

The 20 satirical, fantasy, and horror stories contained in the book would be a great read while you wait for spring to finally kick winter to the curb. 

Click here for details. 

Submissions are now open for their Summer 2018 issue (“Galileo’s Theme Park”). 

Check their website at http://www.thirdflatiron.com for info and deadlines. If any of the themes inspire you, consider sending along a story for consideration. 

The Drive: To help them continue publishing great stories and paying writers well, please subscribe (it’s only $1/month) or support us on Patreon at patreon.com/thirdflatiron. 

F or NF?

Ever since I picked up creative writing, I have written a mix of fiction and nonfiction. I launched my writing career with a nonfiction humour piece that found publication in a major Indian women’s magazine called Femina. I followed it up with several more pieces of humorous nonfiction, but I tried my hand at writing fiction alongside as well. In this endeavour, my efforts met with less success. My critique group rightly ripped my stories apart, but I persevered and managed to get a few shorter pieces published to begin with.

In the years since, I find myself equally divided between fiction and creative nonfiction. Some days I pick up my laptop determined to write a short story but it doesn’t flow and a nonfiction piece comes quite easily instead. On other days when I begin an essay, the muse doesn’t cooperate and prods me towards a short story instead.

I’m at the stage now where I go with the flow. Earlier I used to stress about it, mistakenly believing that I should stick to one and master it rather than dabble in different genres and fail spectacularly in all of them.

However, when I researched this problem a little, I found that most writing websites advising trying genres to test one’s mettle and also one’s interest. I have not found myself gravitating to any one particular field yet. Even within fiction, I write a mix of YA, contemporary realist, speculative and magical realism stories.

To add to this heady mix of fiction and creative nonfiction is poetry. I find it tough to write poetry, even though I have had poems published but those are more on the humorous side. My muse often pushes me towards poetry as well. I have written a few serious poems but so far I haven’t tried to get them published, convinced as I am that they are spectacularly poor and don’t deserve publication. However I haven’t got them critiqued either. Poetry is something I plan to tackle later, when I have wrapped up penning the stories and essays that I have already ideated first.

A number of classic novelists were excellent essayists as well. You can read them on Project Gutenberg, like this collection by George Eliot.

A few of my writer friends do attempt to write both, but some are devoted to one particular form of writing – say science fiction or perhaps children’s stories, or even journalistic pieces that involve research and reporting. I admire and envy their single-minded focus, considering my writing is nowadays all over the place.

But after years of experimenting with different types of writing, I realized my attempts would never go to waste. I count all of it towards practice.

And as the old adage goes which we learnt when we were children, practice makes perfect.

At least, that’s what I have pinned my hopes on.

What is your favourite genre of writing? Do you feel moved to experiment in different modes of writing as well? Do let me know in the comments below!

The Millennium Enters Adulthood

Happy New Year Everyone! A warm welcome to the 18th year of the current century and indeed, of the millennium!

Each December I undertake a detailed review of the year gone by. You can read my past year-end summaries here, here and here. 

The first quarter of the year whizzed past in adjusting myself to a regular workday routine after six months of maternity leave. Glancing through my records, I observe that I actually began writing and submitting around April. 

I finally took the advice of this article and started sending out my stories to multiple venues at a time, and I’ve hit 100 rejections for the year! 

I also have 8 acceptances to show for my efforts. 

The growth I see this year is in my writing which I believe has improved. The evidence is visible in the form of a few personal/higher-tier rejections I received from some of the most reputed literary journals. It may sound strange to brag about rejections but anyone who writes and submits will know exactly what I am talking about. 

On the other end of the spectrum lies my disappointment at not placing in the contests I entered though I believed the stories were of good quality.  

I had hoped to close the year on a win, but by the onset of the festive season, that hope blurred and eventually died down. I imagine all the editors shut down their laptops and headed out for the ragged mountains or sandy beaches, or simply snugged close to the loved ones while tearing the wrapping off their Christmas presents under the light of the tree. 

I’d have shared more detailed stats for the year but I’m not really sure they are that useful. The main thing to note is that submitting your writing amounts to a numbers game. The more you submit, the higher the chances of acceptance. 

I will continue to plod my way through 2018, trudging through my archives digging out stories to be revised and submitted, and hoping for the best. I remain, as always, incurably optimistic.

What are your resolutions for the new year?

The Prodigal Daughter

I am thrilled to report that my story The Prodigal Daughter was published in Reedsy as a winner of their previous week’s writing prompt. Do take a look and like/share/comment on it!

If you haven’t come across Reedsy before, I highly recommend you subscribe to their writing prompts. They offer editorial consultation and they also host a variety of free courses. I took the course for YA novels and writing short stories, both of which I found extremely useful.

What’s happening on the writing front for you?

The Legacy of Jane Austen, and a New Story Publication!

I’m happy to post that my story Perils in the Post has found a wonderful home in The Ilanot Review in their Letters-themed issue. The Ilanot Review is an excellent literary journal from Israel! Do hop over and take a look.

In other exciting news, 18th July this year marked the 200th anniversary of Jane Austen’s death. How fitting that my essay on Jane Austen was accepted just days ago, for an anthology by Ben Bulben Books. The piece, which I drafted over a week, captures my love for this great author and her delightful work. I would love to share a link to the anthology when it comes out.

Though I’ve read all her books, my favourite works of Jane Austen are the usual culprits: Pride and Prejudice, and Sense and Sensibility. My next favourite after these two would be Emma, followed by Persuasion and Northanger Abbey. I haven’t read Lady Susan yet but as it was her first novel she wrote, the general consensus is that it differs from her later work.

As a Jane-ite, I am not enamoured of all the variations on her work that have flooded the marketplace in the past few years. I’ve read only a few of them, but haven’t had the stomach to read any more. Here are a few that I’ve read: 

Death Comes to Pemberley by P.D. James

Pride and Prejudice strides into the mystery genre courtesy the late great P.D. James and what an entry it is! I loved this book and would wholeheartedly recommend it.

Austenland by Shannon Hale

This was quite successful but I didn’t enjoy it much. It spawned a movie version as well, and I tried watching it in an attempt to help reading the book, but that did not work either. It’s just one of those where my taste apparently doesn’t mesh with the general reading public. 

Prada & Prejudice by Mandy Hubbard

I read this years ago and though my memory of it is vague, I remember enjoying the read. She incorporates dialogues from the original text as well.

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Seth Grahame-Smith, and others in a similar vein

Pure blasphemy in my humble opinion, but that’s just me. The book was quite popular and well-appreciated, though I am sure it literally left JA turning in her grave.

This is only a sampling and there are many more, but I don’t want to tarnish the image of the original in my mind by reading derivative works. Perhaps at a later stage, I might grow a taste for it, but not now.

What’s your favourite Jane Austen novel?