A Writer’s Desk – and its Six Essentials

When uncluttered a writer’s desk is unproductive. But that’s just one way of looking at it.

This is how my desk looks now, at the time of writing this post.

writers-desk-sr-anand-writing-mysterious-kemet2
View sitting in my chair.

Rather tidy. Tidier than it looks when I am genuinely at work – not just staring down at open notebooks. But the staring down is important too for it gets the idea-pot bubbling and churning.

writers-desk-sr-anand-writing-mysterious-kemet
View standing near the desk.

Another view. Still tidy.

And yet, so quiet and calm, circumscribed by the circle of light, it encloses and cocoons me, makes me comfortable and safe, and allows my imagination to soar (or burrow deep into whatever catches my fancy.)

And yes, there’s another way of looking at a tidy and uncluttered desk. It helps you to focus on that one thing that sits in its center (the notebook, for instance.) A tidy desk is sans-distractors.

And before I end this post, here’s a list of the Six Things that must be there on my desk, before I can start work.

Six Essentials of My Writing Desk

  1. My macbook is my lifeline. I’m totally grateful to this awesome guy at Apple Bangalore, who got it revived for me. Even though you’ll never end up on my blog, I have to say this, “Thank you, Deepak.”
  2. My notebook.  I love notebooks. I know that a lot of writers are notebook-hogs. I buy them all the time, and I’ve got a whole shelf worth of notebooks in all shapes, sizes, and covers.
  3. My pen. I love pens and pencils and brushes – tools that help me craft my stories and paintings. Though I type out my stories on my laptop, I create “verbal sketches” of all my bigger stories (5K words and above,) novellas, and novels in my notebook.
  4. My lamps. I’ve got two on this desk, and four elsewhere in the house. I can’t live without their circle of warmth. It comforts me like my Mom’s presence would.
  5. My water bottle that keeps changing – the one that I have right now has a sticker of “Follow your Dream” (Chinese, of course, or they would know that fickle humans are always chasing more than one dream.)
  6. My specs that I can work without but my optometrist is adamant that I should wear them.

I hope you enjoyed this little deviation from my usual story posts.

I’ll be back with some news on the writing front – soon 🙂

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Hunger (Story)

Raindrops, heavy and thick, clattered upon the rooftops and the windowsills. The surface of the road shimmered as the drops fell upon it and broke into infinite little pieces, each a microscopic sphere that smashed against the asphalt and sent out ripples – transforming the road into a mesmerizing snake dancing to the music made by the rain. It was past midnight. Those even moderately respectable were inside, and others were herded in whatever pub or tavern was open at the hour. The road was deserted.

Brad walked quickly. Not because he wanted to avoid the rain, but because he was hungry. It was odd that he should feel hungry in the middle of the night and that he shouldn’t want to anything out of his refrigerator – and he didn’t understand the urgency, but he felt that if he didn’t eat immediately, something terrible would happen. So he had grabbed his raincoat, pulled up his galoshes and rushed out. His favorite haunt from the past, the Red Tipper pub stayed open all night, and it was but a mile from his house. The rain was a minor inconvenience and being wet didn’t matter as much as being hungry did.

At the crossing he turned the corner and stared into the dark alley ahead. The smell of rotting food and churned gutters mixed with the stench of dead rats, stale urine and feces, attacked his acute senses, making him gag. Continue reading “Hunger (Story)”

One, Two…You Too? (Story)

Staying late at work had become a pattern for Bella. It had begun innocuously enough. A slipped assignment, a document that arrived late in her inbox, or an unexpected phone-call from Matt her Team-leader who wanted to discuss something urgent with her.
At first, she didn’t notice that staying back and working late was a kind of getaway for her. Her evenings that were trapped in home had already started becoming interminably long. She and Victor, had always maintained that if a person worked hard and smart enough, there wasn’t a need for her to stay back at work. She had followed her own dictum for six years and while she hadn’t slipped, Victor had. Two years into their pact, he had started arriving late.
She remembered the first time he was late as lucidly as it might have happened yesterday. He had called her up and told her that his boss wanted him to be there for an important overseas phone-call. She had eaten her dinner with the television set on, and gone to bed alone.
And then before they realized what was happening, it had become a pattern. She could vividly recall the first few times Victor had stayed back, but then the late-stays became more and more frequent, until they became a blur. Their evenings became her evening, and he spent his evenings with the “Beast,” his euphemism for his work or boss or whatever. And yet, despite working hard, and despite his daily grudge that he voiced in front of her at the time of breakfast, he appeared happier and more content.
His paradoxical behavior perplexed her, but she loved him, and it was good to see him smiling and humming, so she never complained.

Six Months Later…

Bella awoke with a smile on her face. Her dreams that had for long been a drab colorless gray and quite forgettable, had started becoming more vibrant, more lively, more exciting…and last night, staying late had acquired a different meaning altogether. Over the past few months something that had begun as a chance late-stay at work had changed into a conscious choice for Bella. Matt was obviously happy with this change in her and he quite openly acknowledged that he was thrilled that she had started staying back at work.
But last night was different. It wasn’t the regular late-stay that she had become used to; last night, both were conscious of the charged up atmosphere and both felt the under-currents that at least Bella had been trying to ignore. The attraction that existed between them subliminally had bubbled up and so when their hands had touched last night, neither he nor she had tried to pull away. After that incident, an anticipatory silence punctuated by stolen glances and a deliciously heightened awareness had stretched between them.
He had walked her to her car, but hadn’t said goodnight. She hadn’t either. They had just held each-other’s gaze.
Now, in the morning, as she stepped out of her bath, she found herself humming…
“I can’t stop the feeling
I’ve been this way before
But, with you I’ve found the key
To open any door…”
“Anticipating a promotion?” he asked. He was standing in front of the mirror, tying the knot of his tie.
A wave of guilt surged through her.
“Not really,” she said. “In fact, I wish I didn’t have to stay late…” she stopped mid-sentence.
“You too have started staying late?” he asked, his hand freezing in place.
She froze too. He always arrived late but she an hour before he did. He hadn’t known until now, but now he did.
And she did too.
They stood numbed as they heard the crash, simultaneously.

Credits:
Song: Whitesnake
Lyrics: David Coverdale

Written in response to FOWC with Fandingo Prompt: Variety

Fingers (Story)

KAL-UR was about five feet tall and it didn’t have a head. It didn’t need one, for it was a utility robot. It didn’t need to think or analyze or make decisions – it was only supposed to follow the instructions that it received from Mr. Core.

Since 2080, Mr. Core had been managing CRYORIUM, the international cryonics center. That was the time when the finger-bank, a cryogenic facility to store fingers was first built. That was also the time when fingers were harvested in thousands, and every robot found itself working round the clock. Each finger had to be detached from the body, packed in ice, and injected with heparin to prevent coagulation of the blood. Then all the water in the cells was replaced with a cryo-protectant and then the finger was cooled on dry ice until it reached the temperature of -130 degrees centigrade. Finally, it was stored in a jar of liquid nitrogen at a temperature of about –190 degrees centigrade, and then the jar was labeled with the finger-number and the name of its owner.

It was backbreaking work. Had KAL-UR been a human, he would have either resigned from the job or asked for a raise. Fortunately for Mr. Core, he was a robot and as long as it followed its charging routine, everything worked just fine. Continue reading “Fingers (Story)”

Effort (Story)

He thought of it every morning, afternoon, evening, and night, and in all those hours in between, but every time, he came to the same conclusion.

It was too much of an effort.

Each time he opened the refrigerator to bring out the leftover ham slices, mayonnaise, and the rye bread, he thought of it, but then The Simpsons on the TV would drag him right back to his couch, where he spent the next hour devouring both the sandwich and his favorite program.

On each trip he took to the bathroom he’d see her gown hanging on the over-door hooks, and he was reminded of the chores that awaited him. They had to be done. With each passing moment, they were transforming from important into urgent. And yet it all required that he bent and bending was something that squeezed his roll of stomach fat and put undue pressure on his gut to make him fart, and he hated it.

Oh, how he hated it!

“It’s too much of an effort,” he thought as he took another bite of his sandwich and flipped the channel.

625px-Homemade_sandwich

“Oh drat! Better get done with it,” he growled.

Then, for a moment, he savored the sound of his own voice.

“That felt good,” he mumbled, a smile cracking his face. “Good that she isn’t around to badger me.”

He tossed his empty plate on the table and got up.

“I’ve got to finish this chore, or the stench will bring those pesky neighbors to my door,” he grumbled aloud. To be able to say it all aloud was a cathartic experience.

Good that she was gone.

“This time is so wholly, so completely, so totally mine – just miiiine,” he crooned in a nasal singsong voice, swishing his hips sideways, trying to simulate her walk. The black bags were waiting for him in the kitchen – tied at their mouths, ready to be dispatched. They were heavy, about sixty pounds each, but he knew that the bags would hold. They were strong and scented, and he had bought them online from Target, just last week.

“Into the backyard, Tom. Move your ass,” he chided himself, like she would, if only she were around.

“Oh yes. Yes, ma’am. But you aren’t here to oversee me, are you?” he laughed, as he dumped them both into the trash can.

“And now let us do the laundrrry,” he continued in the same singsong voice, as he slammed the door behind him.

He checked the time in the kitchen clock. It was 4 PM already. He had an hour to complete the laundry and vacuum the couch and the carpet for the crumbs.

She would be back from work by five o’clock.

“Sigh!

Image Credits/Attribution: Wikimedia Commons
jeffreyw [CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D

 

Where do the thoughts of a Writer come from?

A writer writes what she thinks, but where do the thoughts come from?

From her past and present…

From the world around her…

From what she sees, hears, smells, reads, does…

From what happens to her and hers…

A storyteller weaves a story, but where does the yarn come from?

From what happened and what didn’t…

From what should’ve have happened but didn’t…

From events and from people…

From what should be but isn’t...

The Price of Nofret’s Nose” is a work of fiction. It’s story is about what happened and what didn’t, what must have happened but didn’t, and what should have been but wasn’t; and yet it’s also a story that has characters and reflections from the writer’s past and present and of what happened to her and hers.

The Price of Nofret's Nose.
The Price of Nofret’s Nose.

 

 

 

Strange Weather in Tokyo.

Strange name for a book and stranger was the way in which I happened to read it. A friend who was invited for lunch knew that I love books and he arrived lugging five books none of which belonged to any of the genres that I prefer reading. (My preferred reading comprises fantasy, historical fiction, science-fiction, and thrillers – in that order.)

I think he must’ve generalized that being a woman I would be interested in romance and so two out of the five books were in the Romance genre. One was “The Winner Stands Alone” by Paulo Coelho and one was a thriller –  “The Girl who Played with Fire” by Stieg Larsson. If you’ve read my recent posts, you know that for the last one year, I’ve been terribly distracted, so despite picking up “The Girl who Played with Fire” first, I gave up after a few pages. Then I picked up the 175 pages long (or short) “Strange Weather in Tokyo,” and was pleasantly surprised that its simple narrative kept me engaged.

———– Spoiler Alert ———–

The heroine of the novel, Tsukiko is a 37-year-old single woman who meets her high-school teacher at a bar. The teacher is over 60, widowed and a man who leads a simple life. Gradually, for no particular reason, except perhaps her loneliness, Tsukiko starts enjoying her random encounters with her teacher, who she calls “Sensei” throughout the book. Eventually, she realizes that she has fallen in love with him, when she becomes jealous of the attention he showers on a woman teacher. 

———– Spoiler Alert ———–

The storyline, as you can see, is fairly simple and straightforward. I prefer stories with complex plots (Philippa Gregory’s Tudor books are some of my favorites.) The characters are simple and straightforward too. I like complex, layered characters (Tyrion Lannister of the Game of Thrones is one of my favorites.) The settings don’t change much and the descriptions don’t have enough details – in fact, I still don’t know what everyone looks like. I like to “see” the places, “watch” the events unfold, “look at” the characters…

And yet, I read the whole book at a time when I couldn’t get myself to read at all. I think Hiromi Kawakami, the author, wanted to achieve just that. Her book is polite and laid-back like her characters, the love-story is devoid of passion – it just…flows along, and that’s the charm of the book.

Here’s a picture.

Strange Weather in Tokyo by Hiromi Kawakami

I guess that’s all 🙂

(And if I am starting to add smilies at the end of my sentences, I am already on my way to meet and bring back my old, happier self.)

Charmed.

MysteriousKemet2-Review-on-Amazon copy

Another 5 star review. I’m charmed. Actually, I’m inspired. Thank you, dear unknown reviewer. I’m glad you stopped by to share your thoughts.

I’ll return to share my thoughts on “Strange Weather in Tokyo” and a couple of other books that I’ve read recently.

Thanks 🙂

 

2019 & Writing.

If I were one of my characters, I’d say that 2018 was a monster from the depths of hell, but I am not, so I’ll just call it a terrible year and lock it up in my diaries.

Now about 2019…

A story is out there milling in the slush-pile of a publisher, another is lounging here in my desk-drawer, a couple are waiting to be yanked out of the dark recesses of my mind so that they find their true form. But being a writer-artist (or an artist-writer, depending on who rules the roost at the time of speaking,) makes the tussle even greater. When a story peeps out, the artist brandishes her brush and shoo-es it back in; and when the writer finally gets down to writing it, the artist seduces the writer with her colorful palette and the promises of an incredible visual treat.

Continue reading “2019 & Writing.”

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