a blank slate

a blank slate

Month: May 2011

Writing about Writing about writing!

Hasn’t every writer written sometime or another, about writing itself. You know, like the art.

Like Elmore Leonard, for instance (whom I only know as the guy Stephen King called “the great American writer”), in his Elmore Leonard’s Ten Rules of Writing:

Easy on the Adverbs, Exclamation Points and Especially Hooptedoodle (I wasn’t keen on reading it till I read the last word of the title. Do read the article!):

Never use a verb other than “said” to carry dialogue. The line of dialogue belongs to the character; the verb is the writer sticking his nose in. But said is far less intrusive than grumbled, gasped, cautioned, lied. I once noticed Mary McCarthy ending a line of dialogue with “she asseverated,” and had to stop reading to get the dictionary.”

I had to, too! In case you’re curious, it means “to affirm”!

John Grisham keeps it (a bit too) simple. He tells young ambitious budding writers to write a page a day as a hobby, for starters! Does it work? You wish. I have done that since I was like three. Have you ever seen me write anything even remotely resembling awesome crime fiction? Sigh.

After reading a bunch of other rules by a bunch of other famous writers, I felt like I had accidentally stepped into the world of the ever useful self-help books. Of course, then I read what Neil Gaiman had to say:

“The main rule of writing is that if you do it with enough assurance and confidence, you’re allowed to do whatever you like. (That may be a rule for life as well as for writing. But it’s definitely true for writing.) So write your story as it needs to be written. Write it honestly, and tell it as best you can. I’m not sure that there are any other rules. Not ones that matter.”

This was the least helpful (i.e You don’t get the kind of help from this that you naturally begin to expect in the world of self-help books – even though that help isn’t really help, but you just don’t realize this while you’re still in that world!) and the most helpful (i.e It brought me back from the world of self-help books to the normal world, where it is actually the ‘self’ that helps the ‘self’!) So, this, as far as I am concerned, makes the most sense. What about you?

Need a Cliffs Notes version to make some sense of this seemingly random ramble? Want to be a writer?

Writing is a good place to start. Off you go!

Unless, of course, you still have that little spark left in you, that tells you there might just be something you left out. Like a secret ingredient that will make you an awesome writer, or something. In that case, do what I’m doing, though I’m not doing it for that reason. *vehemently shakes head*

Reading “On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft” by Stephen King. An autobiography and writing guide, which might as well end up on my “Favourite Books Ever” list!

Blog Award!

Now for the note attached, let’s see here…
1. Thank and link to the person who nominated you.
2. Share seven random facts about yourself.
3. Pass the award along to 15 deserving blog buddies.
4. Contact those buddies to congratulate them.

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t shocked – no one has ever called my blog ‘irresistibly sweet’ before!! And just look how yummy that award is! I-Want-That-Cake.

Thanks, Vanessa @ Love, Laugh & Read for the very sweet award! Do check out her site, it’s great!!

Now for the hard part. I really do appreciate this, don’t get me wrong, but I am just not the blog-awards kind of person, if there is any. So say ‘hullo’ and ‘buh-bye’ to my first and last award! I write random facts about myself all over my blog, and none of them are particularly interesting. I can think of many blogs that I love, but I am not the blog-award-giving person either; so I’ll show my appreciation for your blogs by stopping and dropping a lot of comments. Thanks 🙂

Tuesday Memes

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Grab your current read, open to a random page and share two teaser sentences from that page!

My teaser this week is from a science fiction book called Strata by Terry Pratchett. It is one of his first novels, and is sort of a prequel to the Discworld. Kin Arad, who is more than a couple of centuries old, works for a Company that designs planets. She is recruited, along with others, on an expedition to a miraculously odd planet – a flat earth! Here’s my teaser:

“We build worlds, we don’t just terraform planets. Robots could do that. We build places where the imagination of human beings can find an anchor.”


Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish. Each week there will be a new Top Ten list complete with one bloggers’ answers. This week’s topic:

Top Ten Books That Should Be In A Beach Bag – Your perfect beach reads!

Where I read isn’t really an issue. The only things I wouldn’t like to read on a beach are books about terrifying sea monsters and people stranded on islands. Here’s my top ten anyway:

1. Any Harry Potter book – J.K Rowling: There is nowhere in the world I’d say no to reading this!

2. Life of Pi – Yann Martel: It has the ocean, but not the scary monsters, so that’s ok!

3. Marley and Me – John Grogan: Just the type of pure fun the beach calls for!

4. Good Omens – Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman: Another book I could read anywhere!

5. Three Men In A Boat – Jerome K. Jerome: I die laughing every time I read this – it has the perfect plot for a beach trip!!

6. Papillon – Henry Charrière: It’s been a long time since I read this one, and I’d love to read it again!

7. M is for Magic – Neil Gaiman: Awesome, funny short stories!!

8. Discworld books starring Death – Terry Pratchett: Mort, Reaper Man, Hogfather, etc!

9. Howl’s Moving Castle – Dianna Wynne Jones: One of the most fun books ever!!

10. The Shadow of the Wind – Carlos Ruiz Zafón: For after I get tired of laughing!

CWW: Student Write-Ups

word wall for “collaborative brainstorming”

The first batch of the online Creative Writing Workshop ended last week. Creative Writing is practised quite extensively by teachers in schools, and yet, we generally follow a format-based approach to writing. Letters, essays, limericks and stories. In CWW, kids will explore any writer’s essential toolkit: writing strategies that they can apply across different forms of writing, from stories to reports. Quick prompts and shared learning facilitate the experience. Participants will experiment with words, sounds and context, and become effective self editors.

Here are some quick write-ups from some of our youngest participants –

It was 4:00 o’clock in the evening and I was reading in my bedroom. While I was reading, I heard the squirrels chirping loudly as they played. I thought to myself, the birds might be shrieking for another reason and so, I went out to see what was happening. There I saw my cat perched on a tree and ready to pounce on the birds. She came down when she saw me. I touched her soft fur and she didn’t even mind it when I pulled her even softer tail. Suddenly, the heavenly smell of chocolate chip cookies wafted in from the kitchen. I was ready to eat them all but I knew I had to share them with my cousin. When I went to the kitchen, mother gave me chocolate milk which was delicious. I would have drunk two more glasses but the first was a bit too chocolaty for me.

– Aruja, Age 9

If I were the principal of my school, the first thing I would do is tell the teachers to be kind to the students. I have noticed that some teachers do not behave nicely with their students and do not explain the concept again if the students ask them. I will not change the teachers but I will definitely ask them to be kind.
The second thing I would change is the number of field trips. Some students complain that they feel bored sitting in classrooms. So, I will make sure that students are taken to trips that are educations. For example:- a museum or an art gallery. Through field trips, children enjoy themselves as well as learn something new.
By following these two things we can make sure the students feel that schools are interesting.

– Manognya, Age 10

Prompt: Imagine you are an alien who has found an ordinary object on this planet and are trying to figure out what it is.

Hello! Hello! Zorwar 49!  I am crashing down to planet 75ac 25.
A few minutes later…
As I struggle for balance, this new planet is completely astonishing, how kind the people are!
Before anyone finds that I’m different, I cover my face . Then I go to see the perplexing city in which I’ve crashed
A few hours later…
As I walk through the crowded street, I see something which is round, black and it feels spiky.
But as I see others of that kind, they are rough loose in all shapes and sizes. I take my tongue out to taste it… yuck! It is so dusty. When i try to to touch it, it rolls round and round. What fun! It makes a screeching sound. One of the objects smells like perfume. But as I smell old ones, they smell different.
It can also be used again! On my planet, we only use things once. This object, it turns out, is the main part of transport on this planet. Inside the frame we can attach led lights! What a customizable, useful object this is!

-Shlok, Age 11

Happy Birthday, Blog!

After 82 posts, 591 comments, 70 followers and 13,125 hits – today my blog turned one. All the numbers don’t really matter to me – they just shocked the hell out of me is all!

From silly jokes and making fun of everything (and everyone!), to talking about cats, doodling and writing incessantly about books – this blog has been through a LOT.

It’s been a great year – what with bugging my friends all the time about my latest blog post and wondering what to blog about next during class! “Tabula Rasa” has been with me through good and bad – mostly good! Thanks to the people who made my blog happen and my (if any) patient readers! This calls for a huge celebration!

Book Blogger Hop #2

Book Blogger Hop is a weekly meme hosted by Crazy for Books. The Hop lasts Friday-Monday every week, so if you don’t have time to Hop today, you can join the fun later! This is a weekly event! And stop back throughout the weekend to see all the new blogs that are added!

This week’s question:

“What book-to-movie adaption have you most liked? Which have you disliked?”

I can think of very few movies based on books that I liked. One movie I really loved was Silence of the Lambs. Another movie version that I loved was Stephen King’s Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption. I can’t say the same for the rest of his books though! The Shining for instance; they did a horrible job with the characters in that movie!

I liked the first two Harry Potter movies, but the Prisoner of Azkaban movie was nightmarish – no Marauders’ story, a demented looking guy as Sirius; they took away my favourite parts of the book – except the Boggart lesson! And the movies after that were just as absurd! I hated the Half Blood Prince; it’s as if they rounded up the most important parts of the book and replaced them with stupid, unnecessary stuff! The Deathly Hallows was okay though!

By the way, I just finished reading Howl’s Moving Castle (it’s awesome!) and I am so sure I won’t like that Japanese animated film based on it that I am not going to watch it!

Teaser Tuesday #9

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

  • This week, I have two teasers from two books from the Chronicles of Chrestomanci series by Diana Wynne Jones. I love the series!

    Witch Week by Dianna Wynne Jones:
    “She held the end of the broom handle in both hands and tried to point it at the town. But the broom had other ideas. It wanted to go around the edge of the town.
    Larwood House is a children’s boarding school. Many students are supposedly witch orphans, but no one knows who the witches are. In this alternate world, witchcraft is illegal and witches are burnt at stake. This story begins when someone in class 6B writes a note to one of the teachers: “Someone in this class is a witch.

    Conrad’s Fate by Dianna Wynne Jones:
    “I hate Gregor,” I said while we were going down in the lift with the shoe basket. “You couldn’t do some magic to make him fall face first into the sandwiches at Tea, could you?”
    (…) “It’s tempting,” Christopher said.
    Conrad Tesdinic is told that he has bad karma, and sent to work at the Stallery Mansion to cure it. There, he befriends a certain Christopher Smith. Christopher has a secret – he is a powerful nine lived enchanter from another world, here in search of his friend Millie. Together, Conrad and Christopher find her, and while doing that expose a big fraud going on at the Mansion.

    Top Ten Tuesday #4

    Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish. Each week there will be a new Top Ten list complete with one bloggers’ answers. Everyone is welcome to join. This week’s topic:

    Top Ten Books I Have Lied About (lied about reading, lied about NOT reading, lied about liking/disliking, etc….dish your dirty secrets!!)

    Incidentally, there aren’t any books that I lied about reading one or the other time that I didn’t finish reading later! Just saying… 😉

    1. Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris: I lied about not reading it. I read only the first book of the series, and I hated it, of course – but just the fact that I dared to read it after watching the series is something.

    2. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho: I lied about liking it. I thought it was horrible and pointless, but since people in my high school almost worshiped that book I pretended to like it for quite some time!

    3. Moby Dick by Herman Melville: I lied about reading it. I mean, I did read it, but I kind of skipped through many parts and I don’t particularly remember the ending. To tell you the truth, I don’t regret not reading it!

    4. Catcher in the Rye by J.D Sallinger: I lied about liking it. I found it kind of irritating and a bit boring.

    5. God Delusion by Richard Dawkins: Ok, this one was bad. I lied about reading it, originally. I’d only read about half of it. But then I got so guilty, I did finish reading the whole thing a few months later!

    6. Twilight series by Stephanie Meyer: I lied about hating it at first. I mean, I did find the writing terribly dull, I just liked the concept; because I had read very little fantasy fiction till then. *shudders*

    7. Agatha Christie: I lied about loving her books. I only ‘liked’ them – and only a few. I think she’s sort of overrated.

    8. The Hobbit by J.R.R Tolkien: I lied about reading it. Sort of. I borrowed it from my friend, read it halfway through, and lied about reading it for about half a year. After that I did finish reading it. I hated it back then. Right now I’m re-reading it. And I’m loving it, but I haven’t told anyone that. Does that count too?

    9. The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank: I lied about liking it. I mean, it’s great that she was actually there in the war and she suffered a lot and all; but is too odd that I hate reading people’s diaries? I’m sorry she died, but come on, she was so immature and whiny.

    10. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K Rowling: Save the worst for last. I lied about loving it as much as the other six books. I didn’t quite!

    The Chronicles of Chrestomanci

    The Chrestomanci Chronicles is an awesome fantasy series by British writer Diana Wynne Jonnes. I started and finished with Volume I (first two novels) yesterday, and I’m reading Volume II right now! And you know a book has got to be awesome, when Neil Gaiman calls it “…always perfectly magical.”

    If anything big happens in history, like a war or an earthquake; something that might have two or more possible outcomes, reality splits and two or more worlds are created! Presently, there are hundreds of such parallel worlds existing together. Volume I is set in a world pretty much like ours, except that magic is freely practised and it is a bit old fashioned. Chrestomanci is the title given to the nine lived magician/ enchanter who controls the magic of all the parallel/related worlds.

    The first novel is called Charmed Life, and it is about two little siblings, Cat and Gwendolen and the time they spend at the Chrestomanci Castle. Gwendolen is a powerful but stubborn witch, whereas Cat seems to be just a normal boy, who has to suffer because of his sister’s ill-doings. Soon she runs to another world, and sends back her counterpart from that world as a replacement – leaving Cat to deal with her mess. While the story is pretty exciting, we get to know little about the Chrestomanci.

    The next novel makes up for it. The Lives of Christopher Chant is about the little boy who is an enchanter, has nine lives, and can travel to the related worlds in his dreams. And he has no idea what a powerful magician he is! We see him get involved in a gang of wizards who smuggle rare magical materials from the other worlds, befriend a goddess, and eventually, study to grow up and become the next Chrestomanci (the same mysterious man we first see in the Charmed Life).

    Reading this was almost like Harry Potter all over again. It is funny, the characters are fascinating, the plots are exciting and the imagery is just magical! The stories are full of twists and turns and surprises, and though the book seems a teenie bit childish at times, it is pretty fun! I’d recommend it to anyone in a heartbeat!!

    Book Blogger Hop

    My first time at Book Blogger Hop – It is a weekly meme hosted by Crazy for Books. The Hop lasts Friday-Monday every week, so if you don’t have time to Hop today, you can join the fun later! This is a weekly event! And stop back throughout the weekend to see all the new blogs that are added!

    This week’s question:

    “If you were given the chance to spend one day in a fictional world (from a book), which book would it be from and what would that place be?”

    Hogsmeade Village – Harry Potter!

    I had a hard time choosing between the Discworld and the Wizarding world – but there’s hardly anything more tempting than Honeydukes.
    I’d love to visit and meet everyone in Hogsmeade (except Madam Pudifoot’s of course), and you can always just sneak into Hogwarts from there.