Catch a poem by its tail

Just re-watched one of my favourite TED videos : Elizabeth Gilbert on nurturing creativity. The bit about poet Ruth Stone’s writing process is what I love most about this talk :

“As [Stone] was growing up in rural Virginia, she would be out, working in the fields and she would feel and hear a poem coming at her from over the landscape. It was like a thunderous train of air and it would come barrelling down at her over the landscape. And when she felt it coming…cause it would shake the earth under her feet, she knew she had only one thing to do at that point. That was to, in her words, run like hell to the house as she would be chased by this poem. The whole deal was that she had to get to a piece of paper fast enough so that when it thundered through her, she could collect it and grab it on the page. Other times she wouldn’t be fast enough, so she would be running and running, and she wouldn’t get to the house, and the poem would barrel through her and she would miss it, and it would continue on across the landscape looking for ‘another poet’. And then there were these times, there were moments where she would almost miss it. She is running to the house and is looking for the paper and the poem passes through her. She grabs a pencil just as it’s going through her and she would reach out with her other hand and she would catch it. She would catch the poem by its tail and she would pull it backwards into her body as she was transcribing on the page. In those instances, the poem would come up on the page perfect and intact, but backwards, from the last word to the first.”

(Stole the above text from this blog)

Just A Writer

Two days ago, I turned on my Kindle 2 (recently handed down to me after the ‘rents acquired a Kindle 3 – with a gorgeous new burgundy cover that I’m so in love with) to try to get through some boring, blah reading material for college. Instead, I see that at some point during the day, my father had put  Wil Wheaton’s ‘Just A Geek’ on it, which he had finished reading in one shot the night before.

Now, I’ve been a big fan of Wil Wheaton – not for the fact that he played Wesley Crusher, or for his blog – but for his adorable pet ‘tweets’ that he put up now and then. As a fellow pet owner, who also has dogs and a cat, I find myself relating to these quite a lot and I always find myself laughing out loud, thinking ‘I KNOW, RIGHT?’ every time he tweets about these pet ‘incidents’. So I thought, ok lets give this book a shot.

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Who have I been, the last three years?

I was a film maker. I agonized over the story, the casting, the music, the editing. I spent a couple of evenings hiding in the editing room with my group, huddled up in front of the Mac as we fixed last minute glitches. There was even an evening where one nice member of the support staff let us stay on, on the condition that we needed to keep all the lights off as it was way past gate-shutting time. I sat on location with my shot-breakdown and screenplay, changing dialogues and re-changing them. I yelled and screamed when things didn’t make sense. The night before screening day, I didn’t sleep, I spent the night wondering what reactions we’d get. I cried when I watched my film being screened in front of a full auditorium. I felt pride when I heard the praises, and took deep breaths to calm myself down when I listened to the critics.

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Richard Castle

Sometimes, I wish I had one of those jackets that Richard Castle has which state what he is, in loud bold letters for the whole world to see – WRITER. I say this because, even if at the most superficial level, it’s some kind of identification. It sets him apart from not only his non colleagues but maybe even his peers.


See? So simple, so confident. It just rushes off your tongue like a gush of air. Whoosh. Powerful, yes? But it’s not so easy to identify with. Okay, so I write. But I don’t just want to be a writer. I want to be a (here we go again) WRITER. One that I can identify with the confidence that I WANT to have, that I often find myself wondering if I will EVER have.

I write all the time. I write tweets, poems, blog posts, essays, tests, exams. I write my name. I write my address, my college, my class, my section. I’ve written in slam books, on restaurant feedback cards. I’ve written on Facebook walls, on real walls. I’ve written my number on a boy’s hand. I’ve written love letters, hate letters, official letters. I’ve written apology notes, thank you notes.

But this I could be You. And I don’t want to be You. I want to be Me.

Me, the WRITER.

The office fantasy

Somehow, the past couple of months have gotten me so “consumed” by “the system” that I’m really wondering if the whole creative-person-who-can-write thing was a really long phase, and maybe I’m really meant to be one of those people who sits behind a desk and stays there for long periods of time.

But then I would be one of those people with a desk filled with stacks of post-it’s. The pen stands (yes, for there will be many) will be full of highlighters of every conceivable colour, correction pens that actually DO WORK (as opposed to the ones that give up half through when you’re trying to obliterate the word ‘orgasm’ when you really meant to write ‘organism’), and gel pens (gel, not ball point or fountain although I’d love to use a fountain pen except I write super fast and you know, that’s not conducive. A fountain pen must never be abused like that) in red, green and black. Not blue, I hate blue pens for some strange reason. Black seems more classy, don’t you think? And oh, my desk would probably be wooden since I don’t see myself sitting behind a cold, character-less metal one.

That wouldn’t do at all.

The Fine Print

Fine Print

As part of our end semester practical for our Print paper in college, we had to divide the class into three groups and each bring out an issue of a newspaper which has traditionally been called ‘The Fine Print’, and has 8 pages.

For starters, it was like we were thrown into the deep end. We had to find sponsors, decide what articles to write, decide who played what role, find a printer, negotiate a deal – and we had barely a month and a half to do this. We also knew that we had end semester exams looming ahead of us, and so we were resolved to finish a majority of the work before then.

And so, we began. Each group consisted of 10 people, and we decided to start off by looking at who to target the paper at. Almost all of us agreed that we’d want to target the under 25 crowd, consisting of college kids, young professionals who are just starting out. We steered clear of targeting just the college crowd, because that would be a limiting factor when it came to distribution later on. Then came the matter of who would write what, and what other roles had to played. People volunteered to be editors, to be in charge of layout and design. We all wanted to write, so everybody played that role.

The next step was to plan out what pages we wanted to include. Based on this, my group came up with the following :

  • The Front Page
  • Reviews
  • In the City
  • Life
  • Fitness and Games
  • Campus
  • Fun Page
  • Back Page

Let me just say here, that there were a LOT of changes before we finally decided on which pages we wanted. There were some amazing article ideas that had to be scrapped because we felt that they didn’t ‘fit’ on any page! Anyway, after deciding what articles would go on what page, the writing began.

I was one of three editors, and though I might have lost my mind at a couple of points, my team kept me on track! All of us were adamant that we wanted this paper to stay interesting at all points, and I think we managed that :) The people who handled the layout and getting of sponsors did an excellent job and at the end of the day, I think we pretty much kicked ass!

We aim to distribute the paper in the city once we find restaurants/shops/people who wouldn’t mind keeping some copies for people to pick up, so once we find those, I will update this post with more information.

Also on behalf of the team I’d like to thank our sponsors : Paul and Menzel Design Studio, Koshy’s, Emerald Isle Hotel and Resort, Party Mania Store.