Opening Scenes in My PitchWars Manuscript and The Pain It’s Causing Me

So I just participated in YayYA, a critique swapping contest arranged by wonderful Rachel Stevenson. I submitted a 35-words pitch and first 500 words there. The critiquing started on Monday, June 27th. I was excited to have my first 500 words being critiqued. 
Well, it hasn’t been very positive. Actually, not positive at all. And I agree with them.

One of them pointed out how it failed to intrigue them and make them turn the pages to read more. Another told me there were too many character introduction, also of minor characters.

Long before this critique swap, I’d submitted my first 250 words to Janice Hardy. It was almost first draft (I said almost because only those 250 words I polished individually, six times before submitting it). It was like this:

“Day One
The day I first met Summer, I got arrested for initiating into a fight with the Hippies, because I was one of their arch enemies, the Suedeheads, and they were making graffiti of their slogans like ‘Make Love, Not War’ and ‘Flower Power’ in our Bromley territory.
Summer was also a Hippie, but she wasn’t one of them.
That day, it was raining, it was 3:45pm and one by one, all my six friends got bail and left. I sat inside the cell, my left knuckle bandaged for punching a Hippie, watching my friends leave and then the clock tick.
“The wound is the place where the Light enters you.”
The thought of the quote wasn’t unexpected. I’d been wondering about it for the past few days myself. Brooding was never my thing, but this one was bugging me a lot. And then I got released. While my friends needed their parents’ arrival to get a bail, I didn’t. Perks of having a Dad who works in the Scotland Yard as one of the Assistant
Commissioners. One telephone call can set your sixteen years old rebellious, Suedehead son free.
To punish me, Dad didn’t send me a ride. I stood by the pavement to get a cab, when a van ran past me and splashed dirty water. Before I could recover from the initial shock, it halted a few feet ahead, and backed up to me. A window rolled down and emanated out the Beatles’ “…and I saw her standing there…”
It was Summer, sitting inside.”

Well, you can see how rough and unpolished it was despite my polishing it SIX times. It was also not the right place to begin. My MMC/narrator was a Suedehead (a reckless, hooligan type subculture from the early ’70s). But now he’s just a normal teenager. My FMC still a Hippie.

Before submitting to Janice, I decided to submit to Critique Circle where I’m a member. That draft was the second draft and it was thus:

“Day One

The day I first met Summer, I got arrested for getting into a fight with the Hippies, because I was one of their arch enemies, the Suedeheads, and they were making graffiti of their slogans like ‘Make Love, Not War’ and ‘Flower Power’ in our Bromley territory.

Summer was also a Hippie, but she wasn’t one of them. That day, it was raining, it was 3:45pm and one by one, all my six friends got bail and left. I sat inside the cell, my left knuckle wrapped in bandage for punching a Hairy (read a Hippie), watching them leave and then the clock tick.

“The wound is the place where the Light enters you.”

The thought of the quote wasn’t unexpected. I’d been wondering about it for the past few days myself. Brooding was never my thing, but this one was bugging me a lot. And then I got bailed. While my friends needed their parents’ arrival to get a bail, I didn’t. Perks of having a Dad who works in the Scotland Yard as one of the Assistant Commissioners. One telephone call can set your sixteen years old rebellious, Suedehead son free.

To punish me, Dad didn’t send me a ride. So I stood by the pavement, trying to get a cab, when a van ran past me, splashing dirty water. Before I could recover from the initial shock, it halted a few feet ahead, and backed up to me. A window rolled down and emanated out the Beatles singing “…and I saw her standing there…”

It was Summer, sitting inside.”

See? Those two were almost the same!

At the beginning of this month, I won a free critique giveaway for query+ first 250 words by one of the PitchWars mentors. To her, I sent this draft:

“Day One:
The day I first met Summer, I stole my dad’s car to escape to Wales with my friends. But he stopped me. How?
Carrick (my friend): “I can’t believe your dad reported his car stolen so fast. We should’ve used the train. How did he find us so quickly?”
I mulled over it. One of the privileges Dad enjoyed as one of the Assistant Commissioners of Scotland Yard. The fuzz leave no stone unturned to find your stolen car. But how did he know about our plan? Either Ted spilled the beans, the naïveté my sweet, innocent little brother was; or Fred, dad’s lackey and my perfectionist elder brother, who somehow found out. Either way, we got arrested. 
Tamsin: “Will your dad come? Or mum?”
Dad was the one who landed us here, so no. Mum was busy doing what she always did, sleeping. Not her fault though, but still. 
Declan: “My dad’s here. Will you be all right by yourself, mate?” 
Me: “I’ll be fine.” 
Hell, I dared to steal my dad’s car and use it to go to Wales, didn’t I? Despite no permission from Damon Crawley, aka Stonyface, aka my dad.
One by one all my six friends were bailed, except me. I waited for my turn.
****************
An hour later, my bail was made via telephone, and intentionally late. When I’d asked for the car, the fuzz in charge refused.
“Your dad’s order.”
“How else will I go home?”
“Ever heard of a taxi?”
So this was Dad’s punishment. I felt like Oliver Barrett IV.”

See how that was? I’ve made a lot of change, but still it wasn’t the right one.

Now the 500 words I’d sent to YayYA:

Day One
Universally, a picture is worth a thousand words, but sometimes just a word can reel your life.
D-I-V-O-R-C-E
This seven letter word did just that for me. But I had to evict it from my mind and focus on what was happening right now. 
“You’ve got to believe me, officer. Damon Crawley is my father.” 
But the fuzz with moptophaircut and long sideburn wouldn’t believe me. Damn their species! He rolled his eyes. “If that’s the case, then why don’t you give me his home telephone number?”
I was figuratively shoved to an impasse. I didn’t want to inform my Dad about this. “Fine.” I told the fuzz Dad’s number. Done with dialling the telephone, the fuzz handed me the receiver.
“Hello?” It was Ted, my naïve, innocent little brother. Someone was playing Peters and Lee’s “Welcome Home” there.
“Teddy boy? Can you give the phone to Dad?”
Ted put me on hold.
“Ned?” This time it was Fred, my perfectionist elder brother. I needed Dad, not his lackey.
“I’m at the Charing Cross police station.”
“Why?”
“Long story. Give the phone to Dad.”
After what felt like an hour, Dad answered. “Ned?”
“I need you to bail me.”
“What is it this time?”
“I, um, I drove your car with a nulled license and without your permission. And beyond the speed limit.” I wanted to kick myself.
“Why did you?”
To get away from you and Mum. To not witness you two getting a divorce. But I couldn’t bring myself to mention that in front of the fuzz and bring family melodrama in public. That was worse than washing and drying your underpants in public. 
“I can’t tell you.”
“I demand an answer, Ned.”
“I can’t, goddamn it!”
“Then rot it jail!” The call was off.
I peered at the fuzz. He now knew that my Dad truly was Damon Crawley, one of theassistant commissioners of Scotland Yard. And that I was his seventeen years old son, Edwin Crawley.
“He won’t come?” he assumed. Inodded a no. “What about your mother?”
She couldn’t. She was too busy doing what she always did, sleeping. Not her fault though, but still. 
“She doesn’t want to either.”
“Well,” the fuzz sighed, “you know what that means.”
I was put behind bars.
*******************
Three hours later, my bail was made via telephone and intentionally late. One of the perks Dad enjoyed in his line of work. I retrieved my rucksack and my brand new Polaroid SX-70 1972. When I asked for the car, the fuzz refused.
“Your father’s order,” he told me.
“How else will I go home?”
“Ever heard of a taxi?”
Another punishment by Dad. I felt like Oliver Barrett IV. So I left without it.”

Now this one is still under construction. I’m fixing it and reading loads of writing blogs that wrote posts about opening scenes and page (I’d done it before but now more voraciously than ever). The revision period of YayYA is yet to come. I’m revising and revising. I still don’t know if I’ll find the right place to start my novel. Fingers crossed I would before August 3rd.

Until then, take care and good luck to myself and those who need it likewise.

PitchWars Mentee Bio

Hi, there! As a PitchWars 2016 hopeful, this is my mentee bio. Unlike others, I may not use a lot of gifs and may sound very serious and/or corny and not very fun. But everything in this post about me is honestly me. I’m hoping there may be one mentor, just one, who’ll pick me for not just for my manuscript but also for me. First off, I’ll tell you about me, then why you should pick me, last but not least, about my PitchWars manuscript.

I’m pitching for YA by the way. Here is the link to the blog hop post, Here is the link to what PitchWars is and Here is the link to the amazing list of all the fabulous mentors this year. My twitter handle: @modestmaria1

Now without further ado let’s talk…

About ME!!!

01) Where I’m From:

This I feel I must include first.

Because I’m not American. I’m not even British or Australian or European or Canadian.

I’m from Bangladesh.

Those who know little about my country, it’s nestled in between India and Myanmar. I’m from its capital city, Dhaka and I’m an English literature student from Dhaka University. So English is NOT my first language. It’s not even my second language. It’s mostly considered a foreign language here, though a lot of people are getting more and more fluent in it day by day.

The reason why I’m writing in English because I’m studying its literature and I love it! I love my mother tongue but I feel comfortable writing in English.

02) I’m an Introvert, Shy Gemini and INFJ:

Yup!

Just a few days ago I celebrated my 20th birthday, though not grandly because I hate parties.

I’m not going to describe here how I am as an introvert. But these pics will…

As an introvert, I’m like this…

Also these…

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Whenever the guests come…

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Problems I face as an introvert…

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Reality after a hard day’s work…

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My thought process…

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The nightmares I face while awake…

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I do this before any interview…

As an INFJ...

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These basically sum me up as both an introvert and as an INFJ.

03) I’m a Diehard Fan of The Beatles:

Yup! If you hate them, I seriously hate you. You don’t have to like them. Just don’t hate them.

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Also quite weird…

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Okay, not quite, very very weird…

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But they also loved each other…

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Like this…

To me they weren’t just a band of musicians, but musical geniuses who were also blood brothers…like Damon and Pythias…

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They also loved their fans…

Aren’t they awesome!!! 😍😍😍

Another reason why I’m mentioning about them here is because my PitchWars manuscript has them all over, not too much though. Mostly because a) it was set in 1973 in UK and, b) I’ve used lyrics from several of their songs to express my MC’s emotions and feelings.

04) Most Important One: Writing Is Not Just My Passion:

It’s much more than that. It’s not my aim in life or income source. I’m still undecided about my daytime job after graduation and I don’t seek to be in the NY Times bestselling list.

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In fact, this is truly me…how my life is going through quarter life crisis…
Writing is my solace. Not just from the stress and anxieties from day to day life.

In the past, my writing has saved me from two major heartbreaks (nothing romantic). First time when it happened was back in 2012 and that was when I began writing. Second happened last year and again my writing saved me and brought my PitchWars manuscript to reality. So to writing, I’m eternally grateful.

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Yup, this is the biggest reason why I write…

05) I’m NOT An Avid Reader Though A Voracious One:

This might get you confused. Let me clarify it.

I don’t read a lot of books. And I don’t read books everyday. In Stephen King’s definition, I’m no writer.

But…(always a but)

I’m a voracious one. If I love a book from the first few pages, I’m going to devour that book until nothing is left. I go piranha famished then.

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I’m also this…

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Another reason why I love books…

07) My Favorite Books:

I don’t have a favorite genre. I’m an omnivorous reader too. From adult to MG, I read it almost everything (except for erotica, spiritual and religion books). But these are my favorite books:

Twilight Series (from my adolescence crush on Twilight and Robsten which are totally gone now)

Hunger Games Series

The Fault in Our Stars

Looking For Alaska

Eleanor and Park

Pride and Prejudice

Jane Eyre

Little Women

Rebecca

My Cousin Rachel

Love Story

Fangirl

Harry Potter Series

Beautiful Creatures Series

The Time Traveler’s Wife

My Favorite Authors:
Jane Austen
John Green
Rainbow Rowell
Suzanne Collins
Stephenie Meyer

09) My Favorite TV Shows:

Masterchef Australia

Friends

Downton Abbey

How I Met Your Mother

The Mentalist

Now comes….

Why You Should Pick Me:

01) When it comes to my writing, I’m eager to learn:

It was through writing that I learnt and through writing I’ll learn to grow. I’ve taken no writing lesson or workshop. Only writing blogs and vlogs. Whenever I look back at my earlier manuscripts (two in number), I get dumbstruck by how awful my writing was back then and how much I’ve grown.

02) I Can Handle Criticism:

I perceive my manuscripts as my babies. I love them to death. But I’m not blind. I know they’ve got a lot of flaws that need to be tended. The way you nurse and nurture a newborn to adulthood, I’ll do the same. I’ll take in criticism positively and process them in my mind. I’ll ask for explanations from my critique partners and will continue asking them till I’m satisfied. I’ll do whatever it’ll take to polish my manuscript. I’m not afraid of criticisms. After all,

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Duh! Aladdin’s life changed when he rubbed (though accidentally) the magic lamp.

Also…

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03) I’d Be Katniss Everdeen to my Mentor Haymitch Abernathy:

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Haymitch was one of the many reasons why Katniss won the 74th Hunger Games. Without his instructions, she might’ve shown the Careers her shooting skills and they might’ve found out how to defeat her. Because of Haymitch, Katniss survived the games several times, in the first two books. Haymitch was rude and mean and drunk. But as a mentor, he was perfect for Katniss.

They both were rude and impolite, grumpy and surly. They both had the same backgrounds, same tragedies, same goals. In fact, Katniss is the young, female version of Haymitch. She could’ve been his biological daughter.

I want a mentor-mentee relationship like that. And like the way Katniss obeyed Haymitch, I’d take in all the advice my mentor would give me (if I get chosen) and use them to polish my manuscript.

But unlike how they fell apart in the last book’s resolution, I want to maintain a lifelong relationship with my mentor. Like the way Harry kept with Hagrid.

These are the reasons why you should pick me for PitchWars.

Now about my manuscript:

01) A NINE DAYS’ WONDER, my YA realistic historical manuscript is set in UK, on July-August, 1973. But not a fantasy.

02) It’s mostly about family bond and its importance in life. But it has other elements too like self understanding and first love, summer love.

03) It’s from the MMC’s POV and he’s 17 years old, dyslexic, loves photography and bit of a clean freak. He has a good memory but because of his dyslexia he fails at school and is often bullied.

04) The FMC’s a white hippie girl, 17, loves exotic words, keeps a scrapbook full of vintage posters, an American living in London with her colored biological mother and sister.

05) My manuscript features a lot of characteristics of the ’70s. Like bell bottom pants, hippie subculture, cannabis food and the Beatles. But no graphic intimate scene. Just a little making out.

06) It’s set in just nine days and so I’ve divided the chapters as rather days like chapter 01 is Day 01 and chapter 02 as Day 02 etc.

07) Basically, it has some elements from The Parent Trap when it comes to character goals and external conflicts, but not a lot.

08) I got the inspiration of the plot and characters from James Blunt’s song “1973”. My favorite…💕💕💕

09) I‘ve made its cover…though if it ever gets published, it may not have this cover…

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So that’s all, folks! Thanks a bunch for reading my bio. Hopefully I’ll get picked…fingers crossed!

John Keats: Why He Is My Most Favorite Romantic Poet?

So I just studied John Keats’ biography and it instantly made me sad. Unlike other Romantic poets, he was the meekest, sweetest, most naïve and innocent poet during the Romantic era. Not only did he die young, he died with a fatally ill body and a severely broken heart. He’s the poor schmuck you feel bad about for not getting the girl, for not getting the polite treatment and kindness he deserved. Basically, he was just like one of the supporting characters of my WIP, the MMC’s little brother, Ted.

Anyway, John Keats, like me, was born in a working class family that couldn’t afford him privileged education in places like Eton or Oxford or Cambridge. But the school his parents could afford to send him was a good one, much better and liberal than those supercilious schools.

John Keats was also confused about his career and passion in the beginning. He didn’t have the luxury, like Byron, Shelley and Wordsworth had, to be a poet. He had to suffer from debts his whole life, had to constantly sacrifice his love and passion for literature and poetry just to earn scrapes of money to fend for himself.

As if that wasn’t enough, most of his works, during his lifetime, were harshly criticized. One of those brutal critics went as far as to humiliate him and told him to go back to being an apothecary. That bastard! He just memorialized himself as that stupid, idiot critic who, because of his biased disgust to Keats’ low social status and not being an Oxford or Cambridge alumni, just blasted what later became one of his best work.

Anyway, there are several reasons why I love, love, love, love, love John Keats.

01) His amazing poems:
Unlike Blake, he didn’t preach for religion. Unlike Byron, he didn’t justify sexual promiscuity. Unlike Shelley and Coleridge, he wasn’t concerned about political upheavals. He only wrote about what he loved and devoted.

Love!

He was, in my opinion, the truest of the Romantic poet. His poems had sensuality, beauty, love and devotion for nature, arts and everything worth wasting your free time for. His poems, or should I say, Odes, were much loved after critics stopped being an asshole to him. His imageries were vivid and evoking. The way he poured his emotions in his words…beaute…!!

02) His Love life with Fanny Brawne:
So romantic! They exchanged hundreds of letters, all passionate and romantic and not at all pretentious and fake. One of his famous odes, Ode to Psyche, is said to be a love poem to Fanny Brawne. Psyche being Fanny Brawne and Keats offering to erect a temple for her in his heart and worship her all the time.

Many people will find it corny. Even I did by the time I realized it. But the way he presented it? Not. At. All!

Even his letters exchanged with her are thoroughly scrutinized today to learn more about the poet.

Here’s an example:

 “My love has made me selfish. I cannot exist without you – I am forgetful of every thing but seeing you again – my Life seems to stop there – I see no further. You have absorb’d me. I have a sensation at the present moment as though I was dissolving – I should be exquisitely miserable without the hope of soon seeing you … I have been astonished that Men could die Martyrs for religion – I have shudder’d at it – I shudder no more – I could be martyr’d for my Religion – Love is my religion – I could die for that – I could die for you.”

And that’s not all. After he died miserably in Rome, Fanny mourned for twelve freaking years. Then she finally got married and had three kids with her husband. Talk about mourning! These days, people almost sigh in relief after their boyfriends or girlfriends leave them.

03) His Harmless Ambition and How Badly The Critics Hurt It:
If I could, I’d have drilled those stupid critics’ heads and see if there is any brain there at all! I mean, okay fine, you don’t like this writer or poet’s stuff. Who gave you the right to bash it like that? I don’t like a lot of books. But I don’t go bashing them in public like that.

Here’s why I was angry:

“It is a better and a wiser thing to be a starved apothecary than a starved poet; so back to the shop Mr John, back to plasters, pills, and ointment boxes”

Seriously? Grow a heart, man! The poor guy is at least trying. Just because his dad worked in an inn’s stable and couldn’t send his son to expensive schools, doesn’t give you the right to judge his works that way.

What’s funny though, Shelley, Keats’ contemporary, wrote a poem for the poor schumck. Adonais! He thought Keats died of a broken heart because if the critics, not knowing that it was tuberculosis after all.

04) His Excruciatingly Painful Death:
This is how he died…

Tuberculosis.

But he also suffered before that. He couldn’t tolerate cold weather of England. He couldn’t digest food properly. He had lots of internal bleeding even after the doctors treated him. In fact, the doctors made it worse. Keats implored for some opium, not for enjoyment but to relieve him of the pains, but none listened.

This is how, according to his lousy friend, Severn, Keats died:

“Keats raves till I am in a complete tremble for him…about four, the approaches of death came on. [Keats said] ‘Severn—I—lift me up—I am dying—I shall die easy; don’t be frightened—be firm, and thank God it has come.’ I lifted him up in my arms. The phlegm seem’d boiling in his throat, and increased until eleven, when he gradually sank into death, so quiet, that I still thought he slept.”

Poor, poor lamb…

05) His Remarkably and Impressing Life:
He was truly like a meek lamb. Unlike his contemporaries, he had a a clean slate. He wasn’t a womanizer like Byron, didn’t have incestuous relationships like Byron (confirmed and convinced) and Wordsworth (implied and doubtful). He didn’t roam around naked in his house like Blake did. He didn’t take opium or any other drug to get high like Coleridge. He didn’t elope and got married right after his estranged wife committed suicide like Shelley did.

He was born in a very struggling family, got inspiration from books and contemporaries, fell head over heels in love with a beautiful girl, treated her like a goddess, struggled to make both ends meet, exposed himself to tuberculosis just to take care of his brother that later brought him death.

But what I most liked about him was his harmless ambition.

A lot of people have ambitions. And most people destroy both their morals and others lives to achieve it.

But not Keats. He never used anyone for his selfish motives, never broke anyone’s heart, and never put his ambitions and passions over others feelings. He was just a meek, humble man, who wanted to be remembered with reverence after his death.

And thank God! He achieved it.

For now, that’s all. Au revoir!

The Rime of The Ancient Mariner & The Power of Guilt

So on 11th June is my Romantic poetry finals and I’m working my ass off. My first read for the course is Coleridge’s The Rime of the Ancient Mariner. This is the best poem by Coleridge, regarded by a lot of people and I agree. Not only by structure and superb use of archaic words but also by the plot.

Here’s why.

The poem deals with a lot of things but mostly with guilt and penance. We all know that to err is human. But I beg to disagree.

When a vicious murderer kills mother of two, he isn’t a human. He’s plain old murderer. But when a person commits a crime or a sin or both, and then realizes his/her mistakes, repents for it and happily goes through punishment and salvation, then they are humans.

So according to Coleridge, the saying should be, “To err and then repent is human.”

This I 100% agree with.

Guilt has been theme of many many many literary pieces. From Othello and Macbeth to contemporary pieces, guilt was always a very interesting and successful theme. Never considered as cliché.

Why?

Because it’s something we all can relate to. How many times have we hurt our loved ones, intentionally or unintentionally, and as soon as we realized it, we regretted it?

Countless times.

How many times have we wanted to do something to help a vulnerable person but didn’t do it out of fear of mockery and ostracism?

Numerous times.

And guilt is something that differentiates a sinner from a demon. Demons have no sense of guilt. Sinners may do.

That being said, I’ve come across numerous literary pieces that dealt with it. Nobel winner Orhan Pamuk’s famous novel “The Museum of Innocence” has such a theme. After betraying Fusun’s trust, Kemal felt guilt too. That later prompted him into creating a museum full of things that reminded him of those days.

I recently watched a movie, Joan Fontaine’s “Letter from An Unknown Woman”. Though mostly about unrequited love, the movie later deals with Joan Fontaine’s obsession, who later, out of guilt, goes to fight a dual with her husband. Despite knowing that he might die. Why? Out of guilt.

Another example I can think of is John Green’s Looking for Alaska, where the titular character, Alaska Young has serious issues with guilt, that eventually leads her to (maybe) suicide.

There’s also Macbeth and Othello. Othello stupidly suspected Desdemona and killed her. Then learnt the truth and felt guilty. Romeo and Juliet’s parents also felt guilt after seeing the lovers lying dead in the church. Macbeth felt it after killing the king who blindly trusted him.

Robinson Crusoe felt it too after disobeying his biological father and God the father.

And the mariner, of course. Like Crusoe, he was marooned. Not in an island but in a ship. Not alone but with his shipmates lying dead before him. And certainly not with a huge dead albatross hanging from his neck.

Guilt has a reeling effect on the mariner. Something that he would never ever ever ever get over. Only a stupid passing hatred over a mere albatross made his life eternally miserable beyond repair. He saw the death of his shipmates. Witnessed terrible things that will turn any sane person into Bertha Mason type crazy, like Death and Life-in-Death gambling over their lives and what not. Getting dehydrated and famished and stuck in an ocean with dead bodies (though weren’t rotting but still) and in spooky mist. But we wouldn’t understand because words can rarely create the feelings you feel in real life.

Anyway, I think guilt is not a very bad feeling. Except that it totally holds the power to destroy your life. Take a look at the mariner’s and Kemal’s lives. Guilt is like that lumpy feeling you feel in your throat, that you can neither swallow and digest or poop out, nor cough or puke off. Similarly, once you feel guilt, even after salvation or forgiveness, it stays there, like an invisible criminal record that’s written in waterproof, not erasable ink and on fireproof, tearproof paper.

So the best you can do is, think before you leap.

Or in the mariner’s case, think before you shoot a harmless albatross, you idiot jerk.

With that, adios!

Negative Reviews, Naysayers/Haters and My Musing About Them

So today, though my term paper is due tomorrow, I got lazy and browsed Goodreads. I searched for numerous critically acclaimed, bestselling books (no reasons). Mostly YA. First I searched for John Green’s “The Fault in Our Stars”. And my initial misconception that everyone loves it was proven wrong.

Turns out, there were lots of negative reviews, though not as much as John Green’s other book, “Looking for Alaska” (my personal favorite). The naysayers mostly complained about how Hazel and Augustus were flat characters who had zero depth and mushy sappy melodramatic emotions. How there was no story behind how they fell in love. Then they nagged about how Hazel and Augustus had such absurd and weird monologues and thought and perceptions. Turns out, a lot of people hate metaphors too. They also whined about how John Green’s writings have deceptive clichés and stereotypes, like terminally ill but intellectually philosophical teenagers and manic pixie dream girls/guys (this latter part kinda scares me considering my FMC, female main character, is also one).

Then I moved to John Green’s other book, “Looking for Alaska”. His debut novel, the book is more complex and less emotional than “The Fault in Our Stars”. Less romance, less sweetness, less sappiness. But that’s what the naysayers of this boom dislike. They hated, hated, hated Alaska Young, the titular character (and I love, love, love her). For her moodiness, broodiness, selfishness, manipulativeness, suicidal tendencies and many more. She’s hot and smart and that’s how she got away, etc etc. And the reviews upset me.

But before I started this scavenger hunt of negative reviews about critically acclaimed, bestselling books, I did the same with Rainbow Rowell’s book, “Eleanor and Park”. This time, the naysayers complained how the book showed little historical contexts and consistencies. How the book, despite having an Asian character in the middle of an uber racist area, wasn’t bullied or attacked for his race at all.

And this got me wondering. What would they say if she did. If Rainbow Rowell wrote about racism and minorities of the American society. I’m pretty sure, like “The Help” and “I’ll Give You The Sun”, they’ll say how the author, being a white, straight woman, failed miserably to portray the true ugliness of racism.

It scared me. What if my book, which, according to these naysayers, have tons of clichés and unlikable stuff, will be ripped apart by these vulturous, famished zombies of naysayers? I don’t want my babies (Yes! My books to me are my babies) to be a victim of that!

Then I typed the words “Highest Rated Books on Goodreads” and went inside the first result.

The topper was J.K.Rowling’s “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows”. It got 4.59 and I scrolled through the reviews. I was pretty impressed that it got almost no negative reviews. Then I found it.

The one negative review.

It whined about how Hermione was portrayed as dumbo here despite being a know-it-all all throughout the series. How Ron and Hermione could just make out while there was a war going on around them.

And then it hit me (I know, I know, clichéd phrase but still).

That no matter how good you write a book, or make anything artistic, even scientific, there’ll always be haters and naysayers. I mean, God is like the most perfect being there ever is and was and will be, everyone says. Even then He’ll have haters and nonbelievers. But that’s not diminishing the love and devotion majority of people have for Him.

Even some of my male classmates called Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice” a lousy book, despite its “universally acknowledged” status as a “beloved classic”.

So at the end of the day, what majority says about a creation or invention matters.

With that, I say “farewell”, for the time being.

Mr Darcy and The Misconceptions About Introverts

Okay, I admit, I’m an introvert. Like other introverts, I hate going to parties, I wallflower if I ever attend one and I just love, love staying at home, by myself. And this often gives my family members and friends the misconception that I’m antisocial. That I’m a misanthropist like Heathcliff and Rochester.

I beg to disagree. I’m rather like Mr Darcy, the famous introvert who was mistaken as a proud, antisocial, conceited, supercilious man.

Okay, he was a bit proud and supercilious and he did admit it at the end to Elizabeth. But along with Elizabeth and except for Mrs Gardiner, everyone thought him so.

But he wasn’t. Not entirely for sure. According to Mrs Gardiner, he was rather an asocial man.

Now, there’s a difference between antisocial and asocial.

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In the above pic (collected from an awesome page in Facebook called “Introvert Problems”), the difference between antisocial and asocial is shown. And it’s 100% true. Like the last line, I’m also tired of being called as antisocial.

Mr Darcy was an asocial. He hated going to parties and even when he did go, he’d either wallflower himself or mingle with the ones he knew and/or came with. He even said so in the book, when both he and Elizabeth were visiting Lady Catherine de Burgh. His dialogue was,

“I am ill qualified to recommend myself to strangers.”

That’s how introverts are.

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That’s terrifying. Even for me. Whenever I go to a new, unknown place and don’t know what to do, I kick myself violently inside about asking strangers for help. Not because “stranger danger” but because, I don’t know, it’s just terrifying. Extroverts would be like, “What’s so terrifying about asking people for help? They won’t eat you up!”

That’s not why. Maybe it’s because we’re interacting with someone we dunno. And whenever we’re at a new place or with someone new, we get all nervous and frightened inside.

Another thing about introverts is this:

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If we are going to talk to someone we don’t know but must talk to, say in an interview or to a crush, we do this. We rehearse and rehearse about what we’re going to say to them. We feel pleased when it goes how we pictured it to be. We wanna kill ourselves when it doesn’t.

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Poor Mr Darcy!

This is how we introverts feel whenever something we plan doesn’t go that way.

And Darcy was misunderstood all the time. Everyone thought he was heartless when they heard Wickham’s false story about Darcy’s cruelty to him. They also went as far as to believe that he was jealous of Wickham, which he obviously was not.

Everyone also wondered how Darcy and Bingley were even best of friends. Bingley was this ray of sunshine while Darcy was gloomy twilight or new moon (Oops! Too much of the Twilight Saga, lol). But seriously, everyone in Meryton and Longbourn loathed him. And it was Elizabeth’s misconception that was first broken. First with his letter to her. Then the long account of how he was “the best employer ever” by his housekeeper.

Slowly everyone saw what a rough diamond he was. He only shunned those who were stupid and ridiculous like Mrs Bennett and Lydia and Mrs Bennett’s sister. He cordially invited Mr and Mrs Gardiner, though to better himself and to show Elizabeth how he wasn’t just a rich gentleman.

And I completely agree with what Mrs Gardiner first said about Mr Darcy.

“His behaviour to us has, in every respect, been as pleasing as when we were in Derbyshire. His understanding and opinions all please me; he wants nothing but a little more liveliness, and that, if he marry prudently, his wife may teach him.”

Which is what happened later.

So if you wanna understand an introvert, these are what we are:

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And if you wanna love an introvert, do these things:

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Hopefully that was understandable for all the extroverts and ambiverts out there.

Until then, tata!

P.S. I wanna acknowledge how tremendously the pics from above, collected from Facebook page, “Introvert Problems”, contributed to my post. Thank you, ☺☺☺

Writers and Their Characters: How The Two Groups Mirror Each Other

Since I started writing from 2013, I began to realize some things only writers can understand. One of those things was that writers often mirror themselves in their characters. I realized it right after reading famous YA writer, John Green’s debut novel, “Looking for Alaska”.

John Green, who majored in philosophy and religious studies in college, often have his characters and plots immersed in these two. In that novel, the MC, Miles, likes religious studies in his boarding school. And the main theme of the novel is heavily influenced by religion and philosophy.

Which I absolutely loved!

His second novel, An Abundance of Katherines (which I haven’t read yet and I could kick myself for it), is also philosophical and metaphorical. With a Muslim character and Islamic philosophy.

And this does not apply with John Green only. When I first read Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice”, I loved it. It was love at first read, almost! Then I read Jane Austen’s biography and watched the film “Becoming Jane”. They showed me how much her life was like Elizabeth Bennett.

Both had:
01) bickering, nagging, annoying mothers, sympathetic and understanding fathers,
02) were best friends with their sisters and loved reading books,
03) fell in love with someone they didn’t like from “first impression” (And believe it or not, this was “Pride and Prejudice” originally),
04) both rejected suitors they didn’t love,
05) both believed that love is the main requirement in marriage and
06) last but not least, both weren’t soft-spoken naïveté.

Then comes Charlotte Bronte and her immortal character, Jane Eyre. According to me, Jane was one of the strongest female characters from Victorian era novels, like Elizabeth Bennett and unlike Hester Prynne and Tess Durbeyfield. Both Charlotte Bronte and Jane Eyre wanted passionate, spiritual love, hated religious hypocrites and bigots, were firm feminists, hated social barriers and conventions for women set at that time.

Another writer and character that come to my mind are Daniel Defoe and his famously flawed character, Robinson Crusoe. Like Defoe, Robinson loved adventure. I don’t know if they both loved money or if they both were colonialist. But they both loved adventures and weren’t satisfied with calm, steady life then middle-class people led.

So as you can see, writers are almost always reflect themselves on their characters. Just like poets, they express themselves, their opinions and views and ideas and desires through their characters. Jane Austen and Charlotte Bronte never found true love in their lives. So they gave it to their characters. Daniel Defoe couldn’t travel as much as he desired. So he gave that opportunity to Robinson Crusoe. Defoe struggled financially throughout his life so he gave Crusoe financial solvency in the latter part of his life.

So it’s been proven. Characters in a novel someway mirror and express their creators. Though not entirely and though not always, but most of the time, and in most of the cases.

For now, this is all. Au revoir!

PitchWars and The Pain of Pitching

So this year, I’ll be participating in PitchWars, established by brilliantly benevolent, Brenda Drake. It’s been going on for quite a few years, earning rave reviews and attention from both unagented, unpublished writers like me as well as agents. 

The reason I so desperately want to get selected by a mentor is that this way, I’ll get to have my manuscript read, critiqued and polished by a more experienced, agented and published author. Not being from North America, Australia or Europe, I’m at a huge disadvantage here to get an American agent notice and approach me for representation. 

But in PitchWars, I must write a pitch for my almost 72k novel into a paragraph of 250 words. 

Soooooooooo tough!!

But I gotta do it. And compared to the agent round, where I gotta write a 50 word pitch, this is a piece of cake. 

Seriously though. They say that pitches must have the MCs, the convicts, and the stakes. And though it’s easy for others to write up a pitch which includes all that, it isn’t for me. 

My novel has two equally important plots parallel to each other.

01) Ned and Summer’s love story.

02) Ned and Summer’s family troubles.

And sometimes I also think that my novels doesn’t have ebough oomph and stakes. 

Last month I finished penning the first draft. I’ve totally given myself this month to cool off the manuscript and distance myself away from it, to start afresh with its editing and revising. Next month, right after my finals end, I’ll revise and edit it, then submit it to the beta readers. When they’ll be done tearing it apart and rubbing it to semi perfection, I’ll edit and revise it again and again. Until the submission period on August 3rd comes.

Hopefully everything will go as plan.

Fingers crossed!

But for now, ciao! 

Romantics: The First Hippies of the World

Okay, so it’s been almost a month since I last wrote here. But only because 1) I didn’t have any interesting topic to talk about, and 2) this isn’t like other blogs where people just talk about random, stupid stuff. In my very first post I stated that this blog will be all about the books I read, my WIPs and other stiff related to writing and reading.

Today, I’ll talk about the Romantic period, its poets and how, according to me, they were the first Hippies of the world.

Let’s begin!

So today I was reading about the theme in Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s poem “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner”. The poem has a lot of supernatural stuff in it, like Death and Life-in-Death gambling over some mariners’ lives and the albatross and all that. Coleridge was famous for writing supernatural stuff. But my poetry teacher also told the class on first day, that the Romantics (the poets who participated in the Romantic movement) were all about nature and against monarchy.

Well, they showed their point of views in their poems but very, very sneakily. I mean, just after the French revolution, the British monarchs got scared to get their heads beheaded like that and get overthrown. So they just decreed lots of rules and most were totally tyrannical and absurd. Like not more than five people could gather around and talk.

So the Romantics, they expressed their point of views via their poems. But (there’s always a “but”) they hid those revolutionary stuff underneath flowers and petal and nature and foliage.

The monarchs were so dumb that they didn’t catch those comparisons and connotations. So the Romantics, they got away. Smooth! Right?

But that doesn’t mean they just used nature as camouflage to cover their point of views. They actually were lovers of nature.

Wordsworth, who led the movement, with his best friend, Coleridge, another Romantic and lake poet, was all about nature. During researching about his and Coleridge’s lives, I found out that they lived in the Lake District.

And when I saw pics of the place, I just went, “WOW!!!!!”

The place was amazing! The lakes and the meadows and the mountains and the trees. I mean I totally get why they spent almost their entire life there.

I also learnt that Wordsworth, with his sister, Dorothy Wordsworth and best friend, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, went on numerous walking tours across the place. And on these tours they found inspiration. Like Wordsworth’s “I Wandered Lonely As A Cloud” and “The Solitary Reaper” and Coleridge’s “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner”.

So the Romantics were (well, most of them, except for Byron and Blake) worshippers of nature. Wordsworth, Coleridge, Keats and Shelley; they all almost always used it.

But the beauty of nature wasn’t the only thing, other than revolutionary stuff, that was prominent in their poems. They also cared about nature. They hated industrialization and were against it. In fact, it was them who predicted how polluting and destroying nature would one day, come to bite us in the ass.

Just like the Hippies!

Everyone says that the Beatniks were the predecessors of the Hippies. Well I beg to differ. It was those Romantics. They were the very first Hippies of the world. Like the Hippies, they were against industrialization, urbanization, tyrannical rulers and fighting. I firmly believe that if the Romantics were born in the 20th century or better yet, in the ’60s or ’70s, they’d have been Hippies. Or at least supported their cause. They may have not liked the drugs and the free love thingy but they would’ve been all about “Flower Power” and “Make Love, Not War”.

My FMC (which means “Female main character”, in case you don’t know), Summer Winter, is a Hippie too. But she’s more like the Beatniks, the Hippies and the Romantics combined. She dressed like the Hippies, supported “Save the Nature” movement, but like the Beatniks, she was a literature nerd, talked sagely like them and like the Romantics, didn’t exactly support Free Love but would smoke pots. I mean, one of the characteristics of the 1970s was that almost all teenagers smoked pot.

I should draw a conclusion now. I’m writing like a maniac.

So take care, dear readers, and have a nice day!

My First Poem: Nocturne

From today onward, I’ll post one poem from the ones I’ve written so far. Here’s the first one.

Nocturne:
Last night, I had a dream
Alone in a glade I was sitting
Aye, it was night in the dream too
The sky a splash of purple across the canvass
A flotilla of clouds scudding
Was it the wee hours of night? Nay,
Was it dusk? Nay.
It was a timeless night
When no clock chimes in
Alone was I sitting in solitude
Basking in its warmth
Call me a misanthrope
Call me a recluse
But true that every darkness
Has its own glory
Deep into the darkness
Lay a tenderness
Mimicking the mild memory of moonlight
Or the soft serenade of a Siren
Or the hazy hallucinations of a Halcyon
Slowly lulling away
Tender is the night
When the sheer beauty of water befuddles you.
Why, can I hear Orpheus,
Lovelorn, singing dirges for his lost love
Why, is it thorn bird
Gleefully impaling itself
To its one and only thorn tree.
Love is solitude, solitude is love
We all are lonely, none is above.
Then why fear loneliness?
Why pity a recluse?
Why despise a misanthrope,
For simply seeking his muse.
Aye, sequester yourself once
Not too much, not too little
Never let it dominate you
For it invites melancholia.
Never let it elude you
For it evanesces like tonight.
Tender is the night.
Am I to blame for my loneliness?
Aye, I’m a solitary seeker
Nay, I’m no melancholic.
Just sitting in my glade
Humbly hugging the harmony.
Aye, the solitude is whispering,
How tender is the night!