“A good writer is simply one who says all he wants to say, who says only what he means to say, and who says it exactly as he meant to say it.”
(Ferdinand Brunetière, Honoré de Balzac, translated by Robert Louis Sanderson. J. B. Lippincott, 1906)
“A good writer is simply one who says all he wants to say, who says only what he means to say, and who says it exactly as he meant to say it.”
(Ferdinand Brunetière, Honoré de Balzac, translated by Robert Louis Sanderson. J. B. Lippincott, 1906)
They give me more than one kind of feeling when I get them. Before anything the first thing that my mind tells me is: Someone actually read your work. That was the point of writing after all; to get at least one other living being to see your work. The sadness dwells in another core of me, a place which actually steers the day-to-day activities of my life. So such slips do affect my life in a way.
So if there was some small positive part to rejection slips in my view, it was that. Now the larger part of the story deals with the traumatic side. Naturally.
With every rejection slip comes the feeling that the day of being published will perhaps, never come. That one dream which struggles to sustain itself despite all the other things in life that don’t actually matter might just stay unrealised.
Even though positivity is something I try to keep a good stock of, it just doesn’t help beyond a point; it falls flat in the desert of discouragement where one is thirsty for reassurance. Now that is something harder to come by than the goal itself. While two close family members really believe the day will come, and a few friends who don’t know the intensity of despair try to cajole you and even pull you to a bad movie, no Angel is out there waiting to bestow kindness and reassurance. If there is one that’s got to be me and I’m only a novice Angel!
Writing is a lonely process despite the fact that I love it more than anything. What with the other hundred issues that can bog me down I have to handle the solitary feeling too. Sometimes being alone is a great comfort but at times when I sit staring at rejection slips in my hand it is pure hell. It even stalls the WIP which clamours for attention and polishing. It’s a sad state.
But there’s one other thing that rejection slips can do. A positive one too (I really didn’t see this coming when I began writing this post). It makes one brave. If I’m writing about my rejection slips with an intention of sharing it with the world, when the rest of world is proclaiming slogans like “My First book is in print” or “I sold my recent novel” or “I signed a three book deal”, then that’s something to feel happy about.
While sailing through one of my rejections I happened upon writer Ellen Jackson’s website. And these priceless words really did some good healing work.
Rejection-proof your manuscript. Write from your heart. Everyone is looking for a little bit of wisdom to help them get through life with courage and grace. Do you have wisdom to share? Is your gift humor? Can you make a child laugh? Can you tell the truth in a new way? What was important to you when your were a child? Make the clear expression of your passion your primary goal. Then show your writing to friends who know you and will understand what you’re trying to say. If one person “gets” it, you’ve planted a seed. Your writing is successful–no matter how the rest of the world judges you. The rest is just ego.
And this piece, Rejection Slips: A balm for Writers and as certain as Death by Gerald. W. Haslam is by far the most wise and sensible take on this sensitive ailment facing writers. In the essay Poet Donna Champion is quoted to have said, “I wouldn’t mind rejection so much if editors would just take the time to send a personal note” and I couldn’t agree more. This is greatest form of reassurance in my opinion. Being replied to with a little note that’s personal gives that feeling of the all important “belongingness” which is so valuable to writers.
This particular line, I felt, was the keystone point of the whole piece:
It is important to recognize that there is no sham in receiving rejection letters. For someone who wants to be published there may actually be shame in not receiving some, since that often means a writer is not really trying. Jack London once claimed to have received 400 in a single year, but he hung in there and eventually saw a great deal of his material in print.
So the deal here is to try, and try, and get there! And even if I don’t exactly wear shirts like these I’ve learnt to accept them just as any other felicitous news.
It feels a bit disheartening not to be able to complete the fourth book in my attempt to read four of Austen’s fantastic novels this January. But what with tight writing schedules, other readings to get done, a bit of health issues too I’m happy to have experienced three delightful books by ‘The Lady’- Emma, Sense and Sensibility and Pride and Prejudice.
What I learn from Austen every time I read is the credibility of characters more than anything. The stories just seem like normal love stories but beneath them lies the world that I so take pleasure in knowing and understanding. I love the bows, the dinners, the manners, the ribbons, the dresses, the manners, not to mention the wonderful suitors. Though live back then is touted to have been boring by the children of technology of today’s world, in my view it is quite the contrary. With grand and elegant pianoforte’s to be mastered, room full of books by the masters of English Literature to be devoured, long and insightful letters to be written to the dear, courteous notes and calls to be given to neighbours, breathtaking parks and mansions to visit where was the time to be idle? Living like that has always been one of my many utopian dreams.
But Austen more than sufficiently provides for my fancies. Whatever views literary critics may take I for one will always admire the novels and turn to them for comfort and camaraderie.
Now I thought I might share some of my favourites out of her six popular novels.
Favourite Setting: Barton Park from Sense and Sensibility
Enjoyably Annoying character: Mrs. Jennings from Sense and Sensilibity
Favourite Non-heroine Sibling: Mary Bennet from Pride and Prejudice.
Favourite Notorious Character: Frank Churchill from Emma and Lydia from Pride and Prejudice
Favourite Stately character: Sir Thomas Bertram from Mansfield Park
The character(s) I laughed my off reading: Collins and Catherine De Bourgh from Pride and Prejudice
Favourite hero: Fitzwilliam Darcy( I know, very typical, but that’s that)
Favourite heroine: I just cannot zero in on one. It would be pointless to cherry pick for the Austen fan that I am.
Favourite lucky character(s): Fanny Price from Mansfield Park and Wickam from Pride and Prejudice.
Favourite Parent/ Parents: The Morlands and Mr. Woodhouse
Favourite Saint: Anne Elliot from Persuasion
Favourite kids: The Musgroves pack from Persuasion
And the list is endless I think, so it would be best if I just let it be.
And now it feels like I have come to the end of something so enjoyable and invigorating. Nonetheless, I will continue to read them in the future. And it was a bang-up start for the year and thanks to all of you who joined in to make it an even more pleasant experience.
With hardly two days left to say good bye to this year, the eleventh year of the millenium, I can feel my hands being numbed by the cold(literally also). There’s a huge block of bricks sitting right in front of me hindering my progress. The much awaited smooth transition from this year to the next won’t materialise after all. There has to be some blobs of ink-shed now, I suppose. How else can the flow occur? I fear that something is lost. It’s certainly not a wanting for words or coherence. All the key elements remain while I’m afraid the spark of interest is wavering in the cold winds. The splinter in me suffers the danger being snuffed out.
It’s true- I have been way too hard on me. But the goal is so near me always and I don’t want to let it slip while I can help it. The harsh hours of straining, brainstorming and typing has certainly made the fountain of fuel in me go dry. When the rest of the world prepares to welcome the new year, the beginning, I sit by my desk thinking of a way to bid adieu to this eventful year in a decent manner.
(From the Writing Desk will be regular feature on theliteraryshack that will discuss and share thoughts that pop up right from my writing place)
Stephanie Perkins is one personality I find really interesting in recent times. My year started off with reading and loving her debut novel ‘Anna and the French Kiss’. And I was bowled over this autumn when I read her second book, ‘Lola and the Boy Next Door’. The good cheer didn’t fail to hit me and I finished the book in one go. I must say it was an absolute joy ride reading it. The colours, sights and emotions blended so well, it was one well structured story. What sets this book apart is its quirky characters. Only Stephanie can pull off something as eccentric as gay parents! And Lola’s sense of style in book quite revived my liking for jazzy nail polish and sparkly dresses. Not to mention, my passion for pies too. The other heartening aspect of the book is the appearance of Anna and Etienne, the adorable and celebrated pair from her first book. These characters are present throughout and added to the wholesomeness of the plot. And I can’t stop loving Cricket. Everything about this character is so wonderful and lovable. All through the book I could feel all the passions of the writer flowing out. And when I finished the book in one go, I really understood the importance of writing about what you most love.
So, apart from that I read ‘Thanks for the Memories’ by Cecelia Ahern which was another feel good book too. This is the first book I read by the writer and it was really gripping. What really shined through for me was the remarkable father-daughter relationship. And the narration from two points of view was also very interesting. The dialogues are also very brisk and fresh which feed the plot its pace. On the whole it was worthwhile read.
And that’s all I had time to read- just two books. I sincerely hope November has better prospects in store for me.
I did do some writing for the REN blogfest which was thoroughly enjoyable. My WIP did show some signs of improvement in terms of progress in chapters and I’m only looking ahead now. I have strongly come to believe that positivity is the only way to go.
I discovered some fascinating TV shows that I had missed through tastekid. Now, this tastekid thing has really got me addicted. I end up typing up something everyday and discover loads of fun stuff. What do I love more than Jane Austen and ‘Pride and Prejudice’? Simply Nothing. Tastekid threw up ‘North and South’ and ‘Lost in Austen’ in return and I am ever so happy to have watched them. And after falling in love with John Thornton I also ordered the book by Elizabeth Gaskell. I will go on forever if start about Richard Armitage, but I will spare you dear readers by just saying ‘I love him’.
‘Lost in Austen’ was bold, eccentric, funny and enjoyable. The ending is every Darcy lover’s dream-come-true and though the story was not very emotional I had tears in the end. And I now believe that I can devour ‘Pride and Prejudice’ in any form other than the book too.
I’m really excited to present Part IV of the story today. It’s been a thoroughly enjoyable experience writing for the Blogfest. It’s the sense of community that this blogfest brought about that I liked the most. And I hope you find this final installment enjoyable.
“Who would have thought that Assart held so much at its heart? This place a living secret in itself” marvelled Maria as the party walked the quiet corridors of the ever expanding cottage.
“And I never knew that the line between life and death was so thin. Yes, we have all learnt a lot” said Elaina.
“There’s so much hidden in the beauty of the wild. And the wild is ever so beautiful and deceptive! These pictures are deeply etched in our minds and their virility will never dampen. We will never have to wander anymore for inspiration” joined Helena hand-in-hand with Richard.
“And dear Elaina, forget the mishap graciously now. No harm was done and we only have to thank God for that” Richard said sensing distress on Elaina’s countenance.
No sooner had Richard completed than a familiar noise was heard. An arrow came swooping through the corridor and pierced its way onto the wooden wall opposite them.
“It came through the open window there!” said an alarmed Elaina. On taking a closer look a scroll attached to the arrow was visible. Richard removed the string to loosen the scroll and read out its contents aloud:
Firstly, I entreat you to kindly explain to your friends that my shooting them was purely by mistake. I sincerely feel for the harm that my action may have caused. There have been many intruders and truants of traders who have managed to mischievously steal our ancient herbs and plants. Thinking them to be such bad hats I shot a hasty arrow and regret it. I hope you would make them understand.
And, comrade I have also decided to move away from here. The muscles of my heart are yet strong and I wish to discover more of what this worlds holds for me. I am too restless to harbour myself at this century old place that I have lived since my childhood. But I love it dearly. I ask you, good friend, to preserve this temple to my great-grandparent’s memory. I knew you were the one for it from the very moment we became friends.
But now is the time I have decided to take leave, just before the whole world can wake up to the secrets of the Freus’s family. It was their wish to remain silent forever in this way and my duty to uphold that.
So now I leave in good hope that I have left a part of my soul safely and wish you and your friends a great life ahead. May His grace be upon you always.
“I should have known! Erichton would fly away eventually” Richard’s voice cracked.
“After all he’s the great-grandson of Lady Freus!”
“Pity! I wanted to see my villain” Elaina rebuked.
“You can very well do that in here” Richard said pointing to his heart. “After knowing so much about him and his ancestors it certainly won’t be hard to imagine his picture”
“But it was wicked of him to run away like that”
“No, Elaina. It was his duty to withhold the secrets of his family. After so many years of disappearance of the line it was only natural of him to want to keep away speculations. He wanted to leave his family in peace and his sacrifice is a great one”
Elaina reddened. And Helena’s hug came in time to comfort her sister. “And what’s important for me is that we are all safe!”
The setting sun searched out the group huddled in the corner to witness a gathering united by love and secrets.
Word count: 600
Prompts used: The final event becomes another secret for generations to come.
I wasn’t going to do a post today. Until I read this on YA writer Tahereh Mafi’s blog. And it hit me that I’ve been procrastinating too much delaying ‘The Day’. I’ve been dreaming way over the limit about ‘The Day’ and not actually working towards its actualization. I wish to witness ‘The Day’ and hold my baby in hands and cuddle it. But its in my hands to reduce gestational period(Excuse me for getting too cheesy) and I have done nothing about it lately.
Honestly, writing has taken a back seat while work has started to consume the larger part of time and energy. Despite the struggle to make space I haven’t had much luck. My WIP is crying for words and I haven’t been able to nourish it to fruition. I feel like a complete bully starving my WIP and harming my desire to write at the same time. Perhaps better time management? Well, I’ve not been able to do that very efficiently.
But there’s one tool that spurs me forward better than anything else- seeing the success of other up-coming writers. After I read that post by Tahereh Mafi I felt the joy and the pinch at the same. The joy of feeling the happiness of another and the pinch of delaying my getting there soon. As an aspiring writer, I’ve seen that my graph of motivation and work has been rather fluctuating unfortunately. I have always been in constant need of company, motivation, push to get ahead. I often went wandering outside in search of these and ended up having an insipid day with bitter entries to write in my journal. Now I have realized that these are ingredients that come from within.
But with the blogosphere brimming with so many lively writers and aspirants I have found some solace at last. Even as I battle my insecurities I have now understood there’s a lot of hope to be had. The loneliness has been done away with. And all I have to do is move towards witnessing ‘The Day’.
I can feel the words flowing in my head with renewed zest and sensibility already. I hope this surge stays consistent and constant for the days to come.
Hello! Here’s Part 3 of the story.
Fear flowed through their veins and their hearts reverberated at an inconceivable pace. For a minute, Elaina regretted her impulsive decision of following the footprints. Sometimes the facts of life present themselves only at the very end of the road and one wonders if such knowledge would be useful at all in future. This started to dawn at the split second she impulsively turned around to behold the image of the man.
Helena could hardly believe the name as she let go of the rod she clutched. And still as she looked at Richard, her mind could hardly take in intensity of the shock. The room was still as a picture except for the moving eyes that rather intensified the eeriness of the situation.
“Helena, it was you? You were by the river this noon. My dear! What a fearful thing to think about. What are you all about?” Richard said moving inside clearing all the ambiguity about his presence.
Helena was still blown out of the water and couldn’t get herself to speak. “Well, we were out on a picnic” Helena paused looking at Richard’s expression, “It was our little dream to come down to Espadon and do some paintings” Elaina struggled to make things clear.
“But what are you doing here, at Erichton Freus’s dwelling?”
“We were attacked” Helena could say no more. On hearing these faint words, Richard’s angry brow came low as he approached her and took her in
his arms. “Helena, say no more. You’re safe”
“Richard where are we? Are you acquainted with this place?”
Richard let go off Helena slowly and walked up to the picture at the end of the room. “This place belongs to the Freus’s. It has remained here quietly among the trees for over a century. You must have heard about the anserine couple who went away into Assart to never return. This is the very house that they created and lived in”
“Why did they do that?” Elaina interrupted.
“The Great Battle of Sora. The murkiest time witnessed by Renaissance forced men to lose their sanity. The civil war led by the aggressive warrior Sora took turmoil to the peak. Men, women, children in large numbers were brutally injured, made invalid and some even murdered conveniently in the forests of Assart while the political camps in little towns plundered and looted. It was a little time after the period when ruthlessness had withdrawn its regal wings that young
Frues and his wife went into Assart- to help cure the scattered groups of ailing people. They consecrated their lives to service. And young Frues happened to be
an artist of high calibre and what you behold all around you are some of his very hand strokes”
“How do you know?” Elaina blurted.
“While on my frequent journeys to our town on business, I was acquainted with this mystical place and its occupant, the great-grandson Erichton Frues”
“Yes, dear sister. Come with me” he led the trio to the picture of the woman sitting by a door. “Observe her eyes. Every time I see it, I can certainly perceive a marked change in its bearing. It’s a curious mix of character that I see. Either the artist was brilliant or Lady Frues was indeed a curious personality. Sometimes I sense subtle braveness. At other times it’s a deluge of compassion and mildness that shows up. I haven’t been able to describe that quality at all” Richard quietened into thought.
“Evanescent” murmured Helena. Richards’s eyes were aglow upon hearing the word.
But who attacked us here? Elaina wondered silently.
Word count : 600
Main Character: Richard Greaves
Prompts used: A long-kept secret is revealed.
Howdy! Here’s the second part to the story.
“What a beauty!” Maria gasped for breath as she tried to perfect the evergreen shrubs on her canvas.“But something seems to be missing surely”
“My Maria, when will you stop being modest?” Helena cried in reply.
While the two were engaged in the creative pursuit, Elaina stood atop a mound of pebbles, looking at her reflection in the blue waters. She felt her cheeks as she looked and brushed aside a strand of her chestnut hair as the breeze teased it. Her eyes suddenly seemed all curiosity, her figure all sensuality and her aura seemed to attract every living being around it.
“Will you see that?” Maria said distracted by Elaina’s silence which was very unusual.
”Little sister admiring herself! Oh dear, look at my beautiful Elli!” Helena teased.
Before Elaina could reply, a twang of a bow was heard and an arrow zoomed beside Elaina’s ear, missing it by a fraction. Elaina fell off the mound and landed on a bush of thorns. Helena stood paralysed while Maria fought her fear and moved herself towards Elaina. She lowered herself and helped Elaina onto her hands.
“Elli!” Helena was in tears.
“Dip your handkerchief in the water and bring it” Maria instructed Helena. Elaina jerked heavily, as Maria picked the thorns and rubbed the wounds .
“Who would have done that?” Elaina said feebly after her tender body numbed with the pain. The flummoxed girls could barely reply. Just then Nora bit Elaina’s shoe to turn her attention to a trail of footprints. These marks were proof enough that danger was lurking somewhere, behind one of those bushes.
“I’m going to find out” Elaina cleared her throat, while the girls wished they wouldn’t hear those very words. When the younger Ms. Bond was determined to accomplish a task, the others followed without refuting. Elaina brushed aside her injuries mentally, and walked steadily ahead of her companions along with Nora. The marks on the ground led to a slightly growing gradient and disappeared a few hundred yards before a little cottage.
A cottage in the middle of Assart! Elaina wondered. “Is that a cottage?” Maria said trying to gain a grip on the ground.
“We will find out!”
The girls crouched their way to the cottage which camouflaged with the forest.
“Let’s get to the back of the house. The door may be open” Elaina whispered and led them.
And as Providence is always at service to aid the ones in distress, the door was indeed left ajar. The house was silent and dark. “Elli, come back” Helena tugged at her sister but in vain. Elaina was already into a room which looked like a gallery. Paintings of all sizes hung about its walls.
“Look! That’s the painting of the couple that Mrs. Rugs talks about” Elaina said astonished. “And there’s one with them holding a child”
The woman in the pictures looked unearthly and the child she held was undeniably her very own. Every feature of her virtuous face was visible on her boy. On the far end of the room was a painting that surpassed all the others in its realism. The woman sits by the door, pressing the juice out of leaves and shrubs onto a crude pestle. Dried tears embellish her red cheeks and warm affection flows from her heart.
The girls stood in awe, admiring the beauty of the paintings forgetting their peril. “The couple never returned they said” Elaina breathed.
“That’s because they decided to stay where their hearts were” a voice replied.
Little did they notice the silhouette of a man standing behind them.
Word count: 600
Prompt: Someone is killed or almost killed
Main Character: Elaina Bond
Read Part 1 here.
The Rule of Three blogfest begins today and it’s nothing less than a party for word lovers. What more can any fan of the written word ask for than this? October is going to be all about hopping from blog to blog, in an effort to read all the wonderful REN3 entries. Happy REN3 y’all!
Here’s the first installment of the story. Hope you enjoy 🙂
Helena Bond rose from the rock restless to carry on with the journey. Her two companions, a younger sister Elaina Bond and a dear
friend Maria Wood were inclined to sit there awhile to take in the cool forest wind. The three had been on foot braving the forests of Assart with their
hearts set on capturing the Espadon in all her beauty on their easels. Helena, the eldest of six Bond sister’s was the prettiest and had blown away the
ambitious little heart of Richard Greaves, the only boy of the well-to-do traders’ family of the Greaves. The threesome considered this their last outing together before the union of Helena with Richard.
They set out to do something that not many other women, in their early twenties, dared to do- hiking all the way through the tough
forests of Assart to the river Espadon just to satisfy their youthful aspirations. The fear of the people to tread these forests was based from many
a folklore about evil spirits that dwelt on certain ancient trees. There had been mass executions in the heart of Assart a few hundred years ago when the
great battle of Sora was fought and after which the beautiful town of Renaissance had dwindled into ruins. Eventually the virtuous town recouped and
rose back from its ashes healthy and prosperous. But as all thrilling things that feed the glands of humans, the stories about the spirits retained their
solidity despite the intellectual advancements.
“Elaina Bond, you don’t want to rile your sister” said Maria, “come on now”
“Oh I don’t care a rush for her temper. Besides did you notice her eyes, they are set upon some distant horizon. She’s been gaze-walking all along!”
“Helena! What has that wizard of a man done to you?” Maria cried.
“Maria dear, have you brought along the raw sienna mix?” Helena said, half-blushing. Just wait until you find someone, she thought. The other two exchanged glances and walked along in silence until they came to a clearing.
“Mama said long time ago a couple went into Assart and they never returned” naughty Elaina intonated.
“Mama’s always talking too much with that tell tale Mrs. Rugs” Helena joined, “And Hannah says it’s just some old story”.
“Well, Hannah’s the most sensible woman I have ever known” said Maria who always had a liking for Hannah, the governess.
“What if the ghoulish couple show up to welcome the three cronies?” Elaina hissed. The shrill laughter of the girls pierced the forest air.
The trio now walked a faster pace as Nora barked a little more than usual. That meant they were very close to Espadon, the sight of which they had been yearning to behold anxiously for years. The girls twisted and broke the lean branches eager to make way. The sparkling river glittered through the gaps.
Helena looked entranced and her heart beat so fast and her fingers twitched to stroke that white roll of paper she held. Drawing huge breaths of air Helena said, “There she is”.
The sight of the vivacious group of girls on the banks of the glorious Espadon was so resplendent a picture in itself that the onlooker might be tempted to think that some supernatural artist was behind it after all. Nothing should have disturbed this beauteous event.
Word count : 554
Prompts used: There is fear of impending misfortune, Someone might fall in love.
(P.S – Please leave your honest opinions on the piece in the comments section)