Sunday, March 16, 2014

Vicky Cristina Barcelona - Review

"Sometimes love makes all the sense in the world, sometimes it makes no sense at all." writes poet Denise Duhamel. These are the words that came to my mind when I watched Woody Allen's genre-defying rom-com 'Vicky Cristina Barcelona' (2008), a movie that explores the many possibilities of romantic love and leaves you with more giddy than with a sense of catharsis. Best friends, Vicky (Rebecca Hall) and Cristina (Scarlett Johansson) come to Barcelona for a summer vacation and get romantically involved with a Bohemian painter couple, Juan Antonio (Javier Bardem) and Marie Elena (Penelope Cruz in an Oscar winning performance). While Allen's insanely good-looking cast find themselves embroiled in every wacky, crazy, twisted love situation imaginable (or not, depends on how far your imagination goes in this matter), the film works in its being completely free of judgement. What left me dissatisfied, however was the ending. Is Woody Allen trying to say that love is a vacation that people take from the usual course of their lives? Or that it is a superficial gunshot wound that eventually heals? Or is VCB supposed to be a cautionary tale to warn us against falling in love with gorgeous people with psychotic ex'es? Or are we just supposed to sit back and contemplate the fickle nature of romantic love? Although I wish Mr. Allen supplied a few more answers, I thoroughly enjoyed the movie. For those who haven't watched VCB already, recommended for a rainy day when you need a seriously high dose of eye candy. 

Vicky Cristina Barcelona trailer

Friday, October 15, 2010

Useful things

Things that might be useful for clocking 1670 words a day for 30 days. Space, time, yoga practice, a cache of sweet treats, a pot of coffee and a scene by scene outline. Also enough baby food in the fridge so that I don't have to rack my brains over what she is going to have for lunch or dinner.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

This November

I am glad I registered two weeks in advance because it allows me to get all the boring stuff out of the way. Such as stocking the freezer with ready-to-eat stuff so that I don't have to waste precious time planning and cooking meals. One of the pep-talks I just read asks the writer to find a 'chip on her shoulder' which will not allow her a moment of peace till the shitty 50,000 word first draft is done. While I can think of a zillion things that would qualify as a 'chip', I ask myself why do I need something negative to egg me on something that I wanted to do all my life anyway? In fact, this is really the ONLY thing I really ever wanted to do. Everything else was either optional or in someway deemed as feeding that secret ambition. It just came back to me that for both my tenth and 12th standard board exams I actually wrote stories for the composition assignment. Who does that? When I got laid off, the first thing that came to my mind, even through the funk of shock and outrage was: finally I am free to do what I really want to do. This is by far the best thing that has happened to me. Honestly. But 50,000 words, a 15-month old baby and two years of mounting frustration later, I am only that close to fulfilling my dream. It seems that it is not enough to get 50,000 words on paper. It's more important that it make perfect narrative sense. That's a really tough call. But this November, I will give it that final "Do or Die" shot. I believe that the 50,000 words I have written so far are a stepping stone to something greater. In other words, they are not a 'waste' even though I might not be able to use them in this novel. Besides, as some people say, at the end of one's life, one never regrets not having spent more time at the office. I just don't want to get to the end of my life regretting that I didn't give this seemingly ridiculous novel writing business a fighting chance.

P.S The real reason why I am sitting up so late at night writing this blog is that my inner demons won't let me sleep. Is it just a coincidence that right at this moment, in another part of the world, some people are enthusiastically celebrating the slaying of another demon by an all-powerful goddess?

Pattern of Change

It's been a while since I blogged. That's because my novel has been languishing for 5-6 weeks owning to a drought of creative ideas. I was also developing a character designed to be a key figure who I couldn't seem to bring to life no matter how hard I tried. He just kept saying and doing pretty wooden things and boring me to death. And after a while I lost all interest in him. But last week saw a major break through. I hit upon a parallel story line, the 'story within the story' which has me bursting with enthusiasm again. In its wake, came a slew of fresh ideas. Now I have two new characters who seem more familiar to me than the previous cast.

This morning, my mother suggested that I join the  to dedicate all my efforts towards knocking off a first draft of 50,000 words in the month of November. I totally fell for the idea and as of a few minutes ago, have registered for this online effort. Just the thing I needed right now! After my successes with in early 2008, I am given to believe that I work well with such web based motivation tools. So here's to me!

Today is the birthday of one of my favorite poets, e.e. cummings who wrote, "..for life is not a paragraph/ And death I think is no parenthesis."

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Outline = Lifeline

Writing novels has been a favorite pastime of humankind for a long time but what I'd love to know is how many people managed to produce a work of undeniable artistic merit while single-handedly caring for a thirteen month old? I read somewhere that John Gardner lent a young Raymond Carver keys to his office on weekends so that he could get away from his two small children for a few hours and practice his craft in peace. We must also not overlook the fact that he had his wife to take care of the kids while he was away. I have no such luck in my life. I love my daughter dearly but our waking hours together are anything but peaceful in the way that a writer desires. In fact, I sometimes find she regards my laptop as a rival for my affections and acts pugilistically towards it. When she is in a more generous frame of mind, she clamors for her favorite Sesame Street videos to be put on. When finally she dozes off and I am free to write, I am often distracted from the task at hand in a way many writers claim to be. In the bargain, I have ended up making a jar of rather delectable raspberry cherry preserve and baked lots of carrot cakes and zucchini bread. When I am totally frustrated with my writing life, I cook. Thankfully, the food that is thus produced turns out pretty good and so far has not given anybody indigestion. Perhaps it would make sense to make chillie sauce when I am cooking for relief. I actually have some ideas stewing on the back burner of my mind.

The update on the work since the last time I blogged is this! Outlines work. A month ago I started out with eight chapter outlines. Last night, at 2.30am I managed to reach the half way mark. I am happy to report that the story grew out of the narrow confines of the outline and ambled off to interesting places quite on its own. That was a serendipitous occurrence that I had not bargained for. It seems that that once your writer's dreaming mind enters a scene, things happen on their own. Robert Olen Butler speaks at great length about this phenomenon in his book From Where You Dream.

A note here about the quality of work. It is far from satisfactory but it is widely believed that first drafts, by definition, are shitty.(Annie Lammott, Bird by Bird). Some of my best writing was nothing to look at when I first put words down on paper. So there's hope yet.

Right now, I am looking forward to cranking out another 12,000 words to get to the next milestone: the next four chapters fleshed out first draft fashion. Power to me!