Place Masterpiece Here

writer-meme

Most writers write because they love writing. It is not a big money maker for the majority of us, most of the time our payback is simply having people read and share the article or post. A comment that shows the reader actually read the piece is always greatly appreciated.

Not many people want your writing, you pretty much have to get down on your hands and knees begging for your piece to get published on websites and magazines. But writers keep writing anyway. Even if the only place their writing gets published is on their own little blog in their own little world of fellow unknown writers that appreciate the efforts. We try to keep each other motivated.

Writing just makes writers happy. We can’t stop. And sometimes some of us get lucky, then we all celebrate, like it was our own little victory. We get so happy we share the achievement wherever we can. I have had a bit of luck, a few posts I had written got featured. I was also approached by a couple of people to write some pieces for them. If you get asked to write something out of the blue when you least expect it, it is like Eid/Christmas/Hanukkah/ Diwali/fill in appropriate festival here.

Seeing your work somewhere is an amazing feeling. I wanted to help other newbies have that feeling, it is so motivating.  I didn’t have a whole lot of resources, the only thing I could think of was to put up a website and offer writers, artists and bloggers a place to share their work.  When the website was finally up I sent the link to my friends and asked them to share it with their friends and family with the message that anyone interested could send me their work to be put up. I started getting submissions and excited ‘thank yous’. That is a great feeling, being able to help someone. I also got some people ask me how much I was going to pay them for their submissions. They hadn’t even sent in a sample of their writing or artwork. It was kind of funny, but I am assuming they haven’t actually tried creating anything and getting it ‘out there’ yet. They are in for a rude awakening! I am keeping my fingers crossed though that eventually the site will pay for itself and I will be able to pay contributors. Right now it is using up all my pocket money!

If you are interested in sharing your work I would love to help get it ‘out there’.  I am going through submissions and hope to have them all up in July. I have put up a ‘floor model’ so you can see the website, the email to send in a submission is under the ‘Contribute’ heading.  This is the first time I am doing something like this, so your suggestions will be appreciated!

Attention all writers, bloggers, foodies, parents, artists, photographers, travellers, event planners and readers: come visit Café Mosaic.ca!

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Depth, The Ugly Truth About Writing

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This is literally me right now. Looking into the depths of my heart, which I have pulled out of my chest. To face the truth.

I am sitting here stalling. My draft lies in a file, wasting storage space on my laptop. I have left it alone for many months because that is what writers are advised to do. Write, leave it. Edit, leave it. Read and edit, then leave it again. But I have left it way too long.

I have tricked myself into believing that I am just waiting for an appropriate amount of time to pass then I will get back to it. I distract myself with other projects, then leave them also. In the back of my mind something keeps eating away at me, I push it away. I write humorous mom posts to keep myself busy. And distract myself…from myself. From the anger that is building up inside me. The frustration of the truth that I don’t want to acknowledge.

I am scared to go back to the novel. Scared it is awful. Scared it won’t ever be any good even after I have put so much into it that I am exhausted. Scared of that horrible feeling when you get another rejection letter. If it never gets done, I won’t have to face all that hurt.

And anger builds up even more. I push it down deep, so that my kids don’t notice. I don’t want them to know I desperately want to write, but I am too scared of the disappointment I will have to face.  I want them to be able to face their problems bravely when they go out on their own in the world.Get back up and dust themselves off after falling. . I want them to be able to keep their spirits up even when things look hopeless and I am not setting a good example. Which means I am failing as a mother now too. More frustration.

I open the draft and stare at it. I get up and go into the kitchen. I have to make dinner first. I always have to do something first. I am so angry I end up putting too many red peppers in the stir fried shrimp. The kids are going to complain and I will try to deal with them patiently, because it is my fault. I will suppress the urge to smack them in the back of the head and yell at them to stop whining about everything. It isn’t their fault. It is mine.

I contemplate blaming everything on my parents and a bad childhood. Blaming someone else makes you feel better temporarily. It gives you excuses to continue being stupid. In the back of my mind I know it is all me though.

I control my anger. Squeeze it into a ball and force it down my throat. It is struggling to come back up in the form of a loud, frustrated scream. I don’t want to worry my husband and kids. But I really want to punch something hard. And break stuff.

I avoid the on-line writing hang out. I don’t want to admit how I am feeling to all those other writers who will understand and try to make me feel better. I don’t want to admit I am scared to keep writing. Putting all my energy, all my hear t and soul into that stupid book, only to find out it was never any good.

And I don’t want any feel good advice. I don’t want to feel good, I am too busy being angry, and all that good advice sounds like BS anyways. We just give it and listen to it to make ourselves feel better.  I am tired of good advice, don’t give me good advice, just agree that everything sucks and then we can go throw rocks at windows or something.

Broken windows remind me of broken down houses. And homeless people, and that I should stop wallowing in this ridiculous hole I have dug for myself because I am so much better off. I should be grateful, happy and stop wasting my time. And go finish the damn book.

Which I can’t do, because I have pulled my heart out of my chest and looked into its depths. All I can find is anger and isolation and the fear of failure. I contain it, but it is building up and I am afraid it is going to explode.

 

(Artwork is mine.)

House Sold

Click to read on Dawn: http://dawn.com/2012/05/06/humour-house-sold/

I sold my house before I moved back to Canada, it was quite an experience and I discovered things I couldn’t imagine about people I have known all my life.

Remember the house I got renovated? I sold it. And I moved. But that is another story. Unless you have gone mad and decided to move half way across the world — and having gone through this extremely painful process myself I would not advocate it for anyone — never sell your house. First of all you should only sell your house, if it has a leaky roof, cracked floors, and crumbling walls. Or if a close relative has passed away and left you a mansion on Tipu Sultan road.

Selling your house is an uncomfortable process; it will keep you up at nights and give you plenty of indigestion. You will have all kinds of people invading your privacy requesting tours of your house at odd hours of the day. And they will want to know why you chose to paint your daughter’s room two shades of pink and why the kitchen counters are black. They will shake their heads unbelievingly at the ‘extravagant’ price, then bug you after you sell the house to someone else, why you didn’t inform them first, because they had their hearts set on it.

A house that you have lived in for a long time becomes part of you; it hosts your celebrations and shelters your rainy days. It watches your children grow and becomes their first friend; its walls hold up everything from little pink and blue bunny rabbit cut-outs to posters of sleek cars or rock stars with bad hair-dos. It provides a personal little haven known as the bedroom, where your moody teenagers retreat to when the world doesn’t treat them right. It listens patiently, never judging, never offering unwanted advice to the angry adolescent but pacifies them with the knowledge, that here, they are accepted. It sadly hears your fights and joyfully watches reconciliations. It guards every secret obsessively.

I miss my house. And it took me months to wind everything up. Twenty years of possessions are hard to get rid of. And you won’t believe the junk I had. Actually, you probably would because every Pakistani woman has an incredible imagination when it comes to recycling. Closets that were full of spare dupattas of cast away suits, clothes piled up for repairs or distribution to various destinations, shoes that had been worn out and forgotten about, hair clips, scrunchies and makeup kits that were never used. Stashes of candy, hidden from the children. I could almost hear my house moan sadly as I continued to deprive it of all its belongings.

The kitchen cupboards were stripped of countless empty ice-cream containers, unused dishes, utensils and plastic bags. Oh how we women adore our plastic bags! Of course my maid had a field day, and I felt a bit guilty at her bliss on receiving such trivial little titbits. I know my house will miss her too. The way she helped me scrub and dust out each and every corner was admirable, getting our house ready for the new owners as we reminisced and even shed some tears together.

Sniff. Enough! Never regret a decision, it wastes too much time. Just learn from it. Which gets me to the real point. When we put our house up for sale, a wise old person told us it is ethical to ask your neighbours first if they are interested. We did, fortunately everyone already had their own house. Neighbours are one thing. Relatives are another.

Never sell your house to a relative. Especially if you are the type of person with a lot of ‘lihaaz’ (read: doormat). That is where they get you, at your lihaaz. Because of lihaaz you will sell your house at a rock bottom price and then listen quietly as your relatives whine incessantly about how broke they are. They will also want to get it renovated some more before they move in. Never mind the fact that you still live there. Lihaaz aap ko mar day ga.

After the house is sold, your relatives will come often with the pretext of helping you wind up the house. They are actually coming to make sure you don’t damage any of the walls while moving out large and heavy furniture. Speaking of large and heavy furniture, don’t bother trying to sell it or give it to any of your best friends. Your relatives will do you a big favour by insisting that you leave everything and they will take care of it for you. Later they will complain to all and sundry that you left your broken down junk for them. That ‘junk’ that will later adorn their drawing rooms.

And then of course there is the large collection of electronic gadgets that you will leave for them. And they will have the gall to phone you up to tell you the stuff you left for them (that they had asked for, by the way) doesn’t work, and it is costing them a lot to get it fixed. So you offer to give them their money back… oops, you gave it to them for free. So what to do now?

Don’t let it come to this, heed my advice and never sell your house. Especially not to relatives.

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Letters

Letters

Can’t imagine life without them. But since they are all around us all the time, sometimes we just don’t seem to notice them, or really appreciate them. So thank you Cheri Lucas Rowlands for reminding us of their beauty and importance.

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As a mother when I see these letters written by my kids (on endless love letters and pictures) nothing can describe the feeling of love that washes over me.

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These letters name what I find in every corner, under the sofas, beds, the dining table and even in long tangled hair of Twin 2. I love cheerios. I just don’t like cleaning them up. I also don’t like the fact that they only seem to stick to my feet.

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As a writer these letters on this device are my best friends, the ones on the screen and on the keyboard. The letters G-O-O-G-L-E take me to places I could never go.

 

 

Holy Spamathon. Much Wow.

spam

Am I the only one? While I have been busy fixing up my novel ( after going nuts with pitchmad..I got requests!) my blog has been entered in some sort of Spamathon. The comment thingy is full of crazy spam, always keep your ‘pending approval’ thing on! So here is some entertaining stuff I am about to ‘mark as spam’ :

I’m gone to say to my little brother, that he should also visit this web
site on regular basis to take updated from latest
news update.

Latest news update: I don’t give any news updates.

Marvelous, what a website it is! This weblog presents helpful data to us, keep it
up.

Thank you. I will keep it up.

Excellent goods from you, man. I’ve understand your stuff previous to and you’re just extremely wonderful.I actually like what you’ve acquired here, really like what you’re stating and the way in which you say it. You make it entertaining and you still take care of to keep it sensible. I can’t wait to read much more from you. This is really a terrific website.

I am extremely wonderful man and I will continue my previous stuff. I am appreciating much that you are liking what I state. I am stating that you go jump off a bridge.

I all the time emailed this website post page to
all my contacts, as if like to read it afterward my
contacts will too.

I all the time do not give a ****

It’s a pity you don’t have a donate button! I’d certainly donate to this outstanding blog!I suppose for now i’ll settle for bookmarking and adding your RSS feed to my Google account.I look forward to fresh updates and will share this site with my Facebook group. Talk soon!

A donate button? Do I really sound that needy?

Duly Represented

Congrats to heylookawriterfellow! Do go and visit his blog, he is hilarious!

Hey, Look! A Writer Fellow!

I sold my first (and only) picture book manuscript a few years ago. Upon learning the news of the sale, I was, of course, ecstatic.

I was also exhausted, for I braved about a jillion rejections before that long-coveted contract arrived. I soon began to wonder just how dogged I would need to be before I could hope to get a second contract. After all, I’m not as dogged as I used to be; I’m getting to an age where I need to start scheduling naptime.

So late last summer I did a little soul searching and decided that I needed help. I stopped relentlessly sending manuscripts to publishers and started relentlessly sending manuscripts to agents.

I am delighted to report that my efforts were not in vain. I just signed with the wonderful Natalie Lakosil of The Bradford Literary Agency!

I knew right from the start that Natalie…

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Writing: Adventures of a social media illiterate technophobe.

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In a fit of spasmodic enthusiasm I joined a variety of social media stuff I have not an inkling about. I’m convincing myself I can be social media savvy and cool as the hipster 20 somethings who wear plaid skinny pants and large amounts of multicolored medical gauze wrapped around their necks, forever engrossed in their expensive tablet-phone-camera gadget thingy.

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Okay maybe I don’t wanna look like that.

But I would like to be savvy. You know just because I am at that point of life where I realize I have no idea where the past 17 years of my life went since the birth of offspring numero uno. It’s like waking up from a coma and thinking you are still twenty something because you were a little while ago. And I realize I am still stuck in the technology of the nineties ie: I can turn on a computer if I can locate the on button.

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Being a wannabe author  writer you are advised to have a platform. Agent websites will tell you in their extremely detailed instructions of do’s and don’ts that you need to have a substantial following. They don’t want to be bothered by some person who nobody knows. And nobody wants to know a person who Agents don’t want to be bothered about. What?

I joined Tumblr (against Teenager1’s advice), Delicious, Quora, and Hootesuite. I was already on Facebook (the only one easy enough to use), Twittter (where I tweet into strangely empty nothingness) and Google+ (but I didn’t know it!) I am also on Agent Query Connect, where I feel more at home. But I haven’t visited in a century because I haven’t managed to figure out a way to completely forego sleep.

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According to Teenager 1 parents really should not be on Tumblr. It is for hip, emo, intellectual, whatever kids. Parents should stick to ‘mainstream’ stuff like Facebook, where they can post endless pictures of what they cooked the night before or how much snow they had to shovel from the driveway. I persisted however and I can now navigate my way around to find blogs that interest me. I also managed to hook up WordPress and Tumblr so that my posts appear there. Woohoo! I think by the end of this year I will actually manage to have at least two followers there. Hey you, follow me dammit!

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The only thing I found Delicious useful for was bookmarking the endless amount of pages I use to research what I am writing about. These days? Politics and conspiracy theories. Did you know our existence is only a simulation? Delicious is pretty easy to use.

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Quora is too much information at the same time for my aluminum and fluoride ridden brain. You can ask any question (you have to see the stuff people ask!) and people from all corners of the Earth will answer you. I get all my answers from Agent Query Connect. But Quora is interesting if you have loads of time and nothing better to do than be intellectual. When I have loads of time I clean out the litter box. And brush my hair.

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“Fat Kitty needs to poop. Clean that litter box woman!”

Hootesuite is very handy because it organizes all the stuff you’ve entangled yourself in. I suspect the packages must be really good because what they are offering for free is quite useful and not that hard to use. It only took me a couple of weeks hours to figure out how to link all my social stuff up and be able to post from there. But I like posting to WordPress directly because I couldn’t manage to get pictures into the post from Hootesuite. I must be doing something wrong. If you have any idea let me know.

One piece of advice, if you are a dinosaur like me, use a nickname rather than your real name just in case you are scared to press buttons. I was, and for some reason whenever I press a button to test something out, I can never find out how to edit/delete it. Why can’t edit/delete buttons be big enough to find without a magnifying glass? Or a map. That way you won’t be embarrassed by a dumb post like “This is a test. I am uncool a newbie loser and this is my first post. Idiot Technophobe trying to learn lol.” Teenagers. Extreme facepalms.

uncool mom

The point is you have to invest a lot of time. Which really bugs the heck out of me because I want to get that novel written. The Young Adult world needs a Conspiracy Thriller that involves real people in the real world. There are too many witches, faeries, and demon slayers out there.

Simone de Beauvoir

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(pic from biography.com)

“The writer of originality, unless dead, is always shocking, scandalous; novelty disturbs and repels.”
Simone de Beauvoir 
I love Google because it informs me of new things all the time. I am not going to lie, I had no idea who Simone de Beauvoir is. I don’t know if that is shame worthy or not, but after reading about her today I want to read her books. I probably would not have bothered to give them a second look if I passed them in the library. So thank you Google.

Now go find out more about her, lots of interesting stuff!

I’m a Writer

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(this pic from Google Images)

I was walking to the library after dropping the kids at school. It was so amazingly, awesomely beautiful out. The sky had turned very dark gray and the wind was beginning to blow like crazy. And then it started to snow. I was waiting at the lights with this other lady who had just dropped her kids. She was going for a walk and we were both admiring the weather, she was going to continue her walk and I told her I would be going to the library.

“Oh you work at the library?”

“No, I just go there to write.”

“Oh you are a writer?” Admiration in her voice.

I had to think,  not an author, but yes a writer. Because that is what I do, I write.

“Yes,” I said proudly, “I write.”

I am just glad she didn’t ask me how much I made on my last book!

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(This pic is by me. Of my laptop. At the library. Where I write.)

 

More Snow!

Fall 2013 128

 

We had more snow 🙂 Anyways I was able to write some chapters. Hurray. Whoopie. I am still not finished. I ended up reading loads of news and conspiracy theories that should cause plenty of anxiety and depression. But not for people who love snow. So while the world may be heading for disaster, I will enjoy the snow. And everything else because when you have lived as long as I have in a city like Karachi you are a certified “I can live through anything” so might as well enjoy the ride.

A couple of days ago when the offspring were afflicted with sniffles and coughs I had to hold them down and pour disgusting purple colored grape smelling syrups through funnels I jammed in their mouths.

Twin 2: “If Mommy was my kid, I’d make her drink this stuff ALL THE TIME!” She was reasonably upset.

Well it comes with the season, can’t avoid it. But here is a better tasting alternative :https://khaulamazhar.wordpress.com/2012/10/16/aachoo-season/ If you can get the kids to drink this it is really good for them. Besides being good for colds ginger and turmeric are good for detoxifying other icky stuff you don’t want running rampant in your body. Happy Snow!