Aftermath of a Challenge

One morning a couple of weeks ago, I sat in front of an open document, fingers poised over my keyboard waiting for the words to flow.

They didn’t.

I was stuck. I didn’t know what to do. I sat there for about an hour before deciding to do something else. I browsed through The Daily Post looking for ideas when I found the section on blogging challenges.

It couldn’t hurt, I thought and dove in. The first challenge that interested me was the Incredible Blogger Marathon Challenge. Now that is one good title. It triggered my curiosity and piqued my ego to just the right level. I wanted to be that Incredible Blogger. And a posting marathon is a challenge I could take.

incredible-blogger-marathon-challenge

I took it. It was a ten-post challenge, but I could take up to 15 days to complete it. I challenged myself to publish a post a day and finish the challenge in ten days.

The next two weeks was one of the best spells I’ve had in my blogging experience. It wasn’t easy as eating pie. It was as complex as baking one myself. But it was great fun. I had to think in ways I hadn’t done before. And the weirdest thing is that I had to first explain to myself how I felt about certain topics, before giving words to my thoughts.

It warped my head, but it gave me something to write about every day. It kept me going, even if I didn’t want to.

And now, it feels wonderful when I look back. It forced me to explore a whole new area in writing and I’m glad I took the challenge.

Have you ever taken up a blogging challenge? How did you feel afterward?

Happiness is…

Happiness is spending your holiday bonus on yourself.

Happiness is knowing you’re mature enough to give the last piece of pizza to a friend.

Happiness is turning over the last page of a book you’ve enjoyed reading.

Happiness is writing a complex sentence with the correct punctuation, at the first try.

Happiness is watching your little brother hit a home run.

Happiness is splitting a muffin with your mom.

Happiness is gazing into the eyes of your dog.

Happiness is having your feet on the ground when sitting on a chair.

Happiness is playing carrom after a lunch break.

Happiness is getting the tea to milk ratio right.

Happiness is dipping a biscuit in tea and eating it before it falls down.

Happiness is abundant. Happiness is all around us, even in small doses. And these are some of my moments of happiness. What are yours?


incredible-blogger-marathon-challenge-10I’ve signed up for the Incredible Blogger Marathon Challenge. It’s a ten-task-challenge that can span up to fifteen days. This post is my response to the tenth and final task: The Happiness Challenge. The challenge is to just write, continuing “Happiness is…”

Read Anew

Reading for pleasure, reading at leisure. Reading for news, tolerating the ads. Reading for exams, scrambling for points. Every day, we read something or the other, for some purpose or other. And our purpose often defines our perspective.

People who read newspapers and online articles do so for information. They don’t care who the writer is, how long it took to write the piece, or how the writer feels about the thing they’re reporting. That’s just news for the sake of news.

Some other people read for pleasure. My friends bury their faces in fiction or non-fiction just to get high in the power of words strung to one another. Reading, for them, is a hobby. It’s an activity that keeps their clocks ticking, at the end of which they have something to talk about, and sometimes even think about. Books for them are havens of stories, packed with adventure and action, letting them peek into a life they wish they’d had. When they read stories, they venture into a new world, a world where everything seems interesting, where everything is likeable. For such people, reading is an escape from a reality they can’t alter.

And then there’s the third kind: The ones who read the writer. I didn’t know this was a thing until I realised I belonged to this category. When I read a book, an article online, or even a magazine advertisement, I don’t just take the words in. I notice. I stop, I reread, I analyse the word choices, and I wonder if I could’ve written it better. I may, at first, shake my head at unnecessary commas, or curl my lips at descriptive repetition, but I also go wow at the imagery at the end of a sentence.

Reading for me has transcended beyond reading for pleasure. It’s now more of understanding the writer, trying to forge a bond with the author. It’s interesting how a writer’s mind works, because when they put words to paper, they don’t just communicate a story they thought we’d like. They, instead, make us realise what they realised. They educate the reader, conveying not just an idea, but a conviction. No writer ever publishes a book that they don’t believe in. Every word, every extra syllable that the reader reads is because the writer wanted them to read it.

But ever too often, we don’t acknowledge the valiant efforts of a writer. We judge a book within the first couple of pages. We verdict books without mercy. We use countless descriptions to condemn a book; too boring, a complex narrative, a stupid plot, emotionless tone, and so much more. And yet, all the while, we forget that the writer did all those with purpose.

A writer doesn’t want to write a boring book. But a boring fictional narrative from the first person point of view is purposeful. It’s a subtle indication from the writer to the reader that the (fictional) narrator had a troubled past that altered her life altogether. Throughout a story, writers drop hints for readers to pick up. And that’s why the same book feels different when we read it a few years later. We see things we haven’t seen before. We realise that the extra comma had some meaning. And so we read with extra care, we hunt for the clues, we wonder why the writer is being repetitive. And when we do that, we become mature. From reading about adventures, we make reading in itself an adventure.


ibmc-9

I’ve signed up for the Incredible Blogger Marathon Challenge. It’s a ten-task-challenge that can span up to fifteen days. This post is my response to the ninth day: Be a baby challenge. The challenge is to give a new perspective to something commonplace.

I’m a Little Teapot

Here’s a nursery rhyme about one of my favourite things: making tea.

I’m a little teapot short and stout.
Here is my handle.
Here is my spout.
When I get all steamed up,
Hear me shout!
Just tip me over
And pour me out.

And here’s my rip-off version of what happens when the little teapot gets a little old.

I’m a little teapot steamed and dry.
Here was my handle.
There was the spout.
When I chip my corners,
Know I’m bare.
Just pick me up
And throw me out.


incredible-blogger-marathon-challenge-8

I’ve signed up for the Incredible Blogger Marathon Challenge. It’s a ten-task-challenge that can span up to fifteen days. This post is my response to the eighth day: The Nursery Rhyme Challenge. The challenge is to interpret a popular nursery rhyme.

Coping with Thanksgiving

“In light of recent world events (the election of Donald Trump), many Americans are facing a particularly daunting Thanksgiving dinner with relatives who voted differently on Election Day, and may be in need of a lighthearted activity to reach across the aisle. Here are some art projects to help you and your family work through your feelings and heal political divisions — if only for an hour or two.” Source

It’s weird that the world has come to this. Thanksgiving was always a fun holiday, but it was also always a nightmare for folks who don’t get along with their folks. And that’s a lot of people.

In the same way, the US election has had the world — and the US, of course — divided beyond recognition. With red and blue flags waving all around, some people standing with her, yet some others vouching to make America great again, I’m pretty sure Thanksgiving isn’t the most anticipated holiday right now. And it’s understandable too. After all, I wouldn’t want to talk about politics with my family. Or talk about anything at all, if I could.

But times are blue and red has taken over. So how would you deal with a whole day locked up in a room with people you don’t like, stuffing yourself with stuffed turkey? Alanna Martinez from the Observer (quoted above) says you should do some craftwork together. It builds teamwork and can keep you from raging into a political debate, she says.

I agree. Crafting is a nice activity and it would make the day all the more bearable. But here’s what I don’t understand: why have we come to a situation where we need art to keep our mouths shut?

Sure, art soothes your soul, calms your nerves, and helps you dial down your tone when speaking to the uncle, twice removed. But as a humanities student myself, I can say that the Arts are a way of life, and not something you do when you can’t find an alternative coping mechanism.

In this piece, the author explains a few specific “Thanksgivingy” crafts which, I think, are all great. What I can’t agree, though, is that we need a reason—president-elect Trump in this case— to make these crafts. People should turn to art because they like creating art and not just because their therapist told them to. Proud though I am that therapists recommend art, it’s still an insult to us who’ve been insulted our whole lives just because we spend our lives on arts.

I’d share this article with my friends, I’d tell them it’s all true and that making these crafts together with their families would make Thanksgiving more like giving thanks than giving sparks. However, I still believe that by limiting arts and crafts to such petty issues, we limit the potential of art itself. We don’t need art as a temporary stress buster. Art for the sake of art — that’s what we need more of.


incredible-blogger-marathon-challenge-7I’ve signed up for the Incredible Blogger Marathon Challenge. It’s a ten-task-challenge that can span up to fifteen days. This post is my response to the seventh day: The News and Paper Challenge. The challenge is to discuss my views on a news article.