Have You Tried Writing First Thing in the Morning?


Each morning I wake up fresh from dreaming and spill it out on the blank page, coloring it with emotions, anguish and joy, be as it may, with no direction, purpose or censorship.

Frequently called the morning pages, it is a warmup practice adopted by many fiction writers. I sometimes fill the notebook with nonsense. Actually, most times. But amid the gibberish, I sometimes find gems, kernels of stories, or characters.

Have you ever tried writing first thing in the morning before you’ve really woken up properly? Or like I asked in my other blog, have you ever written in the dark?

How far have you come, and does it matter?


“Always concentrate on how far you have come, rather than how far you have left to go. The difference in how easy it seems will amaze you.”
Heidi Johnson

Is success relevant?

Is success relevant?

I don’t know if I agree with this advice. When I look back, the amount I could fall scares me. I’d rather just keep going, breath by breath, each step of the mountain I’m given to climb.

The thought of scaling up to the top scares me too, because it is so lonely up there. And isn’t it better to just keep climbing and have something to look forward to?

When it comes to my writing, I’d rather just keep plugging away at it, taking each day as it comes. Success is irrelevant. The agony and ecstasy of having written is enough.

Would I have to eat my words some day?

Is success important to you? If yes, what would you do to get there, and what would you do once you’ve reached your destination?

If success isn’t important, why not?

Kartar Singh on Hunger Strike


Kartar Singh has stopped eating.

He swims up to me when I try to feed him, looks at the food, and then looks up at me with his beady eyes, as if to say, What, you think I’m going to eat this crap? You have another think coming!

Kartar Singh the beady Betta Fish

Betta Fish on Hunger strike

I’ve tried all kinds of food good for his kind, but he turns his tail at them, and flashes in indignation. The water parameters are fine so I can only try and imagine what is wrong with him.

I’m told Betta fish are moody, can go for days without food, and given my experience with thoroughly spoilt Bettas before, I’m holding on to that.

Or, our Kartar Singh has figured out the Gandhian way of protest, because the only change in his life so far has been the trip to my study desk... and now that he is back home in his own aquarium, he has taken to sulking behind the leaves.

He’s also ignored the mirror all of yesterday (beware the Betta who ignores the mirror, this indicates he means business). Maybe his charter of demands includes a room with a view of books, and the Singaporean skyline from the window.

I’m tempted to take a picture of the view from my study desk and paste it behind his aquarium. How would he know the difference? He is a fish, after all.

But something tells me that with a name like Kartar Singh, he might be on to me.

A-Z challenge: Have I thanked you yet??


April has been the A-Z challenge month for me. I invested quite a bit of myself in it, and like I said in my yesterday’s Reflection post, I have the organizers to thank for giving my muse a huge boost.

But I also need  to thank some of the most consistent and kind commenters on my A-Z posts, without whom I would have fizzled out about halfway down the challenge. They provided extraordinary word-prompts for my flash pieces, and were unfailing in their generous support.

So, here goes, in no particular order:

Marian Allen : She sent me some lovely prompts, and made some super-awesome comments!

Petra Hefner : I loved her positive posts and her equally positive comments.

Nutschell: Another blogger whose posts made an impression on me, and who always left me exciting comments.

Nicole/MadlabPost :  Always patient and kind on twitter and on the blog. I’m so happy to have met a blog-friend like her.

Dafeenah: A genuine, emotional  writer, and a generous commenter.

Bornstoryteller: He wrote an entire story in the A-Z challenge. And I have seldom had a more encouraging and consistent commenter.

PencilGirl : Every blog should have a commenter like her, for the sheer number of smilies and the genuine warmth of feeling :)

Patricia : Her first A-Z post floored me, and we have been in touch on blog and twitter ever since.

Christina Majaski : She is a straightforward girl with an awesome blogging voice, which is why her admiring comments meant so much more.

Joy : I don’t know if Joy remembers, but we used to visit each other’s blog two years ago when this blog was new, and have now re-connected thru A-Z. She has been very very generous with both her prompts and comments.

Corinne O’Flynn : I found her via the #atozchallenge via twitter, and have loved interacting with her on the blog and twitter.

Claire Goverts : I used a great many of Claire’s prompts and can never thank her enough. She is ever so sweet on twitter too.

Anna Tan: She wrote fiction for the A-Z, and lovely to talk to, both on my blog and twitter.

Talli Roland: One firecracker of a woman, who is all fun and laughter, yet also a fount of support and kindness….a prolific commenter and a joy on twitter.

India Drummond: I don’t know how she coped with A-Z despite going on a blog tour and sundry other things in April, but she did. She even found time to comment on my posts.

Alex and Lee: I met them via A-Z, and remain in awe of how they took the time to stop by my blog. Often. Despite organizing the challenge. Amazing.

I’m sure I’m missing out others who I need to thank, but I’m racing this post close to midnight and hope to make up for my errors by next week….I’ll visit and personally thank as many people as I can.

A few non-A-Z bloggers who used to be my friends before and supported me through A-Z:

Gladys Hobson : When Gladys comments, it makes my day. She cheered me on through much of A-Z, and I love her for that.

Indigo: An amazing writer who edits as a profession, and one of my oldest blog-friends—one I’m proud to have. She read and commented on my A-Z posts when she wasn’t doing so well.

Bronxboy55: If you mean to read one new blog this year and stop, make it this one. Awesome writer, humanitarian, humorist. His comments made the difference between posting and not posting on A-Z a few times, just at the points I was about to give up.

Thanks to each and every one of the bloggers mentioned above, and to all the others who visited, and took the time to comment. I’m grateful.

As I said yesterday, I’m going to work on an e-book, a Kindle short  (if research confirms it is the best fit for such a small book) based on the flash pieces I did on the A-Z. I haven’t decided on a title yet, and need to edit, cull out and sort all the pieces  before I can call it a manuscript.

It would be an interesting experiment, because the manuscript would be very  short, and not very suitable for traditional publication.

We’ll see.

Hope to receive words of advice from any and all A-Zers who have followed my work through the challenge.

Signing off on my last official A-Z post, till next April! Happy blogging, everyone.

The A-Z Reflections Mega Post


When I signed up for the A-Z challenge , I was the 15th participant. I had no idea of how big it was last year, and certainly no forewarning of how mammoth it would become this year.

The one thing I knew, however, was that it would be tough.

Tough for a blogger like me, that is. I’ve never really posted everyday despite the name and intention of the this blog , Daily (w)rite.

Before I started the challenge I didn’t know I would do all fiction, maybe fiction a day or two somewhere, but not All the posts!

But on an impulse I decided to ask for prompts for the challenge, based on which I would write flash pieces, and once I got the first few prompts and had written the first few pieces,  I knew it had to be fiction. Throughout. I was having way too much fun, and I love a good challenge.

Thanks to the comments that flooded/trickled in each day, I managed to hang in there and now have 24 flash pieces (I combined two letters, twice). It did take a bit of courage, to write a new piece and send it out into the world each day, but it also gave me a lot of confidence.

I know most of the comments were kind for the sake of kindness, but even I can’t deny that some of the commenters on some of the posts seem to have really liked the stories, and meant every word of what they said.

I hope to do a collection of these, in an e-book format, and Arlee Bird  and a few others think it might be a good idea. I’ll cull some of the stories, which did not work, to my mind, and replace them with others I’ve written before or will write afresh.

As to visiting other blogs, I have to admit I did not visit all the blogs that participated. I knew I couldn’t do it and go on with my normal life, which is a little crazy at the moment, with a new home and a host of other things.

So I visited all the the posts at #atozchallenge on Twitter, created a Twitter newspaper of links. I visited, or tried my very best to visit, everyone who visited and commented. I visited others from the links on the comments they left on blogs I was already visiting.

After I discovered a few links on the main list at the host blogs and found they led nowhere or were not continuing with the challenge, I largely ignored the list, though I must have visited at least 30 blogs each day.

I’ll do a separate post for tomorrow, to especially thank all those who commented on my A-Z posts and to mention some of the A-Z posts/ blogs I really liked.

For today I want to thank the organisers:

Arlee Bird (Tossing It Out) ,

Jeffrey Beesler’s (World of the Scribe),

Alex J. Cavanaugh (Alex J. Cavanaugh) ,

Jen Daiker ( Unedited),

Candace Ganger (The Misadventures in Candyland) ,

Karen J Gowen  (Coming Down the Mountain) ,

Talli Roland ,

Stephen Tremp (Breakthrough Blogs )

The challenge increased the number of people who subscribe to my blog, the number of visits and commenters.

But the best thing it did was give me a shot in the arm, that I could produce fiction somewhat consistently, some of it  not half bad.

So, Thank You to all the organisers, and hope to take part in the A-Z again next year!

A-Z: W is for Wonder, X for X-ray


Writing prompt: WONDER, X-RAY

Provided by: Nicole , a fellow A-Z challenge participant. Please visit her excellent blog.

Genre: Fiction

———

I wonder sometimes if I’m as dirty on the inside as I feel on the outside.

But the X-ray shows I’m merely broken.

My forearm has hairline fractures in two places, the doctor says, and I might have torn a bicep tendon. My bones have joined back earlier in other places, and look almost straight.

You want to tell me what happened, the doctor says, it is not natural for young bones to break so easy. Are you sure you fell on your hand? For a second I believe I can stay here for all time, in this room chilled with air-conditioning that smells a little of painkiller gels and alcohol. I’m tempted to tell her. The doctor reminds me of my mother, or what I think I remember of her before she died. But you can’t remember all that much at four.

Then I catch Dad’s eyes across the glass door. I swear he can hear each word from his blue chair outside the doctor’s office.

As I get my arm fixed up, I feel those eyes boring in, the eyes that make me dirty.

On my way out the doctor hands me the X-ray, taking her time about it. I take one last look at my bones, and then feel a small card under the stiff, thick X-ray as I shove it into the brown hospital envelope she gives me.

Call me anytime, she says, but I do not nod. I slip the card in my pocket without looking at it, clutch the envelope, and walk out to my Dad.

Tonight I think I’ll call her. If he does not find the card first.

———

I’m tweeting A to Z posts at #atozchallenge  There is also the A to Z Challenge Daily with links to Tweeted A-Z posts over the last 24 hours.
Thanks and shout-outs to organisers Arlee Bird (Tossing It Out) , Jeffrey Beesler’s (World of the Scribe),  Alex J. Cavanaugh (Alex J. Cavanaugh) , Jen Daiker ( Unedited), Candace Ganger (The Misadventures in Candyland) , Karen J Gowen  (Coming Down the Mountain) , Talli Roland ,  Stephen Tremp (Breakthrough Blogs )

S for Sacrilege


Sacrilege, writing prompt

S is for Sacrilege

Writing prompt: SACRILEGE

Provided by:  Joy fellow participant of the A to Z challenge.Visit her! Please PLEASE leave me prompts if you haven’t already! :)  I need prompts for T, U and V most desperately!!

———————–

Today is the day the rain on the window sill at night would bring fear, and loathing, and pleading for mercy. But not to me, for once.

It will stop her breath in her lungs, the words in her mouth,  the bile in her stomach, and the slaps and kicks she has marked me with, my mother.

That word seems an alien thing. Mother. I have seen bitches take care of their puppies inside the drain under the culvert. She feeds them when they whine, licks them clean, and nuzzles them from time to time.

But not ours. Today when I came back from school, I saw the same welts on my baby brother’s back that I always see on mine in the bathroom mirror. She must have been in one of her drunken rages. Even grown men are scared of her now, of who she becomes when her nostrils flare and her eyes shrink, and from her neck a slow red creeps up to her face.

I have no father, and my uncle, his brother, is the Father at the church. Sacrilege he would call it, wait for God to smite her.  I’ll remind her again of her duties, he’ll say, have Faith, my son. But my baby brother is six. My sister, three. They will not live long if she lives, and I cannot wait for God much longer.

I’m fourteen, my ankles and wrists are too long and bony for my clothes, but it is up to me to be the man.

Without her, I’ll have a family. Without her, the world would be a better place. If it is Sacrilege, so be it.

Tonight is the night I’ll stop her.

—————-

I’m tweeting A to Z posts at #atozchallenge  There is also the A to Z Challenge Daily with links to Tweeted A-Z posts over the last 24 hours.
Thanks and shout-outs to organisers Arlee Bird (Tossing It Out) , Jeffrey Beesler’s (World of the Scribe),  Alex J. Cavanaugh (Alex J. Cavanaugh) , Jen Daiker ( Unedited), Candace Ganger (The Misadventures in Candyland) , Karen J Gowen  (Coming Down the Mountain) , Talli Roland ,  Stephen Tremp (Breakthrough Blogs )

A-Z: R is for Revenge


Singing is the best revenge

Singing well is the best Revenge

Writing prompt: REVENGE

Provided by:  Baygirl, fellow participant of the A to Z challenge.Visit her! Please PLEASE leave me prompts if you haven’t already! :) Photo Credit: Sujatha

Genre: Fiction/Flash

—————–

Tonight they’ll sing of I know not what because I do not understand their language, but they have told me, by gestures and movements, that each will sing alone as well as in chorus, and that I’m expected to sing.

Singing is a frightening idea. I do not sing in the shower, never have, and even if I manage to break out of here and find my way back to that old life of showers, combs, comfortable beds and warm food, probably never will.

But singing in front of all those men and women takes frightening to a new level, because in the time spent here, I’ve seen what happens to those who are deemed embarrassing in front of the evening crowd.

Through the crack in my wooden prison wall, I can see a beehive of activity. Since the prison hut is just a few steps below the Chieftian’s, it is higher than the rest of the village. I watch the preparation for tonight’s singing under the moonlight, the painting of faces, the sharpening of knives and teeth, the polishing of drums and cymbals. But above this hum, a noise draws near, and one by one all heads rise towards the  source of the ruckus.

I cannot believe my eyes what my eyes see next, because into the clearing walks a child, a girl no older than ten or eleven, dark-skinned, with large silver anklets on her feet that plink and jangle with each step. She is not wearing much, not that I can see, only her hair, long, rough and cloud-like, that falls below her knees. The crowd around her is silent.

Someone has called the Chieftian–and this strikes me as odd, his walking into the clearing in daylight. All are summoned to his hut, this is the first time protocol has been reversed, for an admittedly strange, but nevertheless young girl.

A woman’s voice booms, but it has emerged from the lips of the dark little girl. It throws me, but it terrifies the Chieftian and his men. Women gather their children and back away towards their huts.

Rough hands grab me by the shoulders and stand me up, and I find myself being hurried out to the clearing. None of the usual shoves and cuffs, though.

When I reach, the Chieftian is on his knees, and though I do not understand his language, it is impossible to miss his air of supplication. His sweat reeks as much of his fear as his posture: here is a monster of a man begging for his life from a child.

I look at her staring the Chieftian down. She senses my gaze and looks up. In those eyes I see rivers of light. It is the gaze of a mare upon her foal, but there is also the adoration of a child towards its mother. Her eyes wash over my skin like a warm towel after a long, dusty journey– they touch my head, smooth my hair.

“Come, my child,” the voice purls up at me in clear, ringing English, “I have been a long time waiting.”

As I step towards her, the back of my naked legs are splattered with a warm liquid, all the way up to my buttocks. Without thinking, I look back, and down. It is the Chieftian’s blood. He lies in the dust, or what is left of him, because he has no head. My mouth opens in a wordless scream and I take a step back.

“A long time waiting, my son, this will be sweet revenge indeed. Let us sing.” The voice pours into my ears like viscous, warm honey before I pass out.

———

I’m tweeting A to Z posts at #atozchallenge  There is also the A to Z Challenge Daily with links to Tweeted A-Z posts over the last 24 hours.
Thanks and shout-outs to organisers Arlee Bird (Tossing It Out) , Jeffrey Beesler’s (World of the Scribe),  Alex J. Cavanaugh (Alex J. Cavanaugh) , Jen Daiker ( Unedited), Candace Ganger (The Misadventures in Candyland) , Karen J Gowen  (Coming Down the Mountain) , Talli Roland ,  Stephen Tremp (Breakthrough Blogs )

N is for Nothing


Blood prompt A-Z blogging

Nothing, Picture Copyright: Andrew Graeme Gould

Writing prompt: NOTHING

Provided by:  Petra Hefner , fellow participant of the A to Z challenge.Visit her! And mega-thanks go to Andrew Graeme Gould for letting me use his photograph yet again. His pictures talk to me, and I take down the dictation.

Please leave me prompts if you haven’t already! :)

Genre: Fiction/Flash

——————————

Nothing had prepared them for the loss of their child. Or how they would be with each other once the funeral and memorial service gave way to long days and nights of silence.

Silence has a language all its own, and it became their substitute for talk. Like absentee landlords, their selves left their bodies in charge and walked off in search of their son, each alone. Hurting.

After fifteen years of marriage, she knew to leave the heat switch on when she woke up, for his bathwater. The breakfast lay on the table when he was ready for office, and when he came back , the table carried dinner. When they had finished eating, she switched on the television, and he loaded the dishwasher. The remote sat on the table before them as they stared at the screen. When she felt her eyes closing, she washed up and went to bed, where she feigned sleep. He joined her a little later, lying quiet on his side of the bed. Sleep came to them at different times, usually near dawn, and brought them separate nightmares.

All your fault, you stupid, selfish man.

I did not ask him to come with me, he liked it, and so he came.  I miss him as much as you do.

He had surfed all his life, travelled far and wide to do it on different beaches, met her on one of them. He had taken the boy surfing since the year he turned nine. He did not know that four years later, the sea would turn red with blood, and that they have to bury an empty coffin. The son would never be found.

I watered him with my blood, you spilled it. I gave him birth, you, death.

He was my blood too. I hurt as much as you do.

He is gone now. I have nothing left.

You have me, we have each other.

She saw him hurt, her man, who she had married despite the difference in their ages, the displeasure of her parents and his, his crazy schedule of surfing around the world, the sharks. And a shark took her son. She should have known. She had never been to the beach since. Never will again.

That afternoon, she woke up beside him, and felt his breath upon her hair. He was spooned behind her, not touching. His face lay open as he slept, his lips drooling on the pillow, like her son when very young.

He is alive. I’m alive. I have no right to kill him too. 

She sat there, watching him. Outside, the sun had begun to set. He opened his eyes after an hour, and seeing her eyes on him, smiled. The first smile on his face in more than an year. She had forgotten what he looked like when he smiled.

I love you, and I’m sorry.

Who was that? Neither of them, or both. It does not matter.

Walk with me? he said.

And she did.

—————-

I’m tweeting A to Z posts at #atozchallenge  There is also the A to Z Challenge Daily with links to Tweeted A-Z posts over the last 24 hours.
Thanks and shout-outs to organisers Arlee Bird (Tossing It Out) , Jeffrey Beesler’s (World of the Scribe),  Alex J. Cavanaugh (Alex J. Cavanaugh) , Jen Daiker ( Unedited), Candace Ganger (The Misadventures in Candyland) , Karen J Gowen  (Coming Down the Mountain) , Talli Roland ,  Stephen Tremp (Breakthrough Blogs )

A-Z Challenge: F is Fickle


Writing prompt for kids writing

A-Z blogging: Fickle

Writing prompt: FICKLE

Provided by: Anna Tan, fellow participant of the A to Z challenge who is also doing fiction for the challengevisit her! And folks, drop me a prompt in the comments!

Genre: Fiction/Flash

—————–

They’re fugly—fickle and ugly, my hands.

I rest them on the table-top, and in the warm overhead light of the restaurant, my fingers look like tree roots, misaligned joints , missing nails,  left thumb like a claw, the right missing.

I fold and re-fold the napkin and make a lotus, the way my mother taught me when I was five, and not yet begun to dream of becoming a pugilist. But my fingers muck it up. The lotus looks like a mace with knobs.

There she is now in her high-necked black dress, looking as if just back from a vacation, and not from a twelve-hour day at work. I know because my men kept watch, telescopes trained through her window as she typed, took print-outs, crumpled sheets.

She comes here each Friday to dine with her husband, who works upstairs at a bank.

I fist my hands together when she walks in, and shove them under the table. I make myself invisible. Behind me, my guard does not tense, he has come to expect it. I finger the stub of my right thumb, rubbing it to the muted Tchaikovsky playing somewhere in the background.

She does not know what I look like, but she knows me better than most people. I can’t mess this up— she’s my shrink. She  can pick up a story from the lowering of a voice on the phone, a breath held back. She keeps madness at bay.

Her throat rises and falls as she drinks iced water from a sweating glass.  She orders the usual red wine and settles down to wait. I rake my twisted fingers on my throat, getting up to leave before her husband comes in.

My hands are fickle. Can’t trust them around people and their throats.

My guard follows me out a side door. Turning, I see a welcoming smile bloom on her face. I walk into the chill of the night air, my unfortunate hands in my pocket.

—————-

I’m tweeting A to Z posts at #atozchallenge.  And there’s also the Twitter A toZ Challenge Daily.

Thanks and shout-outs to organisers Arlee Bird (Tossing It Out) , Jeffrey Beesler’s (World of the Scribe),  Alex J. Cavanaugh (Alex J. Cavanaugh) , Jen Daiker ( Unedited), Candace Ganger (The Misadventures in Candyland) , Karen J Gowen  (Coming Down the Mountain) , Talli Roland ,  Stephen Tremp (Breakthrough Blogs )