Friday, November 30, 2007

A 25-Books Month

This month I picked up twenty five books, something which I haven’t done in the past. The year’s total book count stands at roughly 193 which means I have many books to read in the new year not counting the books from the previous years many of which still remain unread. But it is a different feeling to know that at hand are several good books to read whenever there is time.

I picked up two books today and one yesterday. A friend had asked for a book by Dave Barry and I picked up ‘Dave Barry Turns 40’ at the MR sale in Begumpet yesterday evening. Today I had been to Best Book Centre at Abids in the afternoon and found ‘Write with Style’ by Sue Young by Scholastic. It is a book meant for school kids but I picked it up because I cannot resist books on writing. I got it for forty rupees and the book is in good condition and virtually clean without any writing in it.

Later in the evening I got into some money unexpectedly and since I had not celebrated the completion of my NaNo novel, I thought I’d reward myself with a book. I went to the MR Books sale at Liberty and found a book I was looking for. I was thrilled to find it and I guess the book crowns the picks of this month. I will write about the book in tomorrow’s post!

Some of the best picks of the month have been the two books of Elmore Leonard- Mr. Paradise and 52 Pickup; God’s Pocket by Pete Dexter and Ken Kesey’s “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest”.

Next month, the 22nd Hyderabad Book Fair begins and I am eagerly waiting for the 7th of December. I am also eagerly waiting for the Sunday because it is the first Sunday of the month and ‘The Hindu’ would be carrying ‘Literary Supplement’.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Dave Barry is King of Humor

One writer who I think is the funniest writer alive is my favorite writer- Dave Barry. Last month I had found a new book of his, “Dave Barry Hits Below the Beltway”. I couldn’t resist not reading the book which I had originally planned to read later. Yesterday evening I finished reading it and I found it absolutely hilarious. Each and every line in it evokes uncontrollable laughter. This book is about the US Government and is very, very funny. I am glad I found the book.

I had discovered Dave Barry about ten years back when Deccan Chronicle used to carry his columns every Monday. I was hooked to his writing from then. I found my first Dave Barry book at Gangarams which had a store near the Clock Tower in Secunderabad. The book was ‘Dave Barry Does Japan’ and I was rolling in laughter while reading it. Since then I have had an eye out for his books and I have almost all the books he has written. One of my friends also likes his writing and keep picking up extra copies for him and also for others.

Another humor writer I like is Bill Bryson who is also funny, but to me Dave Barry is king. His is the first on my list of favorite writers. One of my dreams is to meet Dave Barry and also Elmore Leonard. Another dream is to write like them but it is an impossible dream though I might, if I am lucky, get to meet the two someday.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Irani Chai vs Barista/CCD Coffee

Being a true blue Hyderabadi who can’t walk straight unless at least a cup of Irani courses through my blood vessels, Iget my daily dose of Irani chai at a local Irani. I either go to ADarsh near MLA quarters for the morning's cup or to Bombay Bakery and Restaurant at Gunfoundry for the afternoon cup. So far I haven’t had an oppurtinity or an inclination to get my caffeine dose at joints like Barista and Café Coffee Day. But a couple of Sundays ago, I had to meet friends (new ones, I meet all my old ones in Irani’s only) who might not have seen the inside of an Irani in their lives.

Anyway, I found there wasn't much difference between my local Irani and these new joints. The waiters at the Irani wear uniforms and those at the coffee joints too wear them. (Okay, they wear caps at CCD/Barista.) There’s a variety of fare at the Irani (chota samosa, bada samosa, mirchi, dil pasand, dil kusha, egg puffs…) and in these coffee joints too there is a variety of stuff to eat, only with fancy names. Of course, here they don’t shout the order to the kitchen. They politely write it down and go away. Maybe, when they are in the kitchen they shout it. But I didn't hear any shouting at the Barista I was in.

Then, there’s the crowd. Here there is a difference. You won’t find many autowallahs drinking one by two chai at the coffee joints. (I’ve no idea if they serve one by two.) Also, you won’t find many people over thirty at Barista and CCD. The day I was at Barista at Jubilee Hills, I guess I was the only customer they had since a long time who was over forty. (They were staring at me the way we stare at people who are wheeled on a stretcher into emergency rooms in hospitals.) Every one is young and trendy. So trendy that even the girls smoked.
People actually bring their laptops here and the joints even provide facilities for browsing the net and recharging your laptop. Sometimes I take my notebook (the paper variety) to the Irani to scribble.

The only difference was the price. In the Irani a cup costs just four bucks whereas you have to pay ten times or more for a cup of the plainest coffee in Barista/CCD. Another difference is that Irani hotels in Hyderabad are ‘men-only’ places where as girls seem to outnumber guys in Barista/CCD.

However, it was an enjoyable afternoon that I had at Barista that Sunday with friends who were doing the NaNoWriMo. We had a long talk about writing, books and favorite authors.

Also, you don’t have to go searching for an Irani hotel in Hyderabad; every lane has one. Or else, Hyderabad wouldn’t be Hyderabad.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

The Sunday Book Haul

Exactly three months later, the book sellers were allowed back in the Metro Estate this Sunday. Now the Abids book bazaar is back to its old avatar. After the bomb blasts in August 07 that took place in Hyderabad the lane was off limits to the book sellers. Three of the biggies have their places in that lane and this Sunday they were back with hundreds of books.

I had a good find this Sunday though I did not find anything new to be excited about. The first find was Ken Kesey’s ‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest’ that I picked up for just five rupees. IN another heap I found Kirk Douglas’ ‘The Ragman’s Son’. This is my second copy of this book and I couldn’t resist buying it as it was for only ten rupees.

I have read the first part of Kirk Douglas’ memoirs title 'Climbing the Mountain' and was very impressed by his writing. He is one of the limited number of actors who write well. The other actor-writers whose books I have are Dirk Bogarde, David Niven, Errol Flynn, and Sammy Davis Jr. Dirk Bogarde is my favorite though. He has also a book of the book reviews he had done and I don’t remember the title but it was very good.

Later I found a good hardcover edition of Elmore Leonard’s ‘Bandits’ that I got for only thirty rupees. Only a few weeks earlier I had picked up a paperback of this book. I have three copies of this book but haven’t come across a fan of his writing yet to swap it with

I picked up two magazines- September 07 issue of ‘Man’s World’ that had an article on fountain pens, and the other magazine was the October 07 issue of ‘Men’s Journal’. It was the latest issue so I picked it up. Both these magazines I got for only ten rupees each.

With the three books I bought this Sunday the total number of books I bought this year comes to 190. I guess I will easily cross 200. Last year I had bought around 175 books but have managed to read only a few of them. With a regular job, a few writing projects on hand plus this blog I am not finding much time to read all the books I am buying.

Monday, November 26, 2007

An Accidental Lesson to the Kid

On Saturday we had been to Dholar-ri-Dhani on the outskirts. Though the resort was started more than a decade ago this was my first visit. There was nothing much to see or do there. That day the place was overrun with screaming schook kids trying out the camel rides, the swings and every thing that was free.
There was a stall where one could shoot at balloons with an air rifle and my ten year old son wanted to try it out. It was three shots for twenty rupees. I hadn't held a gun for long and I wanted to try it out first. I blew out all the three balloons. My son had this look of awe on his face when the guy told the other kids gathered that this was how real shooters did it. I was more amazed at my own marksmanship than my son. But that moment, I was a hero to my son. I realized it was a moment to teach him something.
I was in the NCC when I was in high school and knew a bit about rifle shooting. Then a friend had an air rifle which I borrowed and practiced for a couple of days. When my friend saw that I was getting better he took back the gun and that was the end of my shooting spree. I wasn't what you call a marksman or a sharpshooter but I was kind of okay, getting in a few bulleyes' now and then. It is all about concentration which is what I wanted to teach my son on Saturday.
I taught him how to hold the gun. ( It was too heavy for him). I showed him the sights and how to aim at the target. I showed him how to hold the breath when you squeeze the trigger. He listened and did it all perfectly. He blew out two balloons out of three shots. Not bad, I thought.
But then he wanted to do it again and again. At twenty rupees for three shots it was quite expensive. He tried two more rounds. He missed all shots in the second round but in the final round he got two shots at the ballons out of the three. Now he is hooked to shooting though there is no way I am going to buy him a gun.

Saturday, November 24, 2007


Yesterday night I crossed the 50,000-words mark which officially makes me a winner in the National Novel Writing Month thing. However, I am yet to finish the story but I still have another week to do it. It was an incredible experience writing the novel that was lurking in my mind for the better part of a decade. At last I’ve got it down somewhere! Right now I feel a considerable lightness of the mental kind. It wasn’t fun writing it though. I had a hard time herding the multitude of ideas screaming to be let out. More difficult was the actual writing hammering out at least two thousand words a day. But it had its own moments of fun. At a few places, here and there I was surprised at some of the lines that came spontaneously.

I suggest that entering into such a contest should be mandatory for all writers. It reveals a lot about the self. You will know your limits and how far you can stretch them. Yesterday morning I had thought of writing 5000 words in a single day. My previous high was 4500 words in a day that I wrote sometime last week and I thought it would be easy. It wasn’t easy though but it wasn’t impossible. When I crossed the 5000 words mark I felt pleased with my own determination which is non-existent on most days. A little bit of my self-confidence has grown and I hope to do the rewriting, revising on the book in the coming days.

The surprising part was that I decided to write this novel though I was at work on my first book which I had begun two years back. I was working on it on and off but sometime during June of this year I decided that I must finish the book this year come what may. I will be turning forty five next Feb and I wanted to finish a book at any cost. With the NaNo book I now have two books under my belt. That feels great.

The books I have written may not get published and right now I am not even thinking of sending them to publishers. They need a lot of work and that would keep me busy for another year at least. This will be a great learning experience and I hope to learn many new things about writing, myself and life while rewriting and revising my books. In future posts I will write more about my books. For now, that is all I have to say

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

National Book Week and Hyderabad Book Fair


The National Book Week ( Nov 14-20) ended yesterday and quietly. Not many knew about it and even I too was not aware of it until three days ago. None of the newspapers carried much news about the event and only in the Deccan Chronicle was there some kind of a list of celebrities and others regarding the books they had read or were reading. This was carried daily and that was the only Book Week related news I had read. There used to be a book exhibition by National Book Trust during the week but this year they seem to have forgotten about it or maybe, haven’t publicized much about it.


But the good news is that the Hyderabad Book Fair is beginning from December 7th at People’s Plaza on Necklace Road. It is usually a ten-day event and last year too it was held at the same place but it began from December 1st.

I have been attending this event regularly since the past twenty -two years. I remember the earliest of the events was in the open place where the Big Bazar now stands at the RTC Crossroads. It moved to several places over the years, including the City Central Library at Ashoknagar, Exhibition Grounds at Nampally, Keshav Memorial School in Narayanguda and also was held at the Nizam College Grounds.

I don’t pick many books here since I prefer buying my books second hand. But of late there are a few second hand book stalls in the Fair. Best Book Centre and MR Books have their stalls every year along with a couple of Mumbai based sellers. I remember the famous Select of Bangalore had their stall one year when the Fair was held in the Nizam College Grounds.

One thing I never fail to buy at the Book Fair is the ‘Sportstar’ cap that ‘The Hindu’ sells in its stall at the Fair. I love the quality of the cap but never get around to wearing it.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Elmore Leonard Again at Abids

In the previous post I had listed out all the Elmore Leonard books I don’t have. I don’t have about 16 of his books. The day before yesterday, at Abids, I found Elmore Leonard's 52 Pickup- and I got it for only twenty rupees. It was in good condition though the book was published in 1974! I was glad about the find though since I was slowly acquiring all the books written by Elmore Leonard. This month seemed especially lucky for I found three books by him so far- Mr.Paradise, 52 Pickup and second copies of Maximum Bob and Bandits

A little earlier, I had found another book on writing. It was ‘Teaching Your Children to Write’ by Cheri Fuller. I got this 200 + pages book for only fifty rupees. I bought it more to learn from it myself than to teach my son to write though the book might come in handy when he begins to show interest in writing. He reads a lot of books and does a bit of drawing but hasn’t, so far, shown much interest in writing.

One line I read in the introductory chapter said; A Good Writer is a Good Thinker, which says it all.

I saw in the heap of books selling for five and ten rupees several books by Phyllis A Whitney, Russel Baker’s ‘Growing up’ and also Kirk Douglas’ ‘Ragman’s Son’ both which I have. The last book I picked up yesterday was a second copy of Carson McCullers’ ‘Ballad of the Sad Café and other Stories’. I have this book I had found sometime last month. A friend had asked for it and I picked it up to give it away. I got the book for only ten rupees.

Sometimes I feel terribly sad that really good books are selling for so cheap a rate- five rupees and ten rupees! It wouldn't have imaginable a few years earlier that good books would be available for throway prices. Also, the way the sellers heap the books like they are vegetables pains me a little. These guys show little regard for books. That's one grouse I have against the Abids booksellers.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Finding another new Elmore Leonard book

One of the most exciting finds in recent times was the book I found yesterday at the MR sale at Begumpet. I found a new book by Elmore Leonard –Mr. Paradise. I was excited to see this new title which I had not seen in any list. I picked it up instantly. It was a hardcover copy and was in brand new condition with the jacket intact. I was excited with the find and was eager to go home and check it out in detail. But I lingered on and browsed the thousands of books in the sale.

I saw ‘Dave Barry Turns 50’, ‘Under the Tuscan Sun’ by Frances Mayes, Joe Queenan’s ‘My Goodness; A Cynic's Shortlived Search for Sainthood', and also two other Elmore Leonard books- Killshot and Out of Sight which I have at home. I wanted to buy the Dave Barry book but I have one copy at home. I might pick up all these books sometime next week and give them to friends who might appreciate them.

After I got home I was pleasantly surprised to find that the William Morrow edition of ‘Mr.Paradise’ published in 2004 was a First Edition. I’ve read about how coveted First Editions are and here I was with one. I have to check out more about it on the net. There was a list of 39 books by Elmore Leonard and realized I don’t have these titles-

-When the Women Come Out to Dance
-The Tonto Woman and Other Western Stories
-Cat Chaser
-The Switch
-The Hunted
-Unknown Man No.89
-Fifty Two Pickup
-Forty Lashes Less One
-Valdez is Coming
-The Big Bounce

-The Bounty Hunters

On the flap it was mentioned that the first two books were collections of short stories of his. I had read only one short story of Elmore Leonard, Three Ten to Yuma, in the collection of classic western short stories that I found a few weeks ago.

On the back of the book, like most of his books, there’s a picture of Elmore Leonard wearing a dazzling white full sleeved shirt tucked into a pair of jeans. I was glad to notice I have one thing in common with the great writer. I too don’t wear a belt with my jeans

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Halfway Through My NaNo Novel

Today, I sailed past the halfway mark of the 50,000 words of my NaNo novel. I wrote 25,006 words so far. I am pleased no end with my progress because I have only another 25,000 words to hammer out in the next fifteen days though at the rate at which the book is moving my word count is likely to be around 60,000 words. Now that I’ve managed to cross 25,000 words I am confident I can do it.

It has been a crazy month so far with the mind focused on only the writing of the novel and the day’s word count. On some days I was able to write two thousand words (the limit I set myself for each day) and on a few days I was not able to write even five hundred words. One day I managed to write 4500 words though I had actually planned to write five thousand words that day. In the next fifteen days I plan to write five thousand words on some day.

But writing the NaNo novel has been a learning experience. It is certainly insane to attempt to write a novel in thirty days but I feel there are advantages to this method. First, you get the novel down from your mind to paper (or screen). Then next, you begin to think of actually finishing it. If you persist then you can finish the novel and I am determined to finish it come what may.

Writing the novel, I am feeling some of the lessons on writing I read about, begin to sink in. The basic rule is to have a beginning, a middle and an end. Then the other rules about having characters, dialogue, etc are also beginning to sink in. But what has permeated more deeply is the advice I read somewhere that a writer should think of his book in terms of scenes. Writing my NaNo novel I am trying to follow this advice and am actually thinking of the next scene and how many words it will take to write it. I hope to actually practice all the bits of advice that I’ve read so far.

What is helping me is that my novel is a satirical magic realism novel in which I am able to write literally anything that comes to my mind. Much of it is pure drivel and utter nonsense but I feel that once I finish it, it will begin to make sense (at least to me!). I cannot say I am having fun writing the book since it is making me edgy and impatient to finish it as soon as possible. But it is one wonderful learning experience that I hope to repeat every year from now onwards.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

This Sunday's Haul of Books

After the long festival season, this Sunday all the book sellers were back at Abids. However, the lane housing the Hollywood shoe shop and Meena Bazar extension continue to be off limits for the booksellers. This was the nerve center of the book bazaar with the three biggest booksellers having their spots in the lane. Without any booksellers in this lane, the Abids book bazaar doesn’t appear the same. I hope the shopkeepers would see reason and allow the booksellers to set up shop in the lane.

This Sunday too I found a couple of good books. The first find of the day was a hardcover copy of Elmore Leonard’s ‘Maximum Bob’ which I picked up from a heap of books selling for only twenty rupees each. It was a good find because the book was a hardcover copy with the jacket intact and it was also in good condition. I remember seeing this copy earlier but it was highly priced, hundred fifty bucks or so, a few months back. Sooner or later many of the books the booksellers sell them off at ridiculously low rates. I have another copy with me that I had picked up for fifty bucks or so sometime back. I picked up this second copy to give away.

The second find of the day was Pete Dexter’s ‘God’s Pocket’ which I got for the shocking rate of only five rupees. It was really a shame that such good books have no takers. I had picked up his other book ‘Paris Trout’ and incidentally Elmore Leonard in an interview I read in the ‘Writer’s Handbook 2002’ mentions that he liked Pete Dexter’s writing. I haven’t yet started “Paris Trout’ but I hope to finish it this year.

Another book I found was Daphne du Maurier’s ‘Not After Midnight’. Again this was a hardcover copy and it was a discard from the British Library. It wasn’t in such a good condition but since a friend asked to look for it I picked it up for seventy rupees which I felt was too high a price.

This week I found a book on writing. I am sucker for books on writing and buy up any book on writing with the expectation that I would find something that would help me write well. The book I found this Sunday was a sort of writing textbook aimed at college students. The title was ‘Writing Voyage’ by Thomas E Tyner. It seemed good and I picked up after I leafed through the pages and found an essay on writing by Anne Tyler in it. I bought it for fifty rupees. It was in good condition and was in the size that textbooks come in.

The last find was another Conde Nast Traveler magazine. This was an issue of March 2005. It was in pretty good condition and I got it for twenty rupees only. This seemed another addition to the growing collection of Conde Nast Traveler magazines that I was picking up regularly at Abids.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Armchair Travel with Conde Nast Traveler

My travels to exotic locations abroad mostly happen on days when I read travel magazines like Conde Nast Traveler. In the post about the book finds last Sunday, I had forgotten to mention that I had also found a magazine- the April 2006 issue of Conde Nast Traveler. I got this almost-new magazine for only twenty rupees.

The issue contains articles on the French Riviera and other lovely places I’ll never get to visit unless I suddenly become a bestselling author overnight earning millions of dollars with my NaNo book!

But seriously, I read about socially responsible hotels in this magazine. It is written that many hotels in poorer countries are soliciting donations from travelers which are being ploughed back into the local economy to help the poor. I found this idea quite good.

I always look if there is anything on India in these magazines but always end up disappointed. The magazines don’t cover Indian places as often as I hope, but I have on a few occasions read about Jaipur and other such places. The South isn’t so extensively covered. Maybe I have to wait for some more time or I might have missed out those issues that have covered them.

I was struck by an article in it about seven unusual buildings titled ‘Next Wonders’. There was Hotel Puerta America in Madrid designed by Zaha Hadid, De Young Museum in San Franscisco but the most spectacular one was the one with a heart-stopping view of the Aurland Fjord.
With this issue of Conde Nast Traveler I guess I now have more than a dozen of them on my table. I don't feel like parting with them ever.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

An Embarrassed Reader and Writer

While I eagerly await ‘The Literary Review’ of ‘The Hindu’ every first Sunday of the month, at the end of reading it leaves me sad and feeling empty. I feel sad that there are so many books and so many authors I haven’t yet read. The excellent articles on different authors and their writers makes me want to go out and buy their books. But how many books can one buy and how many can one read? Even if I manage to lay my hands on them where is the time to read them?

This month’s issue of ‘The Literary Review’ carried in-depth articles on Doris Lessing, Anne Enright, Joseph Conrad and Montaigne. The only thing that cheered me up was the knowledge that I had managed to buy a smaller version of Montaigne’s ‘Essays’ that was reviewed in this issue. It was the article on Joseph Conrad that brought on the gloom. I am embarrassed to admit that I haven’t yet read any of his books. I haven’t also read many other classics that others manage to read in school and college. I am fifteen years into a job and I still haven’t read many classics. One New Year’s resolution I am planning to make is to read at least half a dozen classics in the next year and fill up this yawning gap in my reading.

Another reason why reading the articles on great writers and their books brings on the gloom is the knowledge that their talents are so superior that I feel it would require me to take several births to even imitate their style of writing. It is so very difficult to write well. On such occasions I am embarrassed to call myself a writer, it seems so presumptuous

Thursday, November 08, 2007


The Literary Review of The Hindu

It was a packed Sunday this week with lots of books and pen related stuff happening.
First it was the ‘Literary Review’ of ‘The Hindu’ that set the tone for the rest of the day. Since it was the first Sunday of the month, ‘The Hindu’ carried the supplement I look forward to very eagerly. This year’s Nobel Prize winner Doris Lessing was profiled on the front page as also another prize winner, the Booker winner- Anne Enright. Shashi Deshpande wrote that men are prejudiced against women authors but I don’t agree with her. An author’s gender doesn’t influence my reading choices and I guess if a guy doesn’t want to read something written by a woman why crib about it? I think this is taking the ‘discrimination-against-women’ thing too far. There’s more to be said about it but not now. Also, there is so much in the ‘Literary Review’ of this month that it needs a separate post to write about it all.

The Abids Routine- Finding two books and a catalog

Then as usual, I went to Abids. The festive shopping forces the book sellers out of their regular hangouts. This week too there were enough booksellers for me to fish out a couple of books. I found extra copies of books I’ve already read but I bought the books because they were too cheap and I wanted to give them away to friends. I found both these books at one place where each book was for ten rupees only. Surprisingly, the books were almost brand new. The first book was Elmore Leonard’s ‘Bandits’ and the second books was Philip Roth’s ‘Portnoy’s Complaint’.

The Caran d'Ache Catalog

The last book I found was not exactly a book but a catalog. After finding Mont Blanc catalogs all along until now, today I found a pen catalog of a different brand- Caran d’Ache. It was a small black,slim book lost among a heap of catalogs for jewelry. I got it for twenty rupees. The catalog had stunning pictures of some really beautiful pens. Some of the names were ‘Collection Joallerie’, ‘Privee’, ‘Hexagonale’, ‘Leman’, ‘Varius’, ‘Madison’, ‘Ecridor’ and ‘Dunas’. Needless to say each and every pen featured in the catalog was too exquisite to be described in words.

Meeting a Fountain Pen Collector

Later in the afternoon I met a serious fountain pen collector- a distinguished gentleman who had been an advocate. He had the most beautiful collection of fountain pens I have ever seen. The pens were lovingly stored in two wooden boxes and I could experience how the people who write with such pens must feel owning such pens when I handled the beauties. He had several Parkers, Namiki, a Conway Stewart and several other pens. We both were smiling away delightedly enjoying that rapport that comes with sharing a passion- a passion for fountain pens.

I am seriously thinking of putting pictures of the books , fountain pens and their catalogs I find, on the blog. But I need a good camera which I don’t have. Too bad I can’t share my finds with others.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Another Book on Writing

Another Book on Writing- The Writer’s Handbook

Last Friday, I was going to meet some writer friends in the afternoon and I passed a bookstore on the way- MR at Abids. I saw a new magazine- Monocle- that I had not seen earlier anywhere. It appeared quite good and I decided to buy it later in the week. But as I was leaving the store, I decided to take a quick look at another rack. It is odd how the eye locks on some specific words that connect to the important things in our lives. I noticed the word ‘Writer’ and I picked up the book to take a closer look. It was ‘The Writer’s Handbook- 2002’ brought out by ‘The Writer’ magazine. I bought it without a second thought. I got the book for a hundred rupees only.

Though more than half of the book contains details of magazines, publishers etc in the US, it also contains sixty essays on writing by famous writers. Writers like Stephen King, Sue Grafton, John Updike, Martin Amis, Kazuo Ishigoro and my favorite writer, Elmore Leonard have given their advice in this book.

I have older editions of this book, the 1977 edition and also the 1991 one. All three are big tomes, thicker than bricks and running into more than a thousand pages. But is a book worth owning by those who want to write. At hundred rupees it was a terrific bargain. I felt extremely lucky finding this book.

Getting Started on My First Novel

My First Novel

Writing wise it was a good beginning to the month. I started on my first novel (actually it is the second but more about it in another post) writing it for the NaNoWriMo thing. I have written ten thousand words already and am amazed at the rising word count. When I first began writing it on the first of November I felt I may not be able to complete and would leave it like so many of my writing projects. But I am determined to finish the novel, however badly it is written. I will work on it later and bring it to a shape. But right now, it is tap, tap, tap.

It feels odd writing a novel this way focusing on the word count rather than on the story. The priority is on writing the day's qouta. I am typing it off in half the day finding time whenever possible. I am trying to write more than the day's quota so that I don't have to worry if I miss a day's writing. Right now it appears fun but I guess the second week on wards it is going to be tough. My novel is going in all directions and I am struggling to keep it moving in the way I had planned to write it ten years ago.

As on today I have written ten thousand words and by the end of the day I plan to write another thousand words. I plan to write a 75000- 90000 word novel by the end of the month. It appears difficult but it is not impossible.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Writing My NaNoWriMo Novel

I had registered for the National Novel Writing Month Organisation few days ago. I have to write a novel of fifty thousand words before November 30. It sounds daunting and makes me wonder if it is any way of writing a novel. But I had been planning and thinking of writing a book since ten years and never got down to writing one seriously. I think this is the perfect opportunity to get the novel down.

Ten years ago I had done a course in Creative Writing in English from the Indira Gandhi Open University but I had not submitted my proposed project- a novel. I attended the classes for several months, met a few friends there with whom I am in touch even today but did not find the time to complete the project. Doing the course did some wonders to my writing ambitions first of which was that my first article, which was actually an assignment, was published in a newspaper as a middle. Incidentally, my first article was on fountain pens.

The project I had proposed to do was a fantasy novel and I had made some chapter outlines and had a general idea of the story. In the next month I plan to write this story. If I complete the novel then it would be a major achievement in my life. When I was young I told a friend that one day I would write a book. I was ten or twelve then and had absolutely no idea of writing much less about writing a book. I also do not know why I made that statement. But that promise stayed in my mind all these years. Now that I have a general idea of how to write a book (which I learnt from reading books on writing) I hope I would be able to achieve that childhood dream.

Thursday, November 01, 2007


The previous post was the fiftieth post and with it I’ve reached a small milestone. When I began writing the blog three months ago I had no idea how quickly I would reach fifty posts, and the only thing I had in mind was to write a post every other day. In the ninety days that passed I have written fifty posts. Not bad, I guess. A couple of the posts attracted some attention especially the one on Copywriters- Writers Who Were Copywriters- which was put on the front page of Elmore Leonard’s official website. It brought some visitors. The other post was the one on fountain pens and the environment.

My blog doesn’t attract many visitors. The average is three or four, I guess because I haven’t analysed any of the statistics. Some just see the front page and go off. Those who have stayed have read a few posts and stayed longer than five minutes. I hadn’t intended the blog to attract thousands of visitors a day. One reason why I am unable to attract many visitors may be that my writing may not be so good. But then I am learning to write and writing well doesn’t come so easily. Another reason may be that I am not telling about it to anyone. I don’t even have an idea of how to get your blog noticed.

I intend to write a hundred posts before the end of the year which means I have to write fifty posts in sixty days. It isn’t impossible. I can do it. I've set myself such goals before and reached them and I am confident I can reach this goal too.