Space: a coveted and vanishing luxury, even in the US, where large tracts of uncultivated, unpopulated, wild land stretch across the continent. In between, small towns and large cities are linked by snaking, weaving, meandering highways, cutting through forests, deserts, farmland and mountains. In September, I travelled by road from Providence to Johnson (Vermont) and later, from Rochester (NY) to New York city. At one point, I also travelled to Boston — I wanted to pack as much as I could in to the two months that I was to be in the US.
Constellations in the sky are different in the northern hemisphere. Orion is closer, and the Big Dipper seems to be lower in the sky. It’s possibly just my imagination, but I met an artist from Brazil, Gui, who thought the same thing. We noticed this one night when we were sitting on deck chairs by a creek on the Mason Green lawn. The creek played its symphony of rushing water as a small group of artists and writers congregated, late at night, with bottles of wine and packs of olives and cheese after a long day isolated in each of our studios.
So, the exciting news of my recently embarked-upon writing career has been a fellowship to the Vermont Studio Center in order to gain some valuable writing time. The residency will start on August 30, during which I will probably be incommunicado for the month of September. I know this is a big deal because I’ve been told, by several people, that VSC has a very strong reputation in the art world. That they liked my work enough to give me a grant is fabulous boost to my self-confidence and I’m well aware that opportunities like this rarely come one’s way. — Read More —
The first ad agency I worked for was an affiliate of Saatchi & Saatchi. It was an agency that had won awards around the world for their marketing strategies and effective advertising campaigns; getting an internship there was a big deal. I was excited, ready to show everyone my potential, but I knew that as an intern, the most I would get to do would be to watch from the peripheries. And that’s exactly what I did.
There’s a folder on my hard drive marked ‘incomplete’. It’s not a folder of design projects, it’s a folder of incomplete, half-baked ideas and blog posts for dearrumi.com. It’s a reminder to me, every time I sit down to write a post, that forcing it is not an option for my writing. That I’m not so good at this social media and marketing thing for a reason.
It’s something that every first time author has heard: ‘write what you know’. Write about places you’ve been to, people you’ve met, spent time with, understood, situations you’ve experienced. And for a first book, that’s great advice, particular when it comes to creating characters. Characters react in different ways to different situations and an understanding of why they act that way will influence their actions in your story. The more believable your characters, the more likely they are to resonate with your readers.
At a literary event earlier this year, I met a number of people I had gone to school with; people I knew in college, people I worked with and people I had randomly met at some time or the other. The event, held in the gardens of Mohatta Palace in Clifton, was a glittery, shining tribute to the arts. It was full of people, people who all belonged to an elite segment based on their income, their language (they all spoke English more than they spoke Urdu) and the fact that they all went to the same schools and colleges.
I hate shopping. I’m one of those people who rushes through shopping malls with the wind at my heels. Before I leave the house, I have a list and I don’t make impulse purchases. The thought of roaming through shops and simply browsing or buying things bores me. The only shopping I enjoy is for stationery and art materials. I love the smell of paint, the texture of watercolour paper, the crumbling graphite of a freshly sharpened pencil. But take me to a shoe shop and I can’t wait to get out of there.
Creating Rumi for Butterfly Season was the easiest part of writing a book for me. I modeled her on a very dear, very old friend of mine (let’s call her Saira) whom I’ve known since college. Saira is an extraordinarily beautiful woman. Even though there were a number of good-looking women at my college, Saira overshadows them all. She is small, slim, with slanted black eyes, a dead straight nose and a pointed chin (think Kristen Bell, except prettier). Twenty years later, she’s still stunning.