Static

My heart is like water,

It nourishes as it pleases.

When the sun goes down, it begins to falter,

It seeks solace in the pieces.

My heart is like the air I breathe,

Untouchable yet priceless,

So when the sun rises, I reach out with the palm of my hand and check on it,

The beating of my heart reminds me that I still have unresolved matters.

Sometimes, often…at times such as this,

I yearn for that stillness,

the calm before and after a storm,

anything but this turmoil,

My heart like fear is static.

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On Life, Living, and Little Instructions from Jackson Brown

A few years ago, Jack Brown jotted down a list of fatherly advice for his son as Adam left home to begin a new life as a college freshman. That list became Life’s Little Instruction Book, the phenomenal guide that has sold more than five million copies.

So, I came across this book on Academia and you know those itty bit titles that make you scroll down, read and change positions as you flip page after page after page? Yes, this was a good one to read and here are 10 instructions that I loved:

  1. Do a good job because you want to, not because you have to. This puts you in charge instead of your boss.
  2. Don’t take good friends, good health, or a good marriage for granted.
  3. Never type a love letter, use a fountain pen.
  4. Spend your life lifting people up, not putting people down.
  5. Don’t judge a man’s wealth by how well he’s dressed, but by how well his wife is dressed.
  6. When declaring your rights, don’t forget your responsibilities.
  7. Judge your success by what you had to give up in order to get it.
  8. Be forgiving of yourself and others.
  9. Give thanks before every meal.
  10. Don’t judge people by their relatives

So far, my Friday’s been good, I woke up feeling unwell had a quick visit to the clinic and turns out what I do have is a sore throat and signs of a bacterial infection so with lots of antibiotics and the stern warning to take things easy, I did something extra- I cooked. I thought the best thing that I could do to feel good was make chicken stir fry and spaghetti and I even took pictures to gloat!

On writing: I am still at this and working my way back to a routine that involves writing at dawn because I have learned that I have more time when I wake up that I could use to write.

On reading: I am in the company of good books and having read Before the Fall by Noah Hawley, I am currently going back and forth between two titles: Everyone Brave is Forgiven by Chris Cleave and Are Men Necessary by Maureen Dowd.

Have an awesome weekend. Stay safe wherever you are!

I want to…

Ask you questions at the crack of dawn,

When you’re half asleep, half awake

So your voice oozes into my heart.

I want to…

Watch you cook,

Trust me, there is something ethereal about the way you chop onions.

I want to…

Walk away from you,

So you know how far you have to go to get me back.

I want to…

Stay beside you,

So your soul knows my own.

Lies

I want answers,

Not excuses or explanations,

I want answers,

To questions I ask with my eyes.

To the questions in my mind.

I want answers and that’s why every time you ask me,

“How are you doing?”

I tell you “Good.”

I want answers and until I hear your question just right,

I’ll always tell you lies.

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4 Lessons Learned from Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg

Writing Down The Bones by Natalie Goldberg was published the year my elder sister was born. I read it on 18th and 19th May of 2021 and thirty five years since it broke into print, I found such comfort, understanding and encouragement reading what she had to say on writing- as art, expression, truth and life.

The book is only 171 pages and from the foreword to the appendix, she draws a lot from Zen and you’ll come across quotes from Katagiri Yoshi a lot. Here’s what I get to keep in mind after reading it:

  1. Claim your writing. This is something I struggle with. Hearing someone say they loved my book, or a character so much that they want to talk about him/her or even that they hated my work- and with the star rating index, anything short of a 3-star review is enough to have me put my music player on shuffle. She shares how important it is to claim the good and bad- to accept that you wrote it.
  2. Write anyplace. I do this a lot

“Take out another notebook, pick up another pen, and just write. In the middle of the world, make one positive step. In the center of chaos, make one definitive act, just write. Say yes, stay alive, be awake. Just write. Just write. Just write.”

3. Go further. Here she talks about going beyond our comfort zone and says that sometimes when you think you are done, it is just the edge of beginning.

4. Don’t marry the fly. I laughed so much reading this chapter because I have felt it as a reader. Sometimes when I read a book and I am following what is happening, there are certain sentences or details that throw me off- and often I feel like the author lost me, or that the author’s trend of thought changed and Natalie explains why this happens. Simply put she says, “If the writer wanders, then the reader, too, will wander.” In another sense, details are important but if you focus on one detail so much you may lose the reader.

And finally a phrase that I couldn’t resist:

“Writers live twice. They go along with their regular life, are as fast as anyone in the grocery store, crossing the street, getting dressed for work in the morning but there’s another part of them that they have been training. The one that lives everything a second time. That sits down and sees their life again and goes over it. Looks at the texture and details.”

A copy can be bought on: Amazon

Questions to ask an Author

I read something like this somewhere and it was more about an author saying that there are questions he wishes he was asked, not the common stuff like his writing routine, books he loves reading or what he’s working on. I got derailed and lost the link when I got the notification that the next episode of Descendants of the Sun that I’d been watching had finished downloading.

As a Writer, there are questions that come to mind- the kind that somehow get me talking more about my writing and love for writing so, I wrote down the questions I’d love to ask myself and answer them here. Let’s do this!

1. What is the one book or the first book that made you cry?

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini. It is still the only book that I weep whenever I read it.

2. Does writing energize or drain you?

Sometimes, especially when I am writing dialogues, I feel energized. There are days when I am drained or rather more exhausted by it and when I feel like this I either press on then sleep immediately after or read a book instead.

3. What is your first experience of the power of words?

I think it is more when I was nine years old after my Dad passed away and suddenly his presence, the conversations we used to have, his voice felt like it only existed in my head. I also had a teacher in Primary school who often said I would not amount to much and I dreaded his lessons or just running into him in school- I think back then what hurt me most was knowing that adults could be so mean to children.

4. Did publishing or has publishing your first book changed the way you write?

Look, this one right here is something I cannot shy away from. I started out writing romance and posting novellas and short stories on smashwords (here’s my author page) and then tried out historical fiction with the first series I posted on Amazon, The Currents Series, and loved it so much that after reading that first proof copy I found myself writing more historical fantasy books set in Africa/ Kenya to be precise.

5. What does literary success look like to you?

I feel like this is more about having your book on someone’s bookshelf, it’s pages crumpled or turned so many times, highlighted, or set aside because it is the one treasure they keep reading. This could be with just one reader, or two or many…so much so that they talk about it, quote lines or simply share insights learned from the book. On the author’s side, it is also more about the feeling that ranges from elation to exhaustion just by writing- a commitment to waking up to words.

6. What was your hardest scene to write?

I wrote this book, Sifuna, and published it here in Kenya. It has one scene where the main character, Sifuna, grabs his fiancee, Dorothy and pushes her to the wall and spits on her- I wept when I wrote that.

END

There you have it, six of the many questions you could ask an author!

Mirror

We always come to this,

This moment, this time, this look

You and I.

We always come to this,

This feeling, this thought, this touch

You and I.

We always come to this,

I bet you’ll come after me,

hunt me down, burn the whole world to the ground,

as soon as I start loving somebody else.

You always come to this,

This moment, this feeling, this fear…

You.

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Things

There are things I tell myself,

things that surprise me when uttered out loud,

So I speak them into the void,

The ones I love I repeat,

a melody unseen yet often sung,

The ones I loathe, I denounce,

a melody seen and often sung.

There are things I tell myself,

You are one of those things.

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