Sunday, December 31, 2017

Nothing much happened

2017 was probably my worst year of reading and writing in recent memory. I read very few books, short stories, essays and poetry, and reviewed even less on my blog. I was preoccupied with personal and professional labours, even as commuting to work and back got more stressful, which left me with little energy to read or blog. 
© Bill Waterson

As the year wore on, my visits to other blogs declined. It was the one thing I missed the most. But a New Year, as Calvin tells Hobbes, is a "new beginning" and full of "new possibilities" and I look forward to reconnecting with my fellow readers and bloggers. In fact, it's the first thing I'm going to do in 2018, starting tomorrow.

Some of you may have noticed that I'm quite active on social media but that's only because I mostly post on the go, waiting for a bus, an autorickshaw or a suburban train and sometimes during actual commute when I'm in no mood to read. What I didn't achieve reading and blogging, I more than made up with social media—I doubled my followers on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and, more recently, Instagram. It's another thing that I know less than 50 per cent of my connections. I have also been listening to a lot of old music and playing a lot of chess and Scrabble on Android. I have been playing the two board games since I was a kid, thanks to dad.

During the year I watched many films and serials, mostly Netflix originals including Marvel's stand-alones—Daredevil, Luke Cage, Jessica Jones and Iron Fist—though I still have to watch their combined miniseries The Defenders. I enjoyed Godless (western) and Alias Grace (psychological), both six-part limited series. Alias Grace is based on Margaret Atwood's Booker-nominated novel, which I have not read. Beasts of No Nation, the story of a child soldier in a war-torn African country, was a disturbing film. Idris Elba's character as the rebel warlord lacked depth.

For some reason, I also binge-watched Jason Statham's crime flicks on Netflix and I quite enjoyed it all; his films reminded me of the hard-boiled thrillers I often read. A couple of plots were straight out of a James Hadley Chase or a Lionel White, particularly the two caper movies The Italian Job and The Bank Job.

I also watched Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things, which "Examines the many flavors of minimalism by taking the audience inside the lives of minimalists from all walks of life—families, entrepreneurs, architects, artists, journalists, scientists, and even a former Wall Street broker—all of whom are striving to live a meaningful life with less." I found it interesting though there was nothing new about the "less is more" principle; mystics have been advocating it for centuries. We just need to be reminded of it every now and then. To be honest, I have been hoarding books when I should be reading and giving them away, at least the ones that aren't going to be a part of my collection. 


On the writing side, well, I'm still writing; struggling actually, with time constraints and writer's block, though the latter is a self-created myth. It's an excuse not to write and watch a movie, instead. I have incomplete short stories, a novel I've only recently started working on, and a work of nonfiction that I hope will make people feel good about themselves. I'm going to persist with these projects in 2018, try and write every single day, and work to a deadline.

© Juggernaut Books
On a slightly positive note, I published my first short story, A Little Murder at Dinner, at Juggernaut Books, a Delhi-based writing platform. It's an atmospheric tale about a cop and his wife, and set around a couple of murders.

Here is an extract from that story:

“Do you really think she did it, Harry?” Trisha’s voice was almost a whisper.

Hemmady shrugged, “The Dina I knew a long time ago couldn’t have done it. Now I’m not so sure. People change and that’s not always good. Sometimes bad things happen. I think she and Rana decided to get back together, maybe for Jenny’s sake, maybe for the money, and it all went wrong. I feel for Jenny. She didn’t deserve any of this.” 

“Will you be okay, Harry? I mean, you’re going to see her...,” Trisha’s voice trailed off.

“I’ll be fine, Trish. It’s just another homicide.”

She didn’t stress the point. They both knew it was more than that.

So that's how the year was—nothing much happened. But I do hope to make things happen in 2018, particularly where my writing is concerned.