Tag Archives: Words

W is for Writer’s Block

WI wrote this for a prompt exercise where the theme was horror. This is my first attempt at a scare-story. Tell me what you think. Too obscure? Not chilling enough? In today’s A to Z Challenge we look at a writer’s worst fear, W is for Writer’s Block.

~O~O~O~O~O~O~

W is for Writer’s Block

I had woken up that night. The cigarette ashes near my bed should have been indication enough. I remember it clearly. But the memory is behind my eyes. You’re going to need to see the evidence in the form of those ashy streaks. What’s the point? You aren’t even listening, anyway. You don’t know how to. You can’t. Did I awaken in a cold sweat? A dull feeling in the pit of my stomach? No, no. I just opened my eyes and there the world was, and I was awake. It happens often enough.

I used to lie awake for nights on end. I’ve spent hours watching fragile, wispy thoughts dance about. It’s an ugly thing they do, solidify into words. Nasty buggers they become then, rattling about inside your head. I used to wonder how coin slot machines felt. You know the ones that have a zillion, hard colourful balls inside them that whir around when you put in the coin? And if you’re lucky, one drops into the slot. You pop it into your mouth and stroll away, never even knowing how glad the machine is to see you go, how it envies your nonchalance. You’re ingesting, masticating, devouring what it struggles to vomit, shit, eject out.

Listen to me. (Nobody does, of course, but me). I’m so verbose. Perhaps I should start taking care of my words, even if I’m the only listening. But it’s so hard, so hard to. HRMPH. Say it again. It’s hard. I feel like there’s…I have diarrhea and I can’t shit it out. It’s clogged inside my entire body, this diarrhea of words. Better. Time to go out. Get some cigs.

I don’t even think about what to carry anymore. The notebook in my pocket is as good as a bankroll. I pat it to check it’s still got enough pages. I step out, and as usual, the memory of that first morning floods me. It’s always first morning now, no matter how many I’ve had since then. It’s gotten so I notice things I should have but didn’t, on the first morning. Infinite rewind.

No scrawls on the walls. Paan stains galore and something that always looks like shit smeared on the second last step. The signboard at the gate is missing. No scratches in the paint, either; only peeling in broad strips. There is a pile of sacks of cement near the wall, where it’s broken. They’re covered in the uniform grey that creeps out of tears in the sack fabric. But no names, no penmarks visible. How did I never catch that? Because I automatically avoid construction sites and materials, that’s why. They make me sneeze. This pile is about ten feet away and I could have read the black or red letters that usually mark such sacks. But I never noticed. My mind wears a breathing mask to thoughts my body does not like.

The road is busy as always. But the sounds never fail to shock me. The machine noises are all there – cars moving, road repair machines whirring. And there’s a steady hum underlying it all – human breathing. Human beings breathe real loudly, did you know? But no voices. Well, there is an occasional gasp and plenty of sneezes. They don’t know the word ‘pollution’ but they suffer it anyway.

I’m nearly at the cigarette shop at the end of the road now. The smokers mill around near it. A lady steps up through a gap. The shopkeeper hands her a loaf of packed bread. She puts down a lemon on the tiny counter. He catches it just before it rolls off and drops it into a jar behind him. I can see it also has a bunch of leaves, spinach maybe and a green chilli or two. It bounces off the top of a tomato and settles on the leaves. He shuts the jar and turns back.

I step up to him and he already knows which brand I want. He holds out the packet. The cigarette pack shows a badly scanned image of a bare-chested man superimposed by a picture of blackened lungs. No face. No name. No mandatory ‘Cigarette sniffing makes your eyes water’ message. Wait, that doesn’t sound right. ‘Cigarette sniffing is injurious to hair’? ‘Cigarette sniffing is halibut to injury?’.

I give up just as I note the frown on the shopkeeper’s face. The other smokers are edging away from me. Just because a man takes a minute to think. Bloody amoeba. What would they know? What was that saying my grandmother used to parrot? Bandar kya jaane ice-cream ki sugandh?

I reach for my notebook and I tear out two pages from it. The shopkeeper reaches out and I swear he does this gingerly with the tips of his fingers. He plucks just one sheet off and sets it down on a looseleaf pile to his right. I watch the first page of the sixth chapter of my next novel settle in with toiletpaper remains, slightly dusty tissues, a sheaf of oil-stained brown paper and a cardboard square. I know he uses that pile to wrap unpackaged things. Maybe he’ll use my worded page to giftwrap somebody’s special purchase.

I slide two cigarettes out of the pack and put it back on the counter. He frowns again, this time even more troubled and looks around his tiny shop. Then he turns and takes out the tomato, lemon and a few leaves from the jar behind him. He packs them deftly in the oily brown paper and hands it to me.

Well, so my noted paper is worth more than a couple of cigarettes. Not that I know what to do with a lemon, a tomato and some leaves. But what the hell, eh? In a world that doesn’t value your currency, you’ve to learn to value their’s.

Back at home, I drop the vegetables on my table and survey the cupboard. I’m a rich man then. I think I’ll start with A Midsummer Night’s Dream, first. It might even buy me a car. But perhaps I should invest it instead. Charcoal, first. I’ll have to figure out something to write on. Leaves? Tissue paper, I decide. Cover them with words and letters. Look at me, I’m a money mint! It’s not counterfeiting if it’s the original. Call me an artist.

I wake up, this time in a cold sweat. Hot sweat, actually. My eyes start watering the minute I open them. The smoke is so thick, I can’t even see the door. I drop to the floor and ease my way out. By the time the fire engines arrive, I’m crying so hard, my face is streaked with snot down to my throat. The books are gone, all gone. Our world has truly lost every last word now.

~O~O~O~O~O~O~

W is for Writers Block

*Image via thaikrit on FreeDigitalPhotos.net

At A Loss For Words

What do you call a couple of conversationalists who’re afraid to speak?

“Lost in translation.”

I grieve for the words we’ve lost.

Eemohzuhnn

You know those deep, dark patches of emotion that you could step into and be engulfed in a second so you thought you were actually drowning? Or the ones that explode right next to you and by the time you pick yourself and everyone else in the vicinity, up, there’s a pathetic little blackened wick lying there, so puny, you’re flummoxed. How about the pitchy puddles of memory that leave dirty scars on your fingers, your clothes, your eyes and lungs?

If you have no idea what I’m talking about, you’re either too young or way too old. If it is the former, I get to be smug and protective at the same time, while telling you not to fret, life gets ugly and pretty at the same time and when it gets to you, you call it art. If however, it is the latter, then you have both my envy and my sympathy…and is that a touch of bitter humour? Irony, I think it is called.

I’m old enough to write about emotion and young enough to fumble when identifying one. Just right to write.

Piano

Piano, sweet piano
singing melodies
that make even words
with bad associations
seem soothing.

The power to alter sensations
left by memory
is given to a few.
Fewer still that do it
with gentleness rather than force.

Gentleman

I run with my words
Racing my thoughts
Getting ahead of my emotions
Because I’m scared you’ll turn away before I’m done

But then I pause
To catch my breath
And realise you’re still listening
And also that I’ve forgotten what I was saying

Then you hold me close
In a way I’ve never known
But, which makes me forget
How life was before it began

When, at length,
We move apart,
You look just as you always do
Gruff and gentle

You consider my frantic
“What? What? What?”s
And tell me I have a lot of fears, many I need not,
And then you hug me again

I giggle and thank you
When you ask, “For what?”
I reply, “For being the man in gentleman”
“Also the gentle in gentleman”, I add afterthought

You feel like home. You feel like mine. My very own. Home.

Ideart: Good Karma, Bad Medicine

A few days earlier I had a thought. The words

Good karma, bad medicine

just formed themselves in my head. I can’t quite explain the thought. It was one of those ideas that just showed itself and vanished before I fully explore it further. It still sounded interesting. I put it up as my Twitter/ Facebook status to see if I could glean anything from it from seeing it in print. Still no luck. It was one of those things that you can just about see from the corner of your eye but never quite catch it straight-on. That’s when it occurred to me that the best way to communicate this thought may be visual and not verbal. And I realized that it had been awhile since I wielded a paintbrush.

The minute I had that thought, the image I needed flashed before my eyes.That was just it. The idea was a picture, not a sentence or story. After that it was just a matter of executing it. Luckily I had a plain black singlet handy and kept waiting for just such a time. A budding artist learns to store away material that could come in useful.

This is a tank top, that I picked up the first time I saw it because it is the thin, stretchy tee-shirt cotton material. There are no big logos or pictures on it and the cut is basic but curved along the sides rather than the straight up-and-down of unisex tees. I hate those since they hang and tug alternately.

The first thing I had to do was figure out a way to get rid of that little logo in the corner (little as it was, it was still in a white rubberprint and stood out) since that would certainly not do with the idea I had in mind. I was out of black paint so I tried dark blue and dark green but the rubber print of the logo showed right through both of these. Finally I coated it with Fevicryl Pearl Black no. 306.

I wanted the picture to be exactly in the middle of the visible area of the tee-shirt. If you are painting a tee-shirt for the first time, I recommend putting it on and marking off the area while still wearing it. Otherwise, one is used to the stark, solid borders of paper and too often the artwork goes over the visible area or looks too small or big. Clothes fall on each person’s body differently and ideally you should always see the garment on the wearer before painting on it. This area usually comes to about 8in x 8in or 20cm x 20cm on my clothes (and I rather smugly report that it turned out a perfect square without using a ruler or even pencil sketching!)

I started with a swirly line using a thin brush and Fevicryl Pearl Spring Green no.311 and then Fevicryl Cerulean Blue no.32. But I realized that a psychedelic design with multiple colours would need to have broad strokes for each colour to be visible and not get lost in too-intricate strokes so I switched brushes. After that it was a random selection of colours applied in strokes, splashes, squiggles and splotches. I painted over in a number of places and in other places I also used the same brush in multiple colours without cleaning the brush. This last gives the effect that you can see to the right of the second dot on the right. The yellow and pink run parallel for a bit before the yellow strikes out on its own. The colours must not be too liquidey if you want this effect since otherwise they’ll merge into each other.

This is one design where red (my favorite colour) was not the most striking note. On the contrary, the red quite got lost in the gloss of the other pearly tints so I used it as background in a number of places. When I had covered the entire square, I dabbed on circles with the Fevicryl Pearl Spring Green no.311 and you can see the colours beneath through the thin veneer of the green, in places.

I originally intended to paint the words over this design in black or white. But I realized the paint area was too small to fit in words and besides, it was too striking to waste as background. Besides, there was enough room above and below for lettering.

I tried for a digital-looking font and a religious-looking orange (Fevicryl Metallic Red no. 356) for the words ‘Good Karma’. In contrast the words ‘Bad Medicine’ at the bottom are in a more graffiti-like font in a Fevicryl Pearl Lemon Yellow no. 302.

Finally I noticed that the painted-over patch over the logo in the bottom right corner had dried and was standing out against the black. So I painted on a stretch in the same colour across the tee-shirt, a sort of rough underline the way one would highlight a graffittied sentence.

I’m not sure whether the finer points like font and colour would be noticed but I’m guessing they would register at a sublimnal level. The message just is one of those things. I wore this with worn-out blue jeans, a silver chain double-looped around my neck with a New Age faerie pendant. It got some appreciation. 🙂

Good Karma, Bad Medicine

Garment: Sleeveless ladies tee-shirt

Material: Hosiery cotton

Background colour: Solid Black

Paint colours used:

  • Fevicryl Pearl Black no. 306
  • Fevicryl Cerulean Blue no. 32
  • Fevicryl Crimson no. 04
  • Fevicryl Pearl Spring Green no. 311
  • Fevicryl Pearl Pink no. 303
  • Fevicryl Pearl Lemon Yellow no. 302
  • Fevicryl Pearl Metallic red no. 356

———————————————————————————————

* Cross-posted to Divadom.

You Spoke To Me

saturday-giantwheel-3

…and your delicious words soothed their way into my parched dreams..

Words

..for a writer
are like people
not just tools of the trade

Sometimes you flirt with them, tease your way with them and remember why you love them.

Othertimes you seduce them, are made messy love to, by them. A virtual orgy, a mind-burning feast of inspiration that results in an unforgettable story being born.

And then there are times when you just want to take them out to coffee*, no strings attached. And who knows what may happen next?

* Yes, this was written at one such time. Always carry a notepad and a pen.

Turnabout Isn’t Fair Play

She picks a gob of mud and aims carefully
Splatch! It spatters down his clean (too clean she thinks) face

Then she sits back to sip her drink
But it makes her choke

Arsenic!

…she thinks in panic

And so the loquacious one is silenced

But it wasn’t fair play!!

Are her final unspoken words

%d bloggers like this: