I loved this quote when I came across it on Pinterest trying to find pins to put on my ‘Rule of Thirds’ ChickLit concept board. Yes, I’m attempting to Pinterest. Can’t say I have tried it before, though I was signed up with it more than a year ago. Never really saw how I could use it to drum up interest for my book(s). But, ever since I came away from a day seminar at the Sydney Writer’s Festival last month, I may have been inspired to try it in a way I never thought about. Use it to create a page/board (still learning it’s lingo here) for the book/story in mind, helping create the look/feel of the novel. So, for the last week, I’ve been searching pins for weddings, love, romance, mother-daughter etc. and still going. Don’t know if it’s been at all successful but can’t hurt to try.
What was the point of telling you all that? Well, as writers, and truly anyone who has a job that gets them or their product in front of strangers, go through this regardless of the career path you choose. We are held back by fear. Our potential squashed ruthlessly by the little devil that sits on our shoulders, and whispers ‘it’s not good enough’. Let’s give it a flick off our shoulders. Time to free them shoulders!
I believe regret is a painful thing to go through in life, but I’ve also realized personally that fear is the only thing that usually causes one to have regrets in the first place.
If you fear about what people will think, then try and divert that fear to but what if they like it. You can’t please every one. This is not Pleasantville.
I’m going to try and not fear too much about too much from now on, or at least attempt. After all, I’ve come so far from being that tiny girl who questioned whether I could even wield enough command to handle directing film cast and crew as short as 12 months ago. And now, I have made at least 4 short films, have 3 others in the works and a major feature in the planning. And most of all, those lovely folks who gave me and my tiny stories a go are eager to work with me again as I am eager to work with them too. What was holding me back all those years after finishing my study? Fear. What was I doing every single day till that fateful day after Valentine’s Day last year? Regret. Regret not having enough guts to go ‘hell, I’m gonna try before I die’. That was pretty much what gave me a final push, whether I was willing to let go of a dream and regret it all my life, or whether I was gonna give it a try. I voted for try, and try I did. Firstly, I released my debut novel despite fear of criticism. Then, wrote my first short film and took it by its horns.
It is my deepest belief that one is not a writer until someone else gives you that title. Before this, I used to say I want to be a writer. Nowadays, I say I am a freelance writer and filmmaker. It feels bloody good to be able to say that.
I may not be known yet, I may not have the whole skill set yet, but I am learning, I am trying, and most of all, I am happy. So, do yourself a favor. If I can give you one advice then it is this: truly try before you give up on a dream, you never know the strength that lies in you till you hit that fork in the road and you must choose. Choose wisely and give it all you got.
All my best to you.
(The following story is prompted by ‘it was a misty night’ line.)
I never thought I’d end up here. A shovel in hand, a dark raincoat supposedly keeping me safe from the downpour. In the middle of a forest with barely any light to see the ground where I stand. How did I end up here? I turned to stare at the body just a stretch way from me. A shiver coursed through my body. Never ever had I thought I’d be the one digging the shallow grave, slipping and sliding on the muddying ground.
I could occasionally hear the vehicle on the highway meters away. Every time one whizzed by, I’d be in a state of panic, afraid they’d hear the sound of the shovel hitting the wet, squelching ground. I was a law abiding citizen for heaven’s sake, not the cold blooded murderer I suddenly felt I was.
I worked through the straining muscle aches curtesy of a hard gym work out with Clive this night before. When the hole was big enough, I found myself in it, pulling the corpse till it pinned me to the bottom of the pit with its weight, forcing me to struggle to free myself.
I stood, covered head to toe in mud. Where had I ended up? This morning, I had been just another newshound chasing my headlines, and now… I resumed the dirt moving, unable to allow myself that thought. The sound of the rain hitting the coat provided some sort of solace, something I could focus my mind on, and I kept shoveling and shoveling the dirt till a small hint of a mound formed.
I stared at it. What had I done?
I sat in the car for ages. Couldn’t possibly bring myself to get out. Before I knew it, I was sprawled across the back seat, twisted like a pretzel, half falling into the gap between the seats. A hard knock had rapt on my window, startling me awake. Somehow, it was morning. I hit my head on the window handle hard as I went to get up. I looked out the window and there was Clive, staring at me through the glass.
‘You’d rather sleep in the car?’
I straightened and struggled to get out of the car, scrambling to free my feet of the raincoat I had used as a blanket. We had had a fight last night before I left work. ‘I must have dozed off.’
Clive’s eyebrows rose high. ‘In the backseat?’
‘I was really tired,’ I offered by way of explaining.
‘Why do you look like you went mud wrestling last night?’ He eyed me from toe to the top of my hair. I went rigid. How did I look? Was I looking suspicious? I mean, yes, I had muddy clothes and all, but no one would pin a murder on me, right? Right?
‘I went to interview for a story outback, and the tyre got bogged in the downpour,’ I lied. Big deal. I wasn’t about to tell him the truth, whether he was my soul mate or not.
‘Why didn’t you call road side assist?’
Shit! My phone! The last I remember of my phone was when Clive had called me in the middle of my digging session. What did I do after that? I patted myself down, every pocket I had.
‘You lost your phone?’
I looked up, utterly panicked. ‘Yes.’
‘Where did you last use it?’
An image of being pinned down by the very thing I was trying to bury sprung to mind. Shit.
(The following story is prompted by the date, and the theme that only a thief can catch a thief.)
It was August 15, 1925 when I first stepped into the sprawling, Gregor mansion. I was a young thing, sexy, suave, and reckless. I thought I could outsmart everyone. After all, who would ever suspect sweet, small and innocent Marie of anything sinister. Well, they didn’t really know me then, did they?
It was late afternoon when I arrived in my finest, hat, dress, gloves, the whole package. I rang the door bell, wishing and hoping that Bill, or William Gregor, the eldest of the Gregor heirs would open the door. After all, he was the one nearing marriage age, and I, was the perfect bride material, ready to marry at a word. And I planned to marry Bill. That was the whole reason Julia Pratt had taken to being Marie Clementine Avery and adopt a demur personality. If my mamma could see me now, she would be spinning in her grave. ‘Demur? Ha!’ That’s what she’d say.
The keeper of the house opened the heavy doors inwards and barely cracked a smile upon seeing me. I flashed my pearlies as sweetly as I could manage. ‘Am I wrong? Or is Billy home, Thea?’
I slithered past her rigid form, into the grand round marble alcove before the foyer.
‘Master Gregor is busy having tea with the family.’
I smiled ever so sickly. ‘They wouldn’t mind me joining them, I’m sure.’
Thea almost growled, her lips rolling up in irritation. Heavens only knew why she hated me so. ‘The party isn’t till the evening, Ms Avery.’
I was beginning to lose patience. ‘Oh, is it? I truly thought it was an afternoon affair. Would you mind fetching Bill for me? I’m sure he’d love to know I’m early for private seating with the future family.’
Thea left without a word. And in the grand alcove, I couldn’t help but imagine myself as the lady of the house. Eventually.
I checked myself in the mirror, retouched the rouge on my cheek and the red of my lips. Who could resist? I smiled as I caught a glimpse of Bill staring at me from the corner as he appeared. Yes. He was definitely mine. All I needed was to keep the family on my side. Just until the wedding. And I was pretty sure there was going to be a wedding.
I turned, feigning innocent. ‘Billy, darling. I’m so sorry. I must have heard you say 3pm instead, so here I am.’ I kissed his cheeks lightly, like all society women do, and lingered a little longer near his cheek. ‘I hope I’m not intruding. Your Gregor parties are so famed, I didn’t want to miss out on all the fun by turning up late.’
‘You’re welcome anytime, Marie,’ Bill extended his arm and escorted me through the maze of the mansion, and out into the manicured gardens. ‘Come, I shall introduce you to the family.’
Wonderful! Just wonderful. I plastered a smile on my face as the family came into view. This was going to be easy compared to the last family.
Marie stood alone in the bridal room, dressed in an elegant ivory gown. She almost looked divine, properly excited by the prospect of what lay ahead. A wedding. Her wedding. She smoothed out her veil and picked up her small flower arrangements of white roses. The knock came then on the door. ‘Yes.’
A choir lady peered her head around the door. ‘We are all ready for you.’
Marie smiled. ‘I’ll be right out.’
She checked herself in the mirror once and corrected her posture. Standing tall like a Gisele. ‘Here it goes.’
The organ stayed with her as she walked lonesome down the aisle. A vision on defiance. An omen of something magnificently tough. She nodded at few guests as she walked past them towards the alter. She didn’t know many people at the wedding, in fact, the only person she knew was Bill Gregor. Bill Gregor who sat in amongst the crowd in the front rows.
She withheld a sigh. She was supposed to have been walking towards him waiting for her at the alter, not his younger, irritatingly elitist brother, Drew. Marie took it in her stride. By the time she reached the front of the church, she had a smile on her face, and a determination in her heart. Drew was also a Gregor heir, so she hadn’t really done so bad for herself. Just a few peachy months. Then a slow emotional leeching of Drew, a distraught wife who is at her wits end, and a bigger brother who cared enough to try and keep the family together.
Marie smiled at Bill before she turned her attention to the priest, and then the lesser handsome of the Gregor brothers. Her plans hadn’t really gone as planned, but walking down the aisle towards a rich future husband in less than six months, wasn’t a bad turn around.
‘Do you take Drew Maxwell Gregor as your lawfully wedded husband?’
Marie didn’t know where to turn. She needed a moment. A moment to console herself. The guests kept coming over, laying a gentle hand here, few kind words there. But it was all fodder to her. So what she was wearing black? So what she looked completely devastated? So what she was a widow at 51 and completely alone? She eyed the house for an exit. Any more words of condolences and she was going to burst into tears, and they weren’t exactly going to be for Drew, were they? She hadn’t ever learnt to love Drew. Not before the wedding, nor afterwards. Nor any of the thousand times he tried to woo her. And her interest in him had completely fizzled once the doctor told them the reason they were having difficulty conceiving was because drab old Drew was also sterile.
‘Excuse me.’ She managed to sound distraught enough so that she could walk away from the huddle of ladies.
Out in the open garden she could finally breath. A sigh of relief really. She didn’t have to pretend with the Gregors that she even cared for Drew. The whole family knew their marriage had died a long long time ago. Drew had even been ready for divorce but Marie wouldn’t have it. After all, years of her youth sacrificed wasn’t just so she could get divorced at 35 and go back to being dependent on herself for income. No, she deserved better. A good chunk of the Gregor fortune in fact.
‘Are you okay, Marie?’
She startled somewhat and turned around to face Bill. ‘And you?’
Bill shrugged. ‘No body really expected him to live as long as he did.’
Marie nodded. One thing every Gregor family member knew about her late husband, Drew, but the public hadn’t the slightest idea was that Drew was an alcoholic. His liver had died way before he did.
‘You’re going to be okay going back home alone?’
Marie debated whether to tell the truth, yes, or reply no. Perhaps what she hadn’t been able to do all those years ago, she’d be able to do now. After all, she was still in her finest shape, whereas Bill’s wife had let things slide enormously. ‘I don’t know… The house gets so quite, I almost feel like I’m the last one left on Earth.’
‘Why don’t you stay with Erika and myself for a couple of days? It’ll be a change for you, and you’ll have company?’
Marie smiled, a smile she hoped conveyed how grateful she was for his offer. ‘That would be a God send.’
Bill nodded and extended his arm towards her. Marie gladly took it, weaving her arm through his. ‘What would I do without you, Bill?’
‘Probably run away from this whole lot and wonder whatever happened to that vivacious young woman who bounced through our house way early for a party.’
Marie laughed. ‘Ah yes. Perhaps my mistake.’
Bill escorted her into the huddle of mourners and sympathizes. ‘I would have introduced you to Drew either way. In fact, it was the very reason I’d asked you to one of our drab parties.’
Marie felt her checks flush with heat. ‘What do you mean?’
Bill smiled down at her. ‘Drew saw you with me once and asked who you were, so I had promised I’d introduce you to him.’ He waved at a passerby who clasped his hand in a show of condolence. ‘And the rest is history.’
Marie could feel the anger boil inside her. How dare he? How dare he?
Ok, I officially have no idea if this is even possible, because at the end of the day, it all depends on the number of people’s attention this post catches.
I am an occasional painter, and by occasional, I mean just a couple of paintings a year kind of deal. I am mostly a writer, but do enjoy painting too. Find it a relaxing and enjoyable task. I’m also however, a broke artist/writer.
I’m another Nepali living abroad and devastated by all the misery and devastation in the country due to series of earthquakes since 25th April. Even if I want to, I cannot do much from here. So here is my idea. Humour me for a moment. Seriously.
Nepal is not just a gorgeous country, but sometimes it is also referred to as the land of Lord Shiva. Now everybody should know who he is. As Nepal is also predominantly a Hindu country, majority of people are possibly praying to him, after all, he is of the trinity, and is the God of destruction. Or more precisely, the God at the end of the chain who has the heavy task of ending things that began, a reality of life. He also happens to be a deity I revere for his values. Nepal, also has the world famous Pashupati temple in Kathmandu, aka, the biggest and most revered Lord Shiva temple.
So I have just been struck with this idea: what if I do a large, almost metre by metre painting on canvas of him, as long as it takes me to do. I will blog about it, Tweet it etc.
What if I sell the painting to the highest bidder and donate the money raised to Nepal Earthquake relief through a trusted organization? How does that sound?
An original painting of Lord Shiva for the land that adores him the most?
I can’t do this alone. I can paint alone, I can blog alone, but I can’t get the word out there. I can’t see how feasible this plan if mine is. I need your hell to spread the word, to gauge interest etc. will you help me?
(Some of you might be wondering how well I can paint if I’m only an occasional painter? The photo attached of Lord Ganesh in this post is one of my original paintings done in ink, and took me 35hours+ to complete.)
If you clicked on this post, it’s because you are one of two people; those that are readily inspired, and those that are barely inspired but go out there with your searchlights and your megaphone in search of it because you believe it’s just a matter of searching. Well guess what? Neither technique are full proof. They won’t guarantee you will have that one idea which will hit you, and you’ll reach out for the nearest writing platform.
I’ve gone through some odd events in my life in the last few months: from spontaneous trips overseas to make a movie, being an aunt to a new niece and a uni course that refuses to let me complete it. Yes you heard right, a Uni degree that’s stalking me. I may as well say it. In between this, I have small commitments to writing and suddenly the seemingly quiet life is suddenly too busy and not busy enough.
Two days ago, I was staring at the manuscript I’m supposed to be finalizing before I start readying it up for kindle publishing. I just stared. Unable to move my fingers or focus my eyes.
Then I got distracted. Yup, procrastination does that to you. I got distracted by Facebook, goggle, my blog, etc. and oddly enough, I kept on coming across ‘script competition’, or film competition, or script writing challenge etc. Script this and script that. And suddenly, I read the theme for one of the comps, and there it was, a quirky tale of young love. Then the next minute I was opening up my Final Draft and typing up the title ‘For the Love of Happy Endings’. You can only guess what that was inspired by.
Since yesterday, I have written a total of two very different scripts, prompted by competitions. I’m not sure I’ll be entering them, as films are collaborative work and I’ll need to get other people on board, but as stories alone, that is the most I’ve written in the past 5months.
It suddenly feels like the stagnant period is over and it’s time for me to stretch out those fingers and poise them over the keyboard as elegantly as I can and get a move on with other projects that have stagnated along with me. So I’m fresh, I’m reeling, and most of all, I’m bloody excited to get back to a gem I’ve feared to touch.
Inspiration is a cruel mistress. But when it comes, it unleashes the drive to keep going and going. So if you find yourself at a loss as to why you are not putting out products as you used too, then remember, it’s not too late to be inspired. Do something different, go someplace unknown, or face your fears. Whatever to get you unstuck.
So much luck in your writing battle, and happy reading.
Time to get back into the writing as they say, and what better way to start than by covering my recent foray into filmmaking, that to in a country on the other side of the equator to me at the moment.
Recently, (as recently as November last year), I happened to be lucky enough to travel to Darwin, Australia for the first time ever. It was so that I could attend a screening of another script I had written for a wonderful team up there who were wanting to turn it into a movie. So it happened, the script was a movie now, and I was invited to join the rest of the cast and crew at a screening up there. Fantastic experience, being able to see how the movie turned out and how audience reacted to it.
But it seems I wasn’t done with yet, and prior to leaving, I pitched another story, this time of supernatural theme, to one wonderful lady, whom I’m great friends with now, and she loved the story enough to want to produce it. So after coming home from the 3 day trip in November, I wrote the script, ‘Under the Emu Sky’, sent it off and found that it was immensely loved.
The only thing was, it had to be shot in Nepal. Luck was with us though as the producing pair were already booked to visit family back home, and I was the only one who had to join them. So we did. We went.
What crazy 3 weeks! From the very next day of landing, we set up camp in the lounge room of a Production company there and started out planning: from finalizing script and dialogue, to giving orders for tailor made costumes, from locking down cast members, to securing equipment and crew members to help us during shoot.
This was my first time making a film in Nepal so can I just say I was both excited and terrified at the possibility of things either going really well, or incredibly wrong. Alas, we even hired a ‘shooting bus’, and yes, they have those, and these buses actually drive around with a plaque that says they are a ‘shooting bus’.
I was lucky, because we had to travel outside of the capital Kathmandu, towards a national wildlife park in Citwan. A place I had never gone to. So I was both sightseeing as well as working! 🙂
During shooting days, we would get up by 5am and drop back onto bed after midnight. We would take cold showers in the mornings and not because we wanted to wake ourselves up violently, but because the hotel was Eco-friendly, and would not serve hot water in its plumbing till the Sun rose high in the sky and it’s solar panels sunbathed.
Incredible so, I was also co-directing with a wonderful director who was a cornerstone in making ‘Dhago‘ happen. Without his joining the team, I dare say the film mightn’t have been. His knowledge of the place and the crew was an immense asset. It gave me an opportunity to learn a lot and observe a lot.
In the three weeks I was there, we only had 3 days off to do what we needed other than our film work. You’d be surprised what one can fit into 3 days when required. I was able to visit temples, families members, a get together with cousins, go shopping, movies, and even take selfies in between all this fuss. In fact, we took some great selfies!
So what was the highlight of my trip? Wait for it. You will see me in the film when it comes out! 🙂 yes, astounding enough, I gladly took the role I was recommended for, and throughout the weeks and days leading up to it, was incredibly nervous! Lol.
It was an experience of a lifetime. The thing about films, is that each one is different, and therefore working on them gives different experiences and memories. I travelled back home with a lot of fun memories, and in a lot ways ‘Dhago’ is a very special film for me.
During shoot, there was a lot of laughter, rushing, panicking, quietly screaming, pushing jeeps that wouldn’t start, working under scorching sun, hungry and thirsty on one specific day, generators that betrayed, or talent that forgot to show up, or a snake floating in the river where I had to step into, albeit not on the same day, and it was a dead snake we happened to chase so we could get an incredible shot, only to realize later that it was dead. From waking up so early in winter, to spending three nights in costumes and SFX makeup with no jacket (’cause I was tough like that), from incredible smoke effect that required 3 men to puff their cheeks out, to running after the actually ‘Dhago’ (thread) that was being carried away by the river. Or hurrying a handful of team members into a misty forest to capture eerie shots that look million-dollar on screen, or having to jump onto the back of a moving jeep in order to get the shot to work. These and many more are incredible memories, something’s I will always remember fondly.
Was it the same shooting a film in Nepal as it is here in Australia? Definitely not. But was it fun? Hell yes! Both different in there own rights, both same in their own rights. What made it different was the place and the people you get to work with. Truth be told, I’d love to do it again, but let’s see what life has in store first.
‘Dhago’ is a story about a tour guide grieving his wife’s dead, and the cultural influences that guide him. The whole movie was shot in Saurah, Nepal except one scene in Kathmandu. The film will most likely be 20minutes when finished, and is currently undergoing post-production work. I’ve seen the first cut, and can I just say, it makes me super proud of the team, the entire team who helped me take this ‘idea’ I had, and for their trust in me throughout this. It literally would have stayed an ‘idea’ and one day forgotten if it weren’t for Silpi Dhungana who became the film’s Executive Producer, for giving me a chance to tell her a story; for Nitesh Raj Pant, her partner and the film’s main lead, for listening to her and my pitch of the story; for Sakar Pant, my co-director for agreeing to come on board with us and help steer the ship in Nepal with utmost efficiency and dedication; for Ravi Sayami, who joined us as Director of Photography, for listening to the vision Sakar and I shared for the film, and willing not to compromise; for my cousin, Garima Sharma for agreeing to give me company on the trip, who eventually helped the production out; for the rest of the cast and crew who worked tirelessly for insane number of hours, and for their patience; and to Binay Kansakar, our editor, who is now spending hours joining our footage and helping us with this second-last phase of filmmaking. A massive thank you, and great virtual hugs!!!
‘Dhago’ might have been my story, but it certainly isn’t just my film! And I simply can’t wait to see how audience react to it, and the comments that may come our way when the film is ready for the screen. So join us on the film’s Facebook page where there will be updates on our progress.