Category Archives: To be, Or Not to be

How to network like a Ninja!

Like really?

For Introverts, closet artists and lonely writers such as myself, the only reaction that can be earned from this title is a scoff, and then a few more scoffs!                                                                                                         This book has way larger aspirations ..i’d say a bit on the unachievable side.

Here we were struggling with the awkwardness of dressing and showing up at events, gripped with fears of introducing, chatting up strangers, desperate to find the silliest reason to back off, .….what visibility can one gain, when trying to hide behind another, till it’s time to leave. Where others bring home a bank of business cards & popularity stats, I go back more aware of my inadequacies. I almost hyperventilate around groups  larger  than 2 persons, get feverish if I am called out on to speak, I need 3 days to recover after a serious  networking event (BNI types, if you know what I mean.)

Agreed again, that anything new that needs to be learnt, well, it needs to be learnt. Trainers may have cooked up a manual that explains a 7 step process, help analyze a series of mock sessions, little reward system and such. But understand this, hand-shaking, serious eye contact, fluid conversations, public speaking are beyond the capacity of a certain kind of people. Almost a billion, give or take a few. What these people also share are social fears, confidence deficiency, trust issues, popularity phobia, of some level (small, medium, large, extra…)

Like someone said, ‘Facebook gives people an illusory sense of being LIKED.’ Or else, why would millions of people prefer texting over confrontations, email over phone calls, phone sex over intimacy (Ughh!), Online shopping versus shelf digging, concalls over actual conferences, there’s more in the market.

Not digressing, I vouch that getting to know the right people certainly helps artists, at large. Reaching out to that one person, connecting to a friend of a friend through a friend, can be amazingly useful, than not reaching out at all. It is not the wisdom of the crowd, but the wisdom of someone in the crowd. But we’ll have to apply the AA method, one new connection at a time, two meetings a week, slow and not necessarily steady. And yes, I could gladly reward myself with a few alone hours among my books.

Now, that may work for people with ‘Acute networking Syndrome.’ But Ninja, really?


Iris by vivian-sathre

Iris     by Vivian Sathre

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Edgar Degas pastel on paper, 1880-82

Edgar Degas
pastel on paper, 1880-82

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This whole rigmarole

This whole rigmarole, of being myself is a pain.
I would like to apologize to anyone I have not yet offended.
Please be patient, I will get to you shortly.


June 1, 2015 · 9:58 am

Tied or free 00.40 am , 24/04/2015


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Net Junkies Anonymous NJA

Net Junkies Anonymous
The term was probably first coined by my online mentor Robert Genn. In 2010 when a few many artists were troubled by being overwhelmed by the many thousands (millions?) of images online. Nancy wrote, ‘ An evening can be spent wandering around cyberspace and enjoying it immensely. But very often, the next morning, entering my studio, I’m utterly paralyzed. My husband has noticed what online exposure does to me, and he thinks it’s making me nuts.’
101510_nancy-bell5_sm Awake in the night
paper and paint collage by Nancy Bell Scott

Robert explained, ‘It’s all about procrastination. Hanging out at a cabaret or hanging on to a computer, artists will do anything to avoid going to their room and going to work. Fear of failure and fear of success are just two of the issues that lead to escapism. With the quality and variety on the Internet, today’s painters face a hazard like never before.

Net Junkies are the new alcoholics. Artists who allow the Internet to take them where it will, throw in the towel of creative individualism. Too much non-directed exposure to the work of others humbles, discourages, and sullies our own best efforts. The result, if you stay at it long enough, can be rudderless dilettantism. But there’s help. It’s called NJA.

Net Junkies Anonymous knows that artists procrastinate in the name of research. They get hooked. The solution is to make research a process-driven activity. It starts with the Notebook. Attend to your pencil before you go near your machine. As you think of your needs, jot down the points. Let your work tell you what you need to study. When the time is appropriate, take your list to the machine. Be efficient and cagey. The Internet is a great slave but also a cunning master. You have to go there on your own terms.

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blame it on the rain….

blame it on the stars…..

I have to blame it on someone for the ugly delay of my beloved project. This blame is no excuse, mind you, I can submit real proof.

Rewind to a few months back – I get the first printed version of the poetry book and present it to Him – SURPRISE!!! And the look on his face was nowhere close to any expectations I might have had in my present or former life. Nice guy but he totally hates surprises; he hasn’t in 20 odd years even tried to learn ways to deal with creative people –  that pretty much speaks about his capabilities, and the fact  that he does not know any other way of living but of a military, out-of-the-rule-book-pattern.

My partner was sincerely offended and hurt, reason being that  IF he was the suppos-ed and lucky receiver of this creation, then why was he not part of the planning, creating, decision-making process? does his opinion not count? Blah, blah. why is the designers’ ideas given priority?

Make peace baby, give me all your opinion, and I’ll see how to put it in.

There! I mean, cant you be sensitive towards a piece of art made purely for love’s sake?! You are supposed to say the right things man- its amazing, it’s beautiful, thank you, I am overwhelmed!

No sir, we spot mistakes cover to cover, right down to the size, the shades, the title, the text is abstract even outrageous, the drawings not appropriate, the loopholes in terms of marketing this book, the acknowledgements not proper enough to appeal the potential publisher…..blah

You see, his complete logical sense is convoluted and confused. If I had to put in all of that, snip and tuck, make it fancier, with a certain twist that you feel would create the desired effect, it would become your book, not the thing that I was creating.

Ok, I admit to a certain extent maybe the abstract pieces, loose connections might need to be tweaked up…just maybe, not necessarily.

But the point is, I missed the joy of receiving a proud look ( aah, the things we do for love’s sake….) and I sighed at the tasks to be done before it becomes a bestseller, which it will not anyway. IT gives me immense happiness just lying here by my bedside, almost done, a few sheets sticking out.         

All blame’s in place, guess I can get back to work on it.

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I got to complete this post in 40 minutes

My day is packed with things to do, important and mundane. Let me strictly confirm the harsh fact – the important things remain important and have decently placed deadlines, and the mundane are always necessary, and can create an emergency if not accomplished at the designated time. If I want to get down to the real tasks I want to get done on a particular day, I Better  get the  list of mundane & extremely necessary things done…starting with

Get the kids to school ( dress, breakfast, lunch boxes, drop off)

Cook , and while working on the menu check on the husband, parents, other family members & the pets, make sure all are fed)

Run errands ( if you don’t want one or more of the family people or kids getting into trouble at job or school – e.g get the Halloween dress in time, drop/pick THAT suit to the dry cleaners, and the like)

Return calls depending on whose calls I missed the most number of times, and how panicky that particular friend is – I don’t want the police/fire squad come in search for me.

Take it easy. Easy? I must not not shout at all those desperate & disturbed , confused,  housewife lady friends from the coffee club, who just have to call to share the juicy gossip or their age-ing problems – forgive them, they have no idea that their actions are making me as mad and wasted as them.

To not  forget my own Vitamin B or C, lest I am found drained & unconscious at the grocery store – that is a confirmed day of NO work.

Get the kids to the swim/dance/craft activity in time, you’ve paid the advance.

Do at least a bit of planning of the forthcoming pool party/family gathering, jot down some quick smart points so that I don’t feel guilty in case the coordinator calls on me.

Please the husband, keep a nice dvd ready for a Friday family movie time, or plan something for the weekend for ‘us’ time.

All the above mentioned tasks are during the weekdays, which are also my work days. My official working week ends on a Thursday night and I juggle with a different set of activities with no control over their time frame/ schedule, earliest I can find my normal self is around Tuesday noontime.

Did I mention the cleaning, clearing, changing bedsheets,grocery, fruits, watering the plants/gardner and my own workout time here. I think not, they have to be squeezed in between the 2 categories i mentioned above.

What the…….

I mean, after all this drama, I am not sane enough to do the tasks I thought I wanted to get DONE TODAY!

This is what happens when you are a freelance writer who makes the mistake of announcing aloud, I  work from home!

Oh, and several assignments decide to pour on me all at once. Just when I wasn’t bothered chasing after them. Becoz it was approaching autumn holidays. Uughh. So now after doing all that, I need a writing schedule! Or else, I lose those assignments, maybe even make a bad name in the market, even before a get known. More Uughhh.

photocredit -

I dropped out of the corporate world for the fun, flexibilty & sheer pleasure of self-employment & freelance writing. (I don’t like discipline, I wont tolerate a boss breathing down my neck to turn in reports, I work as  I feel like, I prefer to be my own boss. For the real talent to bloom and shock this world…….I had to be free!!!

Is this free? I’m forty now. And  wondering what’s happened to my capital L Life? The one where I had to shelve my grand tour of book reading & signing event, because the award winning ceremony had to be preponed , becoz the gliteratti etc, etc, etc….the one where I preferred to blog special pages from the Hawai islands, blah blah The expectation that this big step in life is one day going to show me to be the Stienbeck or Hemingway or a Bukowski of our generation.

Except I don’t write much. Trying to match the School calender , and spouse’s travel plans with my own dates, and bills & family investments, and food,  grocery and sports and summer have all got in the way of actual writing. But I have the thoughts! Oh yes. I am a thinker. Just get a few drinks down and I can blurt the complete script in a go! Got any coke? I need a break before I start some real writing.

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I need Sartorial

One of the an/other hazards of living an expat life, is the fashion scene that I have to keep coping with. It has been proved earlier enuff, that my learning generally doesn’t follow anything that can be called a curve. Guess, that goes pretty much like my personality – either I learn the ropes, or not; either a yes, or a no! This way, or that!

Simply put, I am not good at learning a little of a lot many things, and so it’s difficult to blend into a new group (where people behave or dress or eat in a similar way) group easily; I have a tendency to always stick out!

When we were in process of planning our move back to China (this time SZ city), I took out my carefully stacked mandarin learning books & worksheets. After a gap of 2 years, if anyone expected me to swing back to the sounds n tones, they got to be kidding! As expected, I was behaving deaf & dumb again; even the words/phrases I was completely comfortable with, failed me. I was wishing for some miracle to pop the words out of my mouth, when I needed………just once, ONCE, to make me feel better, to save me from humiliation, that look my spouse gives ( my company spent so much on your mandarin lessons – and u cant even convey this much!)

No sir, miracles havnt happened to me all these 39 years, I am sure miracle fairies don’t visit my side of the world, ever!

And if not speaking the language didn’t destroy my confidence, the local fashion scene very much did. Take the ferry across the border ( to HongKong) and you’ll know where all the influence is coming from! Women take their appearance very seriously here. They swear by trends, brands, cosmetics, hair salons and waist sizes.  I appreciate that, but I have none to boast of.

I must be really thick, that living in fashion conscious cities since the last 9 years hasn’t changed me much. I am reasonably well dressed when going to the supermarket or to the doctor or anywhere in public.

For sure I struggle  to not succumb to the temptation to join the slob parade –  No old sweats or baggy shorts or T-shirts proclaiming  I’m still hot. It just comes in flashes nowI am decently covered, I buy my correct size, carry a lip gloss, and wear a smile, always!  That is fashion for me. No sir again, my idea of fashion and being well dressed is way off the mark!

And this here, is sheer torture. It makes me want to weep.  My jeans aren’t tight enough, my heels not high, my clothes not trendy enough, my lips not plump enough, my hands not manicured enough, my . . . do I need to go on?  I think you get the picture.

Sadly, I will have to accept this state of  affairs because trying to jazz up my appearance would require too much witchcraft. It’ll be a task for any witch, or fairy, you bet. Maybe I should get a  T-shirt with this slogan I Took the Road Less Traveled, and Now Where the Heck Am I?

No amount of showing down will change me.  Once get  around here, I’ll find like- minded friends, like-dressed too. Or some who can understand me, and don’t mind my sartorial.

You didn’t believe earlier when I said I was thick,
Did ya?

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Lonely Writers

Squirreled away in your apartment, typing all night, sleeping all day. Go out once in a while to stock up on groceries, then back to the grind. You are creating genius work. You are the stoic writer, alone in your world of insight and creativity. Who needs friends? When you are done, your work will shine above all others.

In your dreams….!!

In the real world, successful writers are part of a community. They meet other writers, develop support networks to help them through the struggle that is each screenplay, maintain healthy relationships to provide balance and perspective on their work. As their careers begin to develop, they befriend development execs and other professionals. In short, they are part of the world of writers.

Believe me, it’s a struggle to reach out, hold yourself out openly as a writer, celebrate your chosen path, and draw to you people who support that part of who you are. But it must be done!

I have also heard about the fun & inspiring trivia that creative artists share , while writing together at the coffee shop, or arguing about colour schemes over a beer. After craving for years to move around in such groups, I have a little friendly team, my support network – a wierd artist, 2 photographers,few designers. Developing a community that supports me as a writer is not just a lifestyle choice. It is necessary to my work.

Some one has said it before.

“Most of what ails us and holds us back can be fixed by ourselves.”

I’m trying.


Filed under To be, Or Not to be

To be , Or Not to be

 Today Robert wrote to me about ” The Basket List”.

It is the list  of things we need to try in our work. My own lists are most often of newish observations made in nature, or creative ideas, but they can also include motifs and techniques noted in the work of others. He says  if I don’t keep adding possibilities I might become a basket case. which means my art will stagnate.

He further explains – Each one of us looks out into the world and sees our next step. No matter how pedestrian the observations seem, we need to make them our own. It’s one of the great principles of making art: “Name it and claim it.”

well, it’s easy for him to forward such advice since he has dared to do new things for a long time now – tried, tested, failed and revived. Not easy for novices like us who worry almost every night – am i creative enuff? and fiddle with what if? what next? and who are scared to dare?


Inspiration is not something that floats in the air like some radical gas to be collected in fairy nets; it is more effectively generated by a basket of practical ploys. Further, for flawed individuals like ourselves, it’s easy to see something, have a vague idea that it’s something special, then pass by and forget it. The written list and the quick sketch nail fleeting wisdom to the intransigent brain. “You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.” (Jack London)

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