Tag Archives: writing

Easy Hat

Is creativity the easiest hat to wear? A magician’s hat?

A poet has it easy- she writes poems if she is persistent, she publishes in several journals and starts making a name for herself.

A writer writes a story, maybe an e-book that sells like hotcakes. Then he writes a sequel, and then another. His series gets picked up by a producer and now his eureka moment in the bath is a multi-million dollar business.

An artist draws a circle and it turns into a motif known world over.

But whatever is created is made between living and the best work can hardly ever come with success as the final goal. The characters have to talk to you, the melody has to translate from a moment on to the page and the image must come from a heartbeat.

So it can not be the easiest hat to wear. On the contrary.

That’s my 2014 lesson. You can not take this idea of creativity as a permanent sticker that will label your existence. It’s just an indication of the road you should walk on.

You must learn one thing

The world was made to be free in

Give up all worlds

except the one to which you belong.

(David Whyte)

© neelthemuse, 2014
Check out my book Unsettled @ Amazon



Posted by on December 28, 2014 in Day to day


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What is it?

It’s life itself and sometimes it gets too loud. Then that reputation you built based on reading and writing poems everyday goes London Bridge is falling down , falling down, falling down.

But it is not that simple. Just when you conclude that maybe noise can take over, you read a poem again and then you write one and then another.

Habits have a halo of immortality about them.

Anyway I have been blogging @InstaScribe about books on writing.

Are there are any books you think I should read about writing? It is a myth that reading books on writing will stop you from writing; they remind you not to forget.

© neelthemuse, 2014
Check out my book Unsettled @ Amazon

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Posted by on October 31, 2014 in Books


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A poet’s timeline

I’ve been perusing a great many twitter timelines on twitter lately. One timeline that I find delightful is this one by George Szirtes

He writes a series of one poem or maybe a continuous theme in 140 characters. The poem I followed was posted at various times of the day.

Everywhere was elsewhere. I knew the streets and I knew the faces and bodies. This was the map. Let’s haunt it, said the ghost.

As simple as that and rather effective. This looks like the future of poetry, though one thing that worries me is reading the poem backwards. Will that change the way we experience the poem or alter its intent?

During my long hiatus is April and May, I tried reading a book backwards and found that I was able to finish much faster. It works for non-fiction but poetry?

Apparently there is a reverse timeline app, though I haven’t figured that one out. More and more writers today are becoming tech geeks- no wonder about it. If your medium is technology, shouldn’t you try to understand your tools? Much more than paper and pencil.

I’ve been trying my hand at a couple of digi-poems as well; twitter could be a good place to start posting them.

Are there any poets whose twitter timelines you follow? Who are they?

© neelthemuse, 2014
Check out my book Unsettled @ Amazon





Posted by on August 9, 2014 in Day to day


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Sometimes life takes over

There are many rules about not falling off the blog scene. I follow twitteratti/fb and the status quo dictates that writers must follow a regimen and to-do lists. They must check, check, check.

But rules apart, there is joy in reading a blog that dates back a couple of years. I came across one such blog today and it was interesting to see how a blog is a record of so many interesting thoughts. It is something that deserves to live!

So with that in mind, I’ll be writing here more often.


© neelthemuse, 2014
Check out my book Unsettled @ Amazon




Posted by on July 31, 2014 in Day to day


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Showing your Work

The primary reason I started this blog was to post some of my poems. Back in 2012(it feels so far away!) I wrote poems and immediately posted them here. I liked the adrenaline rush of getting my work out there- even cyber space is a *there*- a place that breathes, opines, and likes or dislikes what you do. The digital world is so real, don’t you think?

However, of late what I’m doing is letting my poems hibernate- that way when I look at them later I get a better perspective of what I did and how I’ve changed.

I’ve also tried pitching some of these poems to magazines where poetry is appreciated but one thing I haven’t really tried is sending them to friends or trusted persons who critique. Critique is not necessarily criticism. It isn’t about how bad or good you are, which is how books are being reviewed these days. The whole star rating system of books is problematic- suppose it is the genre you dislike, then do you give two stars to the genre?

Anyway, leaving all that aside since reviews matter to any writer, myself included, I’ve never really shown my poems to anyone besides you the reader of this blog and my family.

I found this picture interesting- most pictures of writers are solitary. If you do a google search on writing paintings, you’ll find a great amount of detail when it comes to writing tables, views from windows and feathery quill pens. This is an unusual sort of image that I can’t find the exact source for.

showing your writing

Turns out it is a good idea to get a second opinion or a third. There is this whole phenomenon of beta reading going on- so when you write a novel for instance, a beta reader or even several readers could give you a clue about what you need to do to get your story into readable form.

This may not work for everyone. I thought it best that the poems hibernate but after a while your poems and stories want to stretch their arms and wake up. They need attention the way little kids do.

Everything needs its springtime.


Incidentally I was reading this lovely volume of poetry called ‘Not Springtime yet’ by Priya Sarukkai Chabria. I’ll be talking about the book soon.

Are you comfortable showing your poems to people besides your family?


© neelthemuse, 2014

Check out my book Unsettled @ Amazon






Posted by on March 13, 2014 in Day to day, Inspiration


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That long silence and reading Cleland’s Room of Thieves

It’s been a while since I posted. It has been almost three years now since this blog was conceptualized in a sudden impulsive mood. I just realized that!

Being off of the blog for a while reminded me of a poem I wrote in 2012 called Angry Young Blog.

There are times when the blog likes to be quiet as well. Blogs change like the people who write them. Last year I read and studied a lot of poetry. This year I’m delving into fiction a bit more.

In spite of that self- proclamatory fiction obsession, I couldn’t help  picking up this delightful book by Angela Cleland called Room of Thieves. It is a clever book full of sharp edges and a very original rendition.

room of thieves

Look at a small extract from this poem Frozen points

We are nasty, cubist, snagging on each others’

angles, grow more acute at every irritation.

The anger of trigonometry frustrated

is sharp in brows, is taut in bodies drawn with bows,

stings along the rims of eyes held open too long

between dry blinks….”

The book is filled with aggressive instances such as these crossing geographies from the Loch to as far away as Machu Pichu, There is an undercurrent of explosiveness that runs through this string of pearls. Cleland doesn’t shy away from using different forms either.

You can read some extracts here. Really inventive and fresh.

A prose poem I liked very much was Dusk:

The chair has no idea. That luxurious creak as I shift in it slowly, lay my head back and pen myself to the afternoon light. The air has no idea, drawing its cool scarf across my arched throat. The bird has no idea….”

and she goes on to a mesmerizing climax. Teaser enough for you?

I don’t think any one should worry about quietness at the blogs they write. It may mean many things- exploring new themes or removing the monotony of every day. A blog is like your second skin- it is strange that I write differently while I write my blog posts and am much much more hesitant to ‘be me’ at social media.

In fact writing this blog has changed the course of my life- I realized that I must invest more time with poetry.

How do you deal with quietness at your blog?

© neelthemuse, 2014

Check out my book Unsettled @ Amazon


Posted by on February 25, 2014 in Books, Day to day, Inspiration


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@ Ellen Kombiyil’s Poetry Workshop- II

Like I said in my previous post, I leave the stage to Ellen Kombiyil. As part of Project Inspire, I ask poets to share a prompt or some kind of inspiration. Ellen agreed to do a workshop right here! So here goes…the space is yours!



First of all, I would encourage anyone interested in writing to read Natalie Goldberg’s book. “Writing Down the Bones” is her first one, and a classic. “Wild Mind” is also very good and outlines the same simple method and also gives many prompts.

The main thing is, to find a time to write and then to simply do it. No excuses. Turn off your phone, don’t answer the door. Keep that time for yourself and your writing practice.

Any prompt, really, will work. It could be as simple as a word, or a first line borrowed from a poetry book. The prompt is somewhat of a red herring:  it’s not the answer itself, but a way to get us to sit down and write. Once we get going, and if we really trust the mind and let ourselves go, then we often find ourselves in new terrain, far away from the original prompt. The main idea is to keep the hand moving – don’t stop to think or try to make sense. Just keep the hand moving, repeating the prompt over and over, or write, “I don’t know what to say, I don’t know what to say” until you loosen up and grab onto an idea or image or memory or sound or sensation. Once you get going, try to stay as concrete as possible, describing what you see, hear, taste or remember, infusing the experience with details.

Don’t think, don’t get logical. Free writing works on the level of associations, images, much like dreams do. Allow the thoughts to take you without trying to control them and you’ll be surprised where you go. Remembering the keep the hand moving, resisting the urge to stop and think or try to make sense, helps us with this.

You are free to write the worst junk in the world. This one is super important. We are practicing here. Sometimes the work will be flat. Sometimes your work will be hot, sparkling with original detail. Sometimes both will happen in the span of the same piece. The important thing is to give yourself permission for the flat times, and continue the practice.

Go for the jugular. If something scary comes up while you’re writing, don’t shy away from it. Resistance is just resistance, holding us back from what we truly have to say. Once you notice resistance, dive straight toward it and work through it.

Be specific. As you’re writing, add concrete details. Remember to add the senses – all of them. If you’re ever stuck in the middle of a timed writing practice, try describing the scene from a different vantage point – moving the perspective from near to far, for instance, or from high to low.

All of these are Natalie Goldberg’s rules for writing practice. They have been the cornerstone of my practice for twenty years. If you follow the rules, you grant yourself tremendous freedom – freedom from that critic that lives inside all of us while we write and might stop us cold in the middle of a piece. You also learn a deep trust of your own mind and your own voice.

 Now that you have all the tools, are you ready to practice? Have a notebook and fast writing pen ready. Here is a prompt we practiced in workshop last week. The prompt comes from Warren Wilson College’s website. Click here.

There are many other prompts listed here as well.

Set a timer for 10 minutes.

Describe the room of one of the following:

A high school student about to drop out

A cashier who just won the lottery

A faded movie star who still thinks she’s famous

A paranoid person


Be as concrete and detailed as possible. Don’t think. Go for 10 minutes.


Just keep writing!


Hope you find Ellen’s workshop inspiring! Please comment if you found the exercise useful. Thank you Ellen! Lovely having you here….


neelthemuse@ 2014


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Posted by on February 14, 2014 in Day to day


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