Even though I don’t drink coffee, I would really love to have a cup with you right now. The weather outside is perfect – just the right amount of heat and cold. It’s windy almost all day long, the bougainvillea explodes with magenta blossoms every morning, and days have slowed down. My grandmother is still surprised every time she looks at the clock, but I’m loving the leisurely pace with which time is passing. Also, my blog now has a hundred people following it, so a big thank you to all the readers! I’m really grateful for your support.
On Tuesday, I had my Psychology practical and viva, and I’m really happy with my performance. Even my teacher told me she was “impressed.” It was a nice end to this session. Twelfth standard will be beginning most probably by the tenth of March, though we won’t know anything for sure until we get a call from the school. I’m assuming I still have a week’s worth of free time, and I’m planning to buy my textbooks early and familiarize myself with the material as soon as we’re told when the school will re-open.
Meanwhile, I’ve been working at my writing. In the last two days, I finished editing another flash fiction story and sent it for submission. I made a note to not hurry with this one and although I was sure I had made the story as good as I could, I was overcome with dread soon after I hit the submit button. It didn’t happen the first time I submitted the story because I was confident about my chances, and it didn’t happen the second time because I was too overconfident. I’m guessing I’m so nervous because now I’m afraid that I perhaps could have made it even better by leaving it for some more time, while a little voice in my head says that six months was a considerable time. I don’t know what to think, so I’ll just keep my fingers crossed and hope for the best.
With that story submitted, I’ve started working on another one and will be hopefully done with it by tomorrow. I’d written all these stories months ago when I set myself a daily writing goal. Many of them are rubbish, but some of them are really good while others need some polishing. Ray Bradbury was not wrong when he said that it’s impossible to write 52 bad stories in a row. I’ve written more than 52 (flash) stories – around 200 maybe – and I’m seeing hope in many of them. So in the coming weeks, I’ve given myself the task of editing these stories and sending them out for publication. Given that our first tests will begin sometime around June end, I’ve got plenty of time to focus on my writing along with my studies.
I passed the first eight weeks of the Ray Bradbury reading challenge by only reading blog posts, poetry, essays and stories, but this week I went a bit further and re-read all the stories that I liked and tried to see why and how they worked, and that’s helped with my writing. People’s comments on stories published online were a bonus. Feedback is so important for writers – for any artist, in fact – and if you have someone to comment on your work before you share it with the world, then you’re really lucky.
In other news, the loneliness returned again, though it was not as intense this time. I’m trying to keep myself as busy I can, not just to ward off the loneliness but because when I’m doing nothing, I feel like I’m wasting my time, and with twelfth standard, board exams, entrance tests and college preparations ahead of me, I simply cannot afford to do that. I think I’m prepared for the SAT and TOEFL, which I’ll be giving this summer, but I’m worried about my college essays and extracurricular activities. Here in India students are encouraged to score as much as they can because admissions in most colleges are mostly done on the basis of Board Exam and Entrance Test results. Moreover, as a financially backward student who wants to major in Creative Writing, opportunities for me are even more limited. I’ve been looking for extracurricular activities that won’t cost my parents anything and where I’ll be able to use my writing skills but there are scarcely any such activities available, so I’m giving my best to the few of them that I’ve found – the occasional inter-school essay-writing competitions, submitting to literary magazines (American or European because I haven’t found any in India yet), working on my internship with Indians 4 Social Change in the coming months, and hopefully a ten-day internship with the Indian Traditions and Heritage Society in May/June.
I really wish India had more opportunities for young writers. I sometimes pity myself when I see my other friends participating in activities related to their fields of interest because they do not have to worry about their family’s financial condition or being accepted to a foreign university or having the means to, even if partially, pay for an education abroad. It sucks to know that most people’s access to education depends on their financial status. I’m one of those people and I hope this changes some day. However, I’m still going to apply. I might actually get accepted. I won’t know if I don’t apply. I don’t want to become a teacher in some middle school and spend the rest of my life regretting my decision not to try. You never now what lies on the other side, and from the last two years, the most important thing I’ve learned is that whatever happens happens for the best.
Here’s to a more productive and less lonely week.
I really don’t think life is about the I-could-have-beens. Life is only about the I-tried-to-do. I don’t mind the failure but I can’t imagine that I’d forgive myself if I didn’t try. -Nikki Giovanni