Writing in 2017, Part II

2017 was a difficult, depressing year, but sometimes when you’ve been through possibly the worst time(s) of your life and emerged on the other side, everything else feels relatively pale. So, let’s say 2017 was a relatively pale year.

In January, I moved to New York.

In March, I published an article in Uncanny Magazine.

(In May, I acquired a new therapist.)

In June, I became a fellow at the New York Foundation for the Arts.

(In July, I turned 30.)

In August, Luminescent Threads came out, a book that I co-edited with Alexandra Pierce of Twelfth Planet Press.

In September, I started working as the Poetry and Reprint Editor of Uncanny Magazine.

In October, I had my first New York reading at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, one of the two largest branches of the NYPL.

In November, I published an article in Words Without Borders.

In December, in a few more days, I will have a small story published in Anathema Magazine.

In between, bleakness, writing, occasional pleasure, entirely too many cigarettes. The political situations of both India and the United States get worse every day than I have ever known in my life. (In India, I was born a few years after the Emergency, and was too young during Babri Masjid. I was still too young during the Kargil War, and actually considered it a positive thing.)

I am darker, angrier, wearier than I have ever been before. I channel my obsessive streak into reading the news for hours, and still never catch up with all the horrors sprouting everywhere, every minute.

My heart, that overused organ, has been put to cryosleep. The only thing that stirs it up any more is the occasional nightmare.

I feel like an animal, which isn’t fantastic, but preferable to feeling like a corpse.

What else? New York is cold and I like where I’m living, but Clinton Street is many miles from here, in Lower Manhattan, too far for the music to waft in.

I am getting by. I am thankful for the sunshine on my face, the kindness of strangers — all that has come my way since the time I tried to commit suicide in 2015. I am living on borrowed time and grace. Everything is a miracle. All of you reading this (or not).

The world will get better, I promise. We will live to see it together.

 

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Sometimes I think I could write in this blog more often if I actually knew who read it. (Or who didn’t, equally important.) I know Moplah and Bedatri occasionally wander across to it (Hi Moplah! Hi Bedatri!) but our generation – and everyone else on the Internet – has quite decisively ridden out the personal-blogging wave. And I’m not really a book blogger. I don’t have the time or the tenacity, besides being privileged to live in the middle of nowhere in the Scottish lowlands where even the GPS network names different places between one room and the next. (The University of Stirling is not actually in the one-horse town called Stirling, where the last exciting event took place in the 14th century and may be found documented in the film Braveheart. Unless you count the debatable first sighting of the Slenderman in the 1986 Stirling Library Blaze. And Alexander Court is bounded by forestry on two sides, a cemetery on one and a golf course on the fourth. Welcome to the A___-End of the Universe, as the Corvus calls it.)

Halfway through last year I decided to turn the blog into a repository for all the articles I write for Kindle and other places, but it doesn’t feel like an immediate concern. I can do it all at one go whenever I really need to, creating back-dated posts – it’s not like the world is about to end for the absence of my tantalizing ‘original versions’ – and I’ve had other more important things to do. Honestly, when you’re in your proverbial Late Twenties, sometimes the ‘other more important things’ end up becoming making a list of things to order from Tesco. Trying (and failing) to cook dinner. Endless agonising about what the future will bring. Even where the next month’s money is coming from. All the things that do not make halfway decent reading.

It’s been cold, dark and rainy for about two weeks now, immediately following a brief elusive phase of bright blue skies and flowers. I do not know why it should be so, except that you do not ask such questions of British Weather. The worst result of it all is that I had really hoped to go swimming every single day for my final month on campus (which is this), and I haven’t managed to drag myself out of the room ever since I nearly caught a cold the first day. Every morning I flip open the blinds and look at the leaden skies… and my spirit just wilts. I’m half-torn between being morose about leaving and not being able to wait.

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In a way, with the dying of the thriving communities that surrounded them about 5–6 years ago, our blogs have reverted to the being the noiseless, semi-private public spaces that we’d originally hoped them to be. They’re out on the Internet, but nobody but your close friends, hopeful romantic aspirants or any other description of stalker probably reads them. You can once again post a bit of inane poetry or what you did today without the pressure of being interesting to a ‘readership’. I cannot say I entirely dislike the freedom.

This particular blog, which is going to complete four years in a couple of months, was created when the personal-blogging wave was already on an ebb. I have used it primarily for cryptic private musings, more often than not to practise new word or turn of phrase. I was reading through the archives today and they make me quite happy. There’s very little I wish I had never written. Often, I wish I had written more.

 

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So… well. I’ve been smiling, I’ve been writing, I’ve been thinking/hoping/thinking and I have nothing to say. Who reads this blog anyway? Three people, and I suspect only when they’re otherwise bored. The thought-of-the-day is that perhaps you can only move on (from people, places, obsessions) when you can’t move back in. I am not even sure if this is a thought of the day or a thought I’d had long ago that’s flashing in my mind a lot today but it’s a happy thought. I had lovely lovely extended weekend, there were duststorms and rain in the evenings, phuchka marathons, cheap drinks and expensive drinks, book talk and people talk, and dinner at a fantastic little restaurant with an old friend I had almost thought I’d lost.  There was a lot of lazing about and relaxed reading. A lot of happy-making phone conversations. And not much urge to blog about any of it at all. =)