When I’m exhausted, I try and stay away from news. Reading about the abysmal things humans are capable of can be very draining. But after a while, I feel the need to know what’s going on in the world around me. I know the world is a bad place, but once in a while, an article tells me of an aspect of ‘humanity’ I didn’t know about at all.
I recently read about rape videos being sold in Indian villages. While the very Idea is abhorrent, the details are even more chilling: these can be accessed by anyone, for very little money and disseminated through messaging services like Whatsapp, the raped women are clearly identifiable, and the acts brutal and horrifying.
“Al Jazeera found several videos that appeared to depict rape for sale across the state. They cost from Rs 20 to Rs 200 (30 cents to $3) and are transmitted to a customer’s mobile phone in a matter of seconds. The faces of the women are visible in these films. Their voices are clear. The attacks on them are brutal.”
In the spirit of “In Darkness, Be Light,” here’s a linkto a love story that has warmed hearts and brought smiles to everyone who has heard of the couple.
“Lalita, a 26-year-old resident of Kalwa, Mumbai, was supposed to get married to a different man in 2012. But the ceremony was cut short when Lalita’s cousins attacked her with acid, owing to personal enmity.
The acid burnt most of Lalita’s face, due to which she had to undergo 17 surgeries at the Bombay Hospital and Masina Hospital in Mumbai.
As her treatment continued, Lalita, around two months ago, received this particular call from an unknown man named Rahul Kumar. As luck would have it, the two met, fell in love, and decided to get married.”
This morning I woke up at first light, to a smiling picture of an eight-year old girl from Manchester. I’ve tried the entire day to not think about her, not write, not dwell, not tear up. I’m not a mother, I’m not related to her, and well, don’t thousands of children die each day in various parts of the world, including where I live? No call for me to be emotional.
I’ve also thought about the 22-yr old who thought exploding himself in lethal hatred, nuts, bolts, and nails was the way to exit the world.
I’ve thought of their journeys to the venue– the girl with elders, possibly her parents, or parents of friends. All dressed up, full of smiling, laughing, bright expectation. I see her skipping, running to the area, I see her shrieking at her idol on the large screens.
And I see the man, dressing himself in death, his head a beehive of hatred, of visions of a life beyond, of unimaginable darkness disguised as light.
I can’t turn away from that moment of shrapnel, panic, blood, death, screams, stampedes, keening, prayers, sirens, last breaths, the reek of burning flesh.
I’ve constantly thought about these two: no way can a hate-filled being be compared to an innocent, but the fact is both reached there, that one place.
These incidents will recur, again and yet again, till we figure out the poisonous alchemy that changes the brains of young men into killers– the belief systems they’re fed, the money that changes hands, the normalisation of violence, the nightmarish transformation of a man into a killing machine– these are aspects of humanity, no matter how much we deny it.
Violence has been part of the human make-up from the very beginnings of our evolution, and despite all the progress we’ve made, we still murder our children in cold blood.
And here I am, at end of the day, unable to sleep, thinking of this killer and that girl. Of the adults who were a joy to their mothers, and their children. I think of this murderer who also had a mother– a man who was, until yesterday, just another walking the streets, quietly carrying within him an entire snakepit of rancor and murderous rage. I see so many answers, the usual suspects bandied about: fundamentalism, toxic masculinity, cultural differences.
Personally, I don’t have an answer.
I’m helpless, filled with despair and dread. I can only think of the two mothers, one who suffered the horrific loss of her child, and the other, who will be known as the one who gave birth to a mass-murderer, till the day she dies, and beyond. I wish all of us, irrespective of gender, were given a mother’s heart– then we would not kill. During my meditation, one of the chants I focus on is : I’m a mother of this universe. Because when you’re a mother, you create, you nurture, you protect, you love. You become love.
Before I head to bed, I send this out— may mother-love spread its wings, may it embrace us all, and may it put out the fires of hatred, violence and malice seething in this world. May we celebrate and embrace our differences, may eight-year-olds never lose lives to murderers again, and may we always find light in the darkest of times and places.
Have you heard of the Manchester bombing? What have your thoughts been all of today? What would you say to these two mothers?
I host the monthly We Are the World Blogfest: I’d like to invite you to join, if you haven’t as yet, to post the last Friday of each month a snippet of positive news that shows our essential, beautiful humanity. I think, this week we do need our faith in humanity restored in as many ways as possible.Please join Daily (w)rite on its Facebook Page in case you’d like to be heard by this community. If you liked this post, you can have biweekly posts delivered to your inbox: click the SUBSCRIBE VIA EMAIL button. (Feel free to share this post if you like it. You’ll find icons to re-blog it via WordPress and Blogger to the left of this post.)
Here on Daily (w)rite, as part of the guest post series, it is my absolute pleasure today to welcome Michael Dellert, author, editor, friend, who has imparted his nuggets of wisdom at this space before– here , here, and here. Today he talks about how writers can handle their limitations during rewrites:
One of the hardest things about the rewrite process is how it brings one face-to-face with one’s own limitations. It’s humbling. Hell, it’s downright scary.
By the middle of the process, I felt lost, overwhelmed. Like I’d taken on more than I could handle. I stared at scenes for days on end with my head in my hands: “What the hell am I trying to say here?” Imposter syndrome crept over me like an early winter’s night. Self-doubt nibbled at the corners of my confidence. “What made me think I could do this?”
And then I reminded myself: I’m not supposed to fully understand my own story. I’m supposed to be in over my head. I’m nothing but a channel for these characters, their situations, and all the images and ideas that come with them. And if these characters don’t feel like they’re in over their head, if the situations aren’t overwhelming, if the stakes aren’t life-and-death, then I’m not doing my job.
So I embraced my limitations. I grabbed them and held them tight, and I thanked my lucky stars for them. Without them, I’d have no idea what my characters were feeling. No idea if the situation was overwhelming.
If my story wasn’t daunting enough to give me pause, then it wasn’t daunting enough.
But how did I get past those limitations? How did I turn them around and put them to work?
Through inquiry. I asked questions of the characters, of their situations, of the images and ideas that surrounded them. Where do these feelings of insecurity and uncertainty and fear live in my story? From those questions, a coherent narrative emerged. I didn’t create it. It created itself.
How? It’s a mystery. It’s an act of faith. But not blind faith. Not faith in creative writing classes, and books on narrative and structure, and beta-readers and online writing gurus (Hi!). It’s faith in oneself. In the story one carries inside oneself. By embracing the mystery that guided me to write this story, and trusting it, I connected to the living story within myself, the story that wanted to be told.
I acknowledged my limitations and focused on the more technical aspects of the rewrite—tightening prose, clarifying sentences, banishing clichés and redundancies—and the story became clear to me in a deeper, more meaningful way.
So how did I do this? I made a list of my strengths and weaknesses as a writer. I didn’t judge them. I just noticed them.
I write good dialogue.
I write great action scenes.
I omit body language cues.
I neglect setting.
By acknowledging my limitations, I found a deeper understanding of my story. I focused on those weaknesses, and worked to overcome them. But I played to my strengths too. If that dialogue lacked action and body language cues, could I think of it like an action scene, a verbal sparring match? Could I introduce more setting without slowing the pace? By inquiring into the nature of my limitations and how to overcome them, I came to a deeper understanding of my story.
And as Albert Einstein once said, “Once we accept our limits, we go beyond them.”
Michael Dellert is an award-winning writer, editor, publishing consultant, and writing coach with a publishing career spanning 18 years. His poetry and short fiction have appeared in literary journals such as The Backporch Review, The Harbinger, Idiom, and Venture. His poetry has also appeared in the anthologies The Golden Treasury of Great Poems and Dance on the Horizon, and he is a two-time winner of the Golden Poet Award from World of Poetry Press. He is the author of the Heroic Fantasy adventures Hedge King in Winter, A Merchant’s Tale, and The Romance of Eowain. His fourth book, The Wedding of Eithne, was published in April 2017. He currently lives and works in the Greater New York City area as a freelance writer, editor, and publishing consultant.
If you’re a writer, do you remember your limitations while doing a rewrite? How do you cope with your insecurities? Are you a reader, a writer, or both? Do you read more short stories or novels? As a reader or writer, do you have questions for Michael Dellert? Michael will be giving away kindle copies of Romance of Eowain and Wedding of Eithne to two commenters.
This post was written for the IWSG. Thanks to Alex J. Cavanaughfor organizing and hosting theInsecure Writer’s Support Group (IWSG) every month! Go to the site to see the other participants. In this group we writers share tips, self-doubt, insecurities, and of course, discuss the act of writing. If you’re a writer and a blogger, go join rightaway!
I host the monthly We Are the World Blogfest: I’d like to invite you to join, if you haven’t as yet, to post the last Friday of each month a snippet of positive news that shows our essential, beautiful humanity.
Please join Daily (w)rite on its Facebook Page in case you’d like to be heard by this community. If you liked this post, you can have biweekly posts delivered to your inbox: click the SUBSCRIBE VIA EMAIL button. (Feel free to share this post if you like it. You’ll find icons to re-blog it via WordPress and Blogger to the left of this post.)
“Weddings in India are a grand affair in every possible way. However, these become a financial burden for several families who have limited means to spend on the occasion.
A Delhi-based non-profit, Goonj has taken up the responsibility to make sure that those people with a tiny wedding budget end up with almost everything they want. Goonj has been involved in collecting used wedding attires from urban cities, remodeling and distributing them in rural villages through the local panchayats. They recycle and use ‘mata ki chunni’ (used in bulks for religious ceremonies) to make lehengas for brides. While many discard those chunnis in the rivers and some give them away, Goonj urges and requests people to give them those Chunnis so that they can make wedding kits for people.”