Solving a Who-Dun-It… Or Trying To

via Daily Prompt: Grasp

I just finished reading an old Agatha Christie who-dun-it.

I spent the last few hours, after all the characters were clearly delineated of course, pointing my imaginary finger at almost each one going, “Yep! You’re the murderer. I’m so freaking sure of it!” Well, that’s until the next character made a seemingly suspicious move like twitching his eyebrow in a dubious manner or something equally innocuous. Then, of course, he was the one I held responsible.

Finally, when the real culprit was revealed, my reaction was an obvious, “Well, of course, I knew it’d be him. I’d already said so, hadn’t I?” (Well, who would have the temerity to gainsay me within the depths of my head?)

As a writer, I’m quite accustomed to looking at a person and providing him/her with a make-believe family, a rich history, a sorrowful tale or a fascinating superpower. The ability to imagine is a prerequisite for any writer. However, that can be quite the handicap when one is trying to solve another writer’s murder mystery.

I was so busy providing  each character with a backstory and a reason for him/her to commit the murder, that I missed the opportunity to grasp the writer’s point of view. This was her world – a world and its inhabitants that she moulded amidst the chaos of hundreds of other ideas clamoring for attention. My preconceived notions and I were hindering her characters from doing what they were created to do – captivate and entertain. It didn’t take me long to see that I did that in real life too – letting my imagination run amok about people and incidents instead of grasping the Creator’s point of view about His people and His schemes.

Sigh! You live and learn, I guess! Anyway, I’ll be starting a new who-dun-it soon. I wonder if all this soul searching will help me enjoy my next book all the more or hinder my reading process.

Soul Search

(Never claimed to be an ace illustrator!)

Stay tuned for updates!


Pinning Originals Down

How does your mind work?

Mine is a bit weird, in that it likes to spend loads of time quietly ruminating and wondering about things best left alone. It appreciates new things thrown at it and can’t wait to dig its figurative fingers into them. It sometimes goes into hiding when it’s person has to have conversations with people she’s just met ( I hate it when it does that!). And yet, there is one time I trust it completely – when it comes to pinning a good thought down.

As a writer, one of my favorite past times is grabbing hold of a fleeting thought, peering at it with my mind’s eye, dissecting it to make sense of it, figuring out how it came to be and where it could go.

There are some thoughts that are a bit faded – they’re the ones that were directly inspired by someone else’s thoughts. They aren’t Originals any longer and yet some of them can still be re-worked to form an innovative original thought. (Plagiarism is a big NO-NO.)

However, my favorites are the shiny thoughts – the ones that radiate a newness of concept. These Originals are special. They touch my mind just as gently as the other thoughts do but once my mind has grabbed hold of these Originals, has understood what they could become, they evoke a sense of immediacy. My brain urges my fingers to dash maniacally upon the keyboard documenting the idea the Original thought suggested.

It’s crazy but, oh, so much fun. That moment when the Original has been birthed on the page, when the ache in my finally-resting fingers can be felt, when my brain sighs in contentment at a job well done – that moment is the epitome of bliss.

At least, that’s how it often works for me.

One-word prompt: (Original)

The View Through His Eyes

Now, be honest… really honest!

Isn’t there someone in your list of acquaintances or colleagues whom you dislike and, try as you might, you can’t really put your finger on the reason? You aren’t of the same wavelength, your conversations lack any zing whatsoever or some such excuse is what you rely on when you try to keep your exchanges to the barest minimum. And, what about all the people who have wronged you? Isn’t there a list of them and their words that you can bring to immediate recollection sometimes, much faster than… your spouse’s birthday, maybe?

Unfortunately, this is occasionally true for me too. (No, not the bit about finding it easier to remember my detractors over my husband’s birthday – I do remember the date! Seriously!)

Our creativity and imagination often display amazing results when we are faced with having to meet these people or have just completed an unsuccessful interaction with them. When faced with the former, our creativity concocts unparalleled ideas, never before seen in our professional or personal lives, that enable us to avoid the dreaded meeting. When faced with the latter, our imagination soothes our offended dignity by providing us with witty comebacks that, if we had managed to vocalize on time, would have totally decimated our detractors – or so we think.

Of course, our brain is so busy strategising in and following those moments that we hardly have the opportunity to recall our Lord’s command about loving our neighbors. We tend to forget that Jesus faced opposition both physical and verbal a hundred times worse than ours. And yet, He still spoke of and displayed love.

There is no doubt about the fact that we are, each one of us, spectacularly special to Him.

My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.” Psalm 139: 15

We were all given the same amount of attention and care when He wove us into creation. He breathed the same breath of life in each of us. He put together the road map of all of our lives – from birth to death. We are all, without exception, equally loved and equally adored by Him. Now, when we meet our detractors/the people we dislike next, if we can stop focusing on whatever irritates us about them and concentrate on how special to Him they are, we could see them the way He does and, as a result, arrive at the first step toward loving them.

It probably is best to stop trying to see them through the lens of our past experiences, and instead to view them through the lens of His presence. The longer we look at them the way He does, the easier it will be to love them the way He wants us to, don’t you think? 🙂

(One-word prompt: Zing!)

Mr Confusion and I

I’m the sort that likes to know what the plan is – in advance – in advance of advance, if possible.

These are some conversations (from my end) that would not be amiss in my home:

  • “We’re going on a trip? Cool! Let’s get the itinerary prepared. Uh… what do you mean you didn’t pick a location yet?”
  • “I’m NOT mumbling. I’m working out loudly in my head what to put together for supper. Well, obviously not tonight’s. I planned that last night. I’m planning for tomorrow’s right now.”

Yep, I belong to the prepare-in-advance-for-all-events group of people.

So when, as is quite common in life, things don’t go as planned and Confusion rides in on his black charger, let’s just say, I am not very pleased. Would you be when you know that he loves to throw things into absolute disarray? These are some silent conversations from his end that would not be amiss in my life.

  • “2 days for the deadline for your editing project? Well, that’s not good. If I hadn’t arrived now, I may have missed the deadline… okay, so what about getting your computer to suffer a momentary state of hibernation – just enough for you to miss the deadline?”
  • “Ready to get to the airport on time, are you? Tehehehe! How about trying to locate your ticket first.”

So, yeah, Confusion and I, not the best of friends. But you have to agree, he sure makes life interesting. Come on, think about it! How would we exercise our problem solving skills if he didn’t mess things up first? How would we know if we could handle stress, if he didn’t come along and induce it with some underhanded trick?

Talk about looking for the silver lining behind the dark cloud! Phew! It’s exhausting!

(Daily Prompt: Confused)

The Good Feast for the Brain

This is not one of our best traits, but is there anything humans enjoy more than sinking our teeth into and grabbing a tasty bite from a slice of juicy news? We want to know who got married, whose garden sprouted the best flowers this season, who flunked their exams, etc. And what do we do if there isn’t any local gossip to chew on?

Never fear when reality television is here! Just turn any one of the electronic devices on and, since reality television is all about catering to our gossip-obsessed taste buds, we can always find something to grab our attention in there.

But what’s wrong with feasting on some harmless reality television (and don’t forget digital media), you ask?

Nothing, really, if we make sure that the feasting is only occasional. Would we feed our children pastries all day every day? Or chocolates? They are good occasionally but we also know that good health comes from putting good food in the system.

So, then the question arises, what healthy bits of information are we feasting on daily. Are our brains fed foods that are beneficial – things that stretch our imagination and our senses to the maximum like reading things that make us feel proud of what humans have accomplished, going online to learn new languages or play crossword puzzles, writing articles just to get the creative juices flowing, etc – anything to shift from feasting on the entertaining to feasting on the beneficial.

And now that my creative juices have run amok for the last while, I guess I’ve done enough of the ‘beneficial feasting’ for the next couple of hours. Where’s my Facebook page and my Twitter? Did anyone post anything on Snapchat? Quick, what’s going on? 😛

(One-word Prompt: Feast)

Wishing for Summer

Summer is half a year and/or half the world away from me right now.

I live in the southern hemisphere and for those of us here, today is the winter solstice. I look out my window and see dark, grey skies carrying the weight of rain-filled clouds. I look down at myself and can barely hold back a grin at the number of layers I am clad in – my fingers and nose are the only parts of me that aren’t wrapped up… yet. That’s how cold it is today.

But I don’t need to wait half the year for summer to come around again nor do I have to get on a plane to reach a place in the throes of summer. I just need to put my over-worked imagination to good use again.

I can just shut my eyes and visualize in my head Summer’s vivid blue skies guiding to light the rich profusion of flowers in my neighbors’ gardens; I can watch my now lonely garden turn into temporary homes for birds of innumerable species; I can hear the noisy chatter ringing up in the trees and down in the burrows; I can slowly recall Summer flooding to life in multi-colour at the back of my shut eyelids.

And then I start to remember the downside of Summer – the hot, sweltering days and nights; the thirst that chases me down till I am ready to cry in surrender but my body lacks the fluids to implement my desire; the layer of skin that painfully protests my sun-exposed walk from the garage to the front door, etc. Yikes!

Hmm, I think I was under the influence of the dreaded syndrome called ‘Thegrassis greenerontheotherside’. My eyes are wide open now and I realize how much I enjoy this season that is Winter too.

So, Winter, good to have you here.

And Summer, see you soon!

(One-word prompt: Summer)

Watching the World Pass By

I have been travelling.

I’ve been up a mountain and at a beach through the course of the last 3 days and I have seen so much my head has still not processed all that my eyes have taken in. What a delightful predicament to be in!

I’ve seen rolling hills of vivid green, dotted with grazing cattle. I’ve seen lambs gambolling in large fields and I’ve seen llamas look up at our whizzing car with jaundiced eyes. I remember plastering my nose up against the window to watch when a pair of rambunctious kangaroos decided to escort us a few miles. Everywhere I looked all I saw was a land filled to the brim with life – flora and fauna.

And then, I remember driving through lands radiant in shades of browns and blacks. I saw carcasses from roadkill through my car window. We drove for ages without setting eyes on a single sign of obvious life. I saw, what appeared to be, a land devoid of life and inhabitants of any sort – until a pair of camouflaged birds took to the air.

I saw a sea frothing at the mouth and I saw the same sea gently lapping a sandy shore. I saw birds I’ve seen all my life and some whose colorful existence were a lovely surprise.

I saw a whole lot more this last weekend but what I retained from the trip was the impression that our God is an incomparable artist. What supreme imagination it must take to conjure up such opposing vistas in the head, and then to speak them into creation; to create beauty that touches not just the senses but also all the hidden recesses of the head and heart; to create hills and seas that can dwarf the cares of the viewers with the reminder that His magnificence is not limited.

“But ask the beasts, and they will teach you; the birds of the heavens, and they will tell you; or the bushes of the earth, and they will teach you; and the fish of the sea will declare to you. Who among all these does not know that the hand of the Lord has done this? In his hand is the life of every living thing and the breath of all mankind.”  Job 12:7-10

Reader, the God who created the mighty mountain that I saw also created that small flowering shrub outside your window. Whom I saw in the Aussie outback, you can see in your backyard because He made them all. It helped me put into perspective the worries my heart were carrying. How does one hold on to those when every living being in the vicinity is loudly declaring His power and presence?  🙂

“On the glorious splendor of your majesty, and on your wondrous works, I will meditate.”   Psalm 145:5


Photographers Rock!

‘A picture paints a thousand words.’ It really does!

It’s not the beautiful that usually catches my eye. It’s the different that usually does the job. And there’s nothing more beautiful or different in my eyes than the work of some talented photographers. You have the ability to stop people on their tracks, to appreciate and admire, and to feel a thousand other emotions with the timely capture of just one moment. What a talent!

I don’t have the gift many of you photographers are blessed with. I could’t record the moment I saw a huge, old, banyan tree – the one that had numerous roots growing from its branches reaching down like tentacles to grab at the closest patch of earth. I couldn’t convert to film the exact moment a stray beam of sunlight lit to brightness the first amber-hued leaf floating away from an autumn-struck tree in my backyard.

But, tell me, how do you all do it? You and I may be looking at the same scene but we aren’t seeing the same. It’s like your physical eyes see the present and then your mind’s eye is at work, seeing the absent. The blankness is not empty to you, but it’s the space where the next movement will occur. You see the pattern of the wind in the breeze tugging on your winter jacket, you notice the direction of the sun in the shadow accompanying you – you connect the dots in your head and, somehow, you anticipate the next step in this dance that nature is on and you are ready to have it sealed for eternity in your camera.

I haven’t learnt to anticipate the unknown. I haven’t learnt to appreciate the beauty of the absent and anticipate it… not yet. But I see you at work and then I see your work, and there is no shadow of doubt in my mind that you have an internal filter that makes you special to those of us who appreciate your work. I can write pages on what I saw and the readers will only understand one point of view – mine. They will comprehend my point of view, my feelings, my answers to solutions, etc – and either agree or disagree. But you – you can make people see more than just what you saw because most well-taken pictures are open-ended. People can make up their own stories to your pictures, their own psyches will provide their reactions with absolutely no hint from you. All I can say is, “Good job, guys!”

And before I sign out, honestly, how do you feel about selfies? Hey, I just had to know! It’s all about learning another’s point of view. It’s said to be educational. Hah! 😛

(Word-prompt: Blank)

Dream a Little Dream of ‘Eden’

I remember.

I remember waking to the first rays of the sun gently caressing the undulating leaves of the tall tree outside my window.

I remember looking around me with a smile and knowing it would accompany me all day. It just felt like one of those days.

I remember looking across the room at the new painting I had ensconced on the wall the previous night.

I remember walking up to it and sighing at the wonder of it. That painting was, to me, the best example of utopia.

Each brushstroke told a story. The colors and movements were so vivid and life-like, I could almost feel the breath of wind rushing from the trees and running into me. I was sure if I listened hard enough, I would hear the water gurgling its merry way down the hill. But the painting was more than just what the eye could see. I loved it for the promise it offered of the perfect world.

It spoke of a land where humans were innocent and free of evil designs. It conveyed the hope of a home we could yet achieve where chaos and terror didn’t reign supreme. It revealed a world where animals roamed free and weren’t hunted to extinction.  It created a dreamscape where the horizon was a stunning union of the earth and sky, and not one of smog-filled skies. It embodied the best of man and nature, and the anonymous artist had rightly named it ‘Eden’.

I remember lifting my hand up to feel the picture, and wishing I had the power to transport myself into it.

I remember feeling the rough patches of paint on the soft pads of my fingers.

I remember looking at the frame housing the painting and wondering how the wood came to bear so many scars. Did the frame have to win battles to protect this hidden Eden – this last reminder of what once was and could be if we, humans, just found our way again?

I remember feeling the prick of a sliver of wood from the frame…

And waking up!

I remember sitting up in my bed and looking eagerly out the window for that first ray of sun. All I saw was the struggling joy of a morning sky already dampened by the smoke of exhaust pipes.

I remember looking across the room to the wall holding up my painting. All I saw was an empty wall looking blankly back at me.

I remember my dream.

I write it down for you today. The painting may not have lived to see reality but the hope of it will exist as long as this word picture remains to speak of it. So, people, spread the word. Tell the world of what can be.

Remind them so that, even if not in our generation, the next one can see this dream of the perfect world come to fruition.

Remind them that long ago and far away a dreamer had a dream, and she dreamed of Eden.

(Word-prompt: Dream)

The Block

For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. – Newton’s third law

Everything works on the healthy alliance of opposing forces – good vs bad, health vs sickness, yin vs yang, etc. Everything since the dawn of time is the culmination of things working together and separately to balance each other out. Apparently, it is the happy marriage of opposites that makes the world go round.

However, if you are a writer, Newton’s third law may just not be your favorite. It sure isn’t mine. Would you like to know why? Well how about the very simple but infuriating fact that (thanks to the ‘equal and opposite reaction’ nonsense – yes, I am blaming Newton. So, sue me!), if you, as a writer, have days when your bright ideas overflow without ceasing, you will also have days when that just won’t be the case.

We, writers, live for those days when a whirlwind of ideas and thoughts abound within us fighting for place and recognition, and really rue those when we feel more like a sponge squeezed out and emptied of all brilliance. The muggle world calls it a writer’s block.


Writer’s block, anyone?

I don’t know about you but to me the absence of ideas is more than just a writer’s block. It is as cataclysmic as a black hole, one that opens up in the depths of my mind. It sucks up not just my creativity but also my ability to weave words together. All it leaves behind are the depressing memories of days when the Creative Force still stood strong and provided me with thoughts to share.

However, now that I think about it, if today is one of my bad days, and I am done with the lion’s share, then in accordance with Newton’s law, the equal and opposite reaction, i.e., the flow of creative ideas should be making a visit sometime soon.

But, soon after that the tide will turn again to cause a return of the block – oh, man! I should just leave this alone. This has been happening since the first writer walked the earth and will continue long after I am gone. The writer’s block is a burden all writers have had to bear and the saga will continue till the last writer on earth retires her writing chops. Who am I to fight it? I have other battles to wage and wars to plan (figuratively, people!).

(One-word prompt: Saga)