Wednesday, August 28, 2013

On Writing

"There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed."
- Ernest Hemingway

This is the first sentence I've written all week.

I've always considered writing to be a sort of free therapy - something I would do at three in the morning when my thoughts are kaleidoscopic and I simply need clarity. It has always been a way for me to break down my thoughts and wrap my head around diverging perspectives, resulting in empathy at the very least.

I write in sprints, not marathons. I've noticed that most of what I do compares: if I start a painting/novel/project, it'll consume me until I finish, or I'll fall asleep and start something new when I wake. Obviously, there are exceptions, but this is how I seem to operate.

I know people who disagree with my methods, those who write regularly: those who have, through time, developed the strength to persist through dull days and frustrating writer's blocks. Hemingway's own endurance was tested in his first few years as an aspiring writer, as noted by Paula McLain in The Paris Wife. His struggling character states: "If I can write one sentence, simple and true every day, I'll be satisfied."

Thus, I felt it was necessary to question my methods.

When reading On Writing Well, I immediately found that clarity (literally, on the second page). William Zinsser recounted the differences between his views of writing, and the views of a surgeon/recent story-writer, Dr. Brock. While he argued for the necessity to write and rewrite, Dr. Brock believed in allowing a writer's words to come out naturally, and not be toyed with thereafter. When asked what one should do on days without much inspiration, Zinsser stated that writing is a craft, and a serious writer should stick to a daily schedule, like any other job. Dr. Brock, on the other hand, expressed that writing is an art, and if your uninspired mood affects your writing, simply put it down and come back to it later (what I generally do).

There isn't any "right" way to do such personal work. There are all kinds of writers and all kinds of methods, and the method that helps you say what you want to say is the right method for you... Out of it come the two most important qualities that this book will go in search of: humanity and warmth. Good writing has an aliveness that keeps the reader reading from one paragraph to the next, and it's not a question of gimmicks to "personalize" the author. It's a question of using the English language in a way that will achieve the greatest clarity and strength. Can such principles be taught? Maybe not. But most of them can be learned. 
- William Zinsser, On Writing Well

When approaching creative works such as writing/art/music/photography/design/etc., the most important asset you have is your own character. It can never be the same as anyone else's, and you can't have it "fixed" with plastic surgery. Your methods, whatever they may be, must serve to reflect you in all of your human-ness, so that whomever is put in front of your work, may also be touched by it. I don't question my methods anymore.

(Top photo by weheartit)

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Friday, August 9, 2013

Have a glamorous weekend.

Oh, this makes me wish the world was in black & white. 

(Photo of Edie Sedgwick by Andy Warhol) 

Thursday, August 8, 2013

My new backpack is a chameleon.

Over the past few days, I've had the most insignificant dilemma of my college career - on whether I should buy the backpack that appeases my kiddish love for color, or a clone of my current black backpack (aka partner in crime). I feel like we're at the age where we're slowly outgrowing silly kiddish desires, whether they be of backpack colors or simple pleasures like running outside for ice cream when the truck's around the corner. Lately, I've been catching myself saying, "oh, this is more practical" or "I want to, but work/school/tired/blah."

For me, this is just not okay. Can we just think for a second... about whether we're getting that second back? Can we ask ourselves whether in the future, we'll get to be rash and irresponsible and have fun through it all, the way we so delightfully can right now? It's possible that we will, but it's probable that we won't.

There are too many aspects of life that are just mediocre, and I can feel that list growing by the day. My new goal, inspired by some friends on Twitter, is to take something different each day that I ordinarily find unexceptional, and step it up a notch in excitement.

So, it starts with my most unpleasant item - the sack that has carried all of my burdens over the past few years. If you want to experiment this new mentality with me, I want to hear about it! Shoot me a text/email/whatever. I think I've made it pretty clear how reachable I am. :)

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

This just might be my favorite picture ever...

Picasso once said, "All children are artists. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up." Could schooling be the cause?

P.S. Check out this Picasso Head Morph Notepad among other quirky things.

(Photo of Picasso and his son Claude via A Cup of Jo, by Robert Capa)

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

What are you juggling?

Bryant Park in the summer is so lively, and being able to witness New York's diverse crowds coming together to play always leaves me feeling enchanted in a sense. I captured this shot of a group of people learning to juggle from each other today, because I took it as a statement of the magnitude to which we rely on each other to help develop our skills, whether it be in juggling or organic chemistry. I watched as people dropped things, picked themselves back up, noticed others succeeding, and tried to imitate behavior.

So what are you juggling today? Is it work, or family, or friends, or school, or something else you want to get off your chest? I'm juggling a few things: 1) finding the time to write/read each day to better articulate my thoughts, 2) spending time with my family, knowing that I'll have to leave for school soon, 3) learning to actually ACT on my ideas/thoughts rather than having them accumulate and lose value, and 4) remembering to enjoy the summer before it flies by before my eyes.

I'm sharing all of this specifically to point out one of my major intentions with this blog: to create an open exchange of ideas that either agree with, challenge, or assist in my own thought process. With that said, I'd love to hear your thoughts - on anything I've written thus far, via any mode of communication. I'm doing all that I can to become a better person, and I need your help. 

P.S. the idea can always be reversed. If you have an issue, or even just something you would like to improve upon, talk it out, and learn from people. If you think I can help, contact me via FacebookTwitter, or email me at I can't stress how often I, among others, have been too proud to ask for direction, when it could have saved me a boatload of time and frustration. Let's be better about this. 

Monday, August 5, 2013

The Best Career Advice I've Gotten

University of Michigan Law Library
A few days ago, I ran into an old friend who shared with me her two cents for undergrads starting (or hoping to start) a career in law. However, her words proved to be a statement (in my mind) towards starting any career. Here's what she told me:

1) Compete with yourself (only). 
Sometimes in college, we are surrounded by overachievers (or underachievers, for that matter) and lose a grip of ourselves among all of the competition (or lack thereof). Her advice was to work hard, but compete with yourself, instead of anyone else. Don't stress yourself out worrying about what other people are working on, and don't take it easy when you know you should be focused. Solid advice, and something most of us know (but often forget).

2) Do study what you love. 
I'll admit, over the past year, I have been guilty of thinking: "Which major would sound the smartest/look the best on my résumé?" I know I'm not the only one who has had this thought, because it's natural to be judgmental of ourselves in the light of others. This piece of advice was unique because it answered why we should do this, from the eyes of a job recruiter/interviewer. We should follow our passions specifically because we should have an urge to always talk about what we're doing. We should be excited about everything. What sets you apart from other people interviewing is the spark in your eyes that invites open conversation, or that fascinating thing you learned that changed your life.

3) Do try new things.
It doesn't have to be something related to your area of study, or even academic at all. She urged me to join something random and fun, like a culinary club (if you like food - but who doesn't?), a cultural team... even ballroom dancing! Preferably something through which you can meet awesome people or travel. Treat your life like a story, and be the best story you can be. Despite whatever career path you are pursuing, knowing people - and more importantly having them retain their interest in you - is key towards opening doors to opportunity. When interviewing, creating relationships, or networking with new people, be the best story you can possibly be.

In college, it's normal to change majors or ponder career paths before settling your heart on something, and all of this is important for self-discovery/betterment. I took these three points to heart, not only as advice on how to look like a good applicant in the eyes of a recruiter/interviewer, but also advice on how to do the best for myself by discovering the best about myself, each and every day.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Happy Friendship Day.

Have you heard of Friendship Day? It's a big holiday in India (among other countries), and I remember buying bracelets or ribbons to tie on my friends' wrists as a kid visiting India during the summers. I think we could all benefit from a day like this - especially when times get busy and we forget the people who have touched our lives so greatly. Be sure to hug someone you care about today. 

(Photo via Tumblr)