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It's Monday in Mumbai!

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Nov. 19th, 2012 | 11:30 am

So about that culture shock…I always forget that it really does take me a few days to settle in to a new place. And my first two days in Mumbai were totally an exercise in WHAT DO YOU MEAN I HAVE NO HOT WATER and WHY IS MY APARTMENT SO DIRTY and TAKE A PICTURE IT WILL LAST LONGER.

But then I remembered that I actually really like bucket showers (fill a bucket from the cold tap, use a small plastic pitcher to scoop water over oneself, uses way less water in a country that needs it) and I got used to the dirt and practiced my “I’m looking around at my surroundings with such interest I can’t even see that you’re staring at me” look. Because in my neighborhood, Mulund East, I am the only white person around. And there’s no hiding it, even in traditional Indian dress, because I am six inches taller than all women and four inches taller than most men.

I also dove headfirst—almost-but-not-quite-literally—back into the Mumbai train system. The trick is to stand back enough for the initial pouring-off of passengers to disembark, and then shove your way forcefully onto the train. Nobody minds, and they’re all shoving back. As the train pulls out, it’s polite to reach out a hand and grab the elbow of anyone trying to run and jump into the moving car. In reverse, you crowd the open doorway when approaching your station, and whoever is closest to the exit jumps off while the train is still pulling into the platform. And I ride in the ladies-only car, which dramatically cuts down on sexual harassment for everyone.

However, not a lot of writing the past five days, and a lot of disorientation regarding Air France losing my bag (but, net positive, financing my first day’s shopping. That 100-euro replacement allowance goes a looooong way in India). Fortunately, the WriMo India group has online write-ins most nights 10-11PM, so I’m doubling down.


REJECTED!
No rejections this week, which is a bad sign—it means I haven’t sent out enough work. Maybe not hearing back from anyone I’ve pitched to kind of counts?


SCORED!
I love The Moth radio show—broadcast on National Public Radio, it’s true, first-person stories told live and without notes. As it happens, one of my former students is house manager for their monthly live StorySLAM in Chicago. Just like a poetry slam, the audience judges ten storytellers who are selected at random from those who sign up.

I told the true version of “The Temp,” and you can hear my performance here. If you’re interested, you can also compare it with the fictional version.

And I won! I won I won I won! Even better, since my primary purpose was to get my foot in The Moth’s door, the host and house manager liked my story enough to tell me they’d push it to the New York-based broadcast version of the show (not all StorySLAM winners are broadcast).

Now I’m excited to rewrite/re-structure some other personal experiences specifically as Moth stories.


OPPORTUNITY OF THE WEEK
Or rather, a whole ton of opportunities. Literary magazines generally publish short fiction, poetry, essays and flash fiction, as well as taking queries for book reviews. Here’s a list of the Top 50 Literary Magazines and links to all of them. It’s worth some time scouting through their sites, not only to see how to submit but also to see what’s being published in the literary world (most of them have a sample issue or at least a couple of pieces online).


ME ME ME ME ME: THIS WEEK’S SUBMISSION(S)
(Gulp.) Nothing. Only The Moth (see above).

Why?
Excuses “boyfriend in town”; excuses “packing”; excuses “travel”; excuses “internet only from 10-11PM”; excuses “culture shock”. Like, seriously, my landlord and I had to sneak into the apartment building across the street to go in the back door of the ground-floor convenience store because no food was being publicly sold anywhere due to the death of a political leader.

I’m less disturbed with myself about not submitting and more disturbed about not writing.

How?
It’s time to build a writing practice that is less dependent on a comfortable location and internet. I need to learn to write anywhere, anytime, anyhow (which, incidentally, I did during Idol, so I’m not sure what the problem is now). Any tips?

What?
I want to follow the NaNo practice of 1600-or-so words a day, and my own goal of at least one submission a week.

So it’s goal time. WHICH IS ADMITTING I HAVE A PROBLEM. HELLO MY NAME IS ALLISON AND I’M A LAZY WRITER.

On the up side, Saturday I ate a lavish buffet breakfast at a five-star hotel, then sat down and wrote this and yesterday’s essay, without accessing the internet and in a not-great chair. So that’s a start.


LINK OF THE WEEK
Fabulous and prolific playwright Lindsay Price explains how her non-traditional path to success has worked. Required reading for anyone who doesn’t feel like a “real” writer.


____________________________________________
Seriously, I need advice on how to build a writing practice that is not comfort-dependent.




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Comments {14}

Rowan

(no subject)

from: mzrowan
date: Nov. 19th, 2012 06:59 pm (UTC)
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Other possibly submission venue that just occurred to me -- the New York Times' Opinionator blog has a few series that features guest writers.

On writing: http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/category/draft/
On anxiety: http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/category/anxiety/
On living in New York City: http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/category/townies/

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whipchick

(no subject)

from: whipchick
date: Nov. 21st, 2012 05:52 am (UTC)
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Thank you!! can't wait to check these out.

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thanks...

from: anonymous
date: Nov. 19th, 2012 09:24 pm (UTC)
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For the shout out! The only reason I've gotten any thing done tthis month is notebooks. A pen and a small pad go with me everywhere and if I have five minutes then five minutes of writing happens. Yes it's a pain to transfer the notes but it gets done.

OK I'm a moron and can't figure out on my phone how to not make this post anonymous. It's Lindsay. I swear. ;)

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whipchick

Re: thanks...

from: whipchick
date: Nov. 20th, 2012 10:55 am (UTC)
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Thank you! That helped! I got about a page and a half done in the rickshaw this morning :)

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blink

(no subject)

from: yachiru
date: Nov. 19th, 2012 11:18 pm (UTC)
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I seriously want to steal this thing you do on my big girl domain. So hopeful and helpful.

There have been a couple of Moth stories that I have loved so hard. The one where the man robs a bank legally. ^^ The sad one where the comedian tells about losing his kid and having to do standup during it. A book can make you feel but there is nothing like hearing a crack in a man's voice as he talks about his dying daughter.

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whipchick

(no subject)

from: whipchick
date: Nov. 21st, 2012 06:25 am (UTC)
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Ooooo...I will look those up!

And steal away, please!!

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Andrea Blythe

(no subject)

from: blythe025
date: Nov. 19th, 2012 11:19 pm (UTC)
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Congrats on winning! That's awesome! I'll have to go back later and do the comparison. :)

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whipchick

(no subject)

from: whipchick
date: Nov. 21st, 2012 06:25 am (UTC)
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Thank you!!

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Laura, aka "Ro Arwen"

(no subject)

from: roina_arwen
date: Nov. 20th, 2012 05:04 am (UTC)
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I can't imagine the crowds in India, except from what I've seen on umpteen seasons of The Amazing Race, LOL. I've been to NYC quite a lot (I was raised on Long Island) but even their subways don't seem as crowded as those in India. How long will you be staying there?

Also, congrats on your StorySLAM-dunk. :)

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whipchick

(no subject)

from: whipchick
date: Nov. 21st, 2012 06:26 am (UTC)
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Thank you!!

Yeah, I've spent time here and in NYC and no, the subways are not as crowded :) Standard practice for male riders during rush hour is to cling to the doorway of the train, bodies outside, hands holding on barely, and ride in the open doorway (It's all aboveground tracks). Scary! The women's car is always less crowded than the men's.

I'm in Mumbai until Thursday morning, then northern India, then back here in December. Loving it :) Today I saw some Buddhist caves and the snack bar there was overrun with little golden monkeys.



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Tom Ramcigam

(no subject)

from: magicmarmot
date: Nov. 20th, 2012 05:20 am (UTC)
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I am not about to push you into a space of writing challenge, being in an exotic location worthy of a Bond film with a woman who can climb church towers with her inner thighs without waking the novices along the way, but if you were to connect with my latest sheepish bleating, there may be a seed of something fun there.

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whipchick

(no subject)

from: whipchick
date: Nov. 21st, 2012 06:26 am (UTC)
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You are more opaque than you think you are. Beautifully opaque, but non-transparent, nonetheless. Are you making me an offer?

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Tom Ramcigam

(no subject)

from: magicmarmot
date: Nov. 21st, 2012 04:09 pm (UTC)
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Yes, actually. The concept of where you are and what you do (well, one thing that you do anyway) just seems to lend itself to adventure.

Then again, I am still kinda shaky with writing.

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Epiphanyrun

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from: epiphanyrun
date: Nov. 24th, 2012 03:12 pm (UTC)
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In order to build a writing practice that is not comfort dependent, I recommend writing every day at the same time. If you make it seventeen days of writing without fail, you are on your way to developing a habit.

If I understand correctly, you know what it's like to do that with something on the outside compelling you, like LJ Idol. The trick is to do it, however long it takes, until it's reflex like eating or sleeping, e.g., you eat when you're hungry; you sleep when you're tired, except a daily, routine reflex, like going to bed at the same time every day.

Eventually, you get to the point where you no longer ask yourself if you feel like writing. It's just something you do every day, and whether you feel like it or not is irrelevant. It's just what you do.

I'm speaking from the perspective of someone who has exercised daily for thirty-nine months, without fail. I suspect the same principles apply.

Good luck!

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