Odour of Chrysanthemums

Today, I bought a bar of Mulberry Leaf and Chrysanthemum Soap between class on a whim. Coincidentally, today we’re reading an exerpt from D.H. Lawrence’s Odour of Chrysanthemums in class! I want to share it with you – the scene is set so vividly!

ORIGINAL STORY SOURCE HERE – http://homepage.ntlworld.com/chris.thorns/resources/ShortStory/Odour_of_Chrysanthemums.pdf

Below’s the little excerpt from class, I really want to keep reading! Maybe tonight I’ll revisit the link myself and read the rest 🙂

The small locomotive engine, Number 4, came clanking, stumbling down from Selston with seven full waggons. It appeared round the corner with loud threats of speed, but the colt that it startled from among the gorse, which still flickered indistinctly in the raw afternoon, outdistanced it at a canter. A woman, walking up the railway line to Underwood, drew back into the hedge, held her basket aside, and watched the footplate of the engine advancing. The trucks thumped heavily past, one by one, with slow inevitable movement, as she stood insignificantly trapped between the jolting black waggons and the hedge; then they curved away towards the coppice where the withered oak leaves dropped noiselessly, while the birds, pulling at the scarlet hips beside the track, made off into the dusk that had already crept into the spinney. In the open, the smoke from the engine sank and cleaved to the rough grass. The fields were dreary and forsaken, and in the marshy strip that led to the whimsey, a reedy pit-pond, the fowls had already abandoned their run among the alders, to roost in the tarred fowl-house. The pit-bank loomed up beyond the pond, flames like red sores licking its ashy sides, in the afternoon’s stagnant light. Just beyond rose the tapering chimneys and the clumsy black head-stocks of Brinsley Colliery. The two wheels were spinning fast up against the sky, and the winding-engine rapped out its little spasms. The miners were being turned up.

The engine whistled as it came into the wide bay of railway lines beside the colliery, where rows of trucks stood in harbour.

Miners, single, trailing and in groups, passed like shadows diverging home. At the edge of the ribbed level of sidings squat a low cottage, three steps down from the cinder track. A large bony vine clutched at the house, as if to claw down the tiled roof. Round the bricked yard grew a few wintry primroses. Beyond, the long garden sloped down to a bush-covered brook course. There were some twiggy apple trees, winter-crack trees, and ragged cabbages. Beside the path hung dishevelled pink chrysanthemums, like pink cloths hung on bushes. A woman came stooping out of the felt-covered fowl-house, half-way down the garden. She closed and padlocked the door, then drew herself erect, having brushed some bits from her white apron.

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Beginning My Novel

Getting started on a novel is probably the hardest part of writing. It is the same with most other pieces of work, of course, but with a novel being such a long and arduous undertaking, it is overwhelming to begin from scratch.

That is why I will not begin from scratch. I was floundering around, tossing ideas around and testing the waters. But I realized that the amount of research I would have to do in order to get a sense of my characters in all these outlandish plots was not feasible for a novel to be completed in a month.

So then I thought to myself that the one place I could look to for a wealth of knowledge was in my own past experiences. My own culture. Thank you, Rukmani, for making me see the error of my ways. I once asked you why you wrote in an Indian setting so often, and you told me quite simply, that it was because you were Indian. Something to that effect. At the time, I scoffed at my heritage and felt it to be too alienating to an American audience to write in that setting. However, now I realize that I would much rather write a novel in a familiar place because it will be better, than write something from a Point of View I cannot even begin to understand. It will be better.

I am trying to accept this. I am Indian. I was raised with very strong Indian values. I speak Hindi. Fluently. I am as much an Indian as I am American, though I was born on this soil and have lived here for many years. I have not forgotten that other country or its ways, and they come more naturally to me than trying to mimic the lives of families I have only seen from the outside and never experienced. I would have to live in a white girl’s shoes to do her story any justice.

So here we are, at a bit of a crossroads. I accept that my stories will be better when they call upon my roots rather than somebody else’s.

With that thought in mind, here is a beginning excerpt of my novel. I do not know if it will stay in the final draft or not, but the seeds of my story are here. It isn’t much; less than 400 words are posted here. But still, it is a start and I want to pursue the story that I see taking shape. Enjoy!

AS YET UNNAMED

Riya sat at the edge of her bed. Her dupatta covered her face and she was thoroughly nervous and unprepared for whatever the night held in store for her.

Any other day, she would have changed into comfortable clothes, rid her face of the layers of makeup, and crawled into the covers. But tonight, she didn’t know what to expect. She didn’t know if Arjun was even going to sleep on the bed with her. When they had agreed, they had never planned for this. In fact, she had pretended that the details didn’t exist, as if saying yes to their marriage because he seemed a decent enough man was enough for the deed to be done.

Unfortunately, Indian families didn’t work that way, and Riya had endured nearly a month of festivities before she arrived to the bed this night. There were rose petals strewn across the bed, and they formed the alphabets A and R in the middle. The king sized bed had been outfitted with a beautiful and richly-colored coverlet of mahogany and varying shades of taupe. It was resplendent with pillows and surrounded by a gauzy veil of sheer beige lace. There were candles on the bedside tables and the windowsills, and whole atmosphere screamed of romance.

She knew Arjun’s two younger sisters, Sonali and Pooja, were behind the stunt. As his younger sisters, it was customary that they decorate the bridal chamber and welcome their sister-in-law into her new home. The wedding had passed by in a blur and the ongoing celebration and dances left Riya bubbling with excitement. It had felt like somebody else’s wedding at times, and the constant merriment had made her forget that she didn’t really know him. It had made her forget and for that, she was grateful.

That is, she was grateful most of the time. Right now, she heard the hushed giggles behind the door and she sat there, properly veiled in all her bridal finery, as a hanged woman awaiting her fate. Once he walked through that door, she did not know what would happen. She wasn’t sure what she wanted more – the considerate rejection or the farce of seduction.

Summer Writing Plans

This post is going to give a brief update to my readers about upcoming changes/additions to the writing section of my blog. I’ll summarize quickly below, and you can continue reading if you want to see more details!

  • All entries regarding National Novel Writing Month will be categorized “Writing”, tagged “NNWM”
  • All entries with character journal related posts will be categorized “Writing”, tagged “character journals”
  • I’m collaborating with English major, friend, and recent graduate Scott Kelleyover the summer. These entries will consist first of character journals, but will include anything else we can collaborate and work on together. This could be art, one-shots, scenarios, short stories, vignettes, etc. These will be categorized “Writing”, tagged “character journal” and also whatever we end up naming our project. I’ll post separately about the project when we have named it. We will:
    • Create character journals for two unique characters. Fae is my character, Benjamin is his.
    • Try to sketch out what we see our characters like
    • Practice various character writing exercises. So dropping them into scenarios, etc.
    • Hopefully, by the end of the summer, we’ll have substantial character writing material, be really good at writing characters, and also have a substantial 50-100 page novella. Idk what page length for a novella is though. But something like that.
  • I’m picking 100 Tales back up, so you’ll see more of that this summer.

Earlier this year, my friend Melissa was blogging a lot about her character journals. I think she is (was?) taking a fiction writing class, and they spent a few weeks discussing how helpful character journals can be!

Well I read her posts about this a while ago [HERE and HERE] and wanted to try this out by myself. As I mentioned, I shall be participating in National Novel Writing Month this November (I grew up calling this Novel November) with my roommate Misha (We’re writing our own independent novels though) and also my administrative aide at work, Miss Mary. I shall refrain from posting her full name!) In order to prepare for that kind of dedication (1000 words per day for an entire month, wow) , I need to start getting in shape and begin writing more profusely! I also want to explore creating characters and get a head start on the kind of story I want to write. Hopefully, by the time I start writing my novel in November, I will already know my characters. Once I am intimate with them, weaving their life into a story will be easy. I am of the opinion that a good book is one where the reader can become the character. In order to do that, I need to be so comfortable that somebody could create a true-to-character human version of my written characters. You know what I mean? I want them to be so REAL to me that I can envision them interacting with the world the same way I can vividly and accurately imagine my best friend Nabila going to Starbucks to order a frappachino.

Tangent aside, I was busy with finals and LSAT and then the Blogging Challenge and couldn’t devote much more time to thinking about character journals. Well now things have slowed down and I have some time!

I’m looking forward to collaborating with Scott! That’ll be my summer writing project. Less intense than Poetry Paradise or Project Theme, but hopefully, just as fulfilling! I just need to come up with a catchy tag for this summer’s collaboration with Scott. Something with assonance, I think.

Woo, I’m excited! I get to work on my character writing!! I really need to experiment, because I think all of my characters end up…just being me. I need to learn how to draw from other sources of inspiration when creating characters, and how to give them their own unique voices instead of inserting my own dialogue into everybody’s mouth. Yeah seriously, they may have different characteristics and roles, but they’re mostly different me’s. I need them to be different them’s. That’s totally a distinction, don’t question it.

Melissa, if you read this, please suggest character writing books to me! I want to plan out some sort of schedule or format Scott and I can follow this summer. A set of exercises even.

I’m taking an Advanced Creative Writing Fiction Workshop next semester at school to complete my Creative Writing minor, so this summer project will whip me into shape and help me get back into the process of writing larger pieces. I’ve gotten totally lazy and just been writing Poetry because it’s quick and easy to pen emotions down into a poem. Obviously, a great poem needs much refinement, but for now, poetry has been easier. Well now, it’s time to switch back into fiction writing mode.

Thought you knew Pryanka? I know I’ve had an influx of new followers since the Blogging Honesty challenge. Well you guys are in for a treat, you get to see what I’m capable of writing!! I bet you didn’t know Pryanka liked writing so much, hm? Unless you stalked my blog back through time and saw that I love to write. My English major and Creative Writing minors are giveaways though, right? I love reading and writing. Someday, I hope to be published. I don’t want to make money off of it or anything. I just want to be published so I can say I was! It isn’t a career choice. But it sure as hell is one fun hobby.

Theme Two – A Disparaged Dialogue

Theme Two (PRYANKA):

Utter and complete agony. Desparity – a miniscule hope of salvation when, in reality, salvation is impossible to attain. Desperation. Fear like nothing you can ever imagine. Fear that is a million times worse than what you have imagined. Your theme this week is to relay the words of the condemned. If you’ve ever dreamt a dark story, here is your chance to write it.

Page Limit: Maximum of 5 pages on Microsoft Word. (Doublespaced, 1 inch margins, times new roman, etc etc)
Deadline: Thursday May 27, 2010 11:59 pm
Penalty: (For breaking rules, missing the deadline, etc) Your next livejournal entry must be a highly detailed and intelligently written narrative in which your main characters are a rainbow and a pile of poop.

Seriously..

Project Theme
Every week, Nabila or myself will post a theme upon which both of us must write an entry. Theme creation will be alternated between the both of us, and both are required to respond to the theme in a timely manner. The deadline will always be exactly seven (7) days after the theme is posted, but the restrictions and penalties are to be created at our discretion. "

Oh hi there!

Hi there! I’m welcoming myself into this quirky ol’ site called livejournal.
Yeah, I just used the word quirky. I’m weird like that! You can ask Nabila; she’ll concur (username: bannasundae). Then again, she’d probably be forced to agree, just because she made me join here to begin with!

I would write you all a longer entry, honestly, I would, but its past 1:30 am, and I don’t trust my coherency at this time of the morning!

Oh right, here are the basics though 🙂 I can’t mess these up (I’d hope not at least). My name’s Pryanka, and I am just amazing at making creative and original usernames. Please though, do note the sarcasm.

Oh thats right. I’ll be writing up a storm here as well, later. Perhaps I shall partake in Nabila’s one story update a week idea. It sounds like it’ll help me stop getting distracted from a storyline so easily!