Humanity’s fleeting nature

Saturday afternoon I went to the Glenstone Art Gallery (http://www.glenstone.org/) in Potomac MD. As I walked through the collection by Peter Fischli and David Weiss, I was struck by the variety of the pieces. While I’m not sure what the artists intended their audience to take away, the collection made me think that it represented human nature – fleeting, sometimes random, and always many things at once.

The first room was filled with a series of sculptures made of unfired clay and charred rubber. Two of the pieces that I remember in particular were Happy Monks, where four monks sat together drinking, and Peanuts. The peanut shells looked so real I was tempted to pick one up and crack it open to eat it (I guess I was hungry).

The next room contained a collection of photographs. Each one was made of some kind of balancing act. A wine bottle holding a cheese grater holding up a cucumber which connected to a hanger. Somehow all of these pieces stood up long enough for them to take the picture. The theme of this balancing act echoed throughout the room. This resonates with me immensely as I consider how many things we are each juggling at the same time. It’s something of a miracle that we manage to keep most of the balls in the air.

From there we moved on into a workshop that the artists had constructed entirely from polyurethane foam. The items included a can of Red Bull, several wooden planks, and a full set of tools. Each of these was set up so that they actually looked real. I was so impressed but as I took a step back, I started to consider the series of what I had seen.

The next room featured a table display of over 2000 photos stretching off into the distance. Cities, beaches, mountains, people. The “sculpture” stretched off into the distance like a road that you would follow over an entire lifetime.

One after the other, I felt like the rooms opened a window on  human nature. We have fleeting thoughts that often do not connect – from peanuts to happy monks. Like unfired clay, those thoughts are short lived. To go about our daily lives we are trying to pull off a constant balancing act as depicted in the photos from the second room. Our minds are cluttered like the workshop the artists’ recreated. And finally our lives stretch on into the distance. What we remember from individual moments is often in random snippets. We tend not to remember every part of a moment or place at once, but separate triggers bring different aspects to mind.

Walking through the exhibit at Glenstone offered me an outside perspective on human nature. What are your thoughts and responses? I would love to hear your perspectives.

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Learn more about me at my website www.pujaguha.com.
Sign up for my newsletter for a free ebook, contests and more! http://bitly.com/1sIlG3h

My first novel AHRIMAN: THE SPIRIT OF DESTRUCTION (Book I of The Ahriman Legacy) is available as an ebook at all major retailers and a paperback at Amazon.com. http://amzn.to/1rJjjb0.

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Review of DOCTOR FAUSTUS by Thomas Mann

DOCTOR FAUSTUS by Thomas Mann is available on Amazon at http://amzn.to/1rh3YiU.

This book is dense and not the fastest read in the world, but it is worth getting through. With his portrayal of the lead character, Mann makes such a great commentary on human nature. It isn’t always pretty, but it’s real and honest. I reread some of his passages over and over again because I couldn’t get enough of them. Looking forward to reading more of his books.

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Learn more about me at my website www.pujaguha.com.
Sign up for my newsletter for a free ebook, contests and more! http://bitly.com/1sIlG3h

“Failure can only be self-declared”

Last weekend I was lucky enough to be present for a keynote speech by John Gilstrap, a NY Times Bestselling novelist at the C3 Conference.

He described his writing career – how he progressed from journalist to safety engineer and then finally to full time writer. His career skyrocketed until he suffered a number of setbacks a few years later. He found himself in a dark place. He struggled as the publishing industry gave up on him, but he never gave up on himself. Step by step – or rather book by book – he came back from it.

He ended his speech with a declaration. No one else can proclaim that we have failed – however we define it.

As a society, John pointed out that we tout the exceptions — the Brad Pitts and the John Grishams, while we tell the dreamers who seek to become them that they will fail. Perhaps because we are afraid of failure or taking the risk ourselves. When we venture down the path, others are only too quick to label us a failure.

Only when we let that negative emotion seep into our own self-worth do we really become a failure. People will always seek to criticize or point out what we’ve done wrong. We should try to learn as much as we can from their criticisms and throw out the rest. When we seek out our goals we do so for our own reasons – for our own validation. Receiving it from others can be validating, but  we cannot depend on it. Validation from others can be quick to disappear if things start to go downhill.  The only way to withstand it is to rely on internal validation.

Before publishing my first novel, a number of my close friends pointed out the risks associated with becoming a writer. How would I earn enough of an income? Would I be one of the many aspiring writers who never actually finish their first book? The questions they asked me go on and on. These were people that wanted the best for me – they just didn’t want to see me suffer by taking a more risky path. Now that I have published, it’s much easier for them to support me since I already figured out many of those answers. If I’d let their opinions sway me, I would never have made it this far. While I still have a long way to go, I’m in the arena with my writing.

I was deeply moved by what John said about failure. I’m sure that it will resonate with me many times through my writing career. I hope that it serves as a reminder for many of you as you go through the inevitable ups and downs of any professional endeavor.

I would love to hear from all of you. What are your thoughts on failure?  On taking risks?

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Learn more about me at my website www.pujaguha.com.
Sign up for my newsletter for a free ebook, contests and more! http://bitly.com/1sIlG3h

My first novel AHRIMAN: THE SPIRIT OF DESTRUCTION (Book I of The Ahriman Legacy) is available as an ebook at all major retailers and a paperback at Amazon.com. http://amzn.to/1rJjjb0.

We are not alone

I spent the weekend at the Creatures, Crimes, and Creativity (C3) Convention where I met a large group of authors at different stages in their writing careers. We had a great time together – discussing how to write snappy dialogue, hearing how we each got into writing, and learning from each other. The most important thesis that came out of the weekend for me was that we are not alone. 

Every one of us faces some of the same struggles. How should we juggle our time between family, financial and creative obligations? How can we continuously strive to improve our craft? How can we move forward when our worries about the the future may paralyze us?

Depending on circumstances, we will each cope with these challenges in a different way. That’s natural of course. Being able to lean on each other and learn from the total set of experiences offers a valuable asset though. I am grateful for how open the authors that I met are about the struggles that they have faced. I’m also even more grateful that I was able to offer some of them wisdom from my own experience. It feels gratifying to know that my experience can help other authors moving forward with their careers.  No one outside of the writing community can understand how my characters talk to me and propel a story forward. The fact that we can be collectively invested in each others’ success is something that I will continue to be appreciative of for the rest of my life.

The particulars of how to build snappy dialogue and create interesting characters may not be relevant outside of the writing community but the ability to lean on each other certainly is. I would love to hear about your experiences from other industries. I can only hope that they show the same level of solidarity that I saw this weekend. When someone else succeeds, our own success is not mutually exclusive. We should try to remember that when our more competitive spirits come out to play.

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Learn more about me at my website www.pujaguha.com.
Sign up for my newsletter for a free ebook, contests and more! http://bitly.com/1sIlG3h

My first novel AHRIMAN: THE SPIRIT OF DESTRUCTION (Book I of The Ahriman Legacy) is available as an ebook at all major retailers and a paperback at Amazon.com. http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00L1ISEUS.

Author Brad Parks to appear at the C3 Convention

Check out this press release on the appearance of Brad Parks at the upcoming Creatures, Crimes and Creativity (C3) writing convention. http://prlog.org/12373415

I’m looking forward to meeting him this weekend!

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Learn more about me at my website www.pujaguha.com.
Sign up for my newsletter for a free ebook, contests and more!

My first novel AHRIMAN: THE SPIRIT OF DESTRUCTION (Book I of The Ahriman Legacy) is available as an ebook at all major retailers and a paperback at Amazon.com. http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00L1ISEUS.

Review of CHILDREN OF PARANOIA by Trevor Shane

CHILDREN OF PARANOIA by Trevor Shane is available on Amazon at http://amzn.to/1xdyTAh.

I’m not normally a fan of apocalyptic fiction, but I loved this book. From the minute that I started it, I didn’t want to put the book down. The author Trevor Shane weaves a really interesting writing style in with a very unique plot that had me at the edge of my seat. As soon as I finished the book, I picked up number two in the series!

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Learn more about me at my website www.pujaguha.com.
Sign up for my newsletter for a free ebook, contests and more!