Blank Pages Demand Filling

By ANDREW FLYNN, Managing Editor & Publisher

When I came into hosting and publishing a website last November that would provide its visitors with daily content, it was a moment in time where the ambition was to be a clear and concise voice amongst all the pap and horseshit that other sources of commentary dish out. I sit here at my laptop in the first hour of Leap Day and tip my hat to all of those involved, as we did a job superbly done.

The writers of The Daily Damn: THANK YOU. Each individual voice that took time out of their amazingly packed schedules to be courteous, be loud, be heard, and be eloquent…you did just this. Nothing makes an editor or a publisher more happy than when the correct words get verbalized from the right person, and then it all makes it to the eyes of the intended reader. It’s just orgasmic, quite seriously it is.

Writing allowed me to be a part of this collaborative effort, and it’s exactly that which now pulls me away from it. I’ve been hired for a writing job that is the most comprehensive and time-engrossing gig I’ve ever been offered. So I had to take it. Only a fool would decline a prestigious gig that even some writers try to get during their entire careers and lives, yet never attain. So that’s what I’m going to be doing for the immediate future.

Robert McKee stood in front of a classroom full of wannabe writers a few years ago in a lecture hall at Loyola Marymount University and jokingly scolded each of us for wanting to become a writer, as it is the hardest profession to do in all the history of man. I’m only 30 years old, so I can’t speak to the wisdom of that statement yet, but I do know this: writing can do for you exactly what you do for it. Should you put enough hours and sweat and angst and blood into it, results will follow shortly. Quite the opposite, if you sit in a dark apartment and toss your thinking tennis ball against a door for hours a day and get nothing on the blank page, you will ultimately have that: nothing. And higher blood pressure.

I’m not the smartest person who knows how to write. But I am a person who knows how to write. And I love writing more than I love a lot of things, and that even includes bacon. Writing does for me more than a thick strip of Applewood will ever do: it will allow me to use my brain correctly, it will allow me to sleep at night, it will eventually be a means to financial compensation, and it will allow every thought to be communicated as necessary.

Wordy as this all is, it has been one of the great joys of my life to administer The Daily Damn for you, my dear readers. I can only hope that the future projects to be worked on with great love and passion will also meet your eyes, and make you use your brain enough to generate thought, and perhaps even to make you smile.

And that’s my giving a final damn.

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From my heart to your eyes:

»The Writers Who Don’t Write

»An Open Letter to God

»The Breeding of Irreverence

»Running Up the Odometer

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The Creative Engine

By MOHANALAKSHMI RAJAKUMAR, Staff Writer

DOHA, QATAR — I quit my corporate job in June 2011 to devote more time to my writing.

In the eight months since, I’ve spent many Saturdays in the library (as well as other days, nights, and even more hours at the dining table which doubles as a desk) honing my craft, getting manuscripts ready for reader consumption. I made a publication schedule and have four e-books to show for sacrificing a full-time salary. Slowly but surely I’m figuring out the vendors I want to use – for an army of designers, editors, and marketing gurus underpin indie authors – and calibrating the Mohadoha process.

In the meantime, during the off-hours, I’m also exercising. Yes, you read that right. Amongst the competing demands of a toddler, husband, students from two universities, fiction, scholarship, and blogging, I’m making at least three hours a week to sweat, grunt, and generally tell the rest of it get lost for the span of 20 to 45 to 60 minutes.

Exercise doesn’t come naturally to me. After all, I’m Indian: think Gandhi as a kid with long hair, and blue, instead of wire-rimmed, glasses…and you have me most of my life. At least the part before I hit my late twenties and a job that had me over 80 sedentary hours at my desk a week. Five years and a baby later, the exercise started about twelve months ago as vanity, pure and simple. While the extremities (arms and legs) were still South Asian-skinny, the rest was not.

Now a little year past weekly workouts, my brain gets a fuzzy feeling on a week when I’ve done everything except let it take a break and give the muscles their turn. Almost like the feeling when I have gone more than one day without writing in my journal. While writing is good for my creative soul, exercise maintains the entire house that is me. I recognize this need for physicality a First World problem: if you’re walking five miles to get the water you need for the day, the likelihood of any spare pounds that need running off like a gerbil on a treadmill is very small.

Yet fitness goes beyond flashing abs no one wants to see on Facebook profile photos. More and more I’m learning about the need for physical as well as mental exertion.   A friend gave me Murakami’s What I Talk About When I Talk About Running. That’s right, he of the prolific, 800+page novels, runs every day. For at least ten miles. We don’t talk about this kind of discipline: the kind that means we look after ourselves as well as everyone else or even at the minimum our cars (which sooner or later get that oil change to keep running). As artists we compare ourselves to people like Hemingway (alcoholic) or Van Gogh (self mutilator) rather than marathon running Murakami.  Which legacy would you like to leave behind? Not just for your readers…but those who really knew you?

And that’s my giving a damn.

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Dr. Mohanalakshmi Rajakumar is a well-traveled scholar of literature and a freelance writer based in Qatar. She is a co-founder of the Maktaba project, a Children’s Library concept starting up in Doha, along with being one of the most reliable people you’ll ever have the pleasure of knowing in your life. Follow her on Twitter @moha_doha.

More from Mohana:

»That’s “Dr. Miss” to You

»A Rising Comic’s Manifesto

»Seeing But Not Seen

»On-Stage But Off-Camera

Tomorrow is the final edition (for now) of The Daily Damn! See you there, and thank you for reading all of these months!!

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