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1. Give your Muse a Break: Let Fear Fuel your Fiction

Do you wait for the muse to ignite your imagination?

And wait, and wait, and wait—

Then, consider fueling your fiction with an ever-ready  source of inspiration.


Our characters lead us places we’d rather not go—that’s the fear I’m talking about.

Of course, we don’t want to go down that road, but then why did we invent that character in the first place?

Forget the muse and tap into the energy of personal grief and failure—the emotionally honesty of our characters may depend upon it.

What do you fear about your story?

This is week-5 of my course, Don’t Get it Right, Get it Written, and some students seem hesitant to blitz that first draft. Is more instruction needed, or are they waiting for inspiration?

Waiting for the muse—waiting, waiting, waiting.

My muse may not give me the silent treatment, but I don’t count on her to make my fiction ring true. Not since the time a beta reader—unimpressed with my work-in-progress—asked me:

“PJ, what do you fear about your story?”

I retreated to a café with my notebook to reflect upon my story, my protagonist, a self-indulgent artist with a dying wife, a son with a nervous disorder, and a runaway daughter. Kids! What a responsibility. Parenthood, it’s a set up for failure. Sure, I struggled to raise my own child. Okay, we weren’t the best parents in the world. Did our own self-indulgences mess him up? I don’t know. Do we have to go there?

I had to go there.

Never mind what I thought my story was about, this was powerful fuel for the story that had to be (re)written.

(For the record, I don’t have a daughter, though I have a son who ran away. He was five when he packed his little red suitcase and marched as far as the sidewalk, where he stopped, then tromped back into the house, slammed the door, and said there were too many kidnappers out there. He’d leave in the morning. But I digress…)

The fuel that fires the engine

My novel, ROXY (Tradewind Books, 2009), features a 17-year-old heroine who travels to Greece to tend her estranged grandfather on his deathbed. The idea grew from the seed of compassion I felt for my own dying grandfather, whose mind “flickered like a fluorescent tube,” he said. He was in tears as he struggled to reason and remember.

Fear of death—there’s a bottomless tank of jet fuel.

SMOKE THAT THUNDERS (Thistledown Press, 1999), was inspired by a one-legged river man. As a hydrologist in Africa, I visited old Changwe every month at his river gauging station. When my contract expired he begged me not to go, even put it eloquently on paper. The letter spoke to me of innocence and goodwill and cruel fate. Whatever became of him?

My heart still breaks for old Changwe, who appears in my novel. His lifelong dream to become one with his river serves to fuel the story engine through the final act.

Writing should be risky

We enjoy forcing our protagonists to suffer their failures, but what about ourselves? I feel that a story should threaten the writer, somehow. Writing should be risky.

By tapping into our fears and our failures we can animate our fictional characters, and thereby fuel the story engine.

Leave the muse alone. She’s fickle, coming and going as she pleases. Nor does she know much about tough love.

Fear—there’s the mistress we should summon. She’s right here, right now, ever ready to fuel our fiction.

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2. Twitter Abusive Language

Twitter Abusive Language अगर आज की तारीख में कोई पूछे कि किससे डर लगता है तो मैं तो यही कहूंगी कि न प्यार न थप्पड से न ही किसी और चीज से डर लगता है डर लगता है तो बस टवीटर  पर जाने से… असल में,  टवीटर में भले ही 140 शब्द ही इस्तेमाल होते […]

The post Twitter Abusive Language appeared first on Monica Gupta.

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3. New Site!

Welcome to my new site, which I built myself using Headway Themes and WordPress. Please check back as I unveil a new shop and new artwork.

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4. All Stories Are Escape Stories

Great Escape“Every story is an escape story.”

I’ve taped that slogan to the wall of my work station.

It clarifies my character’s trajectory.

It helps my story “come true” because it acknowledges a fact of our human condition:

We are all escaping something.

That notion hijacked my brain after a decade of professionally assessing and writing film scripts. I found myself emotionally invested in characters who were trapped. And it remains the case in every good story I encounter.

Here’s what I continue to discover:

All the best protagonists are trapped within the gravity field of an idea, a relationship, or any situation that makes life not worth living. Naturally, they’re going to escape. Or die trying.

Three great escapes:

The Great Escape—Steve McQueen is a prisoner of Stalag Luft III. Of course, he escapes.

A Room with a View—Lucy Honeychurch, on holiday in Italy with her chaperone, tries to escape the company of man to whom she is unsuitably attracted.

In Casablanca, Humphrey Bogart is a prisoner of his self-pity. If he doesn’t put his broken heart behind him, audiences will demand their money back.

Three stories, three kinds of prison—a concrete jail, a relationship, a belief system.

Three kinds of escape dominate most story plots.

#1. Escaping a prison or place

Prison stories depict characters whose goal is a physical escape. O Brother Where Art Thou, for example. And the futuristic Escape from New York. And the current The Maze Runner.

Escape or die trying!—it’s box office gold.

In The Wizard of Oz, Dorothy yearns to escape Kansas for a place “where troubles melt like lemon drops.” Once she lands in Oz, the story is all about finding a way back home.

In Casablanca, which is essentially a love story, almost every character is preoccupied with escaping the Nazis by flying to Lisbon and onward to freedom in America.

The escape to greater freedom—it’s a condition of our human condition.

A more subtle and more common escape theme in fiction is…

#2. Escaping a Relationship

Love affair, job, family—these are relationships from which it’s never easy to walk away. A prison break is nothing compared to escaping some relationships.

Fatal Attraction depicts a happily married man who risks a one-night-stand. Big mistake. His partner in infidelity assumes a relationship from which our protagonist struggles to extricate himself. He’s lucky to escape with his life.

In the Booker Prize winning novel, Hotel du Lac, a bride on the way to her wedding instructs the taxi driver to “Keep going! Don’t stop. Pass the church! Whatever you do, keep driving!” She escapes the wrong man and goes into hiding. Close call!

Once again, in Casablanca, Bogey has escaped to the ends of the earth in hopes of never crossing paths with the woman who broke his heart. Who hasn’t felt the need to escape a relationship? Yikes! Let’s not even go there.

But the most subtle and most significant escape theme concerns…

#3. Escaping Oneself

From On the Waterfront, to Moonstruck, to Good Will Hunting, to Silver Linings Playbook, the protagonists are on a trajectory toward escaping their own self-destructive attitudes and beliefs. Casablanca! Again. The protagonist is engaged in all three escapes.

The hero’s redemption (and ultimate victory) hinges on their transcending their self-concern. And it rarely happens unless the writer brings the hero to the point of despair.

It’s another fact of life—and fiction:

“Desperation is the raw material of drastic change. Only those who can leave behind everything they have ever believed in can hope to escape.”  ~ William S. Burroughs

Why do we need to escape ourselves?

Because we are all liars. By necessity.

“We tell ourselves stories that can’t possibly be true, but believing those stories allows us to function. We know we’re not telling ourselves the whole truth but it works, so we embrace it.” ~ author, Seth Godin

The delusions that underpin our human condition—and our equally human yearning for the truth—drama depends on it.

It’s as if fiction exists to remind us that we are born to escape.

Born to escape.

If it’s true that we’re born to escape, it’s one of the juiciest facts of life. It may explain why we read and more importantly (for writers), why we are driven to write fiction in the first place.

This week, check it out for yourself—the films you watch and the novels you read—see if it’s not true that:


If you’re writing a story and creating a protagonist—can you identify the prison they’re trapped within? What kind of escape is he or she engaged in?

Any thoughts? Share them in the “Comments” below.

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5. William Shakespeare – Shakespeare 400 Anniversary

William Shakespeare – Shakespeare 400 Anniversary चाहे हमारा पाठयक्रम हो या सिनेमा जगत  … विलियम शेक्सपीयर हर दिल और हर वर्ग पर एक अलग ही पहचान बनाए हुए हैं .. शायद ही कोई होगा जो इस नाम से वाकिफ़ न हो. हॉलीवुड से लेकर बॉलीवुड तक शेक्सपीयर के किरदार अलग-अलग रूपों में जीवंत हुए. नॉक […]

The post William Shakespeare – Shakespeare 400 Anniversary appeared first on Monica Gupta.

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6. गर्मी का मौसम – गर्मा गर्म गर्मी

गर्मी का मौसम – गर्मा गर्म गर्मी आ गया गर्मी का मौसम और अपने साथ लाया गर्मा गर्म गर्मी … हालाकि इस साल अच्छी बारिश का अनुमान है पर गर्मी भी अपना रंग दिखा रही है … सभी डर रहे हैं इस गर्मी से … मौत तक सूर्य के तेज ताप से कांप गई है […]

The post गर्मी का मौसम – गर्मा गर्म गर्मी appeared first on Monica Gupta.

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7. सूखा, हैलीपैड , छिडकाव और पानी पर राजनीति

सूखा, हैलीपैड , छिडकाव और पानी पर राजनीति जल एक गम्भीर सकंट जहां एक ओर पानी के लिए  ट्रैन  पानी की दुर्दशा देखते हुए महाराष्ट्र रवाना हो रही हैं ताकि पानी की किल्लत न रहे वही दूसरी ओर जब नेता हैलीकाप्टर से जाते है तो छिडकाव करके हैलीपैड को सुरक्षित बनाया जाता है ताकि धूल […]

The post सूखा, हैलीपैड , छिडकाव और पानी पर राजनीति appeared first on Monica Gupta.

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8. Why the Hero Must Die

SS2D4 new coverI teach the “2-story” story.

Never mind the three-act structure, the best stories can be said to consist of two stories separated by a bottomless hole. Where the hero “dies.”

STORY ONE—from the opening line to the protagonist’s loss of faith in him/herself.

STORY TWO—the protagonist emerges from the hole armed with the moral authority to resolve the story.

THE HOLE—the heart of the story, where all is lost and all is gained. And where audiences, instinctively aware that principles and beliefs obscure our greatest happiness, swoon.

In the first of six classes I’m giving here in my seaside village of Gibsons, British Columbia, I asked the class to consume their fiction with an eye out for that blessed hole in the story. Films depict this essential story moment more obviously that novels. But to my surprise the novel I’m currently reading offered up one of the most graphic examples.

Ask the Dust, by John Fante.

Even you, Arturo, even you must die

The protagonist, young Arturo Bandini, a struggling writer in L.A., jeopardizes his happiness by treating other ethnics as badly as he was treated as an immigrant child in Colorado. After sexually mistreating a Jewish woman, his self-respect plummets. Listen as Arturo comes untethered from his own long-held beliefs about the way the world works:

“Then it came to me like crashing and thunder, like death and destruction. I walked away in fear… passing people who seemed strange and ghostly: the world seemed a myth, a transparent plane, and all things upon it were here for only a little while… We were going to die. Everybody was going to die. Even you, Arturo, even you must die.”

Arturo’s first thought is of death, corporeal death. But until that happens he’s stuck suffering the more painful loss of his belief system.

“Sick to my soul, I tried to face the ordeal of seeking forgiveness. From whom? What God? What Christ? They were myths I once believed, and now they were beliefs I felt were myths.”

A sick soul cannot fuel the organism. A person with no beliefs has no goal. Character, which is synonymous with plot, comes to a full stop.

End of Story-One.

“I said a prayer but it was dust in my mouth. No prayers. But there would be some changes made in my life. There would decency and gentleness from now on. This was the turning point. This was for me, a warning to Arturo Bandini.”

Story-Two begins. It’s a different protagonist who drives the story to its completion.

So, who else spotted a hole in a story this week?

Look! The story has a hole in it!

I have critics who insist that my so-called “story heart” presents nothing new, that I’m simply describing the well-known Act II crisis, which is true. There’s no need for me to stand on my soapbox and shout:

“Look!—there’s a hole in my story! And everything’s flowing into it!”

But, really, I do. In my opinion, its significance overshadows all other story elements. Look what’s getting sucked into that black hole:

The protagonist—disillusioned with the utter failure of his strategies, he falls off the time line into the hole. Really, he’s out of time. What a relief.

Ergo, the plot likewise disappears—bye, bye, for now.

The readers, there they go. Vicariously escaping the prison of narcissistic beliefs, they’re free at last. Every story is an escape story, and the hole is the portal to freedom. For readers, this is the payoff. But for real life interfering, this is where our deepest yearnings would lead. This is where drama delivers. This is where we get our money’s worth.

The writer, too, of course. There she goes, having spent how long loving her protagonist all the way to this dark heart. A writer lives for the moment she can deliver her hero to the hole in the story.

Arguably—I’m working on a proof—we writers are nourished daily by loving our fictional characters in this way.

In this week’s class we discuss “characters.”

Character as plot, as the story engine, and why the hero must die.

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9. Goodbye, Brooklyn! Hi, Queens, hiiiiiiii.

Forest Park, Early April

I’ve lived in Brooklyn since 1999, longer than I’ve lived anywhere else, even Miami. It’s been good in many ways but also difficult for me. City life tends to exacerbate my anxiety. I’ve missed living near wild green places.

I’m sure I’d have a much harder time leaving New York than I realize, but I’d be happy to give it a try, if not for Max. The city is his soul-home. He can’t imagine leaving the communities of artists and musicians he’s part of — living anywhere that doesn’t have a Stereographic Association, for instance. After all these years, he still endlessly and lovingly photographs the subway. Even the asphalt seems to nourish him. We’re both introverts, but we have different needs.

So we’re moving, as people sometimes do in this situation, pretty far out into Queens. We’ll still be on a subway line but also right next to Forest Park, a hilly stretch of land with hiking trails and tangles of trees, bordered by lots of cemeteries. I’m going to get a puppy. At least for now, we’re not getting a car. 

We don’t move for nine days, but: goodbye, Brooklyn! Thanks, and fare thee well. I’m sure I’ll still see you pretty often. Excited to get to know you, Queens.

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10. Paris Bookstore Favorites

A trip abroad =  the perfect opportunity to go book shopping!  While in Paris I spent an afternoon at a bookstore called “Chantelivre,” perusing their delightful collection of picture books and comics/graphic novels. (The latter category, “Bande Dessinée,” are hugely popular in France, for all ages.)

Picture Books on display at Chantelivre

Picture Books on display at Chantelivre

The same titles and names seem to dominate the shelves at my book stores at home, but in France I found lots of new treasures to discover. (There were a couple familiar faces: Mike Curato’s Little Elliot and Oliver Jeffers’ crayon books, and some classics like Max et les Maximonstres, a.k.a. Where the Wild Things Are. )

I was dazzled by this pop-up book by Anouck Boisrobert and Louis Rigaud, Dans la Foret du Paresseaux (In the Forest of the Sloth.)

Animated images of the book being opened to show a jungle scene

There's something magical about opening a pop-up book.

The complexity of the pop-up engineering was nicely balanced by the simple geometry of the illustrations. With just a few words, the text made me anxious for the plight of the sloth, who we watch napping as danger nears. The book shows the ravages of deforestation, but it is not without hope.

The saleswoman asked me the age of the child I was shopping for. I explained (slightly sheepishly) that I was just buying books for my own collection. She introduced me to a few French classics, including Gabrielle Vincent’s Ernest et Célestine series:

In this volume, Ernest and Celestine lose Simeon (the stuffed penguin) in the snow.

In this volume, Ernest and Célestine lose Siméon (the stuffed penguin) in the snow.

…And she also pointed out Benjamin Chaud’s Poupoupiadours, which combined whimsical and detailed illustrations with creative use of die cutting. Children could read this book again and again and see new things every time. There are several books in this series and they’re all pretty delightful.

Holy detail, Batman!

Holy detail, Batman!

I couldn’t resist Franz, Dora, La Petite Fille et sa Poupée by Didier Lévy and Tiziana Romanin for the charming story and elegant illustrations of Berlin in the 1920’s. Franz is none other than Franz Kafka, and the book tells the story of how a chance encounter in the park with a little girl who lost her doll brings a smile back to the girl’s face and helps the disillusioned writer rediscover the joy of creating.

Nice use of expressive line and just the right amount of detail

I enjoyed the expressive lines and restraint in the illustrations.

Then there was Le Merveilleux Dodu-Velu-Petit, by Beatrice Alemagna, which was like stepping directly into the weird and wacky imagination of our plucky little protagonist. What is a “Dodu-Velu-Petit,” you say? Why, it’s this pink creature (obviously!) It is described as, among other things, “hairy, inedible and extremely rare.” The creature’s many uses are shown on the page at right. (They translate as follows: pillow, scarf, decorative plant, personal masseur, incredible hat, treasure-collector, domestic help, living sculpture, and paintbrush.) I think this is actually an Italian book translated into French.

My favorite page, showing the many uses of the Dodu-Velu-Petit.

My favorite page, showing the many uses of the Dodu-Velu-Petit.

And let's not forget this page, where the butcher threatens the little girl with a bloody knife.

Then there's this fold-out page, where the butcher threatens the little girl with a bloody knife.

Among the Bande Dessinée, I particularly enjoyed Les Carnets de Cerise By Joris Chamblain and Aurélie Neyret for the way that the story alternated between standard comic book cells showing action and scrapbook-like pages showing the protagonist’s journal and sketches. The series follows the eponymous 11-year old, a curious aspiring novelist, on her various adventures. Digital illustrations can sometimes feel a little cold, but in this case the artist did a great job of adding detail and texture to bring the art to life.


I think these books would be a lot of fun for kids in the 8-12 range.

The only problem was finding enough space in the luggage to bring them all home.

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11. नाम बदलना कितना सार्थक – जब गुडगांव बना गुरुग्राम

नाम बदलना कितना सार्थक – जब गुडगांव बना गुरुग्राम जब से गुडगांव का नाम गुरुग्राम किया तो बहुत प्रतिक्रियाए आई खासतौर पर सोशल मीडिया पर मजेदार टवीट पढने को मिले . कुछ टवीट पर आधारित है ये कार्टून बडा प्रश्न यह है कि क्या वाकई में नाम बदलने से बदलाव आ जाएगा या हमे मिलकर […]

The post नाम बदलना कितना सार्थक – जब गुडगांव बना गुरुग्राम appeared first on Monica Gupta.

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12. हम, हमारा समाज और आस्था

हम, हमारा समाज और आस्था तृप्ति देसाई यानि भू माता ब्रिगेड की एक खबर ने फिर ध्यान आकर्षित किया. खबर है कि महा लक्ष्मी मंदिर में उन्हें प्रवेश करने से मना किया गया क्योकि उन्होने साडी नही पहनी हुई थी जबकि मंदिर में साडी पहन कर आने का ही निर्देश है .. शनि मंदिर मे […]

The post हम, हमारा समाज और आस्था appeared first on Monica Gupta.

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13. भारी स्कूल बैग, बचपन और बच्चे

भारी स्कूल बैग, बचपन और बच्चे भारी भारी स्कूल बस्ते पीठ पर लादे बच्चे जा रहे होते हैं तो एक दर्द सा उठता है कि आखिर हमारी शिक्षा प्रणाली मे सुधार क्यो नही आ पा रहा है… हर साल स्कूल वाले चाहे सरकारी हो या प्राईवेट दम्भ भरते हैं कि  बस्ते का वजन कम करेंगें […]

The post भारी स्कूल बैग, बचपन और बच्चे appeared first on Monica Gupta.

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14. So, You Think You Know What a Story Is

Reading a storyIf you do know, for God’s sake, tell me.

I’m teaching a course in the fine art of blitzing a 1st draft and it occurred to me that I ought to know what a story is.

A definition of story, I’ll start with that. A writer who knows exactly what a story is will write more efficiently and won’t waste time unnecessarily. Here for instance, a definition from a respected source.

Once upon a time, in such and such a place, something happened.”

Okay, true enough, sure, fine, as far as it goes. Next?

“A story is the journey someone goes on to sort out a problem.”

The experts have been arguing over story for a long, long time and this is the best they can come up with? Next.

“Stories are the flight simulators of human life.”

Stories, a practice for living? This is the conventional wisdom on this subject, and that’s reason enough to be suspicious. But no student of story should be caught dead buying into such a utilitarian rationale. How can anyone, much less a story-academic reduce the fiction experience to a training session? Training us to do what—navigate politely through a culture that’s underpinned largely by lies?

The same expert goes on to say:

The main virtue of fiction is that we have a rich experience and don’t die at the end.”

Wait a minute. I consume good fiction so I will die at the end. Don’t die at the end is just dead wrong. That the hero “dies,” and the reader, too—that’s the virtue of fiction. Who are these people who say, Don’t die? Fiction has been telling us since forever that no one grows up who doesn’t die and die and keep on dying to old and outmoded versions of themselves.

Stand by—I feel my own definition coming on—but first more from my research vault:

“A narrative deals with the vicissitudes of intention.”

I like this one, first of all because I know what vicissitudes means. Secondly, it suggests that what we want is going to backfire. “Desire—it carries us and crucifies us,” says author-philosopher, Muriel Barbery. There’s a gutsy definition of story. Next.

A story transforms the monster into a lover.

I found this as a reader’s comment to an online article about Scheherazade. “Monster to lover” defines the dynamic at the heart of most good stories. It’s the radical change of heart. Heroes leave their monstrous narcissisms behind. And the upshot looks for all the world like love.

Addicted to stories—why, why, why?

My 25-year study of fiction leaves me convinced that the conventional wisdom about story overlooks its essence. The same blind spot characterizes discussions of Why We Read.

For example: We read to escape a world of troubles. Excuse me? Since when are stories about anything but trouble? “Trouble is the universal grammar of stories,” says story aficionado, Jonathan Gottschall.

Ditto for Why We Write.” Here’s Gloria Steinem: “Writing is the only thing that when I do it, I don’t feel I should be doing something else.” I love that, but—why is that so? What is it about stories that has hooked us since the dawn of time?

What is it about us—our human condition—that is so addicted to stories? Perhaps I should begin the course with a definition of the human condition:

The human condition

A marvellously workable matrix of mental constructs, beliefs, delusions and lies—that’s the mind, that’s our culture, that’s us, that’s your average protagonist. In other words, the status quo of a fictional hero is a house of cards. We’re a precarious situation, and readers instinctively know it.

If you were to write a novel called The Valley of the Happy Nice People, readers would anticipate disaster. Probably be a best seller. Because the status quo is untenable, stories naturally depict characters on a journey toward something more real. Along the way, the blessed disillusionment occurs.

So, what is a story?

I’m working on it.

But it concerns characters trapped within the prison of their belief systems. And they escape the monstrosity of it. Or it’s tragic, and they don’t. Or they come to terms with their imprisonment, armed with a new and more all-embracing point of view.

In every case, the reader of the story is compelled by the hero’s trajectory toward the death of the false.

Not infrequently a protagonist will actually die in the aftermath of their awakening, and despite the death, audiences swoon.

Don’t die at the end? Who are these people who say don’t die?

They better come to my class. It starts tomorrow.

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15. अंधविश्वास , महिलाएं हमारा समाज और विवादित बयान

अंधविश्वास , महिलाएं हमारा समाज और विवादित बयान बात बहुत ज्यादा पुरानी भी नही है जब महिलाओं को तीन दिन तक अपने ही घर मॆं अछूत की तरह रहना पडता था . वो रसोई घर नही जा सकती थी किसी पूजा व अन्य कार्य में शामिल नही हो सकती थी पर धीरे धीरे समय बदला […]

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16. मोदी सरकार के दो साल – मेरे मन की बात

मोदी सरकार के दो साल – मेरे मन की बात दुखी मन की बात …. अच्छे दिन आने वाले है या मोदी लहर बहुत चली और सुनी भी .. पर हुआ क्या … ना तो अच्छे दिन  आए और न ही मोदी लहर ने सूकून दिया … !! जब भी देखो यही सुनने को मिला […]

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17. मोदी जी के विदेशी दौरे

मोदी जी के विदेशी दौरे और मेरे मन की बात Stand up …बच्चे खेल रहे थे चिडिया उड, पहाड उड … और मेरे मन में चल रहा था मोदी जी उड … यह सिर्फ इसलिए कि मोदी जी की विदेशी यात्राए बहुत हो गई या दूसरे शब्दों में कह सकते हैं कि मोदी जी उडते […]

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18. विश्व स्वास्थ्य दिवस और हमारा खानपान

विश्व स्वास्थ्य दिवस और हमारा खानपान हम अपने खान पान को लेकर जरा भी सजग नही है. महिलाओं मे खून की कमी होती जा रही है पर शरीर फूलता जा रहा है.. बच्चे कुपोषण के शिकार होते जा रहे है और युवा नशे की लत से अपना स्वास्थय खराब कर रहे हैं … मैं अपनी […]

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19. आत्महत्या, कारण और हमारा समाज

आत्महत्या, कारण और हमारा समाज कल्पना कीजिए कि आपको एक व्यक्ति का पता है कि वो बार बार आत्महत्या की बात कर रहा है उसे कैसे समझाएगें आप ?? असल में, हम टोकने में या बुराई करने में तो जुटे रहते हैं पर समाधान नही निकालते कि कैसे उसे समझाए कि वो अपना इरादा बदल […]

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20. May I Come In Madam?

 May I Come In Madam?  आज मिर्चा सोमा राठौड   हास्य धारावाहिकों की दुनिया में अपने  अलग अंदाज और वजनदार भूमिका लिए  अपनी  अलग पहचान बना चुकी है . लापता गंज, भाभी घर पर है या May I Come In Madam ? मे अपने अभिनय से सभी को गुदगुदा रही है. आमतौर पर महिलाएं अपना […]

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21. स्वच्छता अभियान और शौचालयों की भूमिका

स्वच्छता अभियान और शौचालयों की भूमिका ग्रामीण ही नही शहरों में भी स्वच्छता की दरकार !! जरुरत है मानसिकता बदलने की !! स्वच्छता की अलख जगाने की… !! अपने देश को साफ स्वच्छ रखने की… !! मैं और मेरी सहेली मणि बात कर ही रहे थे तभी मणि की पडोसन वहां से जा रही थी. […]

The post स्वच्छता अभियान और शौचालयों की भूमिका appeared first on Monica Gupta.

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22. सोशल मीडिया, वायरल होती पोस्ट और लाईक, कमेंटस का बाजार

ट्रैफिक, लाईक, कमेंटस का ट्रैफिक और वायरल होता सोशल मीडिया का बाजार E Media और मन की बात सोशल मीडिया,वायरल होती पोस्ट और लाईक, कमेंटस का बाजार Like  के लिए कुछ भी करेंगें.. हर रोज खबरे पढने या सुनने को मिलती रहती हैं कि सैल्फी छ्त से लेते हुए या समुंद्र के किनारे लेते या  बस […]

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23. शिमला और खूंखार बंदर

शिमला और खूंखार बंदर जो भी शिमला जाता है उसका सामना बंदरों से तो होता ही होता है… पहाड और बंदर यकीनन पर्याय ही तो है… जहां शहरी लोगों के लिए ये बंदर  आकर्षण का केंद्र बनते हैं वही कुछ देख कर डर के मारे चिल्लाने भी लगते है… और कुछ लोग  इनके कोप के […]

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24. समाज में मीडिया की भूमिका और आत्महत्या का बढता ग्राफ

समाज में मीडिया की भूमिका और आत्महत्या का बढता ग्राफ अचानक एक खबर ने हैरत में डाल दिया कि एक मशहूर टीवी अदाकारा प्रत्यूषा बनर्जी में आत्महत्या कर ली … बेशक दुखद खबर थी क्योकि टीवी धारावाहिक में सजीव अभिनय करने वाली अभिनेत्री का अचानक , बेसमय जाना अनेक प्रश्न छोड गया. वैसे आत्महत्या की […]

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25. From the Sketchbook: France

When I travel I love to write and sketch during the trip. It takes a bit of effort (and the co-operation of any fellow travelers, who are stuck for 20 minutes while I work) but the sketches capture details that the photographs miss, and the process forces me to take the time to genuinely observe the environment instead of rushing off to the next attraction.

Marée au Mont Saint Michel

Marée au Mont Saint Michel

Sketching Mont St Michel

Sketching the above scene of the tide coming in at Mont Saint Michel (just before it started to rain.)

These images are from a recent trip to France. Drawing outdoors poses exciting challenges, including distracting crowds of gawking tourists, unpredictable weather conditions, and constantly changing light. It started to rain part way through the above sketch of Mont Saint Michel, and I was forced to quit and finish it later. (I was also afraid I’d drop something off the cliff. It’s hard to tell from the photo  but that ledge is actually convex, so things kept wanting to roll off toward the ocean.)

One easy place to sketch is from your hotel window. Here’s my morning view of rooftops in the medieval heart of Blois, France:

Sketch of rooftops in Blois, France

Some artists have portable supplies like folding stools or lightweight easels so they can easily and comfortably paint anywhere. Maybe someday I’ll get my own fancy plein air equipment. For now, it looks like this:  (Notice how I am precariously balancing the palette on my knee. It’s a delicate setup.)

Sketching the Chateau de Chambord

Sketching the Chateau de Chambord. Photo by my patient husband, Jonathan.

Watercolor of the chateau de Chambord, Loire et Cher, France

My sketch of Chambord. I'm not sure that roof line could get any more complicated.

I’m consistently amazed at the difference in color between my sketches and photographs of the same subject. The photographs tend toward gray, with all color completely lost in the shadowy areas.

Les Faux de Verzy

Les Faux de Verzy: weird, genetic mutant trees in Champagne.

Incredibly, this is the same tree as above.

Incredibly, this is the same tree as above. Maybe I just have an overly colorful imagination?

I noticed so many details while I sketched: birds singing, bumblebees crawling into holes, clouds drifting by, the murmurings of conversations around me. Sometimes I was greeted by a stray cat or had a chat with a local or tourist who also had an interest in art. The sketches don’t always turn out as perfectly as paintings made in a studio, but they’re so much more interesting.

Do you sketch and paint while you travel? Share any tips you have in the comments!


St Malo. The tide changed drastically while I painted this.

Painting the walled city of St Malo

Painting the walled city of St Malo.

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