Am I Over YA Fiction?

 

In the past few years, I have read a few Young Adult (YA) novels. I enjoyed some of them. Many have a similar plot. Shy/timid/clumsy/not-so-pretty/innocent/if-pretty-doesn’t-know-she-is-pretty-girl falls for the most good-looking new guy at school/work. The boy falls for her too either right away or eventually. Then there are some plot twists. And all ends well in the end. A decent plot which is mostly  well-written works for me. Usually these stories incline towards being fairy-tale romances and for a while, it feels good to immerse in that world on a lazy evening.

But lately, I have started finding these stories a bit lame. Pardon my generalization. Some of them are really good and make sense. But for most,  I feel the need for a bit more depth with the feelings and emotions. Why did the characters fall in love? What did they see in each other that they thought he/she is the one? It NEEDS to be more than “The guy is so good-looking that I could just kill myself” and “he has a chiseled face, sharp deep blue eyes that cause butterflies the size of elephants in my stomach and a killer smile that melts away the ground beneath my feet”.

I don’t deny the role of attraction, passion and chemistry between the characters. That is definitely required and makes it romantic and out of the world. But it cannot and should not stop there. What made them fall for each other, other than the initial attraction? What are their redeeming qualities? Some might say why would you need such philosophical complications for light readings like YA fiction. But I think, since it is YA fiction, it is all the more important to sketch the characters beyond just their good looks. It is essential to lay proper emphasis on their good and bad qualities, nature and if possible, even habits in the storyline.

Why you ask? One prime reason is that a good chunk of the audience is teenage girls. They need to know and understand that a good-looking guy is not what love and life is all about. And heck, character of a person is much more important than just the good-looks. Many girls dream of a prince-charming, a knight in a shining armor. And many YA novels bolster this belief that a perfect love story means a damsel in distress being saved by a beautiful handsome stranger. It just begins and ends there. And this is what has started bothering me. I yearn for something more and yet want the stories to retain the teenage fun, problems and light-heartedness. (Maybe I have grown too old? Okay, I don’t want to go there right now 🙂 )

Overall, I think little more character depth will take the stories and the readers a long way. I still love the “good looking rich handsome young men who set the pulses racing”. I just want to know them a bit more than that.

 

 

When To Stop.

Sometimes we overdo things. Intentionally or unintentionally. Sometimes even with the best interests in our hearts, it is important to realize when to stop. Some of the things that (according to me and NOT in that order) fall under this category:

1) When you are giving advice.

2) Giving detailed instructions.

3) Lying about something.

4) Gossipping.

5) Crying.

6) Being in that place in your life when it seems you have no control over it and all you do is either bitch about it or feel depressed.

7) When it is not fun anymore.

8) When you have tried enough and it is still not working.

9) Talking about mindless things.

10) Talking on one topic for too long.

11) Fighting.

12) When you are caught up in the ‘overs’  – Over-thinking, Over-protecting, over-doing, over-eating, over-indulging, over-estimating, over-planning. You get the drift.

13) Wasting time and life.

14) Punishing.

15) Procrastinating.

16) Underestimating.

17) Abusing or getting abused.

18) Fearing.

19) Regretting.

20) Keeping silent esp over things important to you.

If you find yourself stuck in such patterns, take a break. Pull your mind away from it and analyze. Some things are trivial and some are life-changing. In either case, learn to stop yourself from doing what you are doing and take some time to think. Once you stop, you can decide whether you want to pick it back again or change your course or take some action. But it is important that you stop!

To Believe It Or Not?

[Random Ramblings]

Do you always see the truth? How do you know that whatever you are believing in is really true? How do you know that the facts and beliefs you have based certain things of your life on are true? Does that make the concept of truth subjective?

Sometimes truths and lies no longer remain absolutes. They become a matter of choice. A choice whether to consider something as true or false. Sometimes this choice doesn’t stem from a careful consideration of facts, logical deductions or contemplations. It boils down to what makes you comfortable or makes it easier to live. There could be many things in play when you treat it as a matter of choice. Trust, denial, hope, emotions, convenience, ignorance, blind faith and maybe many more. We make truth a choice because deep inside we know that it has the potential to hurt us or harm us.  Put us through pain. And we are not strong enough to take it. That is when we start choosing what we want to believe in and convince ourselves that we picked the right thing.  Almost proving that “ignorance is bliss”. But this bliss is temporary and shallow. It just tricks us into thinking that we are happy.  It might be pricking somewhere deep inside, raising a tiny voice. But we choose to ignore it. We try to put a band-aid on it and pretend everything is good and pleasant.

It takes courage to see the reality and acknowledge it. It requires us to overcome the fear of losing whatever it is at stake because of this truth and sometimes it is one of the hardest things to do in life. We need to remember that truth is not an opinion. It is not something that demands convincing. It is just there. Whether we see it or not. In my opinion, it is better to be unhappy knowing the truth than to be experiencing happiness derived from a lie. Yes, this is definitely easier said than done.

But in the end, it is still a choice that we all have to make once in a while. And there is no escape.

Venturing into Feminism

I have always felt very strongly for anything labelled as ‘women-issues’. I have many a times proudly claimed myself as a feminist. But not until recently have I found myself guilty of being stuck in so many gender-stereotypes that it was almost a revelation! Some of these stereotypes are so subtle, that it amazed me how did they manage to creep in and become a part of my thinking. And I think this is true for many women.

Have you hoped to find a man who is better than you in many many ways including intellectual and financial? It is natural for a person to want better things in life including a life-partner. But how many men really desire a life-partner who earns more than they do, who is intellectually superior than themselves? And yet, women would be wanting it and it is somewhat considered to be the right thing to want or desire. It is absolutely normal and kind of expected of a woman to project herself as the ‘supporting-role’ financially in the household.

Now assuming a different direction, we would have read numerous YA and fiction novels where the female protagonist is portrayed as a damsel in distress/shy/clumsy/lacking confidence and the absolutely good-looking guy would fall for her. But he would be very protective or controlling of her, say mean things to her (because apparently he is confused in his head that he probably loves her!), in some cases ‘do’ mean things to her, hurt her, threaten her, torment her, be jealous or be over-protective to the extent of stalking her and still she would stand by him and think of him as her prince charming. And accept it or not, we find it romantic and we fall for the whole good-looking prince charming crap who is almost a male-chauvinist in disguise! We fail to see that in all these situations in fiction, female character is shown as submissive, fragile  and a person lacking in self-worth and we are deluded into thinking that this is normal and expected.  Would we like the novel if the characters were reversed? If the male character was all clumsy and the female was the strong controlling one? We would think of the male character as a loser and a sissy and the female to be a bi***! If such a portrayal of a man is not acceptable, how does it become an acceptable portrayal of a woman?

These are just a couple of examples from the many. We function on many such stereotypes without even realizing them. It is ingrained in our system and almost indistinguishable. They might not hurt us in an apparent way, but they do hinder us in ways we do not realize. It is about time to recognize and free ourselves from the cobwebs of stereotypical thinking.

[I do not have answers and solutions to the questions that have arose in my mind. I will continue to explore and share my thoughts as I educate myself in feminism and women-issues.]

Two Ways


Now when I look back and think, I realize that I usually experience life in, more or less, two ways or phases. One is where I don’t have time to think and I keep going with the flow, getting things done in hand and in general just doing what is required to survive another day. Time flies by and it feels I just skipped decades and landed where I am now.

Then there are some days when I am living my life the other way – where I think, I reflect, connect with myself, take time to absorb things around me and make some conscious changes, make new goals and start working towards them. I am able to look at each day, experience it and feel the time.

These two ways keep alternating. Of course, the second way hands me more satisfaction in general. It makes me feel alive. Whenever the first way hits me, I don’t realize it in the beginning. Only when it has been too long of feeling lost and “going nowhere” is when I realize that I hit the ‘Fast-Track’. It feels like I was asleep for too long and have just woken up with a jolt! Then begins the effort of going back to way-2. Sometimes it takes weeks! Days pass by in haze and I start to feel helpless because I know where I want to be but I am not working towards it. And the piling to-do lists don’t help either.

The faster I come back to my way-2, the better I feel. I have also realized, that coming back to way-2 is NOT a matter of chance. It is not ‘it will happen when it will happen’. It has to be a conscious decision every time. Conscious decision of pushing back the demons that stop you from thinking and taking time out. Demons like procrastination, laziness, poor time management and many more. We all have excuses. We all are ‘too busy’. But no one will hand out your own time for your own self. One has to make it.

This means we need to live life consciously. Be conscious of the way we are spending each day. Yes, there will be times when life seems to be too chaotic and all this reconnecting with self stuff feels distant and impossible. But it is equally important to be conscious of this chaos and not being lost in it. It becomes important to be patient and yet at the same time striving to find the balance again. It is like being caught in a current but also constantly making efforts to swim to the shore. Yes, it is hard but it is necessary to prevent oneself from drowning and getting lost.

Many a lives are spent mindlessly and with regrets of not being able to do things more wisely and with more thought. Let’s try our best of not being one of ‘those’ lives!

 

 

Man Made Things

New-York-A-Room-with-a-View-Long-Exposure

Over the course of human history, man has invented and made myriads of things. Some of them were pure chance and some were carefully thought over, worked over, spent sleepless nights over and perfected over several years. Some have helped make his life convenient, comfortable and pleasurable. Some have caused distress, loss, fear and death. Yet some lie somewhere in between, depending on how you use them. Where does God lie? After all, God is a man-made thing!

How Prayers Change

I pray. Seldom. But I do. Today, my prayers caught my attention and left me wondering, what was I praying for a year ago from now? Five years ago? Ten years ago? What was my first prayer?

I could see how dramatically my prayers have changed over the years. I have seen them of various lengths and even more varied in what I was asking for. Wide elaborate list of things that I “want” to just simple Thank You’s to one-liners to even anger or resignation at times to pure silence. I have seen them changing in the meaning they hold for me. Prayers could totally reflect the growth of the person, the situations he/she is in and the way he/she is handling them. I wonder what is it that people ask for from the superior power and with what expectation? I think the baseline is happiness in some form but the way it is wanted is unique for each person. Are prayers the first step or the last? Do you pray when you have tried everything else and are just left with the option of prayers? Or do you begin with prayers hoping everything will go smoothly? Do you pray only when you are in a mess or do you pray all the time irrespective of the situation? How many times have you asked for something for someone else without any of your personal gain, sometimes even if it means you will lose? Do such prayers exist? Do prayers signify strength or weakness?

Sometimes, prayers are soothing. I believe, not because a divine power just showered a river of calmness upon you, but because you could focus on your inner self and realize what it is that you want or feel. And that inner-connection, even if for couple of minutes, brings a sense of warmth and peace. I feel prayers could be a way to understand your own self. After all, they are your own reflections. It could almost be like meditation, but instead of staying still in thoughts, you are focussing on your thoughts. An opportunity for introspection, connections and to be just yourself and talk to your own self through a medium we may call God or Divine Power. I agree that there are other ways to achieve the same end. Prayers could be one of them if they are used as a bridge from you to back to you.

Coming back to the changes, I wonder what will I be praying for ten years from now? Would I be praying at all? Lets see how it goes!

[I hope it is understood by now that by prayers I do not mean religious offerings and elaborate procedures. I just mean words. Words between you and anything/anyone you believe in. Or maybe there doesn’t have to be a receiver at the other end!]