Thursday, July 28, 2011

Pick Up Phone, Buy House

Last night Barry and I bought a house in Charleston ... over the phone.

I'll return to regular posts on this blog--not to mention my writing schedule--in several weeks. Tomorrow we're driving from Ohio to Charleston to inspect the house and sign paperwork. We'll move over Labor Day weekend.

I'll try to post again next week. Until then, wish me luck!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Guest Post: The Review Girl

My love affair with blogging
By Komal Mansoor

Having a blog is like having your own diary – only it’s much more than that. You express what you want to, without any constraints or limitations and this gives you the freedom to customise your blog according to your needs and your requirements (personal and professional) and you share your ‘online diary’ with everyone. Unlike your private diary with a big lock, it’s public! If you are an author, you might want to use it for marketing your books or discussing different aspects of writing with fellow authors. If you are an avid book reader like me, you may want to read and review it, so others can also understand what the book is about and whether they should buy it or not. If you are into make-up and beauty, you would love to share about your cosmetic products. If you are a musician or a graphic designer, it can showcase your professional work and so on.

The best thing about the blog is it reflects you, your personality and it gives you the opportunity to be part of a community which has the same likes or dislikes, regardless of the fact that the people you interact with are from Ghana or from ‘sin city’ of Las Vegas. Thus, it gives you exposure to the world while maintaining your interests and professional demands. You can be yourself while connecting with the rest of the world. Bless you, World Wide Web for giving us the gift of blogging! Sitting at home, we can write, post and publish and gather comments and feedback in seconds! That is the power of blogging and definitely one of the major reasons why I blog!

My love affair with blogging started in 2006, it was because of a cover story on blogging, an assignment from my editor at “The Nation” (one of Pakistan’s biggest English newspapers). The result: I started chronicling my life on daily basis on my blog. Being an introvert, it gave me the perfect opportunity to connect with everyone without exposing myself too much. Most of all, it made me happy.

Every time I sat in front of my PC, and scribbled (typed), it gave me that adrenaline rush, that excitement of having my presence on internet. After many years, I still feel the same nervousness coupled with high levels of exhilaration as if I am one carefree teenager! Trust me, it is the best feeling in the whole wide world! It’s an addiction, you just can’t stop, once you are into it, you are a blogger for the rest of your life.

There were phases in which I did not write for months or wrote daily, or did away with my previous blog and opened new ones. Until now, I have created and demolished more than 5 blogs, each with a bit of new theme, and overall, posting more than 100 times. When I look back, I think they actually reflect my maturity level that comes with age and after passing through different phases of life. When I read them now, I laugh out loud because some of them are so funny or so idiotic (Ah! the pleasures of adolescence!) Some things which will either make me blush or feel bizarre about myself now. Gosh! This is so making me sound crazy. *laughs*

Now I have opened up a book blog (for the first time!) “The Review Girl”  which is a lot eclectic in nature. It focuses mainly on reviews of course, but not just books. I review music, movies, celebrities, rarely travel. Why I started this? Because after many years of rambling about my life, I felt I needed to mix and match my personal likes with my professional work, which is journalistic writing. Being a feature writer for more than a decade now and working for many English dailies and magazines in Pakistan, I wanted to have my own paper, more like a magazine. But since I am married now and my hubby’s odd working hours do not allow me to go for my full-time job, I decided to open my blog.

It is styled on the likes of an e-zine, offering reviews on fun stuff, some celeb gossip and author interviews. I am also including some useful articles on different aspects of writing which come under the umbrella of “guest posts”, so people not only find my blog entertaining but also informative and helpful. Though my desire to have my own print magazine still remains a fantasy, it somehow gets satisfied through my blog.

Thanks to all my lovely followers who have encouraged me so much in a short span of time. To show my appreciation, I am having my very first international “Giveaway” on my blog, open till 17th July. I am loving the whole concept and with so many entries already, I think it’s going to be awesome! Fingers crossed!

I love blogging because unlike newspapers, TV or other media, this does not hamper an artist to showcase his/her abilities with censorship and rules etc. If you are creative and know how to grasp attention of others, sky is the limit!
So tell me why do you blog?

About Komal:
Komal Mansoor has worked as a feature writer for “The Nation”, “The News” and many English monthly magazines as well as e-zines from Pakistan for many years. She loves to work behind the camera and has worked as an assistant director under a Delhi-based production house during her 4 years stay in India. She has wooed audiences with her chirpy voice and quirky style of presenting talk shows, music programmes as well as doing news-anchoring and voice-over on radio for a year, while working for a community radio station in West Yorkshire, UK. Her biggest dream is to become a television talk show host like Ellen and Oprah and travel around the world. She has a Masters Degree in Mass Communication from Kinnaird College, Lahore, Pakistan.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

The Essential Life

My horse-farm-with-no-horses is still on the market but Barry’s house sold yesterday, accelerating our move. The new date for the trek to South Carolina? August 25th.

We’re both in hyper-mode packing, sorting, organizing our respective children for return to college and, in Marguerite’s case, preparing her for transfer to a new high school in Charleston. We’re also scrambling to stay on top of professional duties.

Today I’ll wrap up the Q&A for a blog then march into the basement for yet another session of Serious Sorting. There are boxes everywhere, towering stacks for the Salvation Army and the local Goodwill. Other stacks are destined for nieces and nephews, many of whom now have children of their own and could use more Christmas ornaments and dishes, another couch or children’s board games.

Wading through the stuff is painful, like a sudden viewing at a funeral or an unexpected visit to the museum of one’s life.
Gone are the dinners for forty relatives prepared with my sisters in my oversized kitchen. The parties, with guests spilling across the acres, are reduced to memory. Once I sat on the back deck critiquing with two other writers and a ferocious sound rose from the front of the house, startling them both. Recognizing the sound, I leapt up from the table and dashed into the pasture with my critique partners at my heels. A hot air balloon had touched down and the owner—glad we weren’t upset by the intrusion—gladly gave us a ride.

In many ways, I’m packing up the heartache from a long-ago divorce and setting a new course for my family. I’m paring down to the essentials and carrying to South Carolina only what I need: the promise that my three older children will soon join me in our new city, the odds and ends Barry and Marguerite will want for our new home. I’m bringing my computer and the vision of writing novels in a Charleston park surrounded by blooms. I dream of strolling the beach at sunset with Barry, and watching my youngest daughter hone her creative instincts in a city brimming with art.

What is an essential life? It’s different for all of us. Yet even with the differences, some items tucked into our pockets are the same. A photo or a letter—the evidence of love. An address or a phone number, to keep one connected with the people left behind. And dreams, surely, of new beginnings.