Like the New Theme?

I’m trying to think of a word that isn’t revamp or makeover; words which strike gloom into the boots of every reader; anyway, whatever you want to call it, this blog is having one.  We’ve got a different theme called Penscratch and I’ve renamed it Sarada Gray to reflect the changing emphasis since I no longer write about yoga.  Now, I don’t expect you to get excited about this since this blog is about content not packaging; and I promise above all not to subject you to any surveys.  Surely everyone must be sick of surveys?  Every time I go on a website or fill out a form I’m asked to rate my experience: I swear to God that when I die I expect St Peter to be up there holding out a clipboard and a pen.  Please rate your life experience under the following categories….  Yeah, yeah, I appreciate that people are just trying to do a good job (or look as if they are) but there must be better ways of doing it than the infernal tick-box.

But I digress.  Sarada Gray, in case you didn’t know, is my pen-name.  If you don’t know where the name comes from and can’t be bothered to click on the link above, it happened like this.  In 1992 I was on a yoga retreat in Avila, coldest place on earth, at a convent in the mountains above Madrid.  The convent was basically a set of corridors open to the elements and the heating came on for half an hour a day, between 3 and 3.30 pm when I was usually taking a nap.  We got up at some ungodly hour to do meditation and at the start of the whole shebang we were invited to choose a ‘nombre espiritual’ – a spiritual name by which we would be known on the retreat.  This name should embody qualities which we wished to develop in ourselves.

I think it was that which inspired me more than anything in yoga – if you want to achieve something you should act as if you’re already there.  So I asked myself, where do I want to be?  The answer was of course, to be a writer, so I searched lists of gods and goddesses for suitable names and came up with Sarada.  Aka Saraswati, she is the goddess of creativity and wisdom (good combination) and is usually shown playing a veena, something like a sitar:

maa-saraswati-hd-wallpaper

Image removed on request

But believe it or not, it was years before I thought of using it as a pen-name.  For ages I played around with variations on my own name – Liza, Lisa, Beth… I knew I wanted to keep Gray but none of the variations seemed quite right; and then I had an epiphany.  Of course!  Use Sarada!  So there it is.  No-one else has a name like it; it has history and relevance and it sounds good.

So from now on this blog will be called Sarada Gray and soon it will have a new banner, courtesy of my talented son.

Now, on a scale of one to ten, how would you rate your experience of reading this post?

(Just kidding)

Kirk out

The Slush of Despond

Nobody in their right mind would ever want to be a writer.  Michael Caine once commented that when people told him they wanted to be an actor, what they wanted was the perceived glamour; the interviews, the attention, the fame, the cars and the money.  And the girls (or boys).  What they didn’t want was the actual job; the waiting, the wrangling, the endless rehearsing, the waiting, the bad cups of tea, the horrible hotels, the alienation.  So he said, ‘if you wanted to be an actor, you’d be one.  You’d be doing rep or pub theatre or working for a small am-dram company; anything you could, because it’d be in your blood.’  And he’s absolutely right.  I say the same thing (perhaps more tactfully) to would-be writers: if you want to be a writer, write – but if you just want to be famous and do interviews and book-signings and get prizes, there’s no way past the slog.  And oh, god, the endless rejections.

What nobody tells you – because nobody can tell you the length of a piece of string – is how long this period lasts.  In my experience, there is first of all a phase where you are finding your voice.  You may get published during this period if what you do coincides with what’s popular; and that can be good.  It can also be bad news, because you may get stuck there and never evolve.  Then there is a phase where you have found your voice and need to find your public.  That’s where I am right now.  I’ve found a sort of limited public, in that I’ve published a few things: I’ve also found a sort of private public in you guys who are kind enough to read and comment on what I put on here.  But I have yet to find my wider public.

Every time I go onto Everyday Fiction – a magazine which has published a couple of my short stories – I see that my latest offering is still waiting to be read.  This means that it is categorised as ‘slush’.  I do not like seeing my carefully-crafted work described as ‘slush’.  But what can you do?  Insist they recategorise it as ‘genius in waiting’?

I don’t know.  There seems no way round this problem.  You just have to keep going.

I’ll keep you posted on my progress through the Slush of Despond.

Kirk out