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Things from the fire

A man on a shooting trip got lost in the jungle. The man looked for a clue to his whereabouts, but the jungle was thick and the trees looked all the same to him. Soon it grew dark. The man decided to camp for the night. By a clearing near a stream, he set down the bag on his shoulders and his gadgets. He cleaned the ground and gathered firewood. When the moon rose in the sky and fireflies flirted with the darkness, he lit a fire.

It was a long night, made longer. A mist hung above the trees, a white, loamy curtain floating in the air chilling the air around. The jungle slowly filled with the sounds of animals. The man was not afraid. He cooked himself food and rested. The fire burned bright in the night.

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Why 2014 is going to be better

It is dark outside. The sun has set for the last time in 2013. A gentle wind is blowing. The moon is a distant light, its brightness blighted by dark clouds. Another year is about to end in a few hours. Time taking another step into the future. Today someone dumped a man in front of our house. The man is in his mid thirties, drugged, with eyes puffed and swollen shut. There are blisters on his skin and cake blood splattered on his jacket and face. Nobody knows who is responsible. How they managed to dump the man on such a busy road is beyond belief. A crowd quickly gathered. Everyone hovered around deciding what needed to be done. My brother called the police and someone else an ambulance.

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A Case for the Typewriter

For a machine invented and improved at least fifty-two times, the typewriter has led a charmed life. My romanticized vision of a writer is of one hunched over a typewriter, mind focused on the singular task of creating. A machine ringing, rolling, sighing out page after page giving expression to a writer’s emotions. A machine becoming the physical extension of a writer’s thoughts, a part of his life. A machine that so enamored actor Tom Hanks that he became an avid typewriter collector with over 200 machines in his collection. A machine that writers came to trust. So much so that Hemingway once told Ava Gardner that the only psychologist he would ever open up to was his typewriter.

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A Writer’s Muse

The Perfect Place to Write

My marriage brought an abrupt end to my writing life for the extra furniture meant there was not enough space for the old desk. To be fair, it looked a bit scruffy and one leg wobbled, but it was the perfect height and shone with the refinement of age and workmanship. I tried other tables in the house, but not one squatter gave me the same pleasure. I took to writing in bed with the computer perched on my lap, and then decided it was not very safe and gave it up.

So began my search for the perfect place to write.

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Travelling with your favourite characters

Books have been part of all my journeys, worthy companions in my travels. They have saved me from boredom of waiting when a flight is delayed, and sometimes from the monotony of conversation with boorish travellers; most of all they kept me sane in long journeys with only myself for company. And that set me thinking. Whenever we read a book we are travelling with the characters in their own journeys and trials of life. With a book in hand, travel becomes an adventure. And with your favourite character for company, the pleasure is doubled. Some of these characters appeal to us; others we hardly remember. What if you have to choose your favourite character to travel with you on a long journey somewhere?

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The Man Who Grew a Forest

Once upon a time, in the year 1979, great floods washed across both banks of the mighty Brahmaputra. A sandbar in the river was crawling with visitors washed ashore by strong river currents. A few days later, when the water receded, a 16-year-old lad found it dotted with dead snakes. The snakes had died in the heat for the sandbar had no trees. The lad was so overcome with grief that he wept over the lifeless snakes. When he returned home, he talked to those who knew about growing trees in the sandbar. 'No,' he was told. 'Nothing would grow there.'

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Close Encounters of the Reading Kind

And then I came upon noted American Spanish-to-English literary translator Edith Grossman’s comment on translation, which she calls ‘a kind of reading as deep as any encounter with a literary text can be.’ And I thought, how many authors have I read in such a manner. Which writer has transcended the average and beyond to stand out and make me delve deep into their works, the charm of their words and the feelings they evoked. How many of these books managed to remain alluring over the years? Which writer delighted with words in the same way a painter does with colours and images or a singer with voice and lyrics?

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To Write Like Gabo

The first time I read Gabriel García Márquez, I wanted to write like him. It was one thing wanting to, and quite another being able to. But I learnt a lot of lessons along the way.

1. Desire: In 1951, Márquez returned from a trip home to Aracataca, his home town, to write Leaf Storm (1955), his first novel. ‘From the moment I wrote Leaf Storm I realized I wanted to be a writer and that nobody could stop me and that the only thing left for me to do was to try to be the best writer in the world.’

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The Sensibility of Words

Therefore, since brevity is the soul of wit, and tediousness the limbs and outward flourishes, I will be brief - William Shakespeare, Hamlet
The dictionary defines words as units of language, consisting of one or more spoken sounds or their written representation that functions as a principal carrier of meaning. English philosopher John Locke wrote that the use of words is to be sensible marks of ideas. Therein lies the sensibility of words. Words that we use every day to communicate ideas, instructions and impressions. Without them, where would we be. Words, the way you use them, defines you.

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Found in Translation

Literature in translation is meat and if you are not reading them, you are missing out on a whole new world. Around 60% of all translations are from books originally published in English, but only 3% of books in a foreign language are translated into English. A glaring disparity without a doubt and one that smacks of arrogance? Or is it that translated works do not sell? Murakami, Paulo Coelho, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, T Steig Larsson are writers whose books sell in their millions. When I buy a book, the thought that never crosses my mind is whether it is a work of translation.

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