Archive for January, 2010

I started a new folder on my hard drive today: FPR2010. (FPR stands for Faint Promise of Rain, the title of my novel.) It was a bit of a downer to do so, as I started working on the manuscript seven years ago, in 2003. It might even have been earlier; July 2003 was the date of the first notes I jotted down in a dedicated notebook. Seven years, and here I am starting a new round of revisions. And yet, I am looking forward to the process. After closing the document last September and feeling I could never look at it again without wanting to throw it out the window, I am making friends with it again, and I am seeing myriad places and ways in which to improve it. So here we go again. (On the subject of revisions, writer Natalie Whipple shares some great guidelines for the revision process over on her blog.)

One part I have not changed, however, throughout what must now be at least eight rounds of revisions, is the prologue, the very first words I ever wrote to this manuscript, before I even knew I was writing a book:

In Rajasthan, a five year old child is likely never to have seen rain. Five hundred years ago, like today, the monsoons were elusive. In the royal palaces, the walls of the children’s rooms were trimmed with black and blue cloud designs, so that when it finally did rain, the little ones would not be afraid. Less fortunate children, those who had grown up looking up at thatched roofs and endlessly blue skies, would remember all their lives the fear and hope they felt the day of their first rain.

I leave you with that image.

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Chhandika signed a lease for office space today. More specifically, I signed the lease on behalf of Chhandika, and local Indian fashion maven Shelley Chhabra. We went ahead and did it, after mulling it over for quite a while. A good opportunity came up, at an unbeatable price given the convenient location and square footage, and I decided that if we could not make this work, we’d never get an office.

It feels like a big step for our organization. Those who have started up a non-profit will recognize this. The next day, I was sitting in a café working on my manuscript when three fresh-faced twenty-somethings arrived, set up their computers, and started working/talking. It quickly became apparent that they were the founding members of an organization involved in something relating to providing facilities and medical supplies, and maybe logistics, for developing countries, and they were discussing, of course, the situation in Haiti, and how to tie their work into relief efforts quickly. At one point, one of them sat back and piped up: “When we have our own office, can we have lots of cushions everywhere?” And I wanted to tell her: hey! I’m involved in running a non-profit and we finally got an office! But of course, why would she care? Still, the excitement was hard to contain.

Now comes the difficult part: raising the funds to cover the costs. (If you are moved to help support us, donations can be made securely online here.) But also the fun part: planning the furnishings, the painting of the walls, the decorating, and daydreaming about all the wonderful and centralized organization we will be able to establish. A place for volunteers to work! A meeting place for administrators and instructors! A lending library of books, videos and music! A storage place for our materials! And, dare I say it… a place for a possible intern to work! There is only so far that Google Docs and conference calls can take us. Let’s see what comes of pinning ourselves to a physical location.

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