Thursday, February 23, 2012

You Are Creative

You Are Creative | Open Book: Toronto

Your task is not to find intuition but to seek and destroy all the obstacles to creativity that you have built against it.
You can be creative if you
1. Stop thinking creativity only belongs to special people. He is creative. She is creative. We are creative. I am creative. Creativity needs to respected, encouraged and practiced. After all, “genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration.”
2. Be open to changes. Don’t be angry when your favourite coffee shop redecorates or facebook and google change their template. Accept and enjoy the new look.
3. Challenge your ideas. If you are a believer you can still have an inspiring conversation with an atheist. You don’t have to always agree with your friend and partner. Pick up a book you hated and read it from a new perspective.
4. Find out what inspires you. Walking? Playing games? Swimming? Going to the country side? Listening to music? Reading your favourite novel even one more time? Reading poetry? Listening to someone who recites a poem nicely? Try dirt biking ;)
It is important to find out what you can do to set yourself free and open. It is equally vital to be an independent thinker. The other side of the coin in creativity is the critical side. You need to be reflective and analytica:; observe, evaluate, critique, compare and contrast.
Happy Creating,
Ava Homa

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

How to Create Characters Who Breathe On The Page? by Ava Homa | Open Book: Toronto

How to Create Characters Who Breathe On The Page? by Ava Homa | Open Book: Toronto


How to Create Characters Who Breathe On The Page? by Ava Homa

Narrators aren’t always reliable, even when they seem they are. Characters who narrate the stories may fake sincerity or simply won’t be willing to open up to the reader entirely. In powerful and subtle short stories, readers know characters better than characters know themselves. How?

Fictional characters, like us, people, are not always able to face every reality; thus, escape/delusion sometimes becomes a saviour, consciously or unconsciously. The discrepancy between character’s perception of their situation and the intelligent reader’s awareness of the realities characters's life creates Dramatic Irony. This technique adds depth to the story and can make reading a rewarding and thought provoking experience. An example of classic literature would be "Miss Brill" by Katherine Mansfield. This older, single lady considers herself a happy person who plays a role in the life of people around her. Readers know she is desperately lonely and others do not pay the slightest attention to her.

In short, characters/narrators in fiction will let you in on how they perceive their lives, their personalities, and their situation. Experienced readers, however, will not believe that presentation entirely and will look for clues in the story that reveal an aspect to the character’s personality that are hidden or denied by the characters. This is one reason I believe what makes a great fiction writer is not the ability to write enchanting sentences but the capacity to observe delicacies and complexities of human being and then show them. Writers who have a deeper understanding of human nature, write profound stories. Hemingway, Faulkner, Salinger, Carver maybe not be easy to understand but their works will leave you with the desire to re-read and discover more.

You can create dramatic irony by showing your reader how the character responds to other’s perception of them. The example below is a paragraph of the story of “Fountain,” from the critically acclaimed collection of short stories Echoes from the Other Land.
“[Ali] went to the mirror and combed his hair. Examining himself, he raised a thick black eyebrow, inclined his body to the right and lifted his chin. He was patting his beard when he noticed a drawing above the mirror. It was a cat looking at a mirror, seeing a lion in its reflection. Ali removed it, tore it into pieces and put them in his coat pocket. (Echoes from the Other Land, page 3)

The character of Ali spends a noticeable amount of time before the mirror and enjoys looking at his different poses. This pleasure is shattered when he notices a drawing above the mirror: “a cat looking at a mirror, seeing a lion in its reflection.” Since only Ali and his wife live in the house, readers know Anis, the wife, has put the drawing there. She knows where to put the drawing to be noticed by Ali “above the mirror.” Through this drawing, you can also tell how Ali's wife sees him: “you’re just a cat, not a lion you think you are.”
The paragraph does not end there. “Ali removed it, tore it into pieces.” There is no way he will accept he has delusion of grandeur. How far Ali’s self-perception is from reality? Maybe, he really is a lion and his wife wants to put him down? You should read the rest of the story for yourself and decide. The point is how much you can reveal your character through a few carefully crafted lines.

Happy Characterizing,

Ava Homa

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Praise for Echoes from the Other Land

I admire the crisp and tight structure in your stories, there is great economy in the way you write, and the rhythm of your sentences, they're purposeful and short and take no detours. You have this way of unfolding the story from within, with crisp dialogue rather than starting from the outer edges to get inside which reminds me a bit of Hemingway's stories. I love the young women and girls you have created, their inner strength and despair under that uniform blanket of misogyny and oppression- the hateful regime, the weakness of men, and society in general, everyone bent out of shape but the anger of women keeping them erect, with eyes open and that scarf always somehow falling off, or pulling back, or crumpling somewhere to reveal their locks. 
Loren Edizel, author of Adrift

Ambushing Politics and Reaching out for humanitarians: Bekir Orhan, Artist

By Ava Homa:
Bekir Orhan
Bekir Orhan
Turkey brutally slaughtered Kurdish civilians once again, the world turned a blind eye once again, and the Kurds were left puzzled and agonized at the beginning of a New Year: a time that is supposed to bring refreshment.
The good news is that we have Kurdish talents whose weapon is their passion and creativity; people who use their brush to raise awareness and seek justice through the international language of art.  Bekir Orhan is a Kurdish talent worth knowing and be proud of. He is from Northern Kurdistan and currently lives in Atlanta, Georgia, United States. He holds Masters of Fine Arts and is skillful in design, illustration and fine arts. This Kurdish artist has a passion for Kurdish story telling in audio and visual forms. He has taught art and Kurdish dances to children and young adults.
Bekir shares a childhood memory with our readers:
“One day, my mom and I went to a post office to make a phone call to one of my older brothers who was in the military. I was at 3rd grade and about 9 years old. At that time landlines were not as widely used because very few families could afford it. Once we arrived at the post office and found an available phone booth my mom handed me a little piece of paper and asked me to match the numbers on the paper to the ones on the phone and to dial. My mom wasn’t literate, and she didn’t speak Turkish which was, at that time, the only language allowed to be spoken anywhere any time and for any reason. I was to make the phone call, get to talk to my brother and tell my mom what he told me when the phone call was over. This was some sort of interpretation and I was the one to do it because I had learned Turkish at school. I did what she said and this was the conversation between my brother and me:
Me: Are you Shawkat?
My Brother (MB): Yes I am Shawkat. You are Bekir right?
Me: Yes I am Bekir.
MB: How are you?
Me: Mom is here. She wanted me to tell you hi!
MB: Tell her hi as well.
Me: She also said how are you?
MB: I am good, how is she?
Me: She said: Do you have pocket money?
MB: Yes I do!
Me: Ok. She said we’d send you some money.
MB: No, don’t send money, I have enough money for now.
Me: Is there anything else you would like to say?
MB: Say hello to everyone.
Me: I will
MB: God be with you!
Me: ………
“I still remember how frustrated my mom was for not being able to speak to her child for two years during his military service because her language, our mother tongue was forbidden. Phone calls were monitored by the government and everyone knew that disobedience could result in extreme punishment including death”.
AH: That’s incredibly inhumane of part of Turkey! Do you think the pain you experienced made you an artist? Did you choose to be an artist or did art choose you?
“I am not sure how clearly I would be able to answer this question, but what I can say about art is that I am glad to have been lucky enough to create. Art for me is simply an active expression that reflects what I wouldn’t be able to say in written or spoken words. As a visual artist, I enjoy the limitless dimensions of this ever-changing unique form of experience”.
 AH: Why did you decide to devote your thesis to Kurdish identity and mother tongue?
“I wanted my thesis to be about Kurdish language because of its status in Turkey. Kurds in Turkey are denied their history, culture, language and political existence. Kurdish language couldn’t be spoken, written, sung in, or even mentioned until 1991. Kurds faced very harsh punishments when they used Kurdish in any form. There is still no education in this language although 20 million Kurds live in Turkey”.
 AH: Tell us about your project of Mother Tongue.
Mother Tongue
Mother Tongue
“Having named it as: ‘Memories in Mother Tongue,’ my thesis project was a visual representation of my experiences related to my Kurdish heritage. The background study took form as an analysis of my personal experiences and problematic situations related to Kurds and their effects on my life as an individual in today’s society.
“With the completion of this project, I was able to recover from the negative effects of those experiences through the expressions that are reflected on each illustration. All the experiences and events identified in this study are short individual stories that mark different stages in my life. While individual pieces stand as visual translations of independent stories, they eventually complete a bigger picture with many aspects.
“The illustrations presented in this project contain autobiographical content, the psychological aspect of my experiences, and my personal approach to the contemporary politics in correlation with my Kurdish identity”.
 AH: Do you think this project was also a project of self-discovery for you both as an artist and as a Kurd?
AH: In what ways do you think art can help the Kurds?
“Art is an activity that we will never afford to miss in our lives. It indicates the existence of a community by representing its unique culture, beliefs and traditions. The identity of a community is defined within the limits of their artistic creation.
“Art can be used as an effective means of communication with international community in order to bring attention to political issues that Kurds are facing today because art is the most universal language in the world. Activities like art galleries and exhibition; movie festivals and plays can bring people from different backgrounds together where there will be an environment that will provide an atmosphere for networking, exchanging ideas and more. Another important benefit that art can offer is that it can help Kurds learn and teach many aspects of life in easier and more effective ways. This can help Kurds develop higher standards and self-sufficiency for their entire community. If “A picture is worth a thousand words” then we need to consider having more pictures around us.
“As an individual who has participated in a culture where I was classified as one of “others”, the second-class citizens, I would like to introduce you the “Memories in Mother Tongue,” a visual translation of significant experiences I’ve had in relation to my Kurdish identity. The content of this are in respect to contemporary Kurdish politics in reaction to the systematic process of “Turkification” of the Kurdish population in Turkey since early 20th century”.
People like Bekir can finely and artistically represent the Kurds internationally and raise awareness about the brutalities of an American ally who hopes to be part of European Union! For more information please visit his website:
Ava Homa is a Kurdish-Canadian writer whose ‘Echoes from the Other Land’ was published in 2010, Canada. For more information visit

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

A Love Story

A Love Story | Open Book: Toronto

The man said, “don’t play with my heart,” then wiped his tears and walked out of the exhibition, the one that can easily be imagined.

He was absorbed in her, in her tenderness, charm, liveliness. She was tempting, bitter and overpowering like the liquor he craved for. She had the enticing attraction he has been looking for, the resistance that he desired to conquer through the wealth, fame and power his position at the government had offered him. He was one of the many she had kindly welcomed to her exhibition.

She was a piece of poetry, rhythmical, delicate, and beyond his understanding. He tried arranging beautiful words to make them sound appealing. He loved his writing but somehow in his head someone told him that they sounded stupid. He hid the writing by which he wanted to impress her. She was a puzzle and he was an unfitting piece in her life no matter how hard he modified his look.

It was a battle for her to decide about a stranger who had been observing her and her life for so long. She who her painting was the source of inspiration, her lips the fountain of life, her eyes the lights of her soul, her hair the touch of breeze, decided to offer him a chance to prove himself, convince her that he is a different man.

He thought his attempts seemed trivial to her. He could hear her belittling his status. He wanted to prove he existed and he was significant regardless of the extent she ignored him. He bought some lovers. She didn’t see him and his girls.

He touched her defencelessness when he found her crying lonely at the grave of an eight year old boy. He saw her pain, her vulnerability, her wound, her buried offspring.

He boasted to enemies, who looked like friends to him, that he will win her, that there is nothing he cannot achieve. She heard that boast.

“Don’t play with my heart,” she said and run away.

He didn't hear what her lips said when they moved.

Ava Homa