Shiraz Janjua

WRITER + PRODUCER

Open call for stories: How do you pray?

July 8, 2013

I admit it: I struggle with prayer. The month of Ramadan is coming up in the Islamic calendar, which means I’ll be fasting from sunrise to sunset everyday for 30 days. (If you’re counting, that’s no food or drink from 4 a.m. to 9 p.m.)

It’s a time of introspection and prayer. Yet when I’m deprived of a good night’s sleep and regular food, I tend to space out. A few years ago, after my pre-dawn meal and morning prayers, I returned to bed for a few more hours of sleep before the start of the day. In a state of half-sleep during this holy month, I imagined I was in the Emperor’s throne room in a musical version of Return of the Jedi. The old guy can dance, let me tell you.

Yet despite the difficulty (and the show tunes), Ramadan is an essential part of my spiritual life. So is daily prayer; there are times in my life where prayer actually helped me survive. These practices help me cultivate a sense of gratitude and even optimism about my life. So, creating a space for that practice is important to me. Read the rest of this entry »

Almost the second draft

May 29, 2013

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Getting close to officially completing the second draft of my novel. Picked up a print-out of the book yesterday from Staples. I’ll start a full read-through next week and spend the next month or so finalizing the draft. A lot of positive changes came via my six-month mentorship at Banff. The book is currently 85,000 words (332 pages in this format), down from 91,000 when I started the mentorship. Before that started, I had already cut it down from the 120,000 words it was as an official first draft. Throughout the mentorship, I had this fantastic feeling of watching the book get better and better with each passing day. Now I’m curious to see how all the edits turned out.

Out in The Great Alone

May 11, 2013

Out in The Great Alone on Grantland:

The Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race pushes participants to the brink on an unforgiving trek to the end of the world. And, as one writer who tracked the race by air discovers, that is exactly the point.

A true work of art: literary journalism and exquisite online production. From the moment you first scroll down, you know you’re in for something special. And Brian Phillips is always enjoyable.

(P.S. Looks like the New York Times made a big splash with a piece called Snow Fall a few months prior to this. A must-see as well. Funny how they classify it under Projects as opposed to just News or Features.)

MadeFire comic-book publishing tools now on DeviantArt

April 2, 2013

The Verge:

“We’re trying to build tools that empower creators to do the next wave of storytelling,” says Ben Wolstenholme. Last year, his Madefire publishing platform was released to a select group of people from the comics industry (like Watchmen artist Dave Gibbons) with the idea of pushing the grammar of comic books forward. […] “In comics and graphic novels, says Wolstenholme, “there’s been a lot of regurgitation and repurposing of stories and characters, like the famous Batmans and so on, but what’s needed is a new wave of storytelling.”

How To Make Write

April 2, 2013

how to make write by grant snider

Grant Snider

Why Facebook might be losing teens

March 7, 2013

The Verge:

At some point, adding these details, like hundreds of photos from a recent vacation and status updates about your new job amounted to bragging — force-feeding Facebook friends information they didn’t ask for. What was once cool was now uncool. Worse yet, it started to feel like work. Maybe the burden of constantly constructing immaculate digital profiles of ourselves is tiring. “I find it boring, and I don’t really care about knowing all my friends’ details anymore,” my fifteen-year-old cousin Neah Bois wrote to me. “I think it’s stupid when people post a lot of pictures about their lives and all that stuff… I go on to talk to family and connect, but really I only go on once a week or so.”

The Science of Sleeplessness

March 4, 2013

Elizabeth Kolbert in The New Yorker looks at the bane of my existence: sleeplessness.

Each of us has an internal clock, or, to use Roenneberg’s term, a “chronotype.” Either we’re inclined to go to bed early and wake up at dawn, in which case we’re “larks,” or we like to stay up late and get up later, which makes us “owls.” (One’s chronotype seems to be largely inherited, although Roenneberg notes, not altogether helpfully, that the “genetics are complex.”) During the week, everyone is expected to get to the office more or less at the same time—let’s say 9 a.m. This suits larks just fine. Owls know they ought to go to bed at a reasonable time, but they can’t—they’re owls. So they end up having to get up one, two, or, in extreme cases, three hours earlier than their internal clock would dictate. This is what Roenneberg refers to as “social jet lag”—each workday, owls fall asleep in one time zone and, in effect, wake up in another. By the time the week is over, they’re exhausted. They “fly back” to their internal time zone on weekends and sleep in on Saturday and Sunday. Then, on Monday, they start the process all over again.

Internet Users Demand Less Interactivity

January 22, 2013

The Onion:

Tired of being bombarded with constant requests to share content on social media, bestow ratings, leave comments, and generally “join in on the discussion,” the nation’s Internet users demanded substantially less interactivity this week.

[…]

“All I want is to go to a website, enjoy it for the time I’ve decided to spend there, and then move on with my life,” he continued. “Is that so much to ask?”

January 6, 2013

“Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing.”
–Benjamin Franklin

The problems with HFR 3D in The Hobbit

December 21, 2012

I saw The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey earlier this week in its most luxurious version, the one intended by the director, i.e. High Frame Rate 3D. And though I quite enjoyed the film and was delighted to be back in Middle-Earth, I really hated the way HFR rendered the image. There’s a lot of commentary on this out there, but I think filmmaker/DP Vincent Laforet’s analysis covers all my objections. (Contains spoilers and is fairly technical.)