2019 has been a wonderful and eventful year for me as a writer. I am eager to share my experiences and milestones with you.
At the beginning of this year, my strongest aspiration as a writer was for my stories to be published- to be freed from my notebooks and files, out into the world, to be read and hopefully appreciated. Initially, it felt challenging to put myself out there; whether it was submitting to magazines/ publishers or sharing with friends and family. Over time, I have been able to accept and learn from perspectives different from my own. Readers’ responses of course make it worthwhile; someone connecting to a line of a poem or a character in a story. I had three new short stories and four poems published this year. Find them here.
An important milestone (and a huge relief) was completing my PhD. in Organizational Behaviour. My doctoral thesis on career transitions is in many ways my first big writing project. Through working on and towards my research, I rediscovered my interest in writing and in human narratives. In seeing my participants as protagonists of their life stories, I began to think more deeply and patiently about the many ways stories impact our lives, and how we make sense of ourselves and our world through ‘storying’. I look forward to writing my first non-fiction book out of this research (wait for it!) and to work with narratives and other art-forms to facilitate learning and exploration in workshop/ classroom settings. More updates on how this unfolds in the coming year!
By the middle of the year, there was a yearning to return focus to the process of writing. I attended my first Writers Retreat in August (Bound Retreat in Divar Island, Goa) and several festivals (Dehradun Literature Festivals and Tata Lit Live, Mumbai). Writing had up until now been both a solitary and intuitive process. So, it was exciting to participate in formal learning sessions on the craft of writing, receive feedback from fellow writers, work with mentors. This opened up possibilities to think ‘technically’ about aspects like setting, plot premise, and character motivation; and find my voice. It also revealed writing to be a social process involving a community of significant others- readers, editors, coaches, other artists and their work.
In the recent months, I have found myself searching for the purpose in my writing, and experiencing writing as a source of purpose during difficult times. I learnt that to think deeply about your stories, you need to think deeply about the world around you. To create compelling characters, you need to be aware of your own feelings and motivations, willing to ‘see’ and ‘listen’. Up until now, I mostly wrote stories about coming-of-age and romantic relationships in contemporary, urban settings. Now, I find myself in unfamiliar territories- writing historical fiction, feminist narratives, personal or memoir-style prose, exploring themes such as body image, identity and sexuality. I am now the Editor of ang(st), a new, exciting body-themed zine.
In the coming year, I am excited about moving forward in these new directions. I wish you a very happy, fun and love-filled 2020!