3 Creatively Challenging Things at Work
I do multiple creative things at work but three of them stand out
We are done with the first quarter of the year already! Time really flies. As I was looking back at the past three months, I was thinking about what has kept me going, and work has definitely been a constant. For those of you who don’t know, I moved to Mumbai in 2019. Since then I’ve been working with Bound, a storytelling company.
I carry out multiple tasks at work, however, three things are the most satisfying to me. I wanted to share why I love them so much-
I really love guiding writers. The one-on-on deep connection one gets to create with a writer through a mentorship structure is rare. I look forward to these weekly calls and sessions like a kid might look forward to a trip at the amusement park. It’s fun, intense and creatively stimulating.
For someone, who has no formal background in literature, I know how valuable finding the right guidance at the right time can be. Some writers have been exceptionally kind to me with their time. As a mentor, I’m only repaying all the good things that have happened to me during my writing career. A writer could end up spending years trying to figure out what they need to make their writing shine and a mentor-mentee relationship can definitely speed up the process.
I’ve been thinking a lot about why I enjoy mentorship and conducting creative writing classes the most. This took me down memory lane. And I remembered being a small girl, an only child (before my brother was born), immersing myself in a textbook and reading it out loud to an imaginary student. I would explain concepts out loud.
My mother was a teacher for many years before pursuing a career as a secretary. When her students (all grown up now) greet her, they still address her as ‘teacher’. Teaching can be very fulfilling and exhausting as it requires a lot of energy and investment of your time. I think it’s definitely worth it when you realise a student has benefited from your guidance.
Recently, a comment by one of my mentees made my day-
I like to teach the craft of writing through close reading of contemporary texts and writing exercises/prompts among other things. You can read more about Bound’s mentorship program here.
2) Beta reading/evaluating manuscripts
I enjoy beta reading and evaluating poetry/fiction manuscripts particularly. It’s wonderful to immerse yourself in the world the writer has created and then dissect what works and what doesn’t work. It stimulates my editor’s brain. I love to work with poetry collections- to analyse each poem, whether it fits or not, what can the poet do to make it’s soul shine. The structure of the collection and so on.
With fiction, I adore short story collections and novels. While I enjoy short stories as I can understand the range of a writer’s ability, novels allow me to see the depth of a writer’s idea. It’s a pleasure to read a work closely and provide insights and solutions for the author to improve the manuscript and their craft. I have benefited a lot from having my work beta read by writers.
I have always had a ton of questions swirling in my head whenever I read a book. I have interviewed writers to satiate this curiosity. It started with my blog. And when I joined Bound, I had the opportunity to co-create what’s now among one of the top 1.5% podcasts globally. It is a lot of fun to work on Books and Beyond with Bound. We are now 4 seasons old! I enjoy buddy reading books in different genres and styles, researching the author’s work, and writing the interview scripts. The Bound team recently met in person to record our episodes. Here’s me on that day, posing with the Women’s Prize For Fiction Journal.
I can’t take my eyes off the journal as it has beautiful artwork and quotes from talented female writers in it. Tara, the founder of Bound, and my co-host on the podcast gave it to me. Will cherish this for years to come!
I also enjoy organizing data, brainstorming and having creative discussions at work, but the three creative tasks mentioned above definitely stand out of all for how they challenge me creatively.
Some exciting updates about my creative life-
-I’m attempting NaPoWriMo 2022
I’m not regular with this but I do try to attempt a poem whenever a prompt speaks to me. Here’s my attempt at The Alipore Post’s first prompt ‘Cake’. Please let me know what you think!
- I just completed the a three month course on Book Design, Editing and Publishing from the Seagull School of Publishing.
I call myself a student for life. I am a nerd lol. I wanted to do this course to understand how the publishing house works, and to learn the tips and tricks of designing, editing and publishing from them as they have been doing it for a long time. Seagull is 40 years old now! Based out of Kolkata, it’s a book publisher which focuses on translations. I had a heard a lot about their course; it was an interesting experience as it was virtual and we were able to connect with creative folks from all over the world. The core team is very passionate about books and incredibly hardworking. It was inspiring to learn from them. The course also included many external speakers like Dinah Wood from Faber and Faber, Ananth Padmanabhan from HarperCollins India, Jayapriya Vasudevan from Jacaranda Literary Agency and many more. Each guest was a powerhouse of knowledge in their own right.
- I was interviewed on two podcasts!
Being an interviewer most of the time, it was refreshing and flattering to be on the other side.
I speak about navigating the worlds of writing and publishing on these podcasts. While the former focuses on the varied paths we take in life to pursue an education/career and how that shapes us, the latter focuses on writers from different fields. Please do listen and let me know what you think!
-My poem has been selected for the Yearbook of Indian Poetry in English, Hawakal, 2022.
So happy about this as the entries were judged blind by a review committee of talented poets. The editors informed me in the acceptance mail that they had received around 700 poems!
But things are not always exciting. The creative world is filled with anxiety and uncertainty. I have received nearly 10 rejections for different pieces of writing in the last 3 months.
-Two interesting films I watched recently
I believe that some of the best films are based on books. This is based on Shyam Selvadurai's novel. The story addresses class and caste divide in Sri Lanka. The long standing strife between the Sinhalese and Tamils is portrayed through a sensitive story. I've read Anuk Arudpragasam's books about the Sri Lankan civil war but this was a different side to it as it had a homosexual boy's coming of age at the heart of it. Loved Arji's aunty for the compassion she has for the kid who is labelled as 'funny' because he's queer.
This film also promotes compassion towards kids, especially girls going through puberty. Ive had friends tell me that they turned out to be rebels during puberty and their parents strict behaviour made it worse for them. I think this film managed to cover the confusing period of puberty in a fresh way by using Asian folklore. And yes, if you are fans of Sandra Oh (Grey's Anatomy), you would've already heard about the film. The film leaves you with the feeling of embracing your flaws and messy stuff.
Do let me know about your own creative life, I would love to know what you’ve been reading, watching and exploring!