April 11th found me standing in front of a select crowd, in a white dress. No, I was not getting married. I was about to read my very own short story out loud to an audience for the very first time. It was a big day for me.
It all began sometime in January I think, when my father encouraged me to send my application for Anita’s Attic, a mentorship program in creative writing conducted by popular literary fiction writer, Anita Nair (author of best-sellers like The Better Man, Ladies Coupe and Mistress). I sent it in, and was delighted when I got selected, along with ten other aspiring writers. They came from different walks of life, and also from all over the country – but I was the only one still in college, the youngest of the lot. It was a program spread over twelve weeks – we would meet up every Saturday, and Anita ma’am would discuss our works with us. She gave us individual attention, and catered to our distinct styles, helping us shape our writing and make it clearer and spot on. Anita ma’am even called in established writers, editors and even a publisher to speak to us about the literary world and the publishing industry and to clear all our doubts. Most of us worked on our own collections of short stories (me included), while some worked on a novel, and one worked on a non-fiction piece, one a travelogue and one a short film script.
It was really a fabulous experience. To meet ten other creative minds, and hear their distinct voices, to be part of such a creative environment, to learn so many new things and to gain insight on the publishing industry from some of the best – it was truly an experience! I have learned SO much. April 11th was a big day, because it was our “Graduation” day of sorts. We collected our certificates in front of an audience consisting of family, friends, other writers and the speakers who interacted with us during the workshop, and the press. After, we read out our pieces.
I was just a little nervous, but I was so happy when I was up there, reading my short story. I was so happy that my friends were there to support me, and my mother, who had come all the way from Chennai just for this. I am so thankful for such supportive family and friends. I was overjoyed when people came up to me when we were outside the Rangotsav Metro Theatre (where our Reading had taken place) having coffee post the event, and told me that they loved my story.
Anita ma’am took us out to dinner after the event, and I really enjoyed being there. It was a really nice night. I am so happy and grateful I got this opportunity – it really was amazing. I rediscovered how deep my love for writing is and the power of the written word, and I’m pretty sure this is something I want to do all my life.