& occasionally about other things, too...

Friday, August 28, 2009

Becoming a writer

It’s been a while since I wrote here.

I’ve been busy giving finishing touches to the first 50 pages of my novel. I’ll be entering my manuscript (only 50 pages) in a competition run by the Canadian Aid Charity and the BookLand Press.

Re-writing 50 pages is no joke, and I don’t even know whether it is any good. But I’m determined to participate. I figure I’ve nothing to lose.

The worst that can happen is that the organisers may reject my manuscript. That wouldn’t be unusual.

I’m reinventing my writing career in Canada. And the last year or so has been interesting and enriching. Rejections and acceptances are part of this process.

After I came here, I spent the first six to seven months in Canada without having to write. Now, I’ve never thought of myself as a great writer or even a good one, but I’ve been writing for a living for a larger part of the last two decades.

So, when I didn’t have anything to write after I came here, I wrote a short story to enter into a competition that would’ve paid for a writing course.

I must thank Susan Crangle, a communications professional, who edited the story and gave me key inputs. I didn’t win the competition. But learnt a few things from her.

In May, I entered the same story – with a few more re-writes and edits (this time Mahrukh helped me) and sent it to Diaspora Dialogues, an institution that is doing impressive work in enabling newcomers express themselves creatively.

I was selected for the mentoring program where I’d be working with an established writer to improve my short story. I’ll write about that in more details when the program concludes. See my profile here.

Then Joyce Wayne nominated me to participate at the Humber School of Writers’ Summer Workshop. There I got acquainted with the suave Antanas Sileika, who runs the program at Humber.

I assisted Isabel Huggan, an extraordinary writer and teacher. I learnt from her, too. ("All writing is rewriting," she said.)

A few writers, poets and playwrights from Diaspora Dialogues met last week at Central cafe in Mirvish Village. One of the participants – Michael Fraser – organises poetry readings here. He calls it the Plasticine Poetry Series.

We had a great time. I requested Jasmine D’Costa, author of the critically-acclaimed Curry is Thicker than Water, who was also there at the readings, to join us and give us publishing tips.

I met Dawn Promislow and subsequently read her a couple of her short stories.

I was at Mirvish Village again earlier this week. This time for an unbelievable event – the launch of the 32nd annual international 3-day novel contest. Barbara Zatyko and Melissa Edwards power this incredible event. (Thank you Dawn Boshcoff.)

Last year’s winner Jason Rapczynski read from his novel The Videographer. Several veteran participants from earlier competitions narrated their experiences, of sleep deprivation, generally losing control and doing silly things.

The contest began in 1977 in a Vancouver pub when a few crazy writers decided to emulate Jack Kerouac and complete writing a novel over a weekend. Apparently, Voltaire wrote Candide also in three days.

The tradition is now an established literary event and this Labour Day weekend, many writers from across the world will try to complete a novel in three days. This is an international event. So, anyone anywhere can participate.

I know of at least two people in India who should participate. They know that I know who they are, so I won't name them.

I’m going to participate and write another novel because the basic rule of the 3-Day novel contest is that you have to start and finish a novel between September 5 and September 7. I can't continue writing the one that I'm already writing.

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