Bhumika Anand has a degree in Communicative English and a Masters in English. She has been a lecturer, a corporate trainer, editor, communications consultant, events coordinator, MC, a social media strategist, and an erstwhile manager of online communities for over 15 years. Her fiction and poetry has been published in Urban Confustions (Desire, Prose Poem), The Affair (PMS: Please Maintain Silence, Fiction and Poetry), The Bombay Literary Magazine (Hobby, Fiction), Out of Print (Dosa, Fiction). The founder of Bangalore Writers Workshop tells us how it all came together:
Do you believe your varied professional roles led you to founding BWW?
I might have been running a different sort of school had I not been doing BWW. Considering I started my career as a teacher and facilitator when I was only 18, I know I would have had a job in education. I would have been an entrepreneur then too. So yes, I’d maybe have a school for spoken and written English.
Do you think the Indian education system fosters the spirit of writing?
The Indian education system doesn’t exactly foster creative writing. Things are changing, though, and that heartens me.
What is the profile of the people who are signing up for these courses, especially in the recent past?
Our adult courses are from age 18 onwards. So we really see very diverse sets of people ranging from students to IT professionals. We’ve had entrepreneurs, consultants, software engineers, doctors, home makers, and the like in the recent past. The profile is really anyone who likes to read and wants to try their hand at writing. When they sign up, they usually just want to see where they stand with respect to their own writing. Mostly, they only want an immediate and sincere readership. While they get that, they also realise that writing has many aspects and it is a craft that needs to be honed.
Read more: Meet the people who make the word go around
How much of an adaptive art is creative writing? Can one achieve any amount of transformation with the workshops?
Being able to communicate effectively, write well, and punctuate perfectly, is a skill. The sort of skill that will land you a dream job or find you a perfect mate. Often, both. So, I am delighted that I get to work with people and help them improve this skill. All of us have stories to tell. But to write a story, that takes skill. And to master a skill one must work hard, be dedicated, and do all those good but boring things that most of us have no patience for. Workshops help inculcate discipline, foster competition; deadlines often replace temperamental muses and do a more remarkable job of getting things written. The exposure to various writing styles that one gets in a workshop also helps strengthen one’s voice. Knowing how to critique texts; understanding that writing necessarily includes editing and revising (which is sheer drudgery), that’s the prodding one gets at a workshop. Since most of us dreamers are also essentially lazy, we need all the prodding we can get.
Is creative writing a value addition to have on your CV for a hot job profile like marketing or digital communication?
I would think so, definitely, because you are broadening your skill sets. Everyone assumes that a good singer or dancer would have learnt her craft with some program, and honed it over time. Writing is also a skill. For a writer who is just beginning, having a supportive community is invaluable.