Thursday, July 26, 2012

Creative Writing Workshop Coming Up at Oakridge International School

I have an interesting assignment on hand - of conducting a Creative Writing workshop at Oakridge International School, for children aged between 11 and 16, starting this Saturday. The workshop is for six weeks, each an hour and a half every Saturday morning. It is the first time I am conducting a workshop of this kind but I took up the assignment because it is something I always wanted to do - share the writing process as I have experienced it - with aspiring writers. Doing the same with such fertile, young and creative minds is an absolutely delicious challenge and I am looking forward to it. The Oakridge School calls it 'The Future Authors Workshop' and it is one among the many workshops that are being offered to students as part of the 'Weekend Voyagers' journey!

Last weekend we had a 'Meet the Interested Parents and children' session at Oakridge where I was thrust into a rather forgotten role of sitting in a stall and explaining what  would do. I really did not bargain for that when I okayed the workshop for Pavan, my participant from an earlier 'Champion's Mindset' workshop, but I do enjoy putting myself into situations that are uncomfortable and also knock some of my ego out. I met a lot of young children, parents and some friends as well. I also met a young lad Rohit who is aspiring to be a surgeon and is currently studying in Ireland, who is teaching Mandarin as his workshop, and also wants to write a novel!

Though the school wanted children from the age bracket of 9 -16, I felt that the age difference would be too vast to address them as one (even now I hope that the 11 year olds can cope) and restricted it to 11-16. Several 9 year olds came up with their parents and it was rather distressing to see them so disappointed at not being able to join. But as I told their parents and the children - it was just that I was not prepared for them. They have such flexible and fertile minds that I better be absolutely sure of what I want to take them through in the workshop. I promised to take the learning from this workshop and devise one for the 9-11 age exclusively which I would do after these six weeks. Meanwhile I told them, please write and write and write. I saw some writing samples too and they were brilliant.

I am looking at two outcomes to this workshop. One, that the children write without fear of being wrong (language, spelling, grammar) and feel the exhilaration of writing, feel it flow out of their system and enjoy that process. Another outcome is to tell that of the laws of construction and structure that can help in writing creatively - which is not some God given gift - but pure simple work. One of the greatest insights into creative writing came from my elderly friend who is no more, a man who was highly learned, one of India's best cricket journalists and a wonderful writer, the late Rajan Bala, who said simply when I sent him my first novel that 'good writing is all about good organisation of thought'. And frankly all creative process is just that - clarity and organisation of thought. I hope to get these two outcomes across in the six weeks, share the process and set them on the path. I also expect to learn much - perhaps more than they will learn from me. I realise that 25 students of a slightly wide age group might be difficult to handle and requested my friend Rasana Atreya, who is herself a published writer and an editor at that, to help and she has consented to do that.Thanks Rasana.

Another interesting outcome of meeting the parents was that a few parents expressed the desire to attend a Creative Writing workshop. I found that interesting and promised them that I would be delighted to do one for them after these six weeks were done. All in all it is rather exciting and I am looking forward to the first session this weekend.

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