Saturday, December 10, 2016

Speakout - The Expression Initiative

I was invited by Sruthi (of Rooh, the music band, and VNR VJIT fame) to join her Speakout initiative this morning. Speakout is about expressing oneself - without worrying about being grammatically (or politically) correct. The idea is to express - as much and as easily - without fearing your normal constraints.
Me, Sruthi, Natalie, Hannah, Meghana, Abhinay, Samanvith and Charan  
When Sruthi first broached the idea to me a while ago I found it very interesting. We all want to express - easily, fully, uninhibitedly. Expression is our way of making ourselves known, of revealing ourselves as we are. But we find it difficult to reveal ourselves fully. Maybe, because we doubt ourselves and the capacity of others to accept us as we are. Maybe, we worry we are not good enough for others. Maybe what we know of ourselves is not good enough for ourselves. We fight this inner battle of what we are and what we are supposed to be.

The primary confusion is of our understanding of what we really are I suppose. And this is something we don't know well enough to reveal. A space like Speakout which explores individual expression without judgment, without limits can only help each individual discover facets of oneself that much more. That done, it will be easier to hear oneself and to make oneself heard without effort. It could just bring the real you into clear focus. Until we become clear about ourselves we are just blurred images.

Considering that writing is one form of expression just as speaking is, we decided to speak about writing in this inaugural session. Akshara Bookstore which is my favorite bookstore in Hyderabad, for its collection, its vibes and the warm presence of Lakshmi, its proprietor, was kind enough to lend us the space (and tea). It has a lovely elevated space behind the bookstore with trees and a great ambiance - we did Ramnarayan's book launch here a couple of years ago. My own first novel 'The Men Within' was launched at Akshara in 2007 and I have fond memories of the event.

So we gathered at 11 am, Sruthi, Meghna, Abhinay, Samanvith and we started off earnestly discussing the idea of expression itself while others joined us - Hannah and Natalie first and Charan sometime later. An idea of introducing each one without the usual process of telling their name and what they were doing and instead of telling others about what their passions are or what makes them tick, was proposed. We tried -to make sense of our passions and  our journeys and what we are trying to achieve through that. It was fun - there were those who loved people, who were deep into self exploration, who found alternate forms of expression, through dreams and fantasies - deep and intimate stuff. Smanvith was in his element here sharing freely and honestly. There was another interesting suggestion by Abhinay - about people being blindfolded and engaging in discussions without knowing who was interacting with them. Or the place where everyone comes and tells their failures. Ideas that could be tried in the future surely.

Sruthi asked me to talk about the route to publishing and Abhinay wanted me to talk about the process of writing so I spoke about both and my experiences from the writing journey.  The way to approach the novel, the writing, editing, polishing, finding publishers, agreements, marketing. When we finally ended and I had to go at 1245 I was sorry to leave because it was a lot of fun and it looked like things were just warming up. I was also sorry that I could not pick up a couple of books from Akshara as I left. But I will return soon.

Speakout and Sruthi, good start and keep at it. The idea is to get more and more honest with yourself by asking the right questions. The tough questions. And to enjoy the process. The first thing is to write - blogs, articles, whatever and publish the same . The second is to seek feedback. Just as others review your work you must also review others work. Make that a practice - to review all that is presented on the forum. Reviewing must be balanced, impersonal. But do mention both - the positives and the areas to work at. That sort of feedback would surely help. Some of the major issues that come up could be taken up to discuss when you meet next. Over time you should ideally get to a stage where you are comfortably expressing yourself fully, gloriously. Like I said before, its a fantastic initiative. Keep your focus sharp and enjoy the process.

No comments: