For a long while now, I’ve been toying with the idea of revamping the website. That hasn’t happened yet but I suppose it will eventually. In the meanwhile I thought I should get back to blogging, something I still do where I work at InstaScribe.

Recently I was part of the UEA Creative Writing Workshop in Kolkata, India, and for reasons personal and otherwise this was the proverbial breath of fresh air.

So what happens in a writing workshop? What can you expect?

I don’t want to spoil the fun for those who have never attended a prose writing workshop before but one thing I can tell you is that you don’t necessarily write as much. The writing has to have happened before. The preparation to reach that space where you interact with writers should best have begun many months or even years before the workshop. Then the critiques that workshoppers receive will be of greater value.

I was excited by the sheer range of professionals who are interested by writing. Also the writing life. The idea of living on caffeine and inspiration. The idea of sitting at the ideal writing table immersed in creating a valuable tome. The idea of constructing the perfect tale. These are now dreams that people from many walks of life harbour.

And the mentors Romesh Gunesekera and Amit Chaudhuri showed aspiring writers and those who were writers already that a book is not ready when you think it is and it may be on its way when you think it is not.

When a manuscript is open for critique, so much is at stake. The idea itself, the theme, the syntax, the words themselves and even the author’s personality. It is a risk to put your work out there before a group of twelve or thirteen people. Not to mention experienced writers. Have you been to a writing workshop? What has your experience been like?

© neelima, 2015

9 thoughts on “Return Leave a comment

  1. Yes, attended the UEA workshop in 2015. Like you said, not much writing done there. Returned with some useful insights though. But realised that in the end, what matters is staying put in that chair, day after day, and doggedly writing your story word by word.

  2. Hi, Neelima! Long time no hear.

    I’ve been to several workshops and generally find them supportive and useful. The only qualifications I would put are to try to find a workshop with people interested in your type of writing – so not putting poetry to a group with no poets or travel writing to a group of poets – and remembering that while you should consider any criticisms, they may be wrong. I went to a poetry surgery with the poet Helen Ivory and one of my poems that did not go down very well in a group, she loved!


  3. Hi Simon, so glad to hear from you! In my workshop there were some writers of sci-fi and speculative fiction, so it was eye-opening.
    Poetry surgery is an interesting term. It is true about mentors and peers having very different views indeed! Wish you a good writing year ahead….

  4. Lovely to see you here Archana and glad that you are doggedly pursuing the writing life. It’s a journey filled with obstacles and sometimes success. The workshop inspired; now it’s back to my chair!

  5. So happy to see you back blogging, Neelima! It was wonderful to read about your creative writing workshop experiences. I went to a creative writing workshop years back – it was people who wanted to explore creative writing – and we wrote short pieces and poems and critiqued each other’s work. It was fun! This one you went to, seems to be one designed for full-time writers. Glad you enjoyed it.

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