Posts made in February, 2014

Second Round of Feedback for the Memoir Writing Workshop with Cheryl Strayed

Dear Friends, As promised, here are the remaining comments we have received for Cheryl Strayed’s Memoir Writing Workshop. Click here to read the first round of feedback. ***** Ishan Sharma, an independent filmmaker and poet, was kind enough to send us the following words: “The Memoir Writing workshop by Cheryl Strayed was a wonderful experience not only for seasoned writers, but even for enthusiasts like me, who are forever scared to share their writings. And that’s what Cheryl started on- the importance of “courage” when you’re writing. The beauty of showing all sides of your character in memoir writing. To my delight, these few hours ended up being less of a workshop and more of an intimate conversation with a writer I admire. And a good conversation always ends up teaching you more. We did quite a few writing exercises – ranging from pinning down thoughts about loss, periods of transition to writing about talismans. It was interesting to listen to what others had written and even more liberating to finally share what I had written. I’m quite surprised how much I learnt in a span of a few hours. Thank you Cheryl, and the Literature Studio for an inspiring experience! I would love to be a part of any more workshops, meet-ups that you guys have to offer.” Thanks Ishan for  your kind words. Such encouragement will keep us going a long way. ***** Ravi Manoram is an MBA from FMS and is currently working on his first novel. He has shared the following thoughts with us: “There are workshops and there are THE workshops; where you are not taught and yet you learn. Attending Cheryl Strayed’s workshop on Memoir writing was one such event in my life that is worth remembering. The best selling author, yet in her most simplest avatar guided us through the whims and needs of memoir writing and made it come so alive that it almost made each one think of telling our own story or atleast make an attempt at one.I myself have been working on a novel that can be classified as a memoir and I was happy to get a lot of inputs from Cheryl on the art as well as the craft of writing which is helping me rewrite pages of the book. A workshop that emerged from the ocean of unknown because of a friend who lives seven seas far turned to out to an important chapter of learning in my life for which I would be thankful to three people in particular:a)      Cheryl Strayed: for taking all the pain to come and spare some time;b)       Vibha Malhotra: for taking the initiative and the pain to organize this wonderful workshopc)       And my unnamed friend here who guided me to attend this workshop. The best things in life are free and it comes out of the blue in your life. Thank you Cheryl once again and hope to meet you again the times to come.” Thanks Ravi! We wish you the best for your novel. ***** Traveller and aspiring writer, Sumita Thapar, sends us the following gracious note: “The memoir writing workshop with Cheryl Strayed was an excellent learning opportunity. Cheryl shared tips, leads, clues with such generosity. The writing exercises helped reveal new insights. Cheryl spoke of how memoir writing is the art of revelation, how we must choose the story we want to tell and explore how that struggle/ enquiry connects with something universal. She also told us to choose the vantage from from where the story is told best. Loved the clues like how moments of transition become effective entry points into storytelling, using objects like talismans to tell...

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Happy Birthday Charles Dickens! || A Review of his Book “Hard Times” to Celebrate the Occasion

Exactly 202 years back, on February 7th 1812, the world took a turn towards the better with the birth of Charles Dickens, the legendary literary maestro. During his lifetime, the writer made several social commentaries through his big fat novels and left behind a legacy that few would attempt to conquer. His novels keep literature students all over the words busy and his works have been interpreted and reinterpreted many times. His complex, candid themes have never gone stale and his style stays unparalleled till date. And today we celebrate Charles Dickens’s birthday. We had requested some of Literature Studio’s friends to send in reviews of Dickens’s books and we received several brilliant responses. Many of them were brilliant reads. We had a fun time going through the entries and a tough one deciding which one to publish. At the end we decided to go with Meenakshi Kashyap’s scholarly review of Hard Times, as a tribute not only to Charles Dickens, but also to literature students all over the world. So here it goes. Hope you enjoy reading this. ***** A review of Hard Times by Charles Dickens – by our guest writer Meenakshi Kashyap Hard Times is a commendable work by Charles Dickens, which, as the title suggests, is a story of tough times. However, it makes a larger comment on the lives of people in Victorian industrial towns. Set in a fictitions town called Coketown, the novel’s story is divided into three parts; sowing, reaping, and garnering. These three parts establish a parallel meaning to life – how the actions of an individual affect him or her as well as others. This book was published in 1854 in Dickens’s weekly publication. The main theme of this novel is based on the conventions of Utilitarians. In Victorian times, this was the prevalent school structure, where stress was laid only on rationality and logical reasoning. There was a constant tussle between “fact” and “fancy”. The subtext deals with how rigidities of certain principals destroyed creativity and imaginations of children, and this can be easily captured by the readers. There is no single protagonist as such in the novel, but rather there are many characters whose lives embody different aspects of life in different conditions. One of them is Mr Gradgrind who runs a school where he teaches his students only “facts”. For him there is no place for imagination. His method of teaching is very harsh and stern. He has two children Louisa and Thomas who do what their father wants them to do. And then there is Mr Bounderby, the boss to Mr Gradgrind. He is a manufacturer and a mill owner. He appears to be a heartless human being. Both Bounderby and Gradgrind equally deserve to be termed as the “destroyer” of people’s lives. Sissy Jupe is another character and she studies in Gradgrind’s school. Her father works in Mr Sleary‘s circus, so indirectly she belongs to the world of creativity. Sissy is the only character who does live in compliance with her society. She emerges as a unique individual who thinks and acts in a unique direction. And this turns out to be sole reason why her life does not suffer the same fate as the others. She takes her life decisions on her own and she ends up escaping from the prison of Grad grind’s school. She opted to follow her own path and does not compromise her integrity and morals. Louisa and Thomas, on the other hand, have to face many difficulties throughout their lives, and the sole person responsible for this is their...

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First Round of Feedback for the Memoir Writing Workshop with Cheryl Strayed

First Round of Feedback for the Memoir Writing Workshop with Cheryl Strayed

Hello All, Hope you are all having fun and starring in whatever you are up to these days! It has been nearly two weeks since Cheryl Strayed’s Memoir Writing Workshop, which Literature Studio had the privilege of organizing. And we have received the first round of feedback from our brilliant participants. Here is what they have to say about the workshop: **** Mr Arvind Passey, a well-known writer and blogger, summarizes the experience beautifully in his blog. Here is an excerpt: “…Cheryl said, ‘Show, don’t tell.’ And this, I think, is the real mantra of memoir writing… in fact, a principle that helps anyone write anything better. I do remember reading the weekly column of Paulo Coelho and the one thing that stands out is that he shows, never tells. Well, the short session on memoir writing that a few of us had with Cheryl Strayed, a writer from America on her way back after attending the Jaipur Literature Fair, was rather revelatory. Like the others there, even I was able to hesitatingly reveal a bit more about myself to me…”. Click here to read more. Thank you Mr. Passey for putting together this lovely post. **** Mr. Dilip Ramachandran, a musician, Creative Director,  percussionist who discovered his fondness for writing during this workshop, has been very generous with his feedback. This is what he says: “It’s not often that I care to attend workshops. Don’t get me wrong – it’s not that I think they are useless, it’s just that I’m lazy and don’t ascribe much to the learning potentials of these workshops. They are usually boring and I end up fidgeting my way through the session. I would have as par for the course deleted the email I received from a friend who thought this workshop would be helpful. But something about this mail refused to be treated as an inferior intrusion of my space. It stood it’s ground and I took interest. I read, got intrigued and made the effort to reply to Vibha with a short bio I felt would get me a slot in what was surely limited seating once in a lifetime opportunity to meet and interact with Cheryl. I had read about Cheryl and her writing as part of a post from Brainpickings.org on a review on Dear Sugar. I loved it and filed it away for future reading and promptly forgot about it. And then this mail, surely this was meant to be. I got the much-awaited reply from Vibha securing me a place in the second group. I quickly scanned the emails of the recipients. Only 12 participants and I was one of them. I spent the rest of the day feeling like a champ who had secured a place in an elite special literary squad. On the day of the workshop, I did a quick research on memoir writing, reached well on time and was taken in immediately by the warmth and ease of Cheryl. Right from the start, Cheryl made all of us comfortable and dived right into what was for me not merely a writing workshop but an opportunity to articulate, write and express some of my fears and expectations. The nearly 3-hour session was conducted more as a friend than a writer of repute. Cheryl talked about her own life and that enabled us to be honest with ours. HONESTY.COMPASSION.PERSPECTIVE.RANT.FORGIVE.SHOW.TELL – some of the pertinent guides to writing shared by Cheryl really helped me with the writing exercises she gave us. I have never written with the ferocity I did that day. My pen flying across the page as my...

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