Penning down your thoughts with Salil Desai

Author Salil Desai speaks on how to develop your inner writer and the British Library workshop for creative fiction writing…

You can have the final word. Yes, you can. With a number of enthusiasts who want to try their hand at fiction writing, some guidance is always welcome. British Library, Pune has organised a two-day workshop on creative fiction writing. The workshop called Writer’s Mantra will be held on August 17-18 at the library and will be conducted by acclaimed Pune-based writer Salil Desai for those above 16.
Desai recalls the good response he got from the workshops held by British Library, Ahmedabad, which has enabled him conduct this one in his hometown. With due discussions over the date, the workshop was finally organised for the above mentioned date. Desai tells The Punekar more about the workshop and his involvement in it.
at BCL Pune Workshop photo 2010This workshop is for aspiring writers and you have dealt with them in your earlier workshops. How has the experience been?
It was quite fascinating as many were brimming with ideas and talent. Many of these ideas are good but most of the people did not know how to proceed with them. In fact, many want to know the tricks of the trade. I try to tell them that writing is not just about pure inspiration. It is also about crafted imagination. You cannot leave everything to pure inspiration and write down. You can supplement it with technique and talent. You can get confidence. The entire workshop is exercise oriented.
What would your approach be towards doling out information to those coming in?
My approach would be making them understand that writing is something you have to work at.
You are an author yourself so you would have an advantage over others conducting such workshops. How would this be different?
I cannot comment on other workshops but this workshop will be based on my trial and errors. Though I have been publishing stories for about 30 years, I have started working on books for the last four years. The workshop will be a practical guide and not based on some bookish concept. The thing is that a writer likes to have enigma and aura around them. I will try to demystify the fiction writer for the aspirants. I have been through mistakes. I can tell them the difference between good and bad writing.
Salil Desai Workshop Photo BCL Pune 2012After the workshop gets over, how should the aspirants go on with their writing plan? What would be your advice?
I started conducting the workshop last year, in Ahmedabad. It was a success and so I was called in later. It was pretty weird as I did not know that the city had so many people interested in the art of writing. All of these participants formed a writer’s club with the British Library. In March this year, they launched an e-magazine along with the Library. It is doing pretty well and they have asked me to contribute to it too. Though I have no idea of how long this will work, my point is that I was not sure that the workshop would lead to this. The e-magazine is a classic example of how to go about. I would tell all these people that as a writer, you have to feel your story a lot. Though short stories doesn’t have a great market right now, try writing it to explore what you are good at. You will be able to find your genre. Writing a novel is like playing test cricket, while short story is one day. Blogs and forums are something which I am not keen on, as quality wise I am suspicious of it. I do tell them to write but also go for short stories. In fact, these days, a lot of publishers are coming out with anthologies.
For registration and fee details, you can contact Sugandhi/Savitry on 41005307 or 41005317 at British Library or email