Welcome to the
Three Habits of Successful Writers - READ - WRITE - PLAY
Some say there are only two ways that writers can improve their craft
But there is a third method, one
Studies have shown that play has a direct effect on our brains in many positive areas. It improves cognition, creates new synapses and connections, improves language skills and memory, and promotes creative problem-solving. While it's vital
Village Square offers - the Leisure Arena. A place where we can stop and recharge. Each month we offer entertainment in the form of games, vocabulary builders, puzzles, author spotlights, and polls. All designed to take our minds off the reading and writing
By Louise Sawyer
BEACH PARTY SCRAMBLE
Four authors are at the beach, tossing around words like beachballs, and the words get scrambled.
Are you able to unscramble them? All of them are related to writing.
An Interview with … Kasturi Patra
Tell us something about yourself. What do you bring from your background and culture into your writing?
I’m from India. I was born and raised in Kolkata, but currently, I reside in Delhi. I have a master’s degree in applied economics and an MBA in International Business. After spending almost a decade in the corporate world, I realized that my true passion lies in writing. Hence, I plunged headlong into the world of words. Though I’ve been an avid reader ever since I can remember, I started writing around four years back. For me, my favorite writers seemed like superheroes capable of creating magic and changing my life. So, it took a long time to gain the courage to write without being equipped with a college degree in English Literature or Creative writing.
Since I’m from India, most of my stories are based in Kolkata or in Delhi, the places where I’ve lived. I love describing things, be it the setting with all its sensory details or the food that the characters are preparing or having in the story. A lot of my fellow writers have told me that they get to experience a tiny bit of India through my writing. I feel very happy when they say that.
What do you write? Specific genres or a variety?
When I joined WVU exactly a year back, I was struggling to finish a novel. It was in the feminist young adult genre. However, I discovered my love for writing literary short stories here, thanks to my advisor, Cynthia, the courses that I studied here, and some of the study groups where I’m a member. Right now, the novel is shelved and I’m writing literary short stories and enjoying the experience to the fullest. I’m also interested in writing creative nonfiction and hope to pursue some of the related courses in the future.
What classes are you taking at WVU, and how have they helped your writing?
I take a lot of classes. Since I’ve opted for the three-year fiction MFA, I mostly take classes pertaining to that. Some of the most memorable classes so far have been: Literary Fiction, Subtext, Narrative Design, Lisa Cron’s Wired for Story series, and all the literature classes starting from Hemingway to Munro.
What is the biggest surprise you've experienced at WVU?
Well, last year when I joined WVU for an annual membership fee of $99, I just thought that maybe, I’ll gain something out of it that’d help my writing to a small extent. Since I have no writing teachers or mentors in real life, all I expected was a bit of help regarding feedback and advice. What I experienced instead, was something utterly life transforming, as a result of which I spend all my working hours on WVU courses and groups—writing my stories, analysing them, giving feedback to my peers. I’ve always enjoyed learning, so this place is a perfect fit for me. Also, the warmth and support that I’ve received from some of the senior members have been incredible. They taught me so much. And all of this without having to sell my kidneys in order to pay for my membership! I’ve participated in a few writers’ workshops in India which charged a bomb and didn’t teach a fraction of what I’ve learned here. The renowned MFA programs and workshops that I found online were beyond what I could ever afford without a job at present. What I’ve realized about WVU is that it is a place where the more you give, the more you receive. By giving, I mean the amount of effort and hard work you put into the courses, how sincerely you’re giving feedback to your peers, and how eager you are to learn and grow as a writer. Once my husband leaves for work in the morning, I spend at least five to six hours at WVU. And I’ve received the benefits in full measure. Joining WVU has been the best decision I could've taken for my writing career.
Have you published anything? Submitted? What are you working on now?
I've been published in local print and online anthologies. In the past, I used to write a regular column for a popular Indian website on women’s empowerment. My biggest achievement, writing-wise so far, has been receiving an award of INR 10,000 ($145) for an essay on Kolkata from a reputed Indian publishing house. I'm working on a few literary short stories now, that I plan on submitting in the coming months.
There are a number of WVU members from all over the world. An online system makes it possible for us to communicate with each other wherever we live. But has this caused any difficulties for you? How did you solve them?
I’ve been very lucky to have met some of the most encouraging and generous people here. My learning in this one year has been phenomenal and the members acted as a catalyst in that process. Their feedback and suggestions have been invaluable. This is one of the warmest and most generous writers’ community. In fact, I praise WVU so much that a few of my writer friends from India have also joined it.
A writer's tip or two you'd like to share.
Write. Read. Analyse your work.
I’m one of those boring people who believe in the value of hard work. I do not think I’m especially gifted but one thing that I know about myself is that I am continuously becoming a better writer than what I was in the past due to my sheer grit and determination. I do not know of any other short cut. You have got to read and write every day. Even if it’s not possible to write full time, try to set aside some fixed time during your day where you work on your craft. Just like exercise builds your muscles and makes you stronger, practising your writing is the only way to becoming a better writer.
Also, you need to read. A lot! WVU courses give us great ideas about the kind of books we need to read to improve our craft. The Literary Fiction and Narrative Design classes, for example, exposed me to a diverse array of literary stories. Analysing those have opened my eyes to the different ways that I could approach my own writing.
I’d read somewhere that to be a successful writer you need to read, write, and have a writer’s group for giving and receiving feedback. I had no idea how I’d have achieved the third part without this community. Again, be sincere in your feedback. As per my experience so far, the kind of feedback you receive here will mostly reflect the kind of feedback you give to your peers.
Click Here for More Member of the Month
An Interview with Randall Shreve
by Frank Richards
What made you decide to become a facilitator?
WVU was meant to be a shared experience. The motto is writers helping writers and there's a measure of give and take to the model, where we all share roles and the more time we spend on each side the more benefit we get. Facilitators are always needed, so if you aren't actively taking classes, it's a good way to give back to the community and get more class time while you're at it.
Has being a facilitator affected you writing?
It's helped me to be more critical of my own writing. That glass of scrutiny works when you turn it around too. I don't think I put quite as much effort into making sure everything was on point before. I'm a little more self judgy now.
What tips do you have for a newbie facilitator?
It's a little intimidating at first, but don't let that keep you from starting. We always need facilitators and moderators, so there's plenty opportunity for practice.
Have you taught or facilitated classes outside of WVU?
I have not. I've helped someone where I could, but my experiences with local writing groups have not been entirely pleasant or productive ones, so I tend to stay away.
What has been your favorite class or classes to facilitate?
I haven't really come across one I didn't like.
How much time does it take to research and prepare for each class? And to give feedback? As a facilitator, what other kinds of things do you spend time on?
I'd say that depends on the class and what it needs. Some are simple straight-forward-cakewalk type classes. Some of the more advanced MFA classes are going to need you to be more proactive. Giving feedback for me falls partly into a matter of who is taking the class and what they need. If there's someone who isn't getting much feedback, that's where I start. The general suggestion is to look at who has the fewest replies and start there to help ensure everyone gets some input on their post. Sometimes it can be hard, because you just don't know what to say, so the best you can do is to find something productive to discuss.
It always helps facilitating if you know the material. Usually by that first day of a class, I've gone through the reading two or three times. For L300- A Lesson Before Dying, I've read that book about five or six times. Facilitating gives me an excuse to read it again.
Please share what you’d like to on your special love of writing. Is there some aspect of writing which really intrigues you?
There's something about that ah-ha moment when something finally clicks for you, and your writing moves up a notch in caliber. Consistent work and practice usually translate to consistent movement up the scale. I've been short listed on a couple small-time contests, but no wins or noteworthy publications yet. Still, not something I'd have been able to do before WVU. I'll get there. Possibly sooner than later, but it won't be without putting in the work.
What classes have you taken here?
I'm almost four years into a three-year certificate, with a little over half the credit requirements met.
Click Here for More Fabulous Facilitators
Joy Manne: a flash fiction, 'and we pass through, and we pass through, and we pass through' will be published in the National Flash Fiction Day anthology.
Pam Laughlin: her first novel, Soul of the Elephant, has been published by Evolved Publishing. Amazon
Tatjana Mirkov-Popovicki, ‘tatjanamp’: a flash fiction, Ancient, to be published in Crannóg Magazine this summer.
Gerardine Gail Baugh: a collection of poems, essays, short stories, and memoirs, My Walking Path: A Blending of Words on an Uneven Ground.