Umes Shrestha

Interview with Hornby School Tutor Amol Padwad

Interview with Hornby School Tutor Dr. Amol Padwad

Amol Padwad, who took over the presidentship of ELTAI in July, 2010, holds a master’s degrees in English and Russian. He has other degrees to hiscredit like M.Phil (English), LL.B and PGDTE (CIEFL). He also did M.Ed. (TESOL) from University of Leeds, UK on the Hornby Trust scholarship. Currently the head of thePostgraduate Department of English at J. M. Patel College, Bhandara (Maharashtra), he was a moderator of ELTeCS- India (the regional electronic network of ELT professionals, promoted by the British Council) for a number of years.

He has completed one and is working on three ELT projects, funded by the British Council and the Hornby Trust. He is associated with numerous professional and social bodies, and has published several articles and translations. Here’s an interview with him done by Ushakiran Wagle.

What was the main focus of the Hornby School in Nepal?

The focus of the Hornby School in Nepal was ‘learning in low-resource classrooms’. This one-week residential school was a follow-up on a similar school last year. The main objective was to enable teachers to deal with the problem of lack of resources in their classrooms. The approach of the school was not ‘experts bringing academic knowledge and readymade solutions’, but the participants sharing their rich and varied experience, their ideas and practices and helping each other finding ways of addressing the problem.

How was your experience of delivering the sessions at the School?

It was an immensely enjoyable and enriching experience. The group had in it a range of countries (Nepal, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh), school contexts (urban/ rural, private/ state, primary to tertiary) and participant profiles (novices/ veterans, male/ female, various qualifications). There was a lot to learn from and share with each other. The sessions were all participatory and collaborative, and participants contributed actively and seriously to each session. The tutors Richard Smith and Jovan Ilic also brought in their rich experience, varied perspectives and ideas from other contexts.

Did the focus for the school and the local context here in Nepal match? If not, how did you respond?

The focus of the school had a great relevance to the local context in Nepal, I believe. As I understand, shortage of resources is a perennial problem in most Nepalese schools. Most schools have what we would term ‘low-resource classrooms’. So the proceedings of the Hornby School, we hope, were very useful to the Nepalese participants, who must have carried home several ideas and insights from the School to be tried out in their classrooms.

What is your opinion on the global trends and local context difference? How can we as ELT professional balance?

Especially in the case of ELT, we (meaning the countries in SAARC region) show a general tendency of blindly following whatever latest trends and techniques that come to us from the West. Global trends, which for us normally mean Western (especially UK-USA) trends, are either completely and uncritically accepted, or completely and equally uncritically rejected. Take, for example, communicative language teaching, to which we have shown one of these two extreme reactions. What we need is not to accept/ reject the whole package, but unpack it and see what has relevance for us and needs to be discarded. I personally believe that the ‘original’ Western model of CLT is not feasible/ relevant in our countries, but also that there are some really great insights and ideas which we may ignore to our peril. As ELT professionals, we might ask of every new development the ‘WIIFM’ question – ‘what’s in it for me?’

What is your final message to the readers?

My final message to the readers (who are all teachers, I guess) is – a teacher can and does make a world of difference to every classroom, whether we like it or not. But it’s in our hands to try to make a planned, thoughtful and positive difference to our learners and classrooms. The first step of making this positive change is to start changing ourselves.

Thank you, Dr. Padwad.

English from Feminist’s Eyes

Shankar Dewan

Perhaps no one exactly knows if the early human being was ‘man’ or ‘woman’. But in the Biblical tradition, it is said that God created the two sexes; ‘Adam’ first and ‘Eve’ later by taking of a rib from Adam. God gave Adam the right and power to name and domesticate the animals. This might be the reason why the terms such as ‘mankind’ instead of ‘womankind’;  ‘manhood’ instead of ‘womanhood’; ‘boyhood’ instead of ‘girlhood’; ‘brotherhood’ instead of ‘sisterhood’; ‘forefathers’ instead of ‘foremothers’ were coined and have been very common. English has a lot of words which are formed by adding the terms referring to maleness such as headmaster, manpower, man-made, man-to-man, prehistoric man, man-eating tiger, manhole, fireman, postman, chairman, and so on. Similarly, terms referring to men are put first in the pairs as if the women are the second sex such as father and mother, uncle and aunt, man and woman, king and queen, husband and wife, sir and madam, lord and lady, master and mistress.

English ideology “All men are created equal” is itself gender -biased.  Why can’t we say “All women are created equal”? We can find ‘male’ as a base or root for ‘female’, ‘man’ for ‘woman’, ‘he’ for ‘she’, and ‘Mr’ for ‘Mrs’. These terms show that women are semi-human beings, or subordinate or marginal creatures. Female terms are also formed from the male terms by adding the suffixes such as –ess, -ette, e.g. poet/poetess, author/ authoress, actor/actress, major/majorette, usher/usherette. These examples show that men are core and women are derivative of men.  The famous linguist Janet Holmes views that the use of an additional suffix to signal ‘femaleness’ is seen as conveying the message that women are deviant or abnormal.  It has also been suggested that the suffixes like –ess and –ette trivialize and diminish women, and when they refer to occupations such as ‘authoress’ and ‘poetess’, carry connotations of lack of seriousness. Because the word ‘woman’ does not share equal status with man, terms referring to women have undergone pejoration. If we examine pairs of gender-marked terms such as lord/lady, baronet/dame, Sir/Madam, master/mistress, king/queen, wizard/witch, we can see how female terms may start out on an equal footing, but they become devalued over time.

The English language discriminates against women. When we give our speech, we begin our speech with ‘Ladies and gentlemen’. Does it mean that ladies are not gentle but only men? Why are the men just men but the women are ladies too?  Women are given a title, either ‘Miss’ for unmarried ones and ‘Mrs’ for married ones, but men, whether they are married or not, are given a title ‘Mr.’ Why should we distinguish women as married and unmarried by giving the corresponding title but not for men? Janet Holmes also views that women may also be described or referred to in terms of food imagery such as ‘sugar’, ‘sweetie’, ‘honey’, which is equally insulting. We greet the male teacher using more formal term ‘Bhattarai Sir’ but informal term is used to address the female teacher ‘Meera Madam’. We only use the term ‘doctor’ for male but ‘lady/woman/female doctor’ for female one which conveys the idea that she is not the ‘real’ thing. The word ‘professional’ used with the men has positive sense but with the women has the negative sense i.e. they are prostitutes. Similarly, the term ‘businessman’ has positive connotation but the term ‘business girl’ is used as a slang term for a prostitute. We can say ‘She’s John’s widow,’ but we cannot say ‘He’s Sally’s widower.’ Linda can be described as Fred’s mistress but Fred cannot be described as Linda’s master. Men play golf and cricket, while women play women’s golf and women’s cricket. Why so?

The famous sociolinguist Suzanne Romaine views that language has helped to gender the way we think about space; men’s space is public, in the workplace, while women’s place is private and in the home. This difference is encoded discursively in expressions such as working mother, cleaning lady, businessman, policeman, housewife, making it easier to accept as ‘natural’ the exclusion of women from public life. We have the English phrase ‘career woman/girl’ but not the ‘career man’ as if men by definition have careers, but women who do so must be marked as deviant. Similarly, a man can also be ‘a family man’, but it would be odd to call a woman ‘a family woman’ as if women by definition are family women.

Many grammatical forms are also found gender-biased. We can see or read  the texts where the use of masculine pronouns ‘he’, ‘him’ and ‘his’ is very common, e.g. ‘Everyone should get his hat.’, ‘Somebody has forgotten his umbrella.’, ‘The average student is worried about his grades.’, ‘Each student will do better if he has a voice in the decision.’ etc.  These sexist practices have promoted to the ‘he/man approach’ to language as the scholar Wendy Martyna says, that is, the use of male terms to refer both to males in particular and to human beings in general designates men as the ‘unmarked’ and women as the ‘marked’ human category.  Experiments have shown that women feel excluded when they read texts with generic ‘he’, ‘him’ and ‘his.’

Feminists have claimed that English is a sexist language which has marginalized women. Sexist language has been drawing the fire of feminists for several decades now, and a number of linguists and sociolinguists have turned their due attention to the issue. To reduce sexist usages and make the language more inclusionary, new gender-neutral terms have been suggested by feminists such as ‘tey’ to replace ‘she’ and ‘he’, or combining them as ‘s/he’; ‘Ms’ to replace ‘Mrs’ and ‘Miss’; ‘chairperson’ or ‘chair’ for ‘chairman’; ‘fire-fighter’ for ‘fireman’; ‘letter carrier’ for ‘postman’; ‘police officer’ for ‘policeman’; ‘prehistoric people’ for ‘prehistoric man’ and so on. Besides these,  the scholars Rebecca Freeman and Bonnie McElhinny mention the five guidelines or strategies suggested by the Linguistic Society of America (LSA) for avoiding the use of the generic masculine pronoun: First, drop the masculine pronoun (e.g. The average student is worried about grades.);  second, rewrite the sentence in the plural rather than the singular (e.g. Students can select their own topics.); third, substitute the pronouns ‘one’ or ‘one’s’ for ‘he’ or ‘his’ (e.g. One should do one’s best.); fourth, use ‘he’ or ‘she’, ‘his’ or ‘her’(in speech and writing) or s/he (in writing); and  fifth, use ‘their’ when the subject is an indefinite pronoun (e.g. Everybody should get their hat.). Feminists now think that as long as women must use a language which is not of their own making, change is impossible. As an output, some women refer to themselves as  ‘actors’ rather than  ‘actresses’, ‘poets’ rather than ‘poetesses’ and so on. The sociolinguist Suzanne Romaine writes that many women authors, now-a-days, deliberately use ‘she’ as the generic pronoun to shock their readers. She presents the idea of one feminist as ‘if there are men who feel uncomfortable about being excluded, they should think of how women feel within minutes of opening most books.’ If women feel being excluded, they will not be motivated to read the texts that impede their comprehension. Therefore, let’s create anxiety-free texts by using gender-neutral terms and expressions in order to create linguistic harmony in the linguistic world.

The author teaches at Sukuna and Pathari Multiple Campus, Morang and is a treasurer of Nepal English Language Teachers’ Association (NELTA), Morang branch.

Teacher Confession: Leaving Radio Nepal to Change the World

If you had known me five years ago, you would have known me as a news reader in the national radio. You would have heard: This is Radio Nepal. I am Umes Shrestha and you’re listening to the news. First the headlines.

That was my daily routine. Translate the news. Edit them. And go live. I still remember the day I went on air for the first time. Inside this small square studio, I was literally shaking behind the microphone. Needless to say, it was a scary and entertaining job. Getting to speak to the whole nation through the prestigious national radio. It was a dream come true. That’s what I thought at that moment.

But as the years went by, my enthusiasm for the job started to wilt. Something started to bother me. May be it was the routine job. May be it was the same political news day in and day out. But definitely I needed a change.

So after sitting on the same chair for almost half a decade, working on the same PIII computer and going into the same old battered news studio of Radio Nepal – I decided to quit the job.

I went to see my news in-charge. And I told him: Sir, I’m leaving the job.

He turned his big baldhead towards me, stared into my eyes and said: But you are good at it. And I shocked him with this answer: Yes sir, and that’s the reason I want to quit this job.

You see, for almost half a decade, I lived in my comfort zone of that studio and embraced mediocrity. I was the best at being an average. I lost my drive because it was easy, it was patterned and it was getting boring. I had hit the rock bottom.

When I told about this to my mom – she got really worried and said: How can someone even think of leaving a sarkari jaagir? I told about this to my close friends. They reacted the way my mom did. I told this to my to-be-wife. With complete disbelief in her eyes, she told me: You’d better have a good plan – because we’re getting married soon.

But I did leave the job. And after a few months of soul searching, I started teaching in a school and a college. It was my calling. It was what I was meant to do.

And then, I got my hand on the book that changed my life. It was “Leaving Microsoft to Change the World” by John Wood. I suppose, you have gone through this book. One thing I’ve learned from the book is – if you remain happy in your comfort zone, you will settle for that happiness and will eventually stop dreaming for something better.

I am in no way trying to compare myself with John Wood. He left Microsoft and his lucrative salary. He started an amazing organization Room to Read from the scratch. I – well, I left a minor job. But he and his book are always an inspiration to me. The book keeps me reminding to step out of my comfort zone and do something challenging.

I am a teacher, and I want to do something amazing, inspiring and even crazy. I want to be the guy who left Radio Nepal to change the world. Big dream, hai? I believe teaching is a very challenging job. At the same time, teaching is a very rewarding and inspiring job. And I also believe that – teaching can change the world for real.

Please read this book.. it might just change your life as well.

Must-Read Series: Seven Books on ELT Methodology

Dr. Laxman Gnawali

When it comes to teaching of English, the pedagogy takes the centre stage. Every teacher asks: how shall I teach English? And they further ask: which is really a good book? I say there is not one single book which is good, there are several of them. Each book is good and useful in its own way.   So, if we want to teach English effectively and also in a way we do not burn out, we need to select some really good books.

I share this list with you. They are some of the key books: some of the must-read books. And I have got questions for you. Once you have gone through this list, please see the questions below the list. Then, respond to the questions in the comments section.

1. Learning Teaching – Jim Scrivener

LEARNING TEACHING, that’s what it is all about. We want to learn teaching and we can learn teaching if we have this book: Learning Teaching. This book is meant both for initial trainees and practising teachers. Jim does not just give theoretical ideas, he presents very practical tips. Read to believe me.

2. How Children Learn – John Holt

Here is why this book is worth reading for the educators to understand HOW CHILDREN LEARN, I just second to what Holt says, “When we better understand the ways, conditions, and spirit in which children do their best learning, and are able to make school into a place where they can use and improve the style of thinking and learning natural to them, we may be able to prevent (much of this) failure.” John Holt

3. Breaking Rules – John F. Fanselow

We can’t be innovative teachers if we just follow the rules that are given to us. So, how do we innovate? It’s by BREAKING RULES. And breaking rules should be our way of life. As Fanslow says. “Only by engaging in the generation and exploration of alternatives will we be able to see. And then we will see that we must continue to look.” Love this book to learn how to break rules.

4. The Practice of English Language Teaching – Jeremy Harmer

Want a comprehensive book on the best PRACTICE OF ENGLISH LANGUAGE TEACHING? Here is the book by Harmer. Just go through this book and you will find a review of global English, ideas to help you continue your professional development alone or with others, methodology for teaching all the skill sectors in ELT. Your practice will definitely improve.

5. How to Teach Speaking – Scott Thornbury

Teachers who practise communicate language teaching in the EFL classes sometimes wonder how to develop students’ speaking skills help them overcome their hesitation. Are you one of them? Here is something you shouldn’t miss? Great ideas to learn HOW TO TEACH SPEAKING. Ideas for teaching English inside the class as well as well as ideas for developing confidence in using English outside the classroom.

6. A Course in English Language Teaching – Penny Ur

You may be an EFL teacher or a teacher educator or both. You may be looking for a comprehensive reference book on ELT methodology. Covering all language skills and aspects and extending to the syllabus design and teacher development, Ur presents this COURSE IN ENGLISH LANGUAGE TEACHING that answers any methodology related questions you may have.

7. Laughing Matters: Humor in the Language Classroom – Peter Medgyes

You want to teach English in a fun way? You want to use humour in the English? You want to see your students as active in the end as in the beginning of the class? You want to have LAUGHING MATTERS to use in your English class? Just go for it. As someone said, “It provides over 120 activities which will inject some light-hearted fun into lessons whilst still being grounded in respected educational theory.”

Here are my questions for you:

Do you have these books? Do you use them? Would you recommend them to other teachers? Which one(s)?

Do you want your students to like you?

umes

Umes Shrestha

Do you ever wonder why you like some teachers and why you absolutely dislike others? Why some teachers inspire you and why some sap your enthusiasm? And now that you are a teacher yourself, do you ever wonder why some students love being around you and why others try to dodge you when they see you coming?

Back in my school days, I remember being fond of my English teacher. He was into rock music and horror movies. I liked my Nepali teacher too. He was ‘haudey’ and friendly. He also told funny jokes. I liked my head-teacher because he had a visible halo of intelligence around him and looked like Morgan Freeman with chubby cheeks.

Students like teachers for various reasons. For a teacher’s absolute authority, command over the subject, confidence, personality, character, even gender, age and background. Or because the teacher does not nag students for grammatical mistakes… doesn’t pressure the students with assignments and deadlines. In college, we liked teachers who gave us notes. A friend liked Sociology ma’am because she was unmarried. My female friends liked a teacher because he had a unique British accent. There could be so many reasons.

So why we end up liking (or disliking) a teacher? There must be some explainable reasons. In this article, I claim that one of the reasons is non-verbal communication between the teacher and the students.

What the theories say:

We communicate in two levels: verbal and non-verbal. We might think that the verbal part matters the most. Thus, a teacher focuses on delivering the content. The what part. However, we overlook the other one. We infact completely neglect it. Gestures, eye contact, body language, distance, social norms, expectations and so on. The how part. Non-verbal communication is about ‘how’ you share the message rather than ‘what’ message you are sharing.

Teaching is an act of communication between the teacher and the students. This happens in both verbal and non-verbal levels. Therefore teaching depends on both ‘what’ and ‘how’ part of the delivery. But do we know if teaching was meaningful? George Bernard Shaw had said that the single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place. By lecturing our content to the students, we may delude ourselves into believing that learning has taken place. But the non-verbal part of teaching might have gone completely awry, impeding the communication process and obstructing the sharing of knowledge. That’s not meaningful. And, students don’t like that.

But when teachers communicate effectively on the nonverbal level too, students learn from the teachers and reciprocate by liking the teachers. And hence, dear teachers, granted that you are well qualified and you know your content inside out, here are three simple aspects of non-verbals you can consider, and implement them to make your students like you even more.

Eye contact:

Back in my school days, I had a teacher who, it seemed, believed in not looking into the eyes of the students. His preferred method of teaching was writing everything on the blackboard and making us copy word by word. Or he would spit out from his notebook and we would have to copy them. Naturally, his eyes were often buried deep into the notebook and textbooks. There was no rapport. There was no trust. I didn’t like that teacher. I don’t remember his name either.

When a teacher looks into the eyes of the students, the students feel warm, cared and respected. It makes them feel understood. It does not matter if it’s a large class or a small class. Eye contact works like magic.

Movement:

I used to move a lot. I would constantly pace around the classroom, from one corner to another, from front to the back and from one side to another. I thought that I needed to move around for two reasons – to control the class from noise makers and to get near to each and every student.

I also realized that such pacing was a result of my own anxiety, fear and nervousness. On the days when I was not properly prepared for the class, I would be pacing more than on the days when I was completely prepared and confident.

What we need to do is controlled movement, or let’s call it – movement with purpose. Instead of going for a morning-walk around the classroom, one can stand firm for a few minutes and then change the location. This type of movement is also necessary for the eye contacts.

The opposite of this also holds true. There are teachers who sit on a chair or stand still on one side of the room and deliver their lecture. Students might get completely tuned out and get lost in their own mental vacation.

Facial Expression

Emotions are contagious. Remember the proverb: when you smile, the world smiles with you. And when you frown, the world frowns back at you.

The most visible outlet of the emotions is our face and therefore positive facial expression matters a lot. I always enter a classroom with a big smile in my face. In some days, even when I don’t feel like it, I just force myself into a smile and try to keep the first five minutes of the classroom positive and happy.

But when a teacher lets her negative emotions win over and starts showing anger, resentment, frustration and even boredom, the class too quickly gets contaminated with these emotions. And as a result, the whole class gets put off and tuned out. We don’t have to be Einstein to figure this out. There were some teachers who never smiled. I didn’t like them.

Now here’s the nugget of gold.

Non-verbal communication, just like any normal communication, is always two-way. The non-verbal signals of the sender and the receiver are constantly interacting and giving feedback to each other. If your non-verbals send happy signals, the students also return happy signals. The more positive the interaction is, the more effective the whole communication becomes. But if you send disinterested signals, you can guess what happens. Therefore, be conscious about the non-verbal signals you are sending to the students.

So, to sum it up:

Proper eye contacts: When you have proper eye contacts with the students, they also respond by looking at you. This creates a positive psychological space between you and the students. And it elevates the quality of the interaction you are having. They feel acknowledged, cared and respected and in return, you feel they are more ready to listen to you.

Controlled movement: When your movement is controlled and relaxed, you feel confident and easy. But in the contrary, when you start pacing around showing nervousness, the students too feel nervous and lose confidence in you.

Positive facial expression: With a conscious attempt to keep your facial expression friendly, warm and empathetic, you can win your students’ warmth, love and trust.

Happy teaching!

And, please watch these video if you haven’t yet:

The author is one of editors with ELT Choutari.

Hiding the Gold Coins: A Reflection on Choutari Writing Workshop by Hem Raj Kafle

umes

UMES SHRESTHA

He is tall. Very tall compared to my height. He looks into the world through a pair of slightly shaded glasses. Those glasses probably let him filter all the negativity around him and help him see a vision – a vision of a teacher, a writer and a mentor. He speaks gently and seldom smiles. He stands in the middle of the class and with his words; paints an exciting picture of characters, themes and conflicts; and walks us through the colorful fields full of metaphors, similes and hyperboles.

 He is one of those rare teachers who writes a lot. His blog is a testimony of his prolific writing habit. Even his facebook statuses, usually very short poems, reflect his creativity. Then, it makes me wonder. May be creativity is a verb, not a noun. One has to constantly work at it. It’s just my perception. His creativity could be as natural as breathing.

I had met him back in 2012. He taught me Fiction in my M.Ed. ELT first semester and since then I have had a renewed interest in reading, interpreting and analyzing literature. I started becoming passionate but critical of the texts I came across. In addition to that, he has inspired me to write down my own fictional works.

Naturally, I was pretty excited about the workshop. I had always wanted to be in his classes one more time and the workshop was it. Even though the focus of the workshop was “Academic Writing”, I knew he would have his own twist on it, with a few pinch of strange concepts sprinkled around here and there.

So he started the workshop by asserting that writing is not an isolated activity, but it is an activity integrated with reading, listening and speaking. “The key word is perform. Writing is a performance, it is an action of hands as well as an action of minds,” he added. And most importantly, he continued, “Performance doesn’t mean a writer’s activity alone… it is about a reader’s action also”. This made so much sense that it immediately struck a chord with me. A writer has to let readers perform too. Otherwise, what’s the point in writing at the first place? An effective writer thus leaves enough clues here and there in the text for the readers to come up with their own knowledge.

Hem Kafle Workshop

Writing is a performance because the writer has to make sure that his/her ‘authorial presence’ and credibility are visible in every word and every sentence of the text. Moreover, a writer has to make sure there are implicit and explicit moments of communication with the reader. He/she has to constantly facilitate the reader towards understanding and creating new perceptions. Similarly, a writer has to represent his/her community and contribute towards adding new knowledge and scholarship. Therefore, writing is not merely scribbling texts on a sheet of paper, it is a performance that involves both the writer and the reader.

 Next, he talked about some of the common attributes every writer exhibit in some ways. For instance, the ‘writer’s block’ which he also labeled as the ‘blinking cursor syndrome’ for those who keep staring at the computer screen searching for words to start with. Similarly, every writer has the irresistible urge to tell the background or the whole story. Next, most of the writers can’t decide on the choice of diction – whether to use big or small stock of words, or on the choice of sentence – short sentences or longer sentences.

And to come to the main focus of the workshop, he talked about the process of creating an argument in academic writing and substantiating one’s stance. He gave an instance of Stephen Toulmin’s elements of a proper argument: claim, ground, warrant, backing, rebuttal, qualifier and final claim. A good paragraph is a combination of all or some of the above elements. The concept of ‘rebuttal’ is quite interesting. Apparently, acknowledging opposing views and giving them a small space in one’s argument adds more strength to one’s argument.

At the end, he gave us eleven tips on how to improve one’s writing. I am reflecting on these points from my perspective.

  1. Write aloud.
    It helps shape the quality of writing.
  2. Speak – record – transcribe – Edit
    This is very useful when one is facing the imminent ‘writer’s block’.
  3. Toulmin uncle really works!
  4. Three is enough.
    Three examples, three explanations, three stories.
  5. Keep the big below you.
    This is quite interesting. Start a paragraph with your own sentence and end it with your own. Keep the citations and ‘big’ personalities underneath your first statement. Don’t ever start your paragraph with a citation because this just weakens your stance.
  6. Kill the subordinates.
    If your main info goes to the subordinate clause, rewrite the sentence. Bring your info to the front.
  7. Passive is lousy.
    I also hate sentences in passive voice. I always try to write everything in active voice.
  8. Let the verb stand high.
    Let the verb ‘speak’, rather than ‘be’.
  9. Do not repeat a word if there’s a replacement.
  10. Hear me between the lines
    Make your presence felt. Don’t let the reader forget about the writer.
  11. Dump me if I let you go!
    Challenge: I will not bore my reader. I will not break my reader’s heart, effort, money, etc.

After attending this workshop, I now feel the urge to go back to all my writings and scrutinize them strand by strand – to find my ‘authorial presence’ in them. I had never thought about this aspect of writing – that the author has to be present in the text. Similarly, I am going to try speak-record-transcribe method whenever I feel stuck in the rot. I will also make sure none of my paragraphs start with a citation but with my own sentence. In addition, I will use these techniques in presentations and in writing scripts for speaking as well.

Writing has always been an elusive grape for me. I feel like I am always getting ‘there’ but never near enough. I always go back to my texts, interact with them and revise them. That singer from Rolling Stones is probably right. I can’t get no satisfaction out of my writing. But just like Hem sir once said during his class, “A text is always in the making”. May be it’s not about getting ‘there’ and being satisfied after all. It is a process… a continuum… a journey. And our job as a writer is just to enjoy the ride.

The author, one of editors with Choutari, is a teacher, writer, & blogger.