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On Write Like a Grrrl… and IGNITE being in Mauritius!!!

Write Like a Grrrl (WLAG) was founded in 2013 in the UK by Kerry Ryan to help women of all writing abilities to juggle the many commitments in their lives, overcome the barriers to writing, and find time to write. Together with other women around the UK (and around the world), she now runs six-week and one-day intensive courses in collaboration with For Books’ Sake. 

I came across Write Like a Grrrl (WLAG) in early 2016. One of my new year resolutions had been to reconnect with my creativity, and I thought starting with writing would be ideal. The fact that the course would be taking place about a 10-minute bus ride from where I lived was also a major motivator at the time. 

As I arrived at the co-working space that Saturday morning, I felt really nervous: yes, I loved writing, and scribbled bits and pieces here and there but I hadn’t written any fiction in years, and I certainly didn’t want to have to read my work out loud in front of other people.

It turned out that there was no need for all that anxiety.

The course was led by Kerry herself, who’s a Scottish powerhouse; she’s feisty and wonderfully blunt but above all, encouraging and considerate, and one of the loveliest human beings I’ve had the opportunity of meeting. She is amazing as a teacher and makes everyone feel really comfortable from the very first minute of the class. We were all given a chance to speak, listen and feel included – and there was no pressure whatsoever to read out loud anything that I’d written! My confidence soared and it reminded me that I could write fiction after all – but that my non-fiction writing was also creative writing. Moreover, it made me realise that it was important to find my tribe: writers who would be willing to read my words and help me make them better in the most constructive and supportive way possible. Those 6 weeks were so full of writing and conversations about writing that if I could do them all over again, I probably would!

This is the outline of what we do on IGNITE (which is what the 6-week course is called):

Week 1: We meet and are introduced to the course material. We have a discussion about barriers to writing, and why a regular practice of writing is more beneficial than binges; the homework here is to write everyday for 15 minutes.

Weeks 2, 3 and 4: We focus on character, dialogue and setting – what are good examples of these, and how to write them well.

Week 5: We take what we’ve learned so far and create a piece of writing.

Week 6: We use that piece of writing to learn about editing and what happens next. We are also given one-to-one feedback on the piece here we wrote a week earlier. 

WLAG is built on the idea that a lot of what we’ve been told about writing is a myth: for example, you don’t need to wait for the Muse of Inspiration to hover on your shoulder to write, it is rather about finding little snippets of time in your day, and using them to write. It is also about being in a safe and supportive environment of people in similar situations and with similar interests, who are ready to cheer you on with your writing.

More importantly perhaps, at the core of WLAG is the message that we all DESERVE to tell our story. This is powerful: don’t think of writing as being selfish or trivial or pretentious, or that it is only for certain people because you’re not good enough (for whatever reason). You don’t need to be J.K. Rowling. Be confident to call yourself a writer at whatever level you’re at. Because writing is first and foremost about the joy of creation and imagination.

When I made the decision to relocate to Mauritius, I talked to Kerry about it, and she told me that it would be great if we could collaborate to bring IGNITE to Mauritian women…

So, here we are: IGNITE is now in Mauritius, classes are from 11 am to 1 pm every Saturday starting from the 3rd of August to the 7th of September 2019 at The Hive in St. Pierre. The whole course costs Rs 4800 (or Rs 4950 with a certificate of completion). You can get a Rs 300 discount by signing up to my mailing list here (you will receive an email with a code to input on the registration form). You can register for the course here.

To help you make up your mind, here are a few questions and answers that you might find useful:

Are there any requirements for getting on the course?

You need basic English writing skills, and to identify as a woman and want to write. 

You don’t need to have ever written before. The course can accommodate everyone from a complete beginner to someone who’s putting the finishing touches to their book. There’s something in WLAG for everyone. Every woman is welcome!

What if I miss a class or two?

Life happens! You will get all the notes even if you don’t/can’t make it to all the classes, and I’m happy to answer any questions you may have. 

I’ve tried for years to write now. It’s not like I’m going to be writer after taking the course, is it?

One of the aims of the course is to get you to write and to not be afraid to call yourself a writer. Writing can be lonely and isolating (believe me, I know!) but the point of the course is for you to also meet other writers and to build a community. I will definitely help with this throughout the course, and after.

I don’t have stories to tell. Even if I did, I don’t think people would want to read what I write.

We all have stories to tell.  Because we all have imagination. We just need to tap more into it, the course will help you with that. And I want to read what you write; the course will also make you realise that there are people out there who not only want to read what you write but who will also relate to what you write.

I don’t want to seem stupid in front of others. What if my writing is not up to scratch?

No one’s writing is perfect. I didn’t want to seem stupid in front of other people when I signed up either but the whole idea of the course is that you’re not stupid for wanting to write, and that we all have the potential to improve our writing be it as a complete beginner or as someone who’s been writing for years. 

I don’t want to share anything that I write with other people.

There is no pressure to share any of what you write during the entire course – apart from the piece that you write at the end, and that’s only with me so that you can get feedback. I’ve been in your shoes before and I know how nerve-wracking this can be: I will be as supportive and encouraging as possible because I want you to realise just how much joy writing can give you!

So, what are you waiting for? Book your place now on IGNITE and unleash the joy of writing!

Personal, writing

On Standing and Staring…

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‘What is this life if, full of care,

We have no time to stand and stare.’

‘Leisure’ by W.H. Davies

 

I stood and stared in the grass this morning. And marvelled at how at peace I felt right there, my bare feet grounded in the earth.

My life has changed so much from two and half years ago, when I first found out I had severe endometriosis. I became really unwell over the next year, suffering from so much pain, fatigue and anaemia that I couldn’t physically move from my bed on some days. What was once my ideal job (as an academic lawyer) became a chore: I could no longer muster any enthusiasm whatsoever for teaching let alone research and writing.

This led me to leave London to try and get back to a place where I recognised myself again. It wasn’t easy because it meant giving up on not only my work and my home but also my identity.

When I first got to Mauritius, I ‘hid’ because I needed to mourn. I shun nearly everyone apart from my close family members as I tried to make sense of my new life. But as the months went by, I started taking roots (again), nurtured by my family’s love and support.

My journey to better health continues. I still have a long way to go (when I tell people that I once trekked the Himalayas all the way to Everest Base Camp, which is at a similar height as the Kilimanjaro, it feels like I am talking about someone else!) but I now no longer need iron tablets and this week, I have woken up energised enough to walk for 20 minutes without being in pain. Something I am amazed at and grateful for.

What I have learnt in the past 8 months since being back in Mauritius (apart from navigating around bureaucracy!) is that it is important to slow down sometimes, to relax, to go at your own pace and do your own thing, to not be afraid to take risks, to open your eyes and heart to novel opportunities and connections, to pursue joy above all else…

Here’s wishing you a lot of standing and staring!

 

 

 

Workshop, writing

On Atelier Gintzy’s First Creative Writing Workshop in Mauritius…

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Everyone hard at work 🙂

 

I facilitated my first Creative Writing Workshop in Mauritius on Saturday 20 April 2019 at The Corner Lounge (a cafe) in Quatre-Bornes. It was sold out (14 seats) – although one participant couldn’t make it in the end because of transport issues.

There was a mix of people, from different age groups (minimum age 16) to different backgrounds to different parts of the country – some coming as far as the North and East of the island (which can take more than an hour to get from to the cafe)  – but all, with a common love of and for writing. As I got to know everyone a little bit, I felt so privileged and honoured that they had chosen not only to take the time and effort to come to my workshop but, more importantly, to trust me with their stories.

” [The workshop] allowed us to give [ourselves] permission to explore our creative side and be playful with it, while being with like-minded people.” Victoria Desvaux

It was a great morning of laughter, eating, drinking (non-alcoholic, I hasten to add!), writing, creativity, sharing and connections – everything I could have hoped for…and more! But don’t just take my word for it, read more about the thoughts of the participants, the real stars of the workshop, and see the pictures and posts from the workshop on my Instagram ‘Workshops’ Highlights. It truly brings a smile to my face every time I think back on it.

“This creative writing workshop is not solely about writing, it is also about feeling less lonely when you story tell, it is about connecting to people who can relate to the voices in your head and it is strongly about finding your own voice and style.”

Sidharta Runganaikaloo

Participants on the workshop are given ‘homework’ to do for the next week: to try and write for a maximum of 10 (if they’re only just starting out) or 15 (if they’re already writing) minutes every day. They receive an email check-in from me a week after to find out how they’ve been getting on with their writing because I only know too well how after the energetic burst of a workshop, the tiny matter of everyday life just seems to get in the way! Certain feelings of doubt or ‘block’ also come knocking, and it is sometimes easy to simply give up.

I support them by reminding them why they want to write (an exercise we do in the workshop), and to be compassionate towards themselves, to allow themselves to play… because writing is joyful. And it is important for them, for us, not to lose sight of this. Of course, at times, it will be hard – as you’re not able to express yourself properly, as the words feel clunky, as you don’t know where you’re going with something, as you just sit and stare at words that make no sense, as you feel frustrated with not being able to finish something… but the main thing is not to give up. Because soon enough, the clouds will clear up, the sun will shine again, and your writing with it! Trust me. Continue reading “On Atelier Gintzy’s First Creative Writing Workshop in Mauritius…”

Personal

On New Beginnings…

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First glimpse of Mauritius from the plane ©rengineepillay

 

We must be willing to let go of the life we’ve planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us.

Joseph Campbell  

Last year, I took the life-changing decision to leave my job, my surrogate family (aka my friends), my city, and, what I came to see as, my home (the UK) to relocate to my country of birth (Mauritius). It wasn’t a decision I took lightly – it involved a number of late nights drawing and re-drawing up lists of pros and cons, hashing out scenarios with some of my best friends, lying awake at night, tossing and turning thoughts in my all-too frazzled brain until I finally decided that I needed a lifestyle change, a slower, more soulful and intentional way of living.

Announcing ‘Gexit’ (as it came to be known as the diminutive of my full name is Ginee) elicited various responses: ‘But whyyyy?’ (uhm, we’ve gone through this already so many times), ‘I’m really happy for you but from a purely selfish point of view, this is a disaster’ (awww, thanks for being SO honest!), ‘I love you and I will support you no matter what you decide’ (*cries*), ‘Great! I get to come visit you in Mauritius!’ (*note to self: do not give that person your new contact details!* j/k! not really) and so on. It meant saying a number of (teary and cheery) goodbyes but it also gave me excuses to try out the best restaurants in London (see my instagram feed) and have three farewell parties so that  by the time I left not only was I truly and literally stuffed but I was also very much broke!!

Being in Mauritius hasn’t been easy but I’ve woken up with a smile on my face on so many days that I know it was the right decision for me to come back – I’ll write more about what ‘coming back’ actually meant and entailed for me in another post… And, here I am now: trying something new, taking yet another leap of faith to see where it leads me…

‘Atelier Gintzy’ (pronounced gint -from gin and tonic but with a t-  zee) is, therefore, my freelance project to see if I can make it on my own, to put my skills, knowledge and passions to good use: I’m available for academic coaching, writing, and CSR/Legal consultancy. Some of these services are online and thus are available worldwide whilst others are more relevant locally to Mauritius but in any case, please have a nosey around the website and do get in touch if you have any questions and to see how I can help you and/or your organisation.

The blog complements my freelance services as I will be sharing my thoughts (and tidbits) on these topics as well as my experience as I embark on this new path peppered with some personal essays. I hope you’ll come along with me on this journey…

To new beginnings!