The Rising Dust on TV

PTV World’s programme Weekend World with Huma invited The Rising Dust speculative fiction workshop’s instructor Usman T. Malik, guest speaker Musharraf Ali Farooqi, DWL’s Lahore representative Fatima Hafsa Malik and workshop participant Nihal Ijaz Khan for a chat on fiction writing before the workshop. Watch the talk show’s video below. Scroll down to read excerpts from the show.

Weekend World With Huma (Date:12-12-2014) by weekendworld6

Usman spoke about the rationale for conducting the speculative fiction writing workshop:

“The emphasis for this workshop was to actually familiarize people especially Pakistani writers who have never had the opportunity to interact with sci-fi, fantasy and horror writers elsewhere in the world and to provide a bridge through which they could actually get information about magazines, about editorial tastes for different people, markets, publishing houses in the West…and other places. So these are venues that most people in Pakistan don’t know about because it takes some time to get to know them, you have to do your homework. So that was the idea getting these people familiarity with the genre that they may opt to pursue in the future and at the same time gain some know-how about the business (side) of speculative fiction writing.”

Responding to a question, Usman also talked about the importance of reading for writers:

“Yes, there’s no question about it. It is very hard to do any craft without studying it and writing is basically, when you read, you are doing an apprenticeship in the craft, in writing. That’s basically what you are doing. You are absorbing all the influences that others have left behind and you are learning ways to explain your own perception of the world and how you perceive literature and how you perceive reality…”

“There are no guarantees (of success in writing), regardless of what you can make out of literature, you have to first ask yourself this: why am I writing? If it is something without which you cannot live, then by all means write, but before you even launch yourself into it, read.” – Musharraf Ali Farooqi (14mins)

Novelist Musharraf Ali Farooqi talked about the apparent decline in the reading culture in Pakistan and had some optimism to share:

“I think it’s a problem with urban centers…there is no, there is no public space where you actually find people doing anything…Any kind of a natural space in which you see people doing activities, whether walking out with their kids, or reading something or enjoying music, it is not available so first of all there is that barrier. But in outlying areas, there is much more readership in the Urdu language. I once did a survey of Urdu publishing industry and there are hundreds of small publishers, they are printing books, in outlying areas, publishing perhaps two or three titles each year. There is a community of writers, there is a community of poets in every town. They are all there. The serious Urdu scholarship has moved away from the city centres and it is now existing in rural (areas).”

Farooqi also said self-publishing and changing models of publishing can help new writers reach a wider audience:

“…And publishing in the West is changing and it is now possible for a writer sitting in Pakistan whether writing in Urdu or English to, to have an international audience by striking out on their own. I will not say that, you know, they don’t need to go through the processes of, you know, editing…but basically it is possible for now anybody sitting anywhere in the world because of electronic publishing that they can publish themselves.”

However, he urged aspiring writers to keep writing and keep working to improve their craft. Farooqi was also asked about his translation of the Dastan-e Amir Hamza:

“So my effort was to create a kind of idiom in to English that is both contemporaneous with the world of the Dastaan and was also not very difficult for a contemporary reader…to read. So if I am creating something in English from Urdu it should have a flavour, it should not be bad English, it should have a flavour of the Urdu language, so that was a struggle, and I don’t know how, to what extent I was successful but, I mean, at least I was conscious of doing that.”

“So absolutely, there is no writing without reading” – Usman T. Malik (16mins)

DWL Lahore representative and workshop organizer Fatima Hafsa Malik put in a brief introduction for DWL:

“DWL actually came into existence for that very purpose (of connecting writers). We wanted to create a platform for aspiring writers where they could bounce ideas off each other, where they could get critique, positive feedback, and some of them would venture on to becoming published writers.”

And our young workshop participant Nihal Ijaz Khan, who is a medical student, shared the reason why he applied for the workshop:

“Well, it is something I have always wanted to do. See, I have been writing for over five years now, and I have only taken it very seriously in the past few months actually. So the thing is, right, my brother, he has been very supportive of my entire writing journey and he told me that I should always aim to get into a workshop… I didn’t really know what a workshop was until now and so what I’m, like you asked, what I’m expecting is a sense of direction. Whenever I send a piece of my writing to any one, they say it’s good but it doesn’t have any sense of direction so even I don’t really know what that means but (what) I am actually aiming to do is find a certain path and go according to that path…”

Next up, we’ll be posting the wisdom shared by our guest speakers and instructor during the workshop and public talks. Stay tuned!