Kiran Chaturvedi the face behind WRITE & BEYOND, shares in a candid interview about her life and passions. Read on to get inspired.
Hello Kiran, welcome to IWI, so what defines you? What are you like?
A dreamer and an eternal learner. I delve into all sorts of random questions, subjects, issues…there is no end to my curiosity, curiosity which may be directed to something specific but a lot of times it is curiosity for the heck of it.
Tell us something about your childhood and growing up years, college days.
My childhood was quite a mixed up one. We moved all over the country, as an armed forces family. Lived in tents in the Himalayas, and in remote forest range towns unheard of by the wider world. The dreamer in me had ample opportunities to wander in farms and forests and plan picnics with the few neighbors and playmates we had, and imagine ourselves as the Secret Seven or the Famous Five. Because we were always in small, close-knit communities, we bonded a lot with the adults too, and I picked up a lot of my interest in art, books and movies from interacting with some very interesting grown ups. My parents were disciplinarians on the one hand, and all for encouraging us to learn unhindered and to find and grow our passions, on the other. And when I was entering my teens we moved to the first big city I ever lived in, and pretty much feel in love with all that it had to offer.This was Calcutta and I think it has had a huge role in shaping me into who I am today. For college I came to hostel in Miranda House, Delhi and here I was very much impacted by the progressive teachers, seniors and some wonderful peers. I also loved the resources and the freedom to pursue my intellectual bent of mind. I happened to do rather well, graduating with record making scores in my B.A Hons course in Sociology, which was never something I had imagined as a possibility. I went on to do my Master in Social Work from Department of Social Work in DU.
First of all tell us What exactly is ‘Write and Beyond’?
Write & Beyond is a forum to support fresh creative writing. We mainly hold writing workshops with established authors as mentors, and also do book readings and writing sessions.
How did it began? What was the vision behind it?
It began very very serendipitiously,really. I had worked a lot on creative ideation groups in my career in consumer market research. And after leaving my corporate career I used to wonder about creating some workshops with my group work skills, in the other big area of my interest- self expression for personal wellness. I had also finally achieved my dream of making a little retreat cottage in the mountains, and I was toying with the idea of using it as a venue for such creative events. And then at a business forum meeting, I got talking to a writing coach and writer, Kanchana Banerjee, who is of course now a close friend. And you have featured her in your series too! Kanchana heard about The Birdsong Cottage and my vision for creative retreats there, and she said that as an online writing coach that was in fact her dream too, that she should hold a real face to face creative writing session with aspiring writers in the lap of the mountains, in a far away place. And well, I said, why not? Let us do this together! And so just like that, over a Biz Divas breakfast meeting at a club the seed was sown. We also had a publishing consultant who joined us in the earliest days, and gave us some ideas to go forward. We started with trial events in NCR and now it is going to be 2 years and I think we have got a good thing going!
The vision is to enable and empower authentic voices to emerge, for people to realise we all have experiences and stories that need expression, and to give them the tools and skills to be effective storytellers.
Tell us about the challenges you face at your work now.
Right now we are really lucky to have had no big challenges. When the third partner dropped out, we learnt to pitch in some more in the areas we were not too well versed with. At times we booked a venue and did not get the numbers right, but it got made up the next time round…it is only small issues like these. Kanchana opted out as an active partner after one year as she has her first novel going to press soon and the second one at final draft stage, and she will be really busy with the editing and related work in months to come. But then immediately I had a workshop participant offer to join my team, and she is the very very talented energetic powerhouse of a lady, Kamalini NatesanJ So every challenge has only been an opportunity disguised, leading us onward and opening us wider. We wondered who would come as mentors, how would we finance it, but we have had the loveliest, most kind and humble authors come and work with us for the sheer love of writing and supporting a community of creative aspirants. It is amazing how much goodness there is in the world once you ask for it, once open yourself to receive it. It is pretty uncharted territory, we have no maps and it is a lot of fun to make our own path. It is a voyage of discovery in a way, and we are enjoying it a whole lot.
How do you see Write and beyond in the next five years?
Wow! Now that is talking about endless possibilities- certainly to see many more people who would have found their voice through us, who would have been writing, been published, and been helped by our work; maybe a literary agency to represent new writing, own publications, a more robust, full fledged creative writing course, and of course my own novel or two in print.
Any message you would like to share for the readers of our blogazine?
Your readers are all accomplished writers and creative people so I do not what new message I could possibly share. I can only say that I made a move to the creative side after decades of being in a very structured corporate life, and had no idea where this path would take me. Now I can say that there is never a right time or a wrong time for doing what one loves, for re-inventing and pushing the boundaries of who you think you can be. It is never too late to start anew.
Please note: This interview has been conducted online.
Interview co-ordinated for IWI : Rhiti Bose.