The wait is now over! We are back with our weekly review of ‘Mused’ as promised. For those joining us now, Mused is Daastan’s first Live show hosted by our editor Ms. Summaiya Naveed. Every week, Summaiya shares important and useful tips for writers to help them write and publish their work. Summaiya has been inspiring our viewers who send us positive feedback every week. This week’s show was based on 3 pertinent issues, following a general theme of Publishing in Pakistan.
1. Scope of Publishing In Pakistan
Although Pakistan’s publishing industry has been active since we came into being, the number of publishers, readers and writers have always been limited. From the get go, most of our publishing industry revolved around Urdu literature. There has been significant development of Urdu language but low literacy rates always meant fewer readers. With a lack of readers, comes a lack of buyers. Consequently, there are very few incentives for writers to publish their work. All of these reasons combined hindered the development of our publishing industry.
As of now, Pakistan’s publishing industry is, as Summaiya puts it, in a ‘transitory‘ phase. With increased focus on English language, there is a greater number of English readers and consequently, more English writers. However, this shift towards increased English readership is quite limited. Most of us do not read books beyond our school/college curriculum. Even if we do read English books, we mostly prefer reading foreign books and writers. According to Summaiya, the greatest challenge that our publishing industry is facing right now, is the need for loyal readers. One reason for this lag is insufficient support and funding for creative fields like fine art, creative writing etc. Neither the government nor our public is ready to accept the need and benefit of creatives in our society. In such circumstances, it is hard for writers to pursue writing as a full-time profession.
2. Future of Publishing in Pakistan
A lot of work is being done to upgrade the literary industry of Pakistan. Qissa has digitized the literary space to make publishing in Pakistan easier. Online publishing platforms are becoming the hub for readers and writers. A lot of young emerging Pakistani authors are now writing and publishing their work with greater frequency. However, as Summaiya pointed out, there still remains a need for experimentation and exploration. Readers look forward to unique stories, relevant characters and different genres like sci-fi, thriller, horror etc. Most writers cling to classic genres like romance or tragedy. We need to innovate and step outside our comfort zone to attract a local and global readership.
3. How can we improve Pakistan’s Publishing Industry?
Role of Self Publishers
Self publishers are those publishers who help edit, format, design, and publish your book for you. They only charge you for their services and the earnings you earn from royalties are transparent. Some self-publishers, like Daastan, also help market your book to increase sales. Recently, Daastan generated over 1 lac PKR in sales for Lareb Soomro’s “Autumn’s Curse”. Lareb Soomro is Sindh’s youngest writer who has taken over the hearts of our readers with her out-of-the-box creativity and imagination in writing.
The role of self publishers is very important in accelerating the publishing industry because this industry runs solely on readers and writers. By empowering writers, we inspire them to write and publish more. This generates a smooth cycle of writing and publishing which broadens our literary space. We unfortunately have very few publishing options available to us which limits our growth.
Role of Readers and Writers
While many Pakistani writers are making their name in the literary space of Pakistan, they still have to work hard to establish themselves, globally. As much as it is the writer’s job to produce quality work, so is the reader responsible – by supporting local writers and their books. There are very few acclaimed writers like Mohsin Hamid, who have made a name for Pakistani literature in the global market. Still, most well-known “Pakistani” writers spend either all or half their time residing outside of Pakistan. Since the publishing industry depends on reader’s demands, the more readers indulge in buying local books, the more our writers will write and as a result, the scope of Publishing in Pakistan will flourish.
Summaiya also emphasized on the need to revolutionize the concept of “Pakistani writers”. Up until now, any renowned author who is remotely connected to Pakistan has been considered a Pakistani writer. However, a true Pakistani writer is one who has lived in this country, been a part of its culture and grown up among its people. A writer who writes with Pakistani characters in Pakistani settings. This is the criteria we need to use to define a “Pakistani” writer.
This sums up our third Episode of Mused. We promise to return next week with yet another interesting live session. Do give us your feedback at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you like our show, sign up with us at Daastan to keep enjoying similar content. See you next week!
Tolerance is the best characteristic in any society. Every month, we at Daastan follow a theme for our content. For this past month of February, we followed a theme of – wait, you guessed it right! Tolerance on Valentine’s Day. In a campaign #KissKiStory, we surprised our followers with a unique and interesting tale. If you missed the video, have a look at it here:
Tolerance And Kiss-Ki-Story
A lot of you went curious over #KissKiStory teasers till we finally released the video on our YouTube Channel. The video featured Daastan’s founder Mr. Ommer Amer, who narrated a story on the 14th of February. The main idea behind this story was to talk about the importance of Tolerance and consent in social relationships and how valentine’s day has become a taboo in our country. We claim our religiosity but forget one of the basic principles on which our religion stands; Tolerance. If we fail to tolerate love, how can we possibly tolerate differences or conflicts? In addition, we believe that expressing love should never be silenced or looked down upon.
Our society moreover, has perhaps been conditioned to feel above those who are different from us. We do not respect the values that others hold dear. This attitude develops an extremist behaviour and is the root cause of most problems in our society. Through a controversial hashtag of #KissKiStory, we wanted to deconstruct the existing notion of shame attached to any expression of love or intimacy. Our loud and clear message to eliminate extremism and be more accepting towards others, stood out all through the campaign.
Fortunately, we received a warm response from our followers who enjoyed watching our out-of-the-box video. We aim to keep bringing diverse and unique content for you all each month. Share your own creative ideas with us at email@example.com and sign up with us at Daastan to engage in similar discussions on our forums.
Taking forward our theme of ‘The Art and the Artist – Writing a Book“, We are back with the Live session of Mused! The positive response that we received on the first episode was a great motivation for us to bring to you, more fun, informative and useful content that will help you with Book writing. This episode was divided in three sections. Our host, Summaiya Naveed, shared some practical tips on enhancing your writing skills. If you missed the live session, don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. Keep reading this blog to get a summary of the entire session or just click here to watch it now!
What we discussed
In this Live session, there were three main concerns that Summaiya put forward. All of these issues highlight the difficulties faced by young authors in writing or publishing their books. The first segment dealt with:
1. Common Mistakes In Book Writing
In the first section of this episode, Summaiya talked about the common errors that most writers make while writing a book. First and foremost is the issue concerning tenses. While writing anything, we are usually taken aback by a stream of emotions. This diverts our attention from using proper tenses. Very often, you keep shifting from one tense to another which then affects the story. To avoid this, you must make a conscious attempt to keep proof-reading the story over and over again to alter any such errors.
The second mistake pointed out was regarding plot holes. Summaiya explained the concept of plot holes in detail. She defined them as any gaps that a story-line leaves which consequently fails to make sense of the story to the reader. This plot hole could be a hanging conclusion, a half-baked character or even introducing a new character mid-story and failing to weave them in with the rest of the story. Summaiya also highlighted that plot holes count as a weak story-line which again, leaves a bad impression on the reader. To keep your story strong, make your protagonist and each supporting character reach a conclusion. Any story-line left incomplete will weaken the weight of the plot of your story. To fix this mistake, she suggested we emphasize on important events in the story. Summaiya gave the example of the novel, ‘Hunger Games‘ in which, the ending of each chapter marks an important event. In this way the reader can predict an upcoming event and brace themselves for it.
Lastly, summaiya talked about flat characters and a robotic tone. Both of these mistakes are almost the same, as they involve a lack of insight into the world of your story. A robotic tone, summaiya explained, is flat, factual writing. By stating events of a story or attributes of the character it is hard to keep the reader glued. The reader wants to know where exactly is the story coming from. Providing descriptions that a reader might relate to will help them connect with both, your story and the characters.
2. How to fight Writer’s Block?
Writer’s block is a temporary condition when an author loses the ability to produce creative content. Summaiya explained in detail, that writer’s block is not permanent and does not mean that you can never write again. A lot of writers do not talk about their writer’s block due to the stigma attached. This does not help them, rather adds to their stress and anxiety. Another reason for writer’s block is neurological disturbances. By sharing a recent research on writer’s block, Summaiya pointed out that stress, anxiety or other neurological problems trigger the writer’s block. To fight this situation, it is important to maintain your mental and physical health. Talking to friends, family or fellow writers at literary groups on social media will help you overcome this phase and resume writing.
It is also helpful, Summaiya suggests, to not be hard on yourself and take a break. During this time, explore another creative activity that you might find interesting. Writing freely, without any limitations or requirements may also help in this case. Sometimes, we are unable to write because we have to constantly follow guidelines. Writing for yourself, with no set rules or fear of criticism can help you fight a block. For some people, making changes to their surroundings can also be refreshing. Change your daily routine, fix your cupboard or just treat yourself with your favourite food!
A lot of people have this pre-conceived notion that writers are sad, depressed souls who have climbed an Everest of tragedies. Young authors thereby are particularly inclined to feel sad and unhappy in an attempt to become better writers. It is however, only a misconception that all good writers are unhappy people. Mental health is a very important factor in improving your writing skills and tackling a writer’s block.
3. Why do Books get rejected by Publishers?
Another problem faced by a lot of new writers is rejection by publishers. It is important to know why publishers reject your work and what are they looking for? Summaiya puts it in a very simple way for us to understand.
1. Predictability of your Story
Firstly, she talked about predictability of your plot/story. A very basic story is one where the upcoming events are quite obvious, everything goes smoothly and all characters reach a happy conclusion. Such stories become quite tedious and monotonous. A story has to have something that keeps your reader gripped, curious and connected.
2. Misuse of Punctuations
Secondly, bad punctuations is a big issue for editors. The first thing a publisher will notice about your book is technical errors. If you have a badly punctuated structure, you instantly leave a bad impression. To fix this problem, summaiya suggested we revise our punctuations and read as much as possible to learn.
3. Inconsistency and Lack of Innovation
Third and equally important, Summaiya discussed the problem of inconsistency and lack of innovation. She explained how as an editor herself, she comes across a lot of manuscripts that look very promising in the beginning but get de-tracked mid-way. Either the writer loses inspiration to write and just rush to the end of story, or they start dragging events by adding too much unneccesary details and the reader’s interest is lost. Furthermore, a lot of writers refrain from exploring new techniques or ideas and simply follow a pre-existing linear timeline. To explain this point Summaiya used the phrase “Old is not gold in writing”. By this, she meant that readers do not want to read about the same topics or stories over and over again. She also urged writers to write on relatable topics that are relevant today.
Last, but definitely not the least, came the issue of Plagiarism. In countries like Pakistan, there are very weak rules and regulations regarding intellectual property. In such countries, intellectual theft and plagiarism are big drawbacks for writers. Plagiarism is basically stealing someone’s content and using it as your own. It is a crime to steal someone else’s work and also ethically incorrect to do so. While most of us do not directly steal ideas, we take inspiration from a work and fail to give credit to that particular person. It is thus important to provide a reference of whatever you’re taking inspiration from. Facts, data or information that you use in your own research should also be cited or quoted.
This wraps up our second Live session of Mused. We hope to keep bringing new, informative episodes to help you with writing. If you share our passion of writing and want to contribute in this mission to develop the literary Industry of Pakistan, sign up with us at Daastan. Stay tuned and catch the next Live session this week!
It all started when Professor Pervez Hoodbhye wrote an article on Dawn titled ‘Corona – our debt to Darwin’ where he was raising this point that how biological science is the hope to control this Corona pandemic.
Thanks to biological science — the foundation of which was laid by Charles Darwin — the coronavirus will eventually turn out to be a deadly but controllable affair. Its final worldwide death toll may run into many tens, or perhaps hundreds, of thousands. Still, compared to the toll exacted by pre-scientific era plagues, this will be small. Your life may well be saved by some yet to be invented drug or vaccine. All beneficiaries of modern medicine should surely forgive Darwin for his supposed transgressions.
What’s promising about Hoodbhye is that he uses science, logic and objectivity to look at the things rather than claiming that religion will somehow solve things. He tries to educate an illiterate nation who trolls him a lot on his social media page. However, he continues to do the good work.
The Logical Criticism on Hoodbhye
Today, was somewhat different. We came across someone who went after Hoodbhye with scientific facts and tried to prove him wrong. His name was Daniel Haqiqatjou who provided detailed arguments on how and why he believes Darwin’s theory to be obsolete. He referred to various researches, scientists and researchers who share his beliefs. This debate was in light of the current Corona Virus situation. According to Daniel Haqiaqtjou, as a Muslim, he firmly believed that any such evolutionary change can only be God’s work and must only end with His will. Here is the original post he shared:
The Logical Rebuttal
Under his post, Arif Jan wrote a long reply which refuted Haqiqatjou’s argument on the redundancy of Darwin’s theory. Arif provided a counter argument, equally well-backed, loaded with references of books, researches and studies to prove otherwise. In his opinion, Haqiqatjou only picked references that went along his own claim. Have a look at Arif Jan’s counter argument in a post shared by Syed Muneeb Ali:
Who won this debate on Corona?
We would leave that to the audience who can read and decide who is right. What we loved was that how an argument was formed, refuted and countered with facts. This is the kind of evolution we wish to see on social media.
Remember that whenever you post anything online, it reflects you and the way you think. Validity of news and researching the facts before arriving at conclusion is the need of the hour. Corona Virus is rattling the global economy and we have no idea how much more damage it will do. One thing which we, as individuals can do is backup everything we say or post online with facts.
Another key thing which we loved was that the discussion was civil and to the point. The speakers spoke based on their scientific intellect and understanding. This debate is a fine example of how to argue online and turning these virtual battlefields into healthy and informative platforms!
We often say that the hour of death cannot be foreseen. When we say this, we imagine this hour would be in a distant future. We never thought that we would be remembering Asrar Sahab as a memory, when we were publishing his book.
Hafsa Idrees, Co-founder Daastan
An artist breathes their art. They become it. When their art is appreciated, they feel appreciated. But when their art is ignored, overlooked and forgotten, it feels as if they have faded away too. Such is the story of our beloved, Asrar Jamayee.
Who was Asrar Jamayee?
Asrar Jamayee was an Urdu poet, born in 1937 in Patna to Syed Wali-ul-Haq; a landlord who was an active member of the Khilafat Movement. A once renowned and sought-out poet, Asrar Sahab’s life took a drastic turn when he was shockingly declared dead by the Government of India. What followed was years and years of struggle for recognition and basic human rights. But while he suffered, his awe-inspiring determination in the face of adversity and his excellent poetic works made him friends with people who loved him and continue to do so.
Daastan has had the honour of being one of those who could play a little role in Asrar Sahab’s life. We helped bring his work “Tanz Paarey” to life. And two days ago, we received the heart-breaking news of him finally passing onto the other world. The 83-year-old poet took his final breath on April 4th, 2020 in a small home in Delhi. His death is, indeed, a huge loss not only to mankind but to Urdu language too. We, at Daastan express our immense grief on this sad occasion and pay tribute to the legend who deserved more by bringing to you his story. A story we shall never forget.
Asrar Jamayee’s Life
Asrar ul Haq who adopted the pen name Jamayee, began reciting his poetry at a young age upon his teacher, Dr Hussain‘s advice. Jamayee lost both his parents while he was still struggling to establish himself. He was thus forced to quit college and return to Patna where he opened a coaching institute for engineering and medical sciences. But this unfortunate course of action resulted in a bloom in his poetry.
Jamayee wrote four volumes of poetry books and kept reciting at Mushairas and soon his work earned him a name. Asrar was awarded a Prize by the 1st President of India, Dr. Rajendra Prasad. His satirical expression along with the crisp sherwanis he often wore, became his style statement across the country. He not only scored among the commoners but also inspired various Chief Ministers and big names like Rajiv Gandhi and President Abdul Kalam, who later invited him as a guest on one occasion.
Rekhta recently payed tribute to Asrar Jamayee through this video:
Downfall for the Urdu Poet
In a sad turn of events, Jamayee soon found himself in adverse conditions. He lost his only property, a room inJamia Nagar, Delhito local thugs. In 2013, due to a government fault, Jamayee lost his pension upon being stated dead in official records. He spent his final years trying to prove his existence to the government officials. Arre, an Indian Website covered his story while Jamayee made rounds to be recognized as a living person.
During this time, in a car accident he fractured his hand but could not go for surgery due to lack of funds. Having no family of his own and brother Iqbal Yousaf who never supported him, Jamayee spent his last breaths in tragic conditions.
No matter how much value his words contained, there was very little that he could now trade them for. In 2018, The Wire held an interview with the old poet who talked about his life and struggles:
The hardships he faced for himself, he bore without complain. He wished nothing for himself but a respectable place and for his writings to be recognized. His only desire in these last days, was to publish his work. Abhijit Khandkar, a regular visitor and close friend of Jamayee Sahb’s caretakers, writes:
“A man who never even once wallowed in self pity when there was every reason to. Even when we had to raise funds for his ailment and daily needs, we had to guise it in a way as he still wouldn’t take money or cash directly from any of his visitors, such was his self respect. All he asked for, was an honest listener, to whom he could read his poetry. “
Abhijit Khandkar, a close friend of Asrar Jamayee
Books and Awards
Asrar Jamayee wrote several books as a satire on politics inculcating hindu traditions and legends. Ram Darshan is one of these political commentaries that talk about society and return of Ram. His collection of books include Shayare Azam, Attare Azam, Baghe Daraz, Zarbe Kalaam, Khale Jibraeel, Murghane Hijaz, Dili Darshan, Bharat Darshan and Ram Darshan. Although deserving, Jamayee never received awards like the Padma Shiri or Urdu Academy Award, perhaps due to the lack of political support that he inherited. In Jamayee’s own words, the worth of an artist is :
We are honored to have helped a true legend in these last, most sorrowful days of his life. Daastan with the help of Jamayee sahb’s fans in both Pakistan and India, published his book titled ‘Tanz Paaray‘. Daastan’s Urdu Editor Ms. Qudsia Jamali, digitized Asrar Sahb’s book. The book’s cover design, publishing and distribution was done by Daastan. The beautifully written poems that were long awaiting a roof over their head just like their creator, were finally given the shelter of a book. The journey of these torn, dusty sheets lying dormant beside the man who had once recited them to crowds of hundreds, reached their destiny by being published.
The smile on his face upon holding his last book was priceless and we shall cherish that for a lifetime. Daastan is proud to have been a part of this journey.
You don’t know the extent of joy you gave him by publishing his work. He would show it to every visitor so proudly. The copies he would keep by his side. He wanted to publish more and visit Pakistan again. That now remains…
Apart from helping Jamayee publish his book ‘Tanz Paaray‘, Daastan worked closely with Karan, the founder of Arre. In a radio interview hosted by the Co-founder of Daastan, Ms. Hafsa Idrees, she talked to Karan about his work and the condition of Asrar Jamayee Sahb.
Ms. Idrees penned her condolences for the late Asrar Sahab,
He had the most amazing, courageous strength and tenacity that every single person who ever came in contact with him could feel. We all know he went through so much in the past years, from being falsely declared dead to the struggles that followed. Things that would have broken a lot of people but never Asrar Sahab. He carried on gracefully because he knew he had to be strong for the people who were going to follow him and his legacy. Rest in peace, Asrar Sahab.
Hafsa Idrees, co-founder Daastan
Daastan had been working with Karan and Asrar Jamayee in these past years which developed a very special bond between both parties. It is due to our emotional attachment to the departed soul that we are left in deep sorrow upon his death. Syed Ommer Amer, the founder of Daastan expressed his feelings in a recent Facebook post that read:
” We will miss you. Forever. I promise that every year, we will keep your legacy alive and tell the world about you, your work and the life you lived ”
Syed Ommer Amer, founder Daastan
Our Cofounder Sidra Amin, through whom we connected with Asrar Jamayee and Karan, shares an equally strong bond. She conveys her despair in the following words:
“It is heartbreaking to know about Asrar sahab’s demise because we couldn’t give him anything in all this time. He needed financial help for his health and living conditions, but we couldn’t manage to do any of it. Heck, we couldn’t even get on another call with him. I am happy he had his poetry books, his smile, and love of people when he went away. I am glad that he wasn’t as lonely in this time as he must have felt when he was wrongfully declared dead earlier. Rest in peace, Asrar sahab“
Sidra Amin, co-founder Daastan
Ms. Qudsia Huzaifa, the lady who digitized Asrar Sahab’s book, Tanz Paaray expressed her views by stating
It was an honor for me to work on his work and it was my dearest wish to meet him… I am not a great author or a poet who can pay a tribute to him however based on what I read, I want to say that ‘Every word written by the father of humor is complete in itself and carries secrets within which serve as an institution for other poets’.
We value these hand-written notes sent to us by Jamayee during our correspondence over his recent book, Tanz Paaray on which we were working.
In this meek attempt to keep his legend alive, we at Daastan pay tribute to Asrar Jamayee sahb and take comfort from the fact that his soul must have finally found the peace and comfort which this temporary world could not offer. We hope that Urdu language and Urdu lovers keep his poetry alive, if not while he lives then at least while he rests, we must remember him!
We have included information about Jamayee to the best of knowledge. If you have any more information about the late poet, do share it with us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This year, Daastan completed 5 years of bringing good literature to Pakistani readers! Starting in 2016, with only a vision and an intense passion, Team Daastan worked tirelessly, day and night to revamp the literary community and bring the love of reading and writing back.
Now we’ve finally reached the 5 year mark and it called for celebration! We at Daastan threw a Literary party to celebrate a milestone in our journey towards creating a better informed, enlightened and learned society. On the very first day of the new year, when hopes and dreams fly as high as the sky, the founder of DaastanMr OmmerAmer along with his team celebrated the efforts that shaped what Daastan is today. At this memorable occasion, people were invited to showcase their talent through performances and interactive talks were held to further our vision. Let us have throwback at an unforgettable memory!
Held at the National Incubation CenterIslamabad, Daastan’s fifth birthday was an enjoyable interaction between the representatives of Daastan, authors, students and journalists. The event began with reminding our spectators, the vision behind Daastan, our journey from where it all started, the hardships we faced and the position we now hold at a local as well as global level. A fun online quiz based on contestant’s knowledge of Daastan was also played. Mr. Ashraf, one of our panelists, won the quiz!
In an attempt to promote local languages and talent, we encouraged our participants to perform in their local languages. Some immensely beautiful songs were hummed and the variety showcased was commendable. Our newly launched OST Rabba was also played to acknowledge the efforts of our diverse team.
A discussion was held on the ‘Past, Present and Future of Publishing in Pakistan’, our esteemed panelists Mr. Ashraf Baltistani, Mr. Abdul Samad Ms. Aleena Khan and Ms. Khunsa Naseer, contributed considerably. It was discussed how the influence of this revival of Publishing in Pakistan had an impact in the respective fields of all the panelists. Daastan’s role in this revival of the publishing industry and the future prospects created henceforth, were highly congratulated and acknowledged.
Happy 5th Birthday, Daastan!
What’s a birthday party without cutting a delicious cake, right? Ending on a sweet note, our Founder Mr Ommer Amer cut a cake and everyone got a chance to personally interact with our team, the authors and the spectators. We hope to keep growing and sharing this bond created on and through the love of Literature. If you share our passion and want to contribute with us on this vision in any capacity, sign up with us at Daastan and become a part of our journey!