Wrapping Up Mused – Episode 6

Wrapping Up Mused – Episode 6

As the last episode of Mused by Daastan aired last week, we experienced a plethora of emotions. On one hand we are sad to pause this journey of learning – while on the other, hopeful for the future. The response we gathered is inspiring and motivating enough to push us further. Have a look at what our host Ms. Summaiya Naveed had to say about this.

We started Mused with the vision to help creatives—a vision we will take forward as the series advances. For now, I hope the first season has helped aspiring writers and given them a nudge towards achieving their dreams. I’ve had a great time creating such content for you and an even better time having conversations with the viewers. You’re an inspiring lot and you give our team the motivation we need to keep putting in our part in the development of the Pakistani Literary industry. What is needed most now is work. Work to distinguish ourselves as a people of superior intellect and an awe-inspiring amount of talent. The first season of Mused leaves me hopeful that we’re talking a step towards achieving that very goal.

Ms Summaiya Naveed expressing her feelings on the last episode of Mused

A Recap of Season 1 – Mused

This season, Summaiya discussed in great detail, the issues related to writing and publishing. We started off with learning the common writing mistakes, Do’s and Don’ts of writing and errors that most writers and publishers make. Then we moved on to the state of our Publishing industry, scope for writers and the condition as well as future of the writers’ community of Pakistan. We were joined by two guests who shared their own experiences and gave useful tips along the way. We had a special episode on writing poetry – on account of the proliferation of poetry writers in our community.

What We Discused In Episode 6

1. Issues With English Language

Firstly, Summaiya shared her opinion on the use of the global lingua franca – English Language. According to her, Languages have socio-political importance. In South Asia, specifically the areas affected by colonization, English language became a symbol of status. The higher classes who merged well with the British and learned the language, associated an attitude of pride with English. We have perhaps inherited the same behaviour. Summaiya condemned this attitude and explained how languages are primarily a means of communication only. Language should not be used to claim superiority or make someone else feel belittled.

According to Summaiya, the role of English in dividing social classes has created a hindrance for those who wish to improve their language. The fear of being ridiculed for pronouncing something incorrectly keeps people away from actually learning the language. Summaiya advised us to change this behaviour towards the language and encourage people to learn in a healthy way.

2. Plagiarism

Secondly, Summaiya discussed the issue of plagiarism in great detail. First and foremost, she explained how plagiarism is a serious crime. In simple words, it refers to the act of copying someone else’s work and putting it as your own consequently, giving no due credit to the owner. This is plainly cheating on someone. It is morally incorrect and demotivating for creatives to work. Summaiya expressed her concern over the absence of laws to protect creatives from plagiarism. There needs to be a certain amount of accountability to avoid crimes like plagiarism. Publishing companies should regulate the content brought by authors to make sure it is not plagiarised.

Adieu Mused!

Daastan is proud to have shared this journey with you all. It is our mission to promote literary activities and discussions through such platforms like Mused. We hope that writers benefited from these Lives sessions and we aim to keep bringing informative content for our followers. Sign Up at Daastan and keep yourself engaged in similar content!

Pakistani Writers Community – Mused

Pakistani Writers Community – Mused

The Pakistani writers community has long been under-appreciated. A lack of recognition, funds and opportunities have resulted in a stunted growth of our literary activities. Despite showing promise, attaining Government funds has been out of question. This episode of Mused looked at this aspect of the writers community in Pakistan. Two special guests joined our host Summaiya, in a discussion over writers in Pakistan. Their main concern was the unfortunate fact that pursuing a career in arts is still not accepted as a viable option in Pakistan.

Guests From Writers Community

We were joined by two immensely talented writers and founders of Rhizomatic Literaties, Ms Anum Sajid and Ms. Fuzeela Zubair. Anam Sajid is the Initiator and Creative Head of Rhizomatic Literaties. She is an educationist who believes in building an egalitarian book culture in Pakistan. She moreover promotes and celebrates amateur literary diversity. Fuzeela Zubair is the Project Manager of Rhizomatic Literaties. She is a book blogger. With Rhizomatic Literaties, she hopes to take a step towards expanding the reading culture in Pakistan.

Cover of Rhizomatic Literaties designed by Daastan
Cover of Rhizomatic Literaties designed by Daastan’s design team

Read more about Rhizomatic Literaties here.

Rhizomatic Literaties

Anum and Fuzeela shared their experience of publishing their first book with Daastan. The writers expressed how Rhizomatic Literaties is more than a book for them. Their book is a movement towards building a literary community and empowering young writers. Anum and Fuzeela talked about the barriers that our writers’ community has to go through. The biggest barrier, according to them, are writers themselves who shy away from publishing due to a fear of rejection. Giving the example of instagram writers, Fuzeela explained that Pakistani writers need confidence the most. Even if we are not producing good content, we should keep putting up our work to improve the standard. She believes that fear of being judged overpowers a writer. She therefore advised us to not look at writers only with the intention of criticising them.

Advice For Young Writers

Anum and Fuzeela talked about fear in writers while publishing their work. They pointed out a progress in Pakistan’s literature in terms of exploring genres like fantasy. This progress itself highlights the acceptance on part of the reading community. Anum also mentioned that our writers community does not require facilities rather opportunities. They suggested writers to write consistently. Anum explained the contribution of self-publishers in our literary space. Platforms like Qissa have played a huge role in promoting literature in Pakistan.

Rhizomatic Literaties and Women Empowerment

Anum and Fuzeela now await the second volume of Rhizomatic Literaties. This volume carries a basic theme of Female Empowerment. Their main aim behind choosing this subject is to normalize discussion on women. The book will explore how women are independent and unique in their own way. This volume will also break all stereotypes related to women and showcase their diversity. We hope that their book receives all the love and attention it deserves. Anum and Fuzeela have without doubt inspired many young authors and we thank them for their struggle in our cause.

We thank our viewers for supporting and liking our Live sessions. It gives us hope to see your positive feedback. Share your own suggestions for future discussions and write to us at merasawal@daastan.com. If you like our content, Sign Up with us at Daastan!

English Poetry In Pakistan – Mused Ep 4

English Poetry In Pakistan – Mused Ep 4

English poetry in Pakistan has only recently become the ‘talk of the town’. A number of social media accounts are dedicated to writing and sharing poetry from within Pakistan. In the latest episode of Mused by Daastan, our host, Ms. Summaiya Naveed talks about the scope, status and popularity of poetry as well as issues relating to its publishing in Pakistan. Summaiya began the show with a positive note on how English poetry in Pakistan is getting better by the day. Let us look at what was discussed on the show.

1. Issues Of Publishing English Poetry

In Pakistan, publishing has become common in the past few years. Publishing English poetry, however, is a lot different than publishing prose. While editors look at prose in terms of the plot, flow of the story, characterization etc., poetry has a completely different criteria. Since the idea is expressed in very limited words, it should appeal to the reader and make a statement. There is a general misconception that anything which rhymes is poetry. This is not true. Poetry is complicated and beautiful way of expression and it has evolved as as art. But even then, it observes a few basic rules. Poetry is composed of a rhythm in units of feet— a pattern of stressed and unstressed syllables combined together in a meter— the number of feet per line. A lot of editors in Pakistan do not look at these technicalities of poetry because they don’t even know about them!

2. What Is Lacking In Pakistan’s English Poetry?

Pakistan’s publishing industry is growing at a fast pace. English poetry is one area that we have explored greatly (and yet much is left unexplored). Among the upcoming young writers, there is increasing competition when is comes to English poetry publication. Since a lot of people are writing English poetry now, editors see more and more poetry book submissions. The bar is being raised and poets have to work that much more to be able to get accepted for publishing.

Having said that, a lot of poetry writers are young adults with who do not have comprehensive knowledge of poetry. This produces immature work. On top of that, an excessive use of free-verse poetry has also limited the variety of poetry being written in Pakistan.

3. How Can We Improve Our English Poetry?

To improve English Poetry, Summaiya suggested we experiment more with different poetic forms and styles. Free verse is one style of poetry that is excessively used in Pakistani English poetry. It is important that writers try new styles like Haiku, narrative poetry, sonnets etc. Summaiya pointed out that a lot of poetry writers frequently write couplets mostly. She explained that in order to reach a mark in our poetry, we need to write serious, well-designed poetry that narrates a substantial idea in a unique style. Summaiya stressed on learning the technicalities of poetry. She gave examples of poetry forms:

  • Haiku
  • Trochaic Octameter
  • Elegy

And explained these technical terms:

  • Verse : A rhythmic line arranged in a meter
  • Rhythm : A Combination of stresses in a verse
  • Feet : Units of rhythm
  • Meter : Number of feet in a verse

With this she wrapped the 4th episode of Mused. We hope that you enjoyed and learned from this amazing discussion on poetry in Pakistan. If you wish to learn more or take our mentoring services where we help you improve your writing skills, you can sign up with us at Daastan and polish your talent. See you next week with another episode of Mused. Stay Tuned!

Publishing In Pakistan — Mused Episode 3

Publishing In Pakistan — Mused Episode 3

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 merasawal@daastan.com. If you like our show, sign up with us at Daastan to keep enjoying similar content. See you next week!

Daastan’s Live Session: Mused Season 1, Episode 2

Daastan’s Live Session: Mused Season 1, Episode 2

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!

poster for mused containing text
Mused is Daaastan’s first Live Show, featuring Ms. Summaiya Naveed, Editor Daastan

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.

4. Plagiarism

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!