by Mia Martins, US West Blogger jaBlog!
The Emirates Airline Festival of Literature is the largest literary gathering of writers, authors, and readers in the Middle East. Held in the UAE in Dubai Festival City, the latest festival, which spanned March 4th-8th, boasted more than 150 writers and speakers from 25 countries. The festival hosts a wide array of seminars, debates, and writing contests for all ages, including special opportunities for young authors.
Venika Vachani is an eleven-year-old writer from the UAE. She placed first in the Taaleem Poetry Award contest for young writers, which is sponsored by the festival. Her poem, “I’ve Changed,” which won first place in the eleven-and-under category, was written to the festival’s 2014 theme of “metamorphosis.” This is the second time Venika has won a literary award through this festival.
Venika is also the first-place winner of Category 4 of the International 2013 Junior Authors Short Story Contest with her story “One Big Mistake.” She has also been published in magazines and newspapers and has had her stories broadcast on the radio. I had the opportunity to do an email interview with Venika about writing and the secrets to her literary success.
How long have you been writing?
I have been writing since I was five or six, so about six years.
Why do you write?
I write because it’s very satisfying and calming to me, and I just love the way my daydreams and thoughts can come alive with words!
You have won contests with both short stories and poems. Do you prefer one over the other?
Though I like both, I find that I like short story contests better. I have more to work with, and I can develop my ideas over a longer period of time. Poems can be so abstract and metaphorical that it is also hard for me to choose one to submit! It’s easier for me to decide whether a story is good enough to submit, based on plot, characterization, etc.; with a poem, this is so much more difficult. That’s not to say that I don’t like poetry contests; they are thrilling in their own way!
What do you find to be the easiest and hardest thing about writing?
The easiest thing about writing? That would have to be, in my opinion, starting a story. It’s not very difficult to come up with a random plot and start writing. The hardest thing, for me, is completing these unfinished pieces. I tend to start stories and not finish them.
Where do you find your inspiration?
I find inspiration from all around me. For novel ideas, inspiration comes from the books or movies I’ve recently read or watched. For stories, it could be anything, but they generally draw upon something I’ve thought about, felt, or encountered. For poems, it’s more varied. My poems come from anything that I read or see, but others come from words I like or phrases that interest me. Sometimes, my inspiration could be something as ordinary as a piece of paper or a honey bee. I’m also inspired by other pieces of writing, especially those written by kids or teens like me.
Do you ever get writer’s block? If so, how do you get through it?
When I do get writer’s block, it’s usually for one specific type of writing. I just work on another type of writing until my writer’s block goes away. For example, when I feel like my poetry isn’t coming out the way I want it, I switch to stories. Another thing that helps me is switching to another platform. Sometimes, I write on a Word Document; other times, I write online then copy-paste it onto Word again, or I handwrite it. Bizarrely, changing the font while typing also helps me sometimes!
Do you have any pieces of advice to your fellow young writers?
My piece of advice would be to keep trying even when inspiration is scarce; share your writing with the world, even if it seems like a daunting task, and experiment with different styles of writing until you think you’ve found your perfect genre or form of writing.