Hey, Sara here! Read this wonderful piece on how to not only make your kids a good writer, but a good human being, from Singapore based Mitali, an acclaimed writer and a thinking parent. She is the founding editor of the international Borderless Journal, which republishes the writings of young Bookosmians.
Sara Chats: “Our kids should have dreams bigger than ours,” with Mitali Chakravarty, founding editor of Borderless Journal
Sara: A journalist, a teacher, story teller, a writer, parent and so many more – you have experienced life’s many colours! If there is one thing you would like to go back and tell your 10-12 year old self, what would it be?
Mitali: Thank you Ms Sara — I really am a huge fan of yours!
I am not as multi faceted as you make me sound but a mother and homemaker who writes and is trying to create a happier world for her children and in the future, her great grandchildren!
I would tell my younger self: “Dream — dream big and believe in your dream and yourself and it will happen.” I had that belief and it was instilled further in me by my father and his younger brother as I grew up in a joint family.
Sara: Tell us your objective behind running Sara’s selection- a space dedicated to young writers.
Mitali: Sara’s Selections showcases young writers from Bookosmia. I hope to support Bookosmia in its attempt to enhance young writers.
I do not look for competitive pieces or pieces with perfect grammar, but original writing, unguided by parents or tutors, what children think and write themselves.
I hope this attempt will help develop young minds to think positively and nurture young writers as the future thinkers and dreamers of tomorrow — leading the world towards a more positive mindset — above the rat race and above just monetary considerations or the glitter of fame. They should have the ability to create a better world than the earlier one because mankind only moves forward in time — not backwards. Their dreams should be bigger than ours and Sara’s Selections will hopefully be able to encourage more to have big dreams — real or unreal. After all when Jules Verne wrote about Captain Nemo, did we have submarines?
Sara: Congratulations to you on the success of your ‘Borderless journal’. You deal with diverse writers on a day to day basis. What according to you are the elements that make a piece of writing stand out?
Mitali: That is hard to say. It is not just the linguistic skill but the thought process that makes a piece unique. If you think big, you will have a good piece. I like a sense of humour and a light touch. Your writing should be above hurting anyone. It should be honest, from the bottom of your heart, inspire and be original.
The writer should understand not only the nuances of the words but also have something new to say — something that will contribute to a positive outcome in mankind. Most great writing has that — Tagore to Tolstoy. And the humour should be clean — like Wodehouse or Gerald Durrell. Imaginative — like JK Rowling — I loved all the Harry Potter books.
The piece should be coherently thought out and well executed. It should be open to readers of all ages and the language used should be simple and clean (no swear words or foul words) — so that everyone can read and enjoy. Of course you can’t have a four-year-old comprehend what a forty-year-old enjoys — but there should be nothing in the content that should be closed off for a four-year-old.
Sara: Could you please tell children about how they can accept feedback positively and how they can use it to hone their skills further?
Mitali: Sara, you and your friends are superb writers!
I would suggest, think of it like a medicine that will help you get better at what you do. Medicines don’t taste good. There is a song that goes, ” Spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down” from a movie called Mary Poppins. Every time you get feedback, ask your mom for a candy to digest the medicinal advice. Eat the candy and then, try to understand what is being said, absorb it, make the changes — and hey presto! You will have a winning piece. It will be like magic.
Or, if it is outright rejected, eat the candy, and know you just need to read some more, write some more, grow up some more and continue to keep trying. And one day you might be vying for a Nobel prize like Tagore. Even JK Rowling was rejected ten times before Harry became a legend. I would suggest, read good writers and keep trying till you learn to soar!
Mitali is a mom and homemaker. She was trained to be a journalist specializing in economic development studies and arts. Mitali opted to be a wife and mother. And this has helped her to see the world in broader perspective, redefine her dreams and try to move towards creating a world filled with love and goodwill. She is the founding editor of Borderless Journal and former editor of Kitaab. Org and an acclaimed name is contemporary South Asian literature.