I am not new to the mountains and neither are the mountains new to me! However, The Himalayan Writing Retreat in a tiny hamlet at Satkhol, Uttarakhand did introduce me to the world of fiction and non-fiction popular writing. The backdrop is stunning; Himalayas across Uttarakhand merging into the ranges in Nepal. Stunning vistas coupled with a warm and welcoming facilitator and host laid the perfect platform for self-reflection and identifying the most pressing writing ideas in my awareness.
One day before the writing retreat began, I got down at Katgodham railway station and car pooled with three other participants to reach the retreat in Satkhol. The accommodations were quite comfortable and the food was delectable! The first day was spent in introductions and it was clear that Chetan Mahajan, the founder of The Himalayan Writing Retreat had a done a fantastic review and chosen the very best of applicants for the retreat. Each and every person at the retreat was an inspired soul waiting to burst with their own story irrespective of the genre and lived experience!
This was a scholarship opportunity provided by India Academy and such a brilliant initiative! I have a strong academic background and just like everything else in life, at different points and phases, every strength turns into a trap! So, when I reached a turning point in life and had to cross over into non-academic and possibly non-fiction-based writing; all my training in academia became the strongest impediment. As, I was grappling through this conundrum; Indic Academy announced this wonderful opportunity to attend The Himalayan Writing Retreat under the able guidance and mentorship of Chetan Mahajan.
Chetan is a great facilitator and has fine tuned his workshop through trial and error. He understands the nitty-gritty of the publishing world and the market. The cohort is set in a very informal environment with plenty of time to engage and interact with other participants and learn from their lived experience, strengths and ideas. Peer feedback was one of the huge draws for me personally! The workshop enables one to reflect about their strengths and pain points as a potential author and can be a very effective and efficient stage for a take off in the future.
The Himalayan Writing Retreat does an excellent job of involving senses and sensory perceptions in describing our characters and bringing them to life. For those of us that are trained to be objective in writing, this retreat is a perfect opportunity to embrace narratives and subjectivity. The workshop is a step by step, hand holding exercise in creating a framework for the story, building characters and weaving life into them. The structure of the workshop enables participants to use various formats provided and construct a very clear outline of the story building in their minds and hearts. The whole experience is a compelling shift to take ones lived experience and turn it into a story that can be told effectively to inspire others!
On the final day of the retreat, Chetan also walks us through the nitty-gritty of the publishing world and how one could approach publishers or literary agents and the financials involved. I greatly benefited out of the whole experience because it helped me connect dots and decide what kind of story to tell, how to tell it effectively and reach out to the world. For once, I got a genuine opportunity to get out of the conditioning of the ivory tower and understand myself and my own narratives from a different perspective.
Indic Academy has created a wonderful opportunity for budding authors and this retreat is a wonderful experience in understanding one’s own writing style and the difference between conversational approach to writing and formal writing and make a shift as required. I sign off this post with the hope that more and more people with an interest in writing and sharing their ideas, experiences and stories in the popular and non-academic domains will consider attending the retreat and Indic Academy continues to support such brilliant initiatives!
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