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Linking Young Minds Together
     Volume 2 Issue 98 | December 21 2008|


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Chasing the Elusive Muse @ IUB

Sabreena Ahmed

I have heard many people ask this question to short story writers, novelists or poets, “How do you write? What provokes you to go for the first line? ” In fact, this indirectly indicates that the speaker wants to know how a writer brings his imaginations into his creation. Yes, there are a lot of techniques to present one's imagination or thoughts into words. But no one can teach a person how to become a writer if he/she does not have the inherent quality of being creative and using observation power and imagination to create something new.

On 19 November 2008, I attended the lecture of Professor Razia Sultana Khan who has recently become the Chair of the Department of English of the Independent University, Bangladesh (IUB) and also is the Head of the Institute of Modern Languages (IML), University of Dhaka.

The lecture was titled, Chasing the Elusive Muse: The Place of Creative Writing in English In Bangladesh where the speaker highlighted the techniques of how to begin creative writing along with the problems faced in our country. Creative writing in English in Bangladesh is really an elusive shadow to get hold off. This was a part of the regular Lecture Series on English Studies that Dept of English, IUB had begun last year.

The programme began with a short introduction of the speaker present by Prof. Niaz Zaman of Dept of English, IUB. Prof. Razia Sultana gave a brief introduction of the origin of Creative Writing. The whole idea of creative writing refers to producing any original literary piece. It came from the oral story telling of ancient times. When people felt the need to write the stories down, they started to draw pictures on stoned walls of the caves. Thus the cave paintings took the form of creative writing later on.

While talking about the functions of creative writing, Prof. Razia said that it entertains, stimulates imagination in people and also teaches how to read and write properly. But she regretted by mentioning how uncooperative our education system is to promote creative writing. Most of the teachers of the schools and colleges have large classrooms and do not have the time to check home works like stories or poems. Students are encouraged to practice parroting and produce a structured answer taught by the teacher in examinations. On the other hand, she has seen that the teachers in the West would go, “Oh wow, I never thought of it in that way,” whenever a student comes up with any new idea of his. A little inspiration and encouragement help the students to make the final leap from being a shy, introvert student to being an expressive and imaginative one.

Prof. Razia had started off with writing stories in a small group of friends; among whom two were lawyers, two were from Economics background and another one was from the background of Environmental Science. She read out an excerpt from her story “Summer of 1996” and told the audience that she was shy to show her creations at first. Just like Jane Austen who used to cook and write at the same time, but hid her notebook whenever someone peeped in. She also added that most of the women have a tendency to hide their works in our country, but they should not become closet writers like Emily Dickinson and find a group of friends to share their works.

She emphasized on the fact that editing is very important for a writer to present a flawless piece to the readers. Often the emerging writers in English in our country do not revise or edit their works and send them to publishers. Everyone should remember that revision is very important. A new practice of starting to write or get over writer's block is Free Writing. “Once a teacher, always a teacher,” Prof. Razia laughed and gave the audience a home task to wake up from sleep next morning and write whatever comes on mind on a paper.

Prof Razia concluded the session by mentioning that learning never stops and she herself is still a learner.

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