I’ve started 2021 the way I ended 2020 – powerfully. I published a chapter in a book called Grow Together published by the Immigrants Writers Association (which I’m a proud member of, and also the marketing manager). I will give more details on the experience and rewarding feeling it is when you’re a published author with another blogpost.
I had the privilege of being invited, among four of my fellow co-authors of Grow Together at Café New Canadians, a 1-hour weekly show, to discuss the experience of being an immigrant writer in Canada.
Now, after the show, I was promoting and sending this video to all my friends and family. One of them told me: Why are you speaking in Romanian? I realize exactly what he was referring to. I tend to speak in Romanian (my first language) using English words. Which is not always my intention 🙂 so feedback is important.
I invite you to watch (or listen) to the show and read the transcript.
Hosted by: Shruti Dargan – journalist, writer and editor for New Canadians TV.
- Gabriela Casineanu
- David Albertyn
- Soulsne (Sneha Gaikwad)
- Emanuel Petrescu
Shruti Dargan 0:01
Hello everyone, welcome to yet another session of Café New Canadians. Café New Canadians is brought to you by New Canadians, which is a TV show and a web series as well. We bring our content to you through different mediums. If you’re in Canada, you can watch us on OMNI Television. You can also check out our content on our website, which is NewCanadians.tv and on YouTube, our channel is youtube.com/newcanadians
Today we’ll be talking about immigrant authors and their experiences. I’m your host Shruti Dargan, and I’m very pleased to welcome four amazing guests. We’ll be joined by immigrant authors. The first one here is Gabriela Casineanu. We also have David Albertyn. We have Emanuel Petrescu and Sneha Gaekwad.
All four of our speakers today are immigrant authors, and Gabriela out of them is also the founder of Immigrant Writers Association, and we’ll be talking more about that: it’s an association for immigrant authors in Canada that connects a lot of such authors who have interesting chats, and have brought out some amazing work together.
So today’s chat is all about immigrant authors and their experiences. And it’s an interesting one because there’s so much of a perspective that one can add when it comes to as immigrants, there’s so much of a perspective that people have, they can share their stories, they can talk about their experiences, and they also have the power of writing. And that’s a lovely way for them to share that experience. So let’s welcome our guest. Welcome, everyone.
Emanuel Petrescu 1:45
Glad to be here.
Shruti Dargan 1:47
Perfect. So let’s begin with a round of introductions. It’ll be nice for us to go through the virtual room today. And we’ll start with you, Emanuel. How about you tell us a little about yourself?
Emanuel Petrescu 2:04
Sure, thank you. I’m the one breaking the ice tonight :). My name is Emanuel Petrescu. I came from Romania, East Europe, to Canada in late 2016. So that’s five years already. I’m a full-time digital marketer by day. And during the rest of the time, I write. I discovered the Immigrants Writers Association roughly two years ago, almost shortly after Building Bridges, which is the first anthology published by the association, was released. I have been interested in this field as I have written myself, all kinds of short stories and opinions. And I soon joined the association and got involved as much as I can.
Shruti Dargan 3:03
Thank you for sharing that with us. Gabriela, how about we go with you next, tell us a little about yourself as an immigrant author and your journey.
I came to Canada in 2003. And I never saw that I will write. It was not my intention, I didn’t write before. I was a professional. I came with an engineering background, and I changed my career here. I wanted to change careers. That was one of my objectives when I came here. And I changed from engineering to coaching three years after, and in 2016, I went through a burnout, which didn’t allow me to speak for four months. And during that time, I started getting worried, why do I do the rest of my life if I can’t talk anymore. And the next thought was to write a book. And it’s this book, not only I wrote it, and it became an international bestseller in seven countries, but also it gave me the idea to start the Immigrants Writers Association. And it helped me fall in love with writing. So I have had several books since. It was an interesting journey. Because I realized that we immigrants, we have a lot of things to share not only based on our culture and experience, but we have different opinions, different ideas, stories, fiction because a lot of immigrants write fiction as well. So why not giving them a platform and with that we can leverage each other’s networks so we can move forward together. This is my journey so far.
Shruti Dargan 4:35
Thank you for sharing that. We will come back to more specific questions about your journey a little later. Let’s let’s move on to David. Please tell us a little about yourself.
Hello, everyone. Thanks for joining. Appreciate it. I’m David Albertyn. And I’m from South Africa originally immigrated as a child. I’ve been in Canada for a while now but am still an immigrant. I came with my family in 1993, when I was a child to Canada, and based in Toronto. And just professionally, I always wanted to be a writer, but I was a tennis coach, sort of in my adult life is sort of my day job. And then I finally got my first book. I’ll just, I’ll just show it quickly: Undercard was that came out in 2019. And so now it’s been exciting being a published author, and then I was excited to join the Immigrant Writers Association to be a part of the recent anthology has been a lot of fun as well.
Shruti Dargan 5:36
Thanks for sharing that. Sneha, how about you?
Sneha G 5:40
Me, Okay, first of all, I’m gonna go give out on this, I start talking about myself, and then I can’t stop. So if I do go on a tangent, please feel free to read me in. Anyways, thank you. I’m glad to be here with all of you amazing people. It’s fun. To tell you my story. I came to Canada 10 years ago. And, you know, I never planned to stay here. But I don’t know, at that point of time in life, I was just running away from a few things. And it happened to land in Toronto, Canada. And I was like, I love the idea of freezing to death. So I ended up staying here. And, yeah, one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. I never knew at that point in time. So I always wanted to be a writer. I’m also a storyteller. That’s, I mean, I always say I’m an inspiring storyteller. But when you come to a new country, everything is so new. Just in my daytime, I work with human resources. And I love my job, not my paycheck. But that’s just everybody’s story. My story is I wanted to become a writer, but I had no clue. No direction, no clarity or what to do. So I was like, Okay, let me find people who are like me. And that’s how I found IWA. And I was very glad that I finally found IWA because that helped me bring out the writer that already was there. And the support that, you know, Gabriela and everyone just gave it just brought the writer in me. And that’s why I’m a first-time author, with this anthology that we came together, made together. And yeah, this I’ve just gotten started.
Shruti Dargan 7:31
Thanks for that introduction, I think with what all of you have shared, and this is something that I’d like to share here as well, all four of our guest speakers are also co-authors of the latest anthology, which is the second anthology that IWA has come up with, which is Immigrant Writers Association, the book is called Grow Together. And we will be talking about that as well. But it’s also an interesting panel today, because you know, I think the attendees today will be able to relate to you all so much. There’s someone who has had a passion for writing, all of you have had a passion for writing, but someone has been a published author before this. For someone, it’s the first time that they’ve been published. For others, you know, they’re also they also have day jobs. And they’re continuing with life and with their passion at the same time. So it’s going to be an interesting chat. And we’d love to get questions from the audience as well. So please do share them in the q&a section. If you’re joining us on Zoom. If you’re joining us on YouTube, where we are also live streaming this webinar, please share that in the chat section with us. And we’ll be happy to ask your questions and our guest, of course, will be happy to answer those. So let’s also hear a little now about you know, what is it like to be an author? And what are the differences when it comes to being an immigrant author? What comes with it? What differentiates the two? Gabriela let’s hear from you first.
You caught me by surprise 🙂 Can you please repeat the question?
Shruti Dargan 9:06
Well, my question is that, you know, it’s one thing to be a writer and author. And then there are also some differences. Are there any when it comes to being an immigrant author? Are there any responsibilities that come with it? Or you know, is there a challenge there? What’s your opinion?
Oh, there are many challenges, but I think there are many opportunities as well. So one of the challenges. Not all immigrants have English as a first language. So if you want to be known as an author, in Canada, in North America, for example, you have to write in English or translate in English. Writing in English. It’s one of the challenges if you want to translate from your language into English. It’s a totally different challenge because it’s a kind of writing twice: the context of sentences – everything changes. So there are more challenges when you don’t have English as a first language. But even if you are fluent in English, and you’re totally okay writing, you don’t know, as an immigrant, when you come here, you don’t know the literary landscape. What do you do? What do you do if you want to publish in magazines, publishing a book? So that is a lot to learn. And you can add to that, that the new immigrant, as an immigrant with several years in Canada, you need to continue to network, to increase your network of the number of people you know, because you don’t know when you stumble upon someone who can share some information with you, or put you in contact with someone. So increasing your network is something that you have to do in order to survive and thrive in Canada. And we have to learn that most of us were not used to it before coming here. Another challenge for an immigrant writer is that you come here and you need to find something to put food on the table. So your focus might not be first to start writing and publishing because this takes time. So you kind of juggle in parallel with several priorities. And that puts a toll on you, on your house, on your energy. So we have to learn how to deal with these different challenges. The opportunities I think is from what i notice since Immigrant Writers Association published the anthologies, Canadians, people who are here for a while born here, or the Canadian immigrants who are here for many years, they are interested in literature that is coming from immigrants, because we bring different perspectives, we bring different stories. Multiculturalism in Canada, it’s everywhere. So they are interested in getting to know us better. So it’s an opportunity for us to get out, put out there more of what we want to write right. Our perspectives, our stories, our point of view about what’s going on here. Because if you don’t speak up, it’s a wall between us and the rest of the world. And they might assume something that is not true. So we have to push ourselves into writing and publishing and sharing what we have to share.
Shruti Dargan 12:30
So you touched upon both the challenges and the importance of it. Emanuel, which one would you want to talk about? Do you think there’s more of a challenge that you’d like to talk about, or the importance of actually being an immigrant author, and what one can contribute you know to the voice,
Emanuel Petrescu 12:49
I’m the kind of guy who sees the full half of the glass, so I always see an opportunity. Fortunately, for me, at least, I found the channel that allowed me to express myself and communicate my feelings and thoughts. That’s IWA. I believe there is an opportunity in communicating your message, and also, who you are, and the experience and the knowledge that you previously accumulated before arriving in a foreign country, in our cases, Canada. Overall, it’s a good exercise that I would encourage anyone to do. And to Sneha’s point, it’s in everybody: everyone’s a writer, everyone has has it in them. And as I said, being an immigrant sets you apart: you can easily connect with people similar to you, as in having the immigrant status. So I see the opportunity.
Shruti Dargan 13:52
I’ll tweak the question slightly as we move on to our other participants, which is, David, I’d like to know from you: what responsibility does one feel? Or, you know, is there a concern about what story to share? Because, in your case, you mentioned that, you know, you’ve been around, you’re, you moved, but then you’ve been here, but then you’re still seen as an immigrant, which is true. So there is a little bit of I don’t know if identity crisis would be the right word to use here. But with that in mind, you know, how do you go about choosing what one should be writing about or expressing yourself. Which side do you choose?
That’s a great question. Yeah. Identity crisis is a good summation of it. I think firstly, you know, I think a writer can write you know what I mean if they want to delve into that they should but I don’t think a writer who’s an immigrant has to you know, by nature has to go into the that aspect of it, but I think definitely, there’s a lot there, as you say, there’s a lot about your identity, I think that I imagined or close to all immigrants must go through of this feeling of being between worlds. And I think it’s difficult to go through, but it’s actually good for your writing. I mean, that’s really what makes interesting writing interesting characters. And I think, automatically being an immigrant, you know, you’re constantly studying the new surroundings, comparing the new society to the old society, things like that. And all these sorts of observational skills that I think kind of are inherent to immigrants are valuable skills and writing. So I think, to Gabriela’s point, that I think in terms of networking and maybe breaking into the industry, there’s a lot of challenges in terms of the actual writing of your craft, and the work you can produce. It’s actually there’s a lot of fodder to draw from. So it’s, it’s an interesting thing.
Sneha why don’t you share some advantages of being an immigrant writer, or, you know, if you personally in your journey have had struggled with coming up with ideas or deciding what is it that you wish to convey? Through yourself being an immigrant writer?
Well, immigrant or not, I think there is a responsibility for that every writer has in order to what story you’re telling, what moral are you deriving out of the story that you just told? So I believe immigrants or not that responsibility comes on automatically to every writer. As far as the difference between being a writer back home, and here, it is different. I would say, if I had 10 stories today, back home, now I have 20. Because there’s perception, there’s empathy, on a completely different level. Because when you’re back home in your home country, and then you meet immigrants, oh, you must be living here. Like, you know, you have the sympathy for the other person. Oh, you’re living here alone, your families back home. I’m sorry, are you okay? You’re adjusting. When you immigrate, you realize it’s not all sorries. And it’s not all just opportunity. It is a lot more than that. So perception just adds more stories to your lines. And I would say being an immigrant writer is always a responsibility. And there are always more stories to tell. But so far, I mean, I’ll tell you what, I did not publish or write anything. I just wrote a lot of things and never published in India, partly because I’ll tell you what, Indians take that language very seriously. Indians take English. So seriously, if you try to read a science fiction novel in India, and you try to read a science fiction novel in Canada, or the United States, there will be huge, huge differences. It’s because it’s just a different level of language that they use, they just, I think they go out of their way to, you know, make it sound so amazing. But the difference between writing in a country where the native language is English, is people will tell you the story that you will understand. There is a relatability factor. And as an immigrant, I understood that it’s like, my language doesn’t have to be awesome, amazing, brilliant. I have to be relatable as a writer, I have to, you know, I have to write a story somebody will understand, will love to listen. So it’s not always about me, and I want to write stories. It’s about what story I want to tell you who I want to tell. And how do I want to tell you. So I believe that’s a responsibility every writer has. And then as an immigrant writer, I felt that that was a huge difference between me coming from India, and writing in Canada and publishing my stories in Canada.
Shruti Dargan 19:06
Now, that’s a good point you raised there. And one to think about, actually, there’s a question that I see in the q&a tab here. And I’ll open it to all four of you, whoever would like to add to this. It’s a question from Sri Satya, she’s there actually sharing as an immigrant author, do you feel like you’ve lost the right to talk about your home country? So we discussed, you know, feeling the pressure to talk about the immigration experience, but what about talking about your home country? Do you feel that connection there? Who would like to attempt this?
I guess? Oh,go ahead David.
Shruti Dargan 19:46
Go ahead. I think we’ll hear from David first and I’ll come back to you Gabriela.
Yeah, I think that’s a great question. And that’s something I’ve thought about in terms of I would like to set up a store in South Africa and I am intimidated, even though I go back Every so often every several years, and obviously my family and the connection. But I think if I were to, I would go through a process of research like I would in a country that I hadn’t lived in, because I think that is intimidating. I mean, for someone who especially, has been left a while ago. So yeah, I think sometimes it is a bit difficult, because sometimes you feel maybe you’re not equipped to write about the new country, you know, Canada, you know, maybe Canadians would be upset with you, or North Americans with the comments, either the sort of analysis you’re providing, and then at the same time, maybe you’d upset the last country. So you’re all in this sort of funny in between space. And it’s, I think, it takes a lot of care and consideration to sort of navigate it in terms of your work. So there’s a good question.
Shruti Dargan 20:49
Gabriela, what are your thoughts? What’s the most, what’s the right way to be able to navigate that in-between space that one gets stuck in?
I don’t think that you lose the right to talk about your own country, I think it becomes more of a choice and an option. So if you want, you can write about your country, if you want, you cannot, you can write about something else. So as a writer, you choose a topic like Sneha said, the topic could be about your country, about the parallel between countries, it could be about Canada, it could be about something you’re passionate about. So I don’t think it’s one or the other, you have the right to talk about it or not. It’s more: what do you want to say? What are you as a writer, what are you interested in? When you write about something, and like David said, when you’re away from your home country, for a while things are evolving in the country as well. So you’re not aware of what’s going on right now. So you might stay in the perception of what it was when you were there. But if you’re right about something, right now, you might be a little bit kind of at a distance from the real things that are happening in the country. So it’s up to you, if you want to write about politics, for example, of course, you, you might go into that. But if you want to write like, I want to write topics that help everyone. So I’m not necessarily interested in relating to my country of origin or Canada, I’m interested in a specific topic that could help specific people. So I write nonfiction so that it might be different for fiction writers, but my perception of it, you don’t lose the right, it just becomes an option.
Sneha Gaikwad 22:41
I’d like to add something, I don’t think you lose the right to talk about your own country, you might lose an audience, your writings will probably appeal to a different audience. And if somebody doesn’t want to listen to your opinions, then you don’t have to. So you might lose a little bit of audience so you don’t lose the right to write about your own country, your own experiences. If not everybody comes here like David that came here as a kid, right? I came here when I was 25. Can I erase 25 years of my life in a different country? Oh, hell no. Yes, that in a world we live in, people are obsessed with political correctness. But the world that we’re heading into might not be a big fan of political correctness. So it really depends on what you want to say, I don’t think you know, lose the right to write about your own country or anything.
Shruti Dargan 23:34
Sure. Now, I also want to talk about the Immigrant Writers Association, you know, which all of you are a part of. And Emanuel also shared that it’s nice to be a part of a group where no one can interact with other authors and immigration and in Canada, it’s all about, you know, diverse experiences, people from different cultures coming together, thinking of these ideas reflecting their journey. So I’d like to know from you what you Sneha, I have you here. I’d like to know from you that you know, what your experience has been like, or that one thing that being a part of an association like this has helped you.
Like I said, I wouldn’t have even published this early if I didn’t have the support. And if I didn’t have the companionship or of this association. It’s because it’s in a different country. It’s completely, completely different. The processes are different, what the audience likes or prefers that is different. You don’t know if a publisher is going to like your content or it’ll appeal to the market. You never know tha, you don’t have any direction. You don’t have any clarity. So you’re looking for some answers, but you don’t have the right direction. Right? You don’t even know the right person to ask. In that situation, a group that can empathize with you, can relate with you, and has gone through similar experiences, has been enlightening. Honestly, I, like I said I wouldn’t have published as early as 2020 if I didn’t have the support from IWA. So it means a lot, honestly, it’s a huge support. And I, I would actually advise any, any writer, any up and coming writer who wishes to write, you know, get published, I would recommend them to find such associations were similar people are there who would empathize with you, and then that will be the best way to just bring out the writing inside of you.
Shruti Dargan 25:48
David from you, I’d like to know that, you know, you had your first book out before this anthology came out. So what, how, how did it help you? Or, you know, what is that one advantage? I’m sure there are more. But for us, if you could share that top most fun that you felt by being a part of this association? Or, in general, you know, like being a part of an association like this? What is the benefit in general? And how did it help you specifically?
Ya sure. Well, firstly, I was at the word on the street festival in Toronto. And there was a room there. This was late fall 2019. And of all the different writers organizations, I was walking around, and I joined a bunch of them that day. And then I saw the Immigrant Writers Association, I thought I have to join this, I just have to be a part of this. So my initial desire was really, I wanted to support the organization. I mean, immediately, I was excited that there was such a thing as the Immigrant Writers Association, and I, and since I already have something of a platform, I thought, you know, whenever I can lend to help support it, because I think it’s a great resource. You know, for immigrant writers, I think writer organizations and associations, in general are great resources. And I was gonna save that for the end from my tips for aspiring writers. But I’ll say that now and Sneha has already said it, but it’s definitely believe people, anyone trying to break in and people who are looking to get published, should join a writers organizations. And if you have the time, join more than one if you can. Because it’s so and then for me, I loved being a part of this anthology. I mean, also No, sorry, I’ll say my favorite has been meeting everyone. It’s been really great just connecting with the other. With the other writers, it’s just been wonderful to make new friends and meet a lot of new people, you know, present company included. And that’s that, and just the whole experience of the anthology, the launch, you know, for my book was a launch by myself, which is obviously a lot of fun, but it’s really fun being part of; I wrote on social media, it’s like, a book by yourself is like an individual sport, an anthology is like a team sport, you know. So it was really, it was really fundamental, then writing the piece for it that I wrote was a short memoir piece was actually quite cathartic thinking of my whole immigrant experience. So anyway, a lot of good things, a lot of good things. I’m very happy to be a part of it.
Shruti Dargan 28:19
Thank you for sharing that. And I’m sure there’s enough time for you to come up with more tips by the time we reach you for that again, Emanuel, I’d like to know from you, as far as I know, I think you’ve had a longer association with the, with the Association, which is IWA, then maybe you know, the two speakers that spoke before you. So why don’t you share? What kind of a benefit have you had? By being a part of it? Or what has your contribution been?
Sure, I would like to start first by saying that there is an advantage of being an immigrant. I don’t think that we immigrants in the first place, take advantage of that advantage, at first. I call it the immigrant advantage. I’m not sure if somebody has coined that term before, but there’s something that we should keep in mind. I also got involved in the association, because my experience is in marketing, and digital marketing, and I saw I love these types of projects that are built by by people similar to me, so it came natural that I’ll get involved and bring my knowledge to the table and try to get in front of as many people as possible to share the knowledge. Also, I believe the idea of the second anthology is that its name is Grow Together, so basically I see the association like a seed that was planted, and obviously it’s not gonna happen overnight, but in time, everybody will grow inside.
Shruti Dargan 30:03
Now you named a you share the name of the second one and Gabriela, he has a question for you. The first anthology was called Building Bridges, the second Grow Together. It’s also almost like a reflection of how, what the purpose of maybe the association has been right to first build bridges between all of the members, and then you’re all growing together. And I’ve had the fortune of being a part of the first one, and I had an amazing time contributing to the chapter myself. So I can definitely vouch for that here that, you know, being a part of this association, or any Writers Association, in general, helps you to bounce off those ideas, get that mentorship, and there’s just so much exciting conversations that you can have. So I’d like to know from you the question here is, besides everything that people shared over here, was that the purpose? Or what are your thoughts about you know, when what do you see this association doing?
Actually, that’s a point that I didn’t think about that the anthologies are about the members to build bridges and then grow together? Because my perception about the association first was to help immigrants leverage each other networks and to help each other promote. Because like David said, individually, if you have a book, which is just you trying to talk about your book, and do, you cannot reach so many people, but when you’re part of an association, you can do this together, especially if you’re part of an anthology, for example. So my idea to start the association was: I’m not the only immigrant who wants to write and share whatever thoughts ideas has, but also, I’m not a young immigrant, who doesn’t know how to go to the next level. And when we came together, we decided to publish anthologies. But the first anthology idea was how immigrants in general not say members of the association are building bridges with nonimmigrants, for example, between cultures, so there is a broader dimension to the topic of building bridges of the first anthology. The second anthology name came out. When we launched the first one, we asked the audience, what do you think would be the title of the second anthology, and they said: Oh, we built bridges. Now let’s grow together. So the second anthology was on this topic and the same, it’s about immigrant perspective could be fiction or nonfiction. But the immigrant perspective on what grow together means and that are very interesting chapter because it kind of takes you from one story to another and it expands your perception of the term grow together. So each of us understood the term differently, so it’s reflected in our chapters. And the third one, we will start, at the end of January, beginning of February, we will put out a call for submission, that one will be Moving Forward, again, if we, those who want to join the anthology will need to share their perspective of Canadian immigrants and what it means for them moving forward. So these are topics that are coming together with and the Board of Directors decide different values to each one we choose. But what I like to say, we like to make decisions together, about the book, about the events, we put a survey recently to find out members’ opinions, and we’ve got very interesting topics, someone wants to create an app for us, I’m like: whoa, that’s a good idea. So that’s how Association grows is not imposed. It grows organically. We don’t usually promote association to gain members, we promote our activities. And naturally, people are attracted to our associations as well to help the association grow.
Shruti Dargan 34:13
So what I’m hearing is that, you know, groups like these are a way for members to grow together in general, to understand their experiences, each other’s experiences, and be able to find those different outlets, you know, either to just express themselves find some commonality, or to learn more about the finer details of actually publishing of editing. It’s one thing to be a writer, but you know, when you go through a process like this, you learn the different steps that come with it, that how somebody else views your work, how they review your work. So we’ll be talking about all of these tips and the processes as well because that’s the idea of this webinar today that you know, we’d like to help our participants understand if they’re in that journey right now. Or if there at that spot? Wherein they’re just thinking about writing? How can they begin? And what are the different steps that they can take? There’s also a question that I see here, which is, we talked about the various advantages, right of being a part of an organization like this association. The question is, what are some other associations or festivals that upcoming authors should watch out for? If anyone would like to highlight something here, in general, from your participation, your experience, or platforms that one can check out?
Go David,I will talk after
Well, the Writers’ Union of Canada is the big one. But that you don’t have to be traditionally published anymore, you can get in, now there’s a recent change with self published if they feel the self publishing is of a certain caliber, but that goes through a whole review process. But then there’s generally, if you’re writing in a genre, there’s a number of associations for each genre. So also for communities, but for genre, you can find a lot. So because I’m in crime fiction, there’s Sisters In Crime that’s one, Crime Writers of Canada is another one. And then there’s also a lot of writer organizations in the US that are either international or across North America. So people based in Canada or elsewhere, can sign up for those two, and then another one, with COVID. I don’t know if it’s as good now. But conferences are big. So you can often find those through finding out about conferences or sort of, you know, networking events, through these writer organizations, they’ll generally send you an email list, things like that. And other ones Canadian Authors Association. That’s, you got to pay, but anyone can join that. But that’s got an annual fee. But that also has a lot of resources, I believe.
Shruti Dargan 37:07
Thanks for sharing that list with us. I think that’s something that one can definitely refer to and you know, find whatever works for them, whatever is relevant to them. Gabriela, I had a feeling like you wanted to add to that, right?
Yes. And I like what David said, it really depends on what do you write? And what what do you want to do? Do you want to publish in magazines? Do you want to publish online, self publish, to publish traditionally, your general so there are so many different elements to it. So what I would encourage you to do is to connect with people who are writing already, the type of books or the essays, stories that you are writing or poetry, because they already are connected with the niche. So they know much more about that specific niche. David talks about crime fiction; poets, for example, might know about poetry groups and opportunities and where you can go for an open mic. So that is different information, that is different information that we can share. And it’s too broad to share it here. If you want to start there is a list on CBC website about organizations for writers, there are a lot of organizations locally, nationally, you can go internationally as well, because I don’t think you want to limit yourself only to Canada, if you just want to write for a certain audience, and you can find the audience everywhere. So it’s more about getting in touch with other people in the same niche with other writers, other authors, there are Facebook groups, a lot of famous Facebook groups or authors. So there are many opportunities where you can meet other authors and stay in touch. And like we are doing with the Immigrant Writers Association, we share resources, that are the magazines and book awards that are reaching out to our association, and we share that information with members. So don’t just stay isolated. That’s the point here, stay connected to similar people who might help you get the information that you’re looking for.
Shruti Dargan 39:22
Thank you for that. So far, you know, we’ve had a chance to talk about some different aspects that come with someone being a writer or someone also having the immigration experience, whether it’s a language preference, a language barrier, but we’d also like to break it down to the audience today that you know, what are some of those different steps? And before I come to that, I quickly have a question for Emanuel. You shared that you’re also a marketer, right? A digital marketer. So what kind of a rule or any tips that you have to begin with when it comes to marketing your own work when you’re an author when you market your ideas.
That’s a good question, obviously depends on each individual each channel what kind of work you do,.But the first thing is to talk about it, share it, put it out there, find the people that are interested in it and try to establish a direct communication with them. In 2021 it’s quite easy to do that. You have all sorts of channels to directly communicate with them, you have Facebook, LinkedIn, all sorts of groups like David said there for each niche, each genre, there is a specific group and people that are interested in. So my recommendation not as a digital marketer but in any field you are, going directly to reach out, you have the tools and put yourself out there. Try to communicate as much as you can about who you are. And just be yourself and actually do things because as we know sometimes we put stuff away and maybe do that at a better time which that better time never comes. So actually start doing it and things will come, things will come together.
So the last 2 things, sorry, go ahead. Gabriela, you want to say something? Oh Gabriela, you wanted to say something. Please go ahead
Ya, thank you. So towards what Emanuel said, it’s also about start building your email list. It’s very important in the beginning people don’t know that you are writing and when you start putting out there maybe you put one article there, where you ask people to join your list. So when you start building your list and when you are ready to publish you already have a group of people who know about you and you can send the information “hey my book is out and if you like to check it out.” That’s what I did, I started promoting the first time writing a book before I published the book. So people follow my journey and people love to follow unfolding stories. And when I publish it I start talking about the book “hey its this rank higher and higher”, so they got curious and interested and some people helped me to promote the book, so don’t wait until you publish to let people know you are writing. Because you are a writer anyway even if you publish or not. Just let people know so they can start following you. And build that list, it’s very important, having a website, having an email list, and sending information from time to time about what’s going on. People love to know what’s going with this writer. People are always saying that, so just put yourself out there. Don’t be afraid that if you are not writing perfectly each time, you will improve each time. So just put yourself out there from the beginning.
So with what the 2 of you said you know Emanuel shared that be yourself and take that first step of actually beginning, don’t delay it, and you shared you know while you do begin, start planning ahead, and start thinking of the readers of your book but what comes in between, Sneha, what would you want to say there.
Sneha : 43:21
Oh good lord. A lot.
ShrutiTell us about something that you know you think that you know, Okay, the reason why I am asking you is that is because you shared this is the first time and you have been writing earlier as well but this is the first time you ended up sharing your work. So if you could take us briefly through your process or you know what came to your mind and before you do tell me I like to just highlight here that I like to share here there’s a participant has shared what you shared really resonated with them and about you know what you said about language preference that you preferred writing english and they also said that even though my vocabulary is much wider in my first language I think the cultural norms affects the way you feel about it and there’s a preference for english here and I just felt that I should share it with you.
Thank you, thank you for sharing that.I am glad what I said resonated with someone. Like I said, there’s always something to learn from other people’s experiences right? Like what Emanuel said um, I actually am at the receiving end of one of the tips that just get started. Cause at the back of your head you are always second guessing yourself as a first time writer, published writer and you and Gabriela brought this point very often during our IWA meetings and you know monthly check in she does with everybody and it actually does help that you know just get writing. There’s a lot going on in your mind before you put anything on paper. You start thinking and analyzing, Like I am an anxious person to begin with. I am existing on this plane but thinking you know next year already, and with that anxiety it’s very difficult to put things down and at the end of the day every writer goes through it. It’s like obsessing through your own writing and there was this wonderful point Gabriela made at the first meeting itself. Doesn’t matter if I am not quoting her so the language might be a bit different, I am sorry I am a bit sassy. So whatever you put on a paper the first draft will always be garbage. According to you but for someone else it might not be crap but the writer always first critic you have is always yourself. That’s a good thing and also a bad thing. So there’s a lot that goes on while you are putting your words and thoughts on paper. And at the same time It’s not the process that you obsess about, it’s also the receiving end of this story that you are obsessing about. It’s also the receiving end of this story that you are obsessing about like you know what I don’t want to sound too this and I don’t want to sound too politically correct all the same time I don’t want to be politically correct all the time. So you know you’re obsessing about a lot of things, aduence, readership, language. So there’s a lot that goes on in this process and these 2 tips actually really like I am taking it right now, just get started, even if you feel like it’s garbage, still get started. It’s like Gabriela said: don’t wait until you are published and that I think was actually directed not directly to me but i definitely the audience for that tip Gabriela, don’t wait until you get published. Start your emailing list, so ya it’s always good to learn from other people’s experiences and that’s of the positive things of being a part of a group as well. There is a diverse skill set that comes, there’s also a diverse experience that comes through.They told the people about their experience and I learnt the most out of that. I probably wouldn’t have learned it probably 2 years down the line of I hadn’t heard it from them. Right, so I think yea, there is a lot that goes on between these processes. It’s overwhelming.
Definitely. David, why don’t you take us through, Sorry, Gabriela I will just come back to you. Quick question here for David, Why don’t you take us briefly through your process. Maybe there will be a learning there for the participants as well that you know. Take us through what happens when you are sitting down to start planning a book or when you are writing even if it’s just a chapter. What’s the process like for you? And Gabriela I will come back to you on how to stay on track. Because I know that’s something that’s dear to you and you have lots of tips on that one. I will come back to you for that. David why don’t you tell us.
Yeah, so one thing I like to do is let my ideas stay for a bit . I like to have a sort of mask with quite a lot of ideas, just think about it for a while. Generally my stories kind of start with this generally a character I am interested in, theme, issue or subject. You know that I am kinda interested on and keep thinking about it about it and generally I am already thinking on another project, so its while you are working on another project its often um editing phase goes on for a long time with very little changes in terms of content of the work and at that time I find cause you are focusing on writing really. I am thinking about the next story. So it’s kind of a long process of just thinking about it, taking notes of what I liked and also tell people and I know some writers they don’t want to tell people anything not their ideas nothing but I do because I find the process of storytelling oral storytelling to loved ones to friends or whoever often they share interesting things but because often just you telling going over, goes over in your head and it starts to build in your mind and you learn how to tell the story orally. That helps to start to grow and you start to get excited about it and at a certain point I am ready and I decide to start going and like I said I take notes along the way and I write chronologically but whenever I got an idea for down the road ideas and sometimes even passages or dialogs I will write in a doc I will have that saved and look at it later on when I get to that section and I like to have. I will wrap up, I will go on forever cause I can go on forever on that subject about my process but um I like to have something that really interests me in the work that I am looking to explore something subject and issue or multiple I want to research, I want to learn about that kind of keeps me excited as I am also building it out and the last thing I will say is the first draft when you are talking about is talking about the critic. In the first draft I like to think you are getting the story out, you are getting the foundation for your story. Second draft you are really solidifying your story and building your character and your third draft you are really kind of bring it together, drawing out the theme and from then it’s just the writing pretty much the quality of writing, enhancing and enhancing cutting anything.You are still fine tuning the character but that I feel like takes a lot of pressure off there is not overwhelming then the initial each draft.
Thanks for taking us through that process, because you know everyone as a writer or even in general, has a different way of approaching the task and some of us get stuck at the very first stage for instance like as a writer I know i get stuck at the intro itself and if my intro isn’t perfect i will keep coming back at tit. But it’s difficult for me to move on and sometimes when I am able to move on it’s an achievement there. So with that, Gabriela back to you, there’s also a question about the same thing: what’s your writing process and do you write everyday. And I know that this is something that’s dear to you. Tell us if one should be doing that if one should stay on track. By continuously doing something when it comes to achieving this task.
Before answering your question, I want to say that I shot in the chat a book, the book is called the War of Art, because several times he talked here about your inner challenges your inner saboteur. And that’s the book that helped me overcome all these inner barriers and just write and get the book out. So I highly recommend it, it’s very easy to read. So there are a lot of tips and tricks How to Get over yourself, like you’re saying yesterday, if you think that he’s not perfect what you do to move on. So there are some recommendations. For example, if you get stuck in the introduction, just put the introduction aside and start writing about something else. Because you can start in a book of different chapters, for example, and then you come back to the others. If you think of creativity as a flow, if you get stuck on a part of it, you don’t allow the flow to go through it. So if you get stuck here, just do something else. And while you’re doing something else, you’d get ideas on how to come back. So about the writing, it’s up to you, I usually prefer when I have a project to write only on the project. I don’t have projects in parallel. But when I am on a project, I want to do only that I don’t want to get distracted by other things that I do, even if it’s not writing. So I think each writer is different. And we have to find our own way through it. Just not be too much, don’t feel guilty if you don’t get it right from the beginning. Even very famous writers still go through the editing process so that you are talking about phases you write, especially for immigrants, you write, however you can write, then you go through self editing, you edit, and then you go to an editor, a professional editor, that helps you is the English part. So don’t get to hang out with your English might not be perfect. Because actually, as a first stage, you’re just going into sharing whatever you want to share. There are professionals who can help you with the next steps. So how to stay on track? It’s up to you, you can put a deadline. For me, I like to have the draft cover of the book. Title, I might change the title I might change the cover, but having something to look at is inspiring, inspiring me and helping me stay on track. Yes, I want to get this out. What can I do to get to that level? When I don’t have a title or a draft cover. I kind of go in either direction. Having that helps me stay focused. So these are my tips.
That’s a great one there and I will come to you Emanuel you started this discussion with a great tip that everyone did appreciate a lot over which was just get started and that seems like the easier one but that’s what is the most difficult and I would like you to also wrap up this piece which we have been discussing which is the writer’s process, you know their journey, what puts you in that zone when you are writing?
Some might say we need to let the demon out, so sometimes that happens and there’s a process. I am maybe not as organized as Gabriela and I sometimes do have quite multiple tabs in the same browser window but one thing I started recently not just before the pandemic is actually first hand writing the draft first draft. That’s an interesting exercise that obviously in today’s age we don’t do that much. So I would leave this as an experimental tip and start doing it by hand first.
That would be a good one and I will give all of you a chance to yes, please do share 30 second tips with me about something as interesting as to start writing now but i would like to know your one last tip you have for all our audience. David sorry, go ahead please.
I was just gonna say that I do hand writing.
Yeah, i also do that very much, the tip i would say is try and write at the same time of day at least for one of your session you might write multiple session a day and for me I find that the best is the first thing in the morning, when I am in a writing phase, I dont always write, I get up early same time of day get in you know 45 mins to an hour or if I can go longer and I think that just makes a lot easier to get into writing when it becomes habitual. I think it’s a good thing.
Sneha, What about you?
I would say find a ritual. It could be just like a routine like David said to write on the same time of the day. Also find a ritual, find something that would get started that would also remind you and then over the time it will help you become like make it a habit. It will eventually become your muscle memory, you know what, this is my ritual, I am going to sit here and write so it doesn’t matter. For me it would be like you could write any time of the day or you could have my cup of coffee or my fav drink while I am writing. Find a ritual and then stick to it and eventually it will become like a muscle memory and you will start craving it after a while. So find a ritual, that’s the best thing.
Thats a good one too. And Gabriela I will let you conclude with that one last tip that you have.
My tip is we are all unique, try to find your one way into it. For example, it took me 10 months to write my first book. And all that time I was tweaking my writing process to get to that ritual that Sneha was talking about. So don’t expect to find it in the beginning, it might be different for you then for other people. What helped me I was writing Starbucks putting some calming music that was the buffer between me and the external world and that song was putting on repeat and that became my ritual.Because everytime I want to write, I put on music and I dive into writing right away. So find your own itual, tweak the process along the way. Find your place, the time of the day, whatever works for you but keep in mind that it might change in time. Just be open and curious like others are saying and get it out there because there is someone out there who wants to read what you write. So don’t stay in your own way.
Thanks for sharing that, we really hope that all these amazon tips, the insights our guest speakers shared today, their own experiences, challenges they faced and overcome too would have inspired you to be on that journey to continue writing or to start writing and we just hope you found this session to be useful in that regard. Thank you once again to all you Gabirela, Emanuel, Sneha and David for joining us today in this discussion and sharing your experience.sWith this we come to the end of the session, we would definitely want for all of you to follow our other sessions that we organize as part of Café New Canadians we got interesting ones lined up for you. So do check out that space so that you can know about our next sessions. On your screen you will also be able to see the website link for Immigrant Writers Association and here is something I like to share: for all that people who joined us on Zoom today, we will be randomly picking the winner here one person and we will be sharing second anthology of IWA which is called Grow Together with them. We will be sending them across to one lucky winner who joined us on Zoom. So thank you and join us in our next session to stay updated about our next session, do follow us on social media. We are there on all the platforms. You can also stay updated on the content and receive the information in your inbox through our newsletter. Watch us on tv if you are in Canada, we air on Omni television you can also check our website and youtube channel for this video and a lot more we covered so fast. We have an interesting place you can also interact with us. A Facebook group which is called New Canadians Connect please do join us there so that somewhere we can continue this conversation and discuss a lot more interesting ideas that we have. Before you do signout from here, also request you to fill a survey that will come on your screen. And give us your feedback in ways we can swerve you better next time. Thank you once again.