“Don’t give up easily”: Ruskin Bond’s advice to aspiring writers at the Get Set Parent-Vishwarang Children’s Literature, Arts & Music Festival
Bhopal, December 4, 2020: The first edition of the Get Set Parent Children’s Literature, Art & Music Festival, which was held in association with Vishwarang, was a grand success. The 8-day-long festival not only featured some of India’s most beloved authors of children’s books as speakers, it also enjoyed a viewership of over 1 million on YouTube, thereby becoming India’s biggest virtual literature, arts and music event for children during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Organized by ‘Get Set Parent with Pallavi’, which is India’s fastest growing parenting YouTube channel with over 10,000 subscribers in just a few months since its launch, the Children’s Festival included interactive sessions with renowned children’s writer Ruskin Bond, bestselling Indian mythological fiction writer Anand Neelakantan, writer-illustrator Ashok Rajagopalan, author and philanthropist Rohini Nilekani, CEO of Amar Chitra Katha Preeti Vyas, India’s Got Talent Season 2 winner Shillong Chamber Choir and award-winning author Nandini Nayar. The event was targeted towards kids in the age group of 4-12 years and it was held as part of Vishwarang 2020, which is a unique literature, art and music festival in India that focuses on art and literature not only in English but in Hindi and regional languages as well.
Regarding the success of the literature and cultural extravaganza for children, the Festival’s Curator Dr Pallavi Rao Chaturvedi said, “I can’t help but go back in time two months ago when we first conceptualized this entire show. We kept wondering what we could do for children who have been locked in at home all the way since March. What better than to bring the world to them though the screens and put forth the best in Literature, Art and Music. The tremendous response that we have received from the children literary and art community as well as from parents has ensured that we will be back next year with an even bigger and better event.”
During a conversation with Dr Pallavi, celebrated children’s author Ruskin Bond gave some tips to those children who want to embark on the journey of creative writing. He said, “You must have confidence in your language, you must be fluent in whatever language you are going to write in and put sentences together in an attractive way, use words in an attractive way. Be original, be different and don’t try to write like everybody else. You need ideas, some imagination and to be regular with your writing. You are bound to have disappointments in trying to get published. I have known young writers who are talented but because of their early rejections, they got discouraged and did other things. So, don’t give up easily. If you are truly committed and want to be a writer, you need to stick with it for some time.”
Sharing an interesting point with the tech-savvy youth of today, author Anand Neelkantan said, “An average novel in the market is of around 50-60 thousand words. If we count the number of words we type for WhatsApp messages and social media posts and comments in a day, it’d be around a thousand words. In 40-50 days, you can have a novel!! Write a story on WhatsApp since you are more comfortable with that medium. There’s no rule that says that you need to write in a notebook. If you can’t write, record the story as a voice memo and type it later, or make someone else type for you. Polishing and editing it is a secondary thing, but getting out the first draft is very important. Writing is a very recent phenomenon while stories have been told for millions of years. Just tell the story.”
During her chat with Dr Pallavi, Rohini Nilekani gave advice for young parents. She said, “I think the trick is to remain curious; if you are curious, your eye will turn around to something interesting, your mind will turn around to something interesting. Life is so rich with possibilities that you have to come out and engage. It is especially important for young parents to focus on external things. When we are completely focused on ourselves, we can get anxious or depressed. The minute we turn our attention outward and learn to give of ourselves, we don’t have a choice but to be curious, happy, optimistic because people and things always give one strength. External things will give us internal strength. So, for young parents who are really harassed right now, I would say find something that interests you. Focus on that and see what happens.”
One of the key sessions of Get Set Parent Children’s Literature, Art & Music Festival 2020 was Dr Pallavi’s conversation with Preeti Vyas (CEO, Amar Chitra Katha) on the relevance of Indian Mythology today. Preeti Vyas said, “All stories that you consume are either a window to the world outside, the reality outside of your room, or it’s a mirror to your own. All the books that come from abroad are windows. They give you an insight into a culture different from yours and they are very important for enriching yourself. But what’s equally, if not more, important is to have that mirror to your own reality. Our kids are growing up in a very globalized world so they need to have a proud Indian identity. Your sense of self and even your confidence comes when you have a sense of groundedness in your own culture, you know where you’re coming from, you know where your roots are. If you don’t know where you’re coming from, how would you know where to go. I urge all the parents to get as many books as possible. There is nothing like too many books. All these books would enrich your child, but ensure that there is a very healthy majority of Indian books. These are the formative years and you want them to have a small anchor. While there’s global citizenship, they need to have their proud Indian identity.”
Talking about children’s literature in the present times, Preeti Vyas added, “I think that the children nowadays are incredibly lucky because they have such an amazing variety of books to choose from. I grew up in the 80s and all we had were Amar Chitra Katha, the Enid Blytons and the Soviet-era books. That was our childhood. Today, there are at least 25-30 independent publishers of only children’s books who are doing an amazing work. There are also all the international publishers in India and their publishing specific Indian content for children. Of course, the Internet is overflowing with children’s content. It is an exciting time for children’s literature. Even the parents have evolved. While in our days there wasn’t much emphasis from the schools or from the parents when it came to reading, today there is an appreciation for reading and it is considered to be the most important and most valuable thing that a child needs to learn. Parents are ready to spend on books. Schools want to enhance their libraries and have more books available. There are a lot of technological advancements in the world of reading. So, I think it’s a very lovely and vibrant space for a kid to be.”
An exclusive Children’s Music Concert by the winners of India’s Got Talent Season 2 ‘The Shillong Chamber Choir’ enthralled the young audience with their spectacular performance at the grand finale of Festival. The choir enchanted the audience with their specially composed and sung melody for the Children’s Literature and Art Festival. The musical journey included the all-time favourite songs of children from the movies such as Tangled, Frozen, Beauty and the Beast and many more.
The Festival aimed to not only develop the literary mindset and skills of young children, it also hosted a range of art and craft workshops. One such workshop that was a major hit among the participants was the Tinkle Comic Workshop by Amar Chitra Katha in which the Group’s Art Director Savio Mascarenhas taught the young tots how to draw the Tinkle Toon ‘Suppandi’. A series of ‘Art Appreciation Workshops’ such as the Claude Monet Painting Workshop and Gond Art Workshop by Akanksha Goenka of ‘Artlinks’, Warli Art and Madhubani Art Workshops by Arty Bits’ Founder Salomi Parekh, Doodle Workshop by Kirkus Best Prize nominated illustrator and graphic novelist Debasmita Dasgupta as well as Theatre Workshop by Helen O’Grady International were much appreciated by the audience.
Get Set Parent Children’s Literature, Art & Music Festival 2020 also witnessed a number of scintillating performances such as a Puppet Show by California-based Puppets Art Theatre, Shadow Puppet Show by the Tholpavakoothu Puppet Centre and Tholpavakoothu Puppet Centre was also held a Puppet Creation Workshop at the Festival.
You can watch all the sessions at: WATCH HERE @ Youtube