Another year at the Writers’ Club has come to an end, and what a wonderful session we had to bring a creative year of stories to an end!
We began, as always, with an announcement of the winners of this year’s Writers’ Club competition. Competitions are such fun! They create a mood of anticipation and celebration, which ensures that the energy stays high throughout the session.
As before, two girls from a previous batch evaluated the entries, for I feel that learning to critique work is an important part of growing as a writer. Their responses and comments were heart-warming, as they paid attention to detail and identified why they liked what they liked.
The highlight of the session, though, was our special guest, Dr Sreeja Nag, dear friend, ex-student of St. Mary’s and research engineer at NASA. She was wonderful, warm and expressive, and we had a lovely hour with her.
“Do aliens exist?” one girl asked.
“If I wanted to make a joke, I would say that I’m not allowed to tell you.”
“What should I do if I get stranded on a planet?”
After patiently answering the question, Sreeja said, “I suggest you don’t get stranded on a planet, though. It won’t be fun.”
From telling us about the role of a bullock cart in a rocket launch to talking about different forms of science fiction, I think the loveliest thing about the session was her emphasis on story. Stories inspire us. Stories spark interest. “Imagine.” I can’t remember the number of times Sreeja used that word.
Imagine that a star fifty light years away emits light now. You’ll get light from that star only after fifty years go by.
Imagine something that defies vision.
Imagine living in a world where people did what computers now do.
“If I want to write a story about aliens, how can I make it believable?”
“If I want to write about humans meeting aliens, how could I do that?”
“How big is a space shuttle?”
“What happens inside a black hole?”
“What about the unidentified radio wave that we heard about? Was that an alien?”
We talked about the details of setting a story in a place without gravity. Tears would not fall. If you washed your hair, it would not fall neatly down your shoulders.
“If you want to write science fiction, set it really far away – in space or in time. Then, you don’t need to deal with questions of credibility. And write about women in science. Write about girls in science in India. We need these stories.”
Thank you for coming to the Writers’ Cub, Sreeja. We’re waiting for more stories that fill us with wonder.