We’re now in Myanmar (Burma), where we’ll be for the coming months. We’ve got a number of projects in the works, but first up is a six week writing workshop at the Parami Institute of the Liberal Arts and Sciences in Yangon. Starting later in November, we’ll be teaching a course on the fundamentals of short story writing. We’ll be drawing on published stories from both Myanmar writers and writers elsewhere in the world, and will be looking at short stories in a cross-cultural and cross-linguistic context. It promises to be a lot of fun.
We’ve updated our gallery pages with some images from our recent workshop at the Ubud Writers and Readers Festival. Have a look here. Photographs are courtesy of UWRF and Agung Abi.
Today we’re leaving Ubud after a hugely stimulating few days at the Writers and Readers Festival. Our final event yesterday was our workshop on writing and ethics. We had thirteen or fourteen participants – a nice mix of Indonesian and non-Indonesian writers – for a leisurely three hour exploration of how to get in and out of trouble with words. It was a massively stimulating afternoon, with a huge breadth of experience and insight around the table.
We started out with the question of discomfort and how (as the truly brilliant Clementine Ford put it in her talk here the day before) for there to be ethical change, it may be necessary to allow ourselves to be uncomfortable. From there we went on to explore the various issues that we faced as writers: everything from balancing personal and professional or institutional ethics to cultural appropriation, from ensuring the well-being and safety of those we write about to the difficulty of writing and reading that crosses between seemingly incommensurable value systems.
As Socrates knew, once you open up these kinds of cans of worms, things get complicated, and ethical questions are not the kinds of questions that are easy to resolve. But by the end of the workshop, we hope that the participants had a sense that there are better, deeper, more careful ways of asking ethical questions about our work as writers (as we certainly did), as well as having a few concrete ideas about how we might respond better to (if not resolve) some of the ethical issues that trouble us all.
We’re now in Indonesia, getting ready for our events at the Ubud Writers and Readers Festival. But we thought we’d just share this fabulous painting done by our hugely talented friend from Jakarta, Audhina Nur Afifah. Audhina is a proper Renaissance woman: a painter, a musician, a designer and a lover of literature. It has been a delight to get to know her, and we’re both hugely touched by this enormously generous gift.
Greetings from Jakarta, where we are beginning our short Indonesian tour. First off, we’re in Jakarta for the British Council’s Wallacea Week 2018, where Will is doing an event this evening (17th October) with the fabulous Indonesian travel writer Agustinus Wibowo. The event is at the National Library of Jakarta, and entry is free.
This October, we’re going to be heading to Southeast Asia for a number of months, where we’ll be working on a range of new projects.
After an event at the British Council’s Wallacea Week in Java, where Will is talking about his book Stealing With the Eyes, and discussing travel writing with Indonesian writer Agustinus Wibowo, we’ll both be at the Ubud Writers and Readers Festival in Bali where – amongst other things – we’ll be running a workshop on the ethics of writing (about which, see our previous post).
From there, we’ll be heading on to Myanmar, where we’re doing a writing residency and running a series of workshops at the Parami Institute in Yangon. In Myanmar, we’re also planning to get involved in a number of other projects in the realms of literature, education, creativity and social justice.
Whilst on the move, we’ll also be writing. Hannah’s book-length collection of short stories, In Their Absence, is due out from Roman Books later in 2019, so she’ll be finalising the manuscript for that, as well as working on new material; meanwhile, Will intends to work on his current non-fiction work-in-progress (about which more in the next couple of months).
Whilst in Southeast Asia, we’re absolutely open to new possibilities and collaborations. So if you are in the region, and are doing anything that relates to our work, we would just love to hear from you.
This autumn we’ll be in Ubud for the 2018 Ubud Writers and Readers Festival. Will’s book on Indonesia, “Stealing With the Eyes: Imaginings and Incantations in Indonesia” – about the tangled ethical dilemmas of anthropology in the easternmost islands of Indonesia – has just been been published by Haus Publishing, so he’ll be doing a couple of events to talk about the book.
Whilst there, Will and Hannah will be jointly running a Wind&Bones (or, in Indonesian, Angin dan Tulang) workshop on the ethics of writing. This is a topic that is often curiously under-explored in creative writing courses – which is in stark contrast to journalism courses – and so it should be a fascinating few hours of discussion and hands-on exploration.
The workshop is on the 28th October, so if you are around in Bali, then come along.
Picture credit: Michelle Maria
We are now back in the UK after spending several days in Sofia at the end of our Bulgaria trip, on a mini-residency at the Sofia Literature and Translation House. It was the perfect place to do catch up on a bit of writing and reading. Whilst there, Hannah got to work on a short story pamphlet commission, and Will continued with research on a number of his non-fiction projects. Meanwhile, we both also had more of a chance to catch up with friends, to explore Sofia, and to meet some local writers, artists and activists.
The Literature and Translation House is run by the Next Page foundation, under the leadership of the wonderful Yana Genova, who was a superb host, and who offered us all kinds of insights into the wider Bulgarian literary scene. Yana also very kindly set up an informal discussion meeting with a number of people working at the meeting places between the arts and social justice. Among the guests were Anguelina Ranguelova from the Pavilion 19 project, which works on theatre and storytelling with underprivileged young people (in particular from the Roma and asylum-seeker communities) in the area of the Zhenski Pazar, or the women’s market, and Evgeni Dimitrov who works on projects at the Centre for Inclusive Education, as well as on his remarkable project “The Invisibles” (see the link here), which has many resonances with Hannah’s work on missing people.
Earlier this week, we were in Varna, Bulgaria to run some workshops for writers at the LECTI (Language Education Culture Tolerance Information) centre, a project that works in developing links between cultures and languages across Europe and beyond. Our workshops were on short-form writing (fiction and non-fiction – why should flash fiction writers have all the fun?) and on the arts of editing. It was a delight to work with a small, diverse group of talented and enviably multilingual writers – one participant was writing in her fifth language.
In the workshops, we looked at generating ideas, at how good writing arises out of the writer’s own idiosyncratic experiences and perspectives, and at how through writing it is possible to bring to light both the differences and commonalities in human experience.