Early words

Published on 6 June, 2014 in Time Out Delhi

A Delhi-based publishing house is helping primary school students publish fiction

Hemant Kumar, journalist and the author of Prey by the Ganges, joined forces with writer and editor, Ruchira Mittal last year to start Quill Club Writers. The endeavour was an effort to instil the art of storytelling among schoolchildren and help them become published authors of mainstream fiction.

My Rainbow - Authors DPS JaipurQuill Club Writers has already published a few anthologies. My Rainbow, an anthology of seven short stories, written by the students of Delhi Public School, Jaipur was its first release. Later in 2013,Baker’s Dozen 2013 by students of Delhi Public School, Gurgaon and Internal Reflection by Delhi Public School, Agra followed suit. The second edition of Baker’s Dozen 2014 by Delhi Public School, Gurgaon was released in May this year.

“Writing is fast turning into a lucrative profession in India, so why not seed children with this idea,” said Kumar. “We discussed it Dhara Jaipuria [pro-vice-chairman, DPS Jaipur and Gurgaon] who was taken by the scope of the concept and he gave us the go-ahead.”

Kumar and Mittal travel to schools now to mentor the students. They conduct tests to evaluate English writing capabilities and their knack to pull off fiction. The shortlisted kids then undergo a one-on-one interview session with them and this is where they get an opportunity to display their penchant for storytelling. After the final selection process, numerous sessions are held discussing stories and prospective ideas. “Dozens of ideas are rejected in the process,” said Kumar. “Fantasy as a genre is usually not encouraged as we find it’s too easy. The children are allowed to use a computer only after the story is completed on paper to ensure they don’t cheat. While most stories are autobiographical, some also reflect how kids perceive things around them.”

Ashank Khaitan, one of the authors of the Baker’s Dozen 2013 anthology, brings vengeful storybook characters to life in “The Un-finished”, and Jigyasa Nigam’s “Different Worlds” voices the trials and tribulations of a child afflicted by Tourette syndrome. Isha Rautela, one of the authors of the My Rainbow anthology, delves deeper into the mind of an over inquisitive boy in “The Decision” and Harshavardhini Pareek’s “Carnival in Lousytown” muses over the consequences of spreading mischievous rumours. The recently published Baker’s Dozen 2014 anthology featured their youngest author till date, nine-year-old Meghna Lahiri, who writes about how events from our past lives affect us in the present.

According to Mittal, an anthology typically takes 15 to 17 days of writing workshops, which is spread over six months. Parents should take note that the participating schools have been extremely cooperative and not a single student has experienced a drop in grades. “We sit with the children throughout their creative writing process, guiding them though the twists and turns in the plot, helping them develop their characters better,” Mittal said. “They’re also made to understand every aspect of writing and publishing a book.” The stories may have been written by kids, but you will be surprised by how mature and practical they can sound.

This year, Quill Club Writers has planned similar projects with four new schools – DPS Sushant Lok, Genesis Global School, Noida, The Scindia School, Gwalior and Scindia Kanya Vidyalaya, Gwalior. “These children are so willing to listen and are open to discussion and debate,” Mittal said. “We are surprised to come across such wisdom and mature reasoning in kids, sometimes more so than adults.”

For details, visit www.­quillclubwriters.com



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