Parallel Avenues of Creativity
Updated: Aug 29
by Sultana Raza
Please welcome Sultana to the Writers Journey Blog this week with the story of her writing journey!
Ever since I can remember, I’ve loved listening to stories, and later on, reading them myself. I always got good marks or points in English Language and Literature, as I went to an English medium school in India. I started creative writing at school. I wrote a few poems for my own pleasure, and they never got published. But some of my cousins were impressed by them, so that was encouraging. Then came a long gap, and I started indulging in creative writing again after university in small doses. Then I started publishing articles on art exhibitions and cultural events in local newspapers and magazines in Luxembourg. Some of them were translated and published in French as well.
Publishing articles was easier because there were very few avenues to get my fiction published in English in the middle of Europe. But one day a magazine came in the post. I assumed it was a news or a financial magazine. However, that wasn’t the case. It was a real thrill to see my name in print for the first time in India Currents, which was published in California in the US. I’d sent them a story by post, and after waiting for a few months, had forgotten all about it. Until the sample showed up at my door. That was an experience I’m not likely to forget, as it was the first short story I’d ever published. Later on, one of my short stories also got published in French in a local magazine.
However, since I was working, I got very little time to indulge in my creative writing. It seems that publishing is a numbers game. The more we send out our work the more the chances are that it will get published. It took me many years to understand this aspect of it. Still, it takes a lot of time to write, edit, and prepare a manuscript. Then to find and target journals and finalize the choice of the poems/fiction to be sent out, and then finally send it off within the deadlines.
Over the years, I’ve managed to get quite a few of my poems, fiction, creative non-fiction, and articles published. However, I’m still in the process of finalizing a longer piece of work. It took me a while to realize that quite a few of my stories are interconnected, and that’s why it’s not easy to finalize a longer manuscript.
One of the highlights of my career so far, was when my short story, The Gorgeous Ganga Blog received an Honorable Mention in the Gimmer Train Review list. I’d also sent some of my art-works to complement my story, which is written in the form of a blog. Ganga is a famous inspirational leader of Indian origin, living in the US. He’s also working on some theories of physics when he’s not in front of TV cameras. The readers come to know of his story via The Gorgeous Ganga Blog. This Blog gathers all the news about Ganga from different sources. The tone and style changes depended on the news outlet from which news items about Ganga are excerpted to be included in this blog. It was a lot of fun to write it and to experiment with this kind of technique for this project.
Another highlight came when three of my graphic (as in a graph) poems were published on the website of Columbia Journal. I came to know of other opportunities through Facebook writing groups as well. For example, I’m glad I discovered Sweetycat Press, which has published quite a few of my works and was grateful to be included in their Queen Anthology.
I also discovered the Clarendon House publications, Impspired, Literary Yard, The World of Myth, Unlikely Stories, and many other journalsthrough social media, and am pleased to be published by them. It’s an honor to have my CNF published by Litro and the Literary Ladies Guide.
Sometimes I like weaving other skills in my writing too. Though I let my poem, Love Across the Universe gestate for a few years, I later found out it fitted into one of my sci-fi stories (with the same title) quite well. In fact, this poem even had hidden messages that one of the characters in the story managed to decode. When I wrote it just for fun, I never thought it would become crucial for a sci-fi story a few years later. My background in doing research in the financial industry proved to be useful in my bio-punk story, Chipped Labour.
I also love to make word collages or pursue artistic endeavours from time to time. It was quite an unexpected, though fortuitous event to receive the Leonardo Award at the Biennale of Chianciano, Italy in 2013 for my artworks exhibited there. In fact, since I wasn’t expecting to receive any awards, I wasn’t even dressed up for the occasion. But it was an honour to be selected from amongst one hundred and twenty-five international artists. I also ended up visiting New York and Monaco because I was exhibiting there at big exhibitions along with other artist friends.
It was surreal to discover that my artwork, Wheel of Life was chosen to be on the cover of Focus, published by the British Science Fiction Association (BSFA). They also published one of my articles, Fantasy and the Need to Revise Inter-connecting Stories, along with some of my artworks in the same issue. It was a pleasant surprise when I got a very fast acceptance from Vector (also published by BSFA) for my Panel on Global Tolkien.
In fact, due to my interest in Tolkien and Keats, I’ve presented many papers related to these authors at various international conferences. Before 2020, I enjoyed visiting some of the conference venues which was an adventure in itself. It was interesting to make new friends and to meet new acquaintances However, in the last two years, I’ve been presenting at conferences online, even in faraway places such as New Zealand, or the USA. It's fantastic to see that my profile was created on The Tolkienist, and so far, there are 1939 views of the video of my academic paper: Projecting Indian Myths onto Tolkien.
So far, my writing journey has taken me to many physical and virtual places. Not to mention the fantastical ones in my imagination. Driven by curiosity about the intersection of life, places, and human nature, it remains to be seen where this journey will lead me in the future.
BIO-Sultana Raza, Writer/Poet/Mixed Media Artist. Worked at Artist at the Chianciano Biennale 2013, Chianciano Art Museum, Italy