Herald: Using travel to unlock creativity
Herald News

Using travel to unlock creativity

07 Mar 2018 06:47am IST
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07 Mar 2018 06:47am IST
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Jessica Faleiro is a multifaceted writer who writes fiction, poetry, essays and travel pieces. Jessica has been conducting travel writing workshops for budding writers to help them capture their own journeys and trips in words. Café speaks to the author of ‘Afterlife: Ghost stories from Goa’, to learn more about how creative writing can be developed.

Jessica Faleiro is a known name in the world of

literature. Her poems, stories and non-fiction have appeared in several noted publications all over the world and she also enjoys imparting knowledge on the writing craft to motivate more writers to take their own writing seriously. Jessica’s parents were born and brought up in Goa, but she was raised in Kuwait and spent her professional life mostly in England.

Before settling down to pen her first novel, ‘Afterlife: Ghost stories from Goa’, she had visited several countries while working in the field of research and policy, as a environmental lobbyist. “Moving to Goa was pure convenience. I had just completed my MA in Creative Writing and wanted some time to adapt my thesis into a publishable manuscript and to hunt for a publisher. I decided not to renew my last work contract and instead packed up sixteen years of a life lived in England and moved everything and myself to Goa. Goa was my choice, because it was an infinitely cheaper lifestyle and had the support network of my family here. All this enabled me to focus on writing full-time. “

Her first novel, ‘Afterlife: Ghost stories from Goa’ is also based on Goa and Goan tales. “I had an inexplicable experience when I was ten years old, in the backyard of my grandmother’s house while visiting her one holiday in Goa. At the time, I was convinced it was an experience of the supernatural kind. I have been collecting stories and anecdotes of ghostly hauntings from others ever since. It got to the point where I was ready to write about my own experience. Then, I found myself following that story, with others. Thus, my novel came into being.”

Her travels have also influenced her writings which can be seen in ‘Afterlife: Ghost stories from Goa’. “The fact that I am a third culture kid, raised in a host country outside the country of my parent’s birth heritage and culture, influences all my writing in conscious and sub-conscious ways. In fact, two of the main characters in my novel: Joanna and Carol, are a part of the Goan diaspora, just as I am. Also, my novel is situated not only in Goa but moves into Mumbai, Martha’s Vineyard (USA) and Venice (Italy). These are all places I’ve visited and have a special fondness for.”

Moving from a career in Environmental policyto writing, Jessica had to take time out to polish her writing skills through creative writing workshops, which she believes is important for every writer. “Some people believe that Creative Writing can’t be taught, but that’s like saying Dali and Picasso wasted their time on being trainedin art. All artists, including writers, can benefit greatly from learning the rules, so that after they master them, they can break them. Writing is a craft that can be studied, consisting of elements like plot, characterisation, point of view, voice etc. Knowing how this works can really help improve a writer’s writing. During my workshops and MA, I also learned how to give and take constructive criticism, as well as trust my own instincts in my writing process.The training and exposure to published writers was invaluable and helped me appreciate another way of being in the world, as an artist. I found that the joy of creating my own body of work without anyone else’s agenda having to be negotiated suited my own personality better and fed me more. So, I moved forward and didn’t look back.”

Jessica has conducted talks and creative writing workshops at various venues including colleges across Goa. Her next workshop will be at Museum of Goa, Pilerne where she will be holding a travel writing workshop on March 10, 2018 from 10am to 2pm.Explaining the key points behind a travel writing workshop, she says, “My travel writing workshop covers different forms and styles. I combine teaching with writing exercises and reading, to give people exposure to different types of travel writing and hopefully provide them with the inspiration to pen down their own travel tales whether in blog form or as a travel memoir. I also talk about pitching for travel publications.”

Goans are always travelling for holidays to different destinations. Their travels too can be documented through travel writing. Jessica advises, “My top tip would be for them to set the clear intention that they want to capture their story and then spend ten minutes at the end of every travel day, jotting down their key impressions and notes for the day before these start to disappear. As soon as they’re back from their trip, they can write up a first rough draft and always edit it later as needed.”

To conclude, Jessica informs us that she is still working on a second novel. “I am hoping to release it later this year. But, unlike the last, this one won’t be about hauntings!”

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