My Experience at a Local Writers’ Meetup

Introduction – The Meetup

It’s been a couple times that I’ve been to a local writers’ meetup, here in Mumbai, named Writestuff Writing Club. It’s organized by Patricia Chandrashekhar, twice a month. Most of the times the place is houseful, with 30+ writers. It takes place at Patricia’s residence, at Churchgate, Mumbai.

writestuff_meetup_group_photo

Each time I attended, I’ve had nothing but fun and great learning experience. And of course, met and networked with other writers. This is a much better use of a Sunday evening, than sitting in your closet, watching a TV show or a movie, or surf the Internet.

Of late, I wanted to write about my meetup experience, but I had stopped blogging for a while. So, kept on procrastinating till now. Now that I’ve joined a 30 day writing challenge, and attended the meetup last Sunday evening, it was natural to write about it.

Writing Exercises

The meetup started at 4PM. I was a little late to the meetup, reached at around 4.20 PM. So, missed an exercise or two. Everyone had written on these points:

  • Who are you? Stop identifying yourself with your name, parents, position, future role, etc. Who are you in yourself?
  • Your mission in life. (We’re all here for a purpose.)
  • What motivates you? Do not die with your music still inside you.

This was what I wrote (it’s incomplete and all I could write in the given time):

I am me. Stranger than strange. I existed before this body was born, and I will exist even after this body dies. I am a soul, a sparkling life energy, imperishable and indestructible.

My mission in life is to be happy and spread happiness. To give good wishes and get good wishes. For this, I want to help others and serve them any way I can.

In Swami Vivekananda’s words:
All expansion is life, all contraction is death.
All love is expansion, all selfishness is contraction.
Love is, therefore, the only law of life.

My Secret Story

After this, there was another interesting writer exercise. Everyone got a chit on which they had to write a secret from their life, fold the chit and put it into a bowl. Next, everyone picked a random chit, and had to write a story around the secret they got in the chit. If anyone got their own chit back, they would put it back into the bowl and pick up another one.

Everyone had interesting and funny stories to tell, and we had a hearty laugh at some of them. What I got in the chit was “At a sit-down dinner in a foreign country, I ate up the bowl of sauce thinking it was soup!”

I wrote a short story like so:

Once when I was in my teens, my best friend’s family asked me if I would like to accompany them on their trip to China.

I had never visited a foreign country. So, I was overjoyed, and said yes, if my parents allowed. Luckily they allowed me, as they knew my friend’s family very well. My friend’s dad had a business trip, but also wanted us to go sight-seeing in a foreign country.

In a few days, we boarded the Air India plane to Beijing, and stayed at a grand hotel. Everything was paid for by my friend’s dad’s company. He went to the business meeting while we stayed back at the hotel, and later visited the places in the city.

On the very first night, when we all sat for dinner, everyone got a bowl filled with something, which I thought was Chinese soup. That was natural to think for me, because what else would you get in China if not Manchurian soup.

sauces_in_bowls

I took the bowl and drank all the soup in one go. Everyone started laughing at me. I felt embarrassed, but wondered what mistake did I do. When I asked, they laughed even more. Then, my friend told me that what I drank in one go was not soup, but sauce. I felt embarrassed, and after this incident, never had sauce ever again.

writestuff_reading_out_stories

Then, everyone read their story out loud to everyone else, and we had a laugh at some of the stories.

Don’t Smile

After everyone was done reading their story, we played a game. It was simple, but difficult. What we had to do was to stand in pairs and look at each other constantly. But if anyone smiled, they were out of the game. I got a guy in front of me I didn’t know.

Initially, I somehow thought we had to make the other laugh and out of the game. So, I made funny faces at the other guy, even squinted. He had a hard time controlling his smile and laughter, I’m sure. Then, I stopped this when I heard more about the game.

Raspal Don't Smile

At last our pair and another pair of guys were the only ones left. All other pairs couldn’t stop smiling (probably because everyone recently had a fun time and still remembered the funny stories we recited). But soon, the guy in front of me smiled, and was out. I too smiled a wee bit, and got out. The last pair won the game.

I had kept myself from smiling by constantly seeing the guy opposite to me right in the center of his forehead, and talking to myself that he is a pure soul, he is a good soul, he is a sparkling point of life energy, he is also a child of the Supreme, etc. But somehow, when we were called to change our position and the other guy smiled, I lost my concentration for a moment and smiled a little.

This was a good exercise to control our senses. I wonder if all of us who smiled and failed, worked in customer support, or HR, we would keep laughing, and would be unable to work at all. 😀

Quiz Prize Goes to the Wise

After the above exercise, we had a quiz. Ten questions with 4 options each, to choose as an answer. The questions were all from Egyptian history. All of us writers hadn’t read Egyptian history. But everyone tried their hand at guessing the best answers.

Quiz Prize to the Wise

Later, the answers were announced and two of the writers who got the most answers correct (six and five answers respectively) won prizes. One of the winners had attended the meetup for the first time.

My Boring Session

After the quiz, I took a short session on importance of writer websites. It was my first ever session in English and I hadn’t properly prepared for it, though I was quite confident as the subject was well-known to me. It didn’t go well, and everyone got bored.

raspal_speaker_session_at_writestuff_meetup

I guess, I was over-confident, thinking that I need not prepare much as I know the matter quite well, and go on and on for hours about it. That’s wrong, as I learned from this mistake. Will prepare and try to make it better next time.
After the meetup, some of us met outside and had a great chat, and some more fun at some eateries. That’s for another time.

If you want to know more about it, and are from Mumbai, attend the meetup and enjoy, and see for yourself. 🙂 All in all, this is a great meetup for writers, especially who don’t like to sit in the closet on weekends and watch TV or surf the Internet. For freelance writers like me, this is a great place, and a great way of networking with like-minded people.

 

NOTE:

  1. This post is part of my 30 Day Writing Challenge (#30DWC).
  2. Thanks to Pawan Khade, co-organizer of Writestuff meetup group, for all the awesome snaps.