The Power of Realism – Writing Workshop

The hall was huddled with a larger audience than it could handle. Taking the little spaces on the seamless carpet, more people chimed in. The writing workshop organized was titled as ‘The Power of Realism’. Julia Prendergast headed the 2-hour long workshop. Julia is a lecturer in Writing and Literature at Swinburne University, Melbourne, and Deputy Chair of the Australasian Association of Writing Programs (AAWP), the peak academic body representing the discipline of Creative Writing in Australasia. Julia was the 2019 Director of the Australian Short Story Festival, held for the first time in Melbourne. Julia Prendergast’s novel, The Earth Does Not Get Fat was published in 2018 (UWA Publishing: Australia). Recent short stories feature in Australian Short Stories 66 (Pascoe Publishing 2018).


Julia initiated the workshop regarding the effect, time has on stories. During the initial fragment of the workshop, she states, ‘write what is gut wrenchingly significant to you.’ She discussed about the idea of ‘register of intelligence’. She broke down the entire workshop into 3 divisions. Initially, she asked the audience to write about an ‘unresolved incident’, then from the perspective of the character and later from the introduction of a new character. Julia gave details on how the same story can be written in multiple perspectives. She went ahead and engaged the audience in a story writing session. She encouraged many to come forward to read their stories for the small pack huddled in the hall. At various stances of the workshop, she took the time out to read a few stances from her book, ‘The Earth Does Not Get Fat’. The excerpts proved to be effective examples to help the audience understand character perspectives over the space of time. Julia elaborated that a reader would not be interested in the author’s thoughts. Rather the reader wants to experience it. As the workshop progressed, Julia also mentioned languages are meant to make a reader feel. She also recommended the idea of simple language. And how the usage of language makes the reader experience the emotions within the stories. 


As final notes, she recommended aspiring writers to set self-imposed deadlines. This helps writers to complete their writings within the allocated time frame and build on their skills. She urged the audience to get to writing than to merely aspire about writing. Stressing on the fact that an aspiring writer is one who polishes their skills consistently, Julia made a divine impression on the audience.




About the Author: A modest graphic designer and an amateur blogger – Liyana believes in weaving stories that come as a ‘solace on a late winter night’. She loves climbing mountains and can be seen spending hours looking at the night sky. She blogs at liyanashirin. She currently writes for TheSeer.

Big Little Stories

Novels containing stories larger than life or stories so real that they are hard to believe attract us immediately. But short stories encapsulate a world of their own leaving the reader with memorable charm. The session ‘Big Little Stories’ was all about it – the stories of people around us and their eccentricity. The panel had Deepak Unnikrishnan, Shubha Mudgal, Julia Prendergast moderated by Premanka Goswami. 


Deepak a writer from Abu Dhabi is the inaugural winner of the Restless Books Prize for New Immigrant Writing for his book Temporary People. When asked about why does he have so much violence in his stories, he was quick to pitch in his very humorous way his perspective about violence. He quotes an example of a man flying out of the country. He says the man standing in the line of immigration is anxious, vulnerable, and scared. He finds this act of scrutiny as violent. He shares his own experience of how his father behaves so differently in such times. Further he adds that violence offers an opportunity to introspect, so it’s not as bad as we think.


Shubha, an acclaimed Hindustani classical singer talks about her debut novel Looking for Miss Sargam , a collection of stories of music and misadventure. Though the stories come from the music world, Shubha claims that they are a pure work of fiction and at the same time, contain some of the amusing anecdotes she came across, one of them being that musicians gift each other some of the finest compositions on marriage which they might not even give to the best of their disciples. Knowing such facts, she has built up her stories adding her own imagination from the contemporary world.


Julia, a lecturer in Writing and Literature in Australia is a prolific writer and was the 2019 Director of the Australian Short Story Festival, held for the first time in Melbourne. She takes us through the stories of love and loss. Her characters are sometimes drawn from her own experiences which make the stories more relatable and touching.


At the end, all of them read an excerpt from their stories. Deepak and Shubha impersonated the accent of the native of their characters belonging to various regions of India which brought a lot of laughter and cheers from the audience. Premanka did not forget to quickly request a song from Shubha to which she politely agrees. Shubha sings her personal favourite penned by great lyricist Sahir Ludhianvi – “Ao koi khwaab bune kal ke vaaste”, yet again mesmerising the audience with her unique voice and style.



About the Author: Bhumika Soni is a literature enthusiast working in the field of data analytics, I have always found words more charming and powerful than numbers. Still searching for The Enchanted Tree created by Enid Blyton to travel to various magical worlds. She currently writes for TheSeer.