Category Archives: native writers

ONLY NATIVE SPEAKERS MAY APPLY!

As an applicant for a Creative Writing MA degree at two renowned London universities, my Pakistani nationality wasn’t an issue at any point. In fact, diversity and versatility were encouraged as valued attributes. I went through the screening process all applicants go through, which includes a submission of their portfolio to date, followed by a one-on-one interview with the course co-ordinator himself. Having been through that process at not one, but two UK universities, and having been granted admission to both, it was then the simple matter of choice. I wasn’t just proud of myself for having secured a place, but was profoundly thrilled at having had the opportunity to fulfil my life’s ambition of becoming a qualified writer. Time hurled by amidst a kaleidoscope of criticisms, workshops and tutorials. During the initial assessment, I was informed by my tutor that I could expect somewhere in the region of a C+ to a B-, and that I should be happy about that, because a B grade for me would be the same as an A for a native speaker. Although the use of the word ‘native’ did strike me as odd at the time, I was nevertheless happy about the assessment, as I was told I should be. Could I really get a B? Could I really be as adept at my skill as a native speaker? As it was, I couldn’t. The lowest grade I got was a B+, with the rest all being A grades, including for my dissertation. Well, well, what was I to do? Could I now consider my writing ability to have surpassed that of my English-speaking peers? Of course not, I couldn’t dare; but wait, isn’t that what I’d been told during my assessment? No, no, that assessment was obviously meant to help me feel better if I didn’t get good results. Not to land me on Cloud 9 if I did.

I was up for a distinction, and couldn’t wait to jump into my career as a writer! I started applying for jobs over the Internet. As it happened, I came across an ad for an internee copywriter. Perfect, I thought to myself. That’s just what I need. I skimmed the page in excitement, until a phrase jumped out and held me paralysed for a few insignificant ticks of the clock. It was a phrase I hadn’t expected to come across in my wildest dreams. In retrospect, that was my naivety, for I was to come across it quite frequently during the next few weeks of my job search: Only native speakers may apply!

Do you see what I was up against? I mean, I could gain a distinction, my thesis could be recommended for publication by my tutors, I could graduate top of my class, but heck, I couldn’t become a native speaker, not in this life, at least. I wasn’t up against my skill and my craft; I wasn’t even up against my nationality (as if that makes it any better). I was up against my ethnicity, the very ethnicity that had given me a voice in the first place.  Read the rest of this entry

Hello all you aspiring writers!

As a creative writing student, I struggled to find my ‘voice’. I looked everywhere, from the majestic hilltops of the Alps to the high-rises of Manhattan; from the resplendent mansions of aristocratic lords, to the yachting lifestyles of rich New Yorkers. In the end, I found it in a tiny village in the suburbs of my own existence.

ethnicity

It was right there, waiting for me all along, while I traipsed all over the globe, searching in all the wrong places. Finally, exasperated, I acted on the best advice I have ever received about writing: look closer to home ground for your stories. I did just that, and haven’t looked back since.

Voice, to me, is nothing if not my soul. We each have a story to tell, a story that no one but ourselves is best qualified to tell; it is in just such a story that lingers our voice.

Kouf

- ideas you might be scared of

Baaghi

Thoughts & Opinions of an Ordinary Woman of Pakistan

Dr Owais Karni's Blog

The world as i see...

Journeys to democracy

Blog by Pakistani journalist & documentary filmmaker Beena Sarwar

Taciturn's Blog

(all views expressed are my personal)

Lahore Nama

Searching for the city that was and that ought to be..

crawling from the wreckage

hear nothing, see nothing, say nothing

Five Reflections

Books, Stories, Songs, Poetry, Or Reminiscing

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