Please do attend if time permits’ read the email. It was an invitation to a literary gala for a well-known New York based family magazine. A simple, succinct and to-the-point invitation but to me it was poetic. Almost like music to my ears. I read the email in great detail to make sure that it wasn’t an unfortunate mistake. But there was my name in bold print, right at the top. It would be my first literary event.
The who’s who from the New York and Connecticut magazine world were present – editors, publicists, and writers. Then there was me – someone who is an occasional reader of the magazine but has never written for it (as yet).
My theory of ‘When in doubt, wear a suit’ backfired this time. I looked too corporatish. Making a quick mental note, I tried to slowly slip out of my jacket. Writers from all over the US who had written at some point for the magazine were present. That’s the amazing thing about being a writer – regional or even national boundaries are irrelevant. You could be writing from anywhere in the world.
The evening was all about mingling and listening to the works of several of the writers. As each writer took to the podium, the chit chatter died and all the attention flowed to the front of the room. It was almost as if they drew their strength from the crowd eagerly waiting. Stories and excerpts were read one after the other. Some were funny but many were emotional telling of hardships one faces as a woman. The trials that one goes through as a daughter, wife and mother.
The wonderful thing about the evening was that there was no sense of pretense or competition in the air. Nobody was trying to secure a writing opportunity. Neither was anyone scavenging for ideas. Having previously only attended corporate events, where more often than not everyone had ulterior career motives, this atmosphere was mind-boggling to me. Everyone present were genuinely there to support each other. Encouragement and appreciation seemed to be the general theme. Although many of us barely knew each other, there was an unsaid vibe in the room. It was a feeling of being part of a community where we all had one another’s backs.
Of those who attended the gala, 99% were women. And of that 99%, I was the only Asian, forget narrowing it down to South Asian. It didn’t matter that I have had a very different exposure to cultural and upbringing styles. Maybe some of the challenges that women face here in the US versus back at home are different but the emotions are universal. And that spoke to me loud and clear through all the readings.
Imagination and creativity is unlimited and boundless. It might come naturally to most but that doesn’t mean it is easy. In a world where it is easier to be critical, the reassurance and support that the creative community shares with each other is refreshing. And I’m proud to be a part of it. I walked out of the gala that evening, a more inspired and confident person.
“It is not our purpose to become each other; it is to recognize each other, to learn to see the other and honor him for what he is.” – Herman Hesse