The LUMS Young Writers Workshop (LYWW) is a one of a kind opportunity for young writers in Pakistan: an all-expenses-paid residential creative writing workshop where selected participants have an opportunity to hone their craft of fiction writing. The workshop has hosted eight writers every year ever since its inception in 2012.
This year, the number and quality of submissions superseded all previous years amounting to over 300 submissions. The eight most outstanding short story writers were invited to LUMS to hone their craft under the mentorship of novelist and translator, Bilal Tanweer. This year’s batch of writers included Noor Ur Rehman (GCU Lahore), Maheen Qadri (Karachi University), Maham Jamal (Nixor College), Shahzeb Zaheer (IoBM, Karachi), Mahrukh Aamir (LUMS alum), Najwat Rehman (IBA, Karachi), Mariam Bokhari (LUMS alum) and Hussain Rizvi (BNU). The participants represented a range of academic disciplines and working backgrounds—from architecture and finance to publishing and accounting.
The workshop is planned around an intensive reading and writing schedule. The participants were sent books to read a month before the workshop. This year’s selection included My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante, Aunt Julia and The Scriptwriter by Mario Vergas Llosa, Ghachar Ghochar by Vivek Shanbhag and The Sensational Life and Death of Qandeel Baloch by Sanam Maher. The mentor, Bilal Tanweer, guides students across different narrative strategies, different approaches to the construction of stories using the primary texts as reference points. During the workshop, each participant’s writing becomes the centre focus of the class. Each student receives individual feedback on his or her writing, a defining characteristic of this workshop. Along with writing, another area of discussion and emphasis is the politics of representation and the power of stories in shaping our public and private consciousness, and the role of a writer.
The guest speaker for this year’s workshop was the author and journalist, Sanam Maher. She led workshop discussion on the fourth day and shared her experiences as a writer with the participants in an in-depth three-hour session.
“This is the best learning experience I’ve had,” said one of the participants, Maham Jamal, “You can’t walk out of the room without being inspired.”
Another writer Noor Ur Rehman who hails from FATA said, “LYWW gave me the push that I’ve been seeking for a decade. Bilal Tanweer taught me that writing is a lifestyle that requires complete immersion.”
The LUMS Young Writers Workshop and Short Story Contest has completed seven years. The number of graduates from the workshops is over 50. It remains a unique and one of a kind platform in Pakistan, helping young writers learn and advance their craft of literary writing.
The workshop has been made possible by a generous annual grant from Ferozsons Laboratories Limited.