A wordsmith with a free spirit, a TEDx Speaker, a writer, a poet, a political analyst, an educator, a social and peace activist and a theatre personality, she is Saira Shah Halim. Halim was raised all over the country and the gulf as an army officer’s daughter. She got a commendation award at the great Indian poetry contest judged by Javed Akhtar, Kausar Munir and Kalki Koechlin. She is also a recipient of the SAARC Women’s Award by the SAARC Women’s Association Dhaka for her contribution to the cultural, literary, and bilateral contribution with SAARC countries at Dhaka.
Writing Is a Way to Reach Out
“Reading actually takes us to an uncharted territory”, said Halim. She added that writing has no end and it is like a sea. Saira said, “Writing is the way to reach out to people, express emotions, protest against violence, entertain – everything begins from writing. During the lockdown, times are so unreal that people are finding solace in writing through different digital platforms as well as traditional modes. In the past three months, people have been writing and reading a lot. Writing poems, short stories, articles, blogs, new website content – this is how people are utilizing their quarantined time.”
Talking about digital writing during Covid-19, she expressed, “Digitalization has helped businesses cope up with the pandemic scenario. People are increasingly buying on online platforms. People prefer to buy e-books these days. Writing blogs, reading online, consuming OTT content such as Amazon and Netflix are the in things currently. Schools are taking online classes. People are looking at a new way of living life.
Virus or plague can’t stop the power of writing. During the lockdown, authors and poets are releasing their books digitally. Through the digital platform, students and youth can show their writings, share emotions and portray their talent. Trending hashtags like #instapoetry, #covidpoetry or online posts are giving a viable platform to share different types of poetry.
Traditional Media Is Here to Stay Too
Halim said that print media has a dedicated follower base. It will never be obsolete. While the digital platform has changed the discourse in the world of writing, printed words will always be there. She cited the example of photographs. These photographs can be shared through physical albums and can be shared digitally through Google Drive or Social Media platforms too. The album lets the users feel the emotions through touch. However, the online versions give leeway to relive the memories.
Saira said that the medium doesn’t matter. What matters is the content. To sum up the entire discourse, Saira said a beautiful line. She said, “ Sometimes people don’t write for money, they write for pleasure.”
Speaking about promoting short stories on blogs or podcasts instead of physical publications, Halim suggested the use of all three modes. According to her, people should understand who is the target audience and from where he or she gets enough traffic for their content. If someone chooses a blog, then there should be a lot of hits or else there is no benefit.
She ended by emphasizing on the importance of remaining positive and learning to enjoy the different platforms.
The author, Manushree Maity is associated with Adamas University Media School.