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LEARN Launches Initiative To Rethink Writing As An Industry

Lahore Education and Research Network (LEARN) in association with Olomopolo Media launched an initiative to ‘Rethink Writing as an Industry’ to celebrate the world book day 2019, with a panel discussion on Thursday in Lahore.

The discussion aimed to focus on the challenges faced by writers and publishing houses in Pakistan and attempted to address the important question of what the stakeholders both, within the government and from the business and trade community could do in order to promote it duly as an industry.

During the event, the founder of LEARN, Nida Chaudhary, said, “We must ask ourselves if Pakistan is losing out on an entire industry and revenue by not investing in its writers and therefore also losing out from capitalizing on related industries such as showbiz?”

She also added that “The west and Bollywood have both been able to gain a lot in terms of box office revenues from movies and series which have been based on novels. We have seen a trend of such movies doing superbly well at the box office and their resulting contribution to the GDP. There is, therefore, the business potential in ensuring that the world hears our stories and falls in love with them as well.”

The event started with a recital of original verses by lawyer, poet and a member of LEARN Waiza Rafique, through which she paid a tribute to the authors of the sub-continent.

The panel of speakers included Faiqa Mansab author of ‘This House of Clay and Water’, Laaleen Sukhera, editor and co-author, Austenistan, Zarminae Ansari, founder of ‘Joy of Urdu’, Naima Rashid author, poet and translator, Shabana Mahfooz journalist, trainer and content writer, Zahra Ali Khan writer and lawyer and Awais Khan founder of the Writing Institute.

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The President of the Women Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Faaiza Amjad was the Guest of Honour.

Awais Khan, founder of the Writing Institute, said through a video message that there are no literary agents in Pakistan and our writers are under-represented in the global market.

Further, the challenges faced by writers were highlighted by the speakers as well as by the members in the audience who shared their own experiences of lack of opportunities and information on how to proceed forward with their creative work.

One of the members of the audience expressed her concerns over the issue and said that there is no formal training or resources to guide or channelize those who wished to pursue creative writing.

Faiqa Mansab, an author, suggested, “There is no institutional framework or platform through which the work of our writers can be facilitated and promoted in foreign markets. The government and the chamber of commerce should facilitate through subsidies”

Laaleen Sukhera also explained that producing books of international quality is also a challenge because printing paper and the cost of doing business is very high in Pakistan.

The event ended with a recital of ‘kitabein Jhankti hain’ written by Gulzar Saab and performed by Ali Mazhar of ‘Ain Adab’.

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