Brewing stories in the Himalayas

A cozy circle of eight writers at the library of artistic Vajra Hotel share their writings as the rays of the early morning sun fall on them. The atmosphere is magical, and they are on this incredible journey to explore themselves and the chaotic and mystical beauty of Kathmandu.

This is not a usual type of workshop, but an opportunity to immerse oneself. However, these writers do not have a specific purpose—they are not after producing an output. They focus on the process rather than creating something tangible.

I have the power of the pen and must use it to benefit all. I wanted to sharpen my ax so that I could write with all my heart and calm mind, so I decided to participate in this workshop. James Hopkins, Director of Himalayan Writers Workshop (HWW), organizes this workshop every year with a feature writer. James said he created the 10-day workshop, “Wild Writing and Calm Mind”, to “pull the rug out of writers’ feet”. Geography plays an important role in unleashing creativity, and some holy places in Kathmandu ignite inner creativity, and the valley is a mandala.

He was our guide for the meditation practice and touring spiritual shrines.

“Write as poorly as you can,” said Laurie Wagner, our writing coach. She gave us prompts and asked us to write continuously for 10-15 minutes. We would get inspiration from the poems she read to us, and it brought us something we did not expect. I unlearned the assumption that we need to be perfect, and write well. Our writings could be simple and yet powerful. Writing poorly gives us the liberty to be authentic.

We did not strive for perfection yet we created something that cracked our hearts open, and on many occasions, tears rolled from our eyes. Writing made us vulnerable and brave.

“If you feel you should not write about something, then that is the exact thing you must write about,” she said. We were assigned to take photos of whatever attracted us on our journeys and write briefly on them. Being a local of Kathmandu, the places we visited were not new to me. However, I saw Kathmandu through their eyes—full of chaos and mystery.

HWW is a fortunate stroke of serendipity, and I had not imagined I would be writing and unleashing a wild side. The whole experience was like a sign from the universe which directs me to live a creative life, and being the first and only Nepali participant in this workshop felt great.