With claims such as “I’ve been to many talks by famous writers, but this was the funniest one ever!” to his credit, Green School was honoured this month to have Pakistani born, England raised novelist Imran Ahmad host a fundraising breakfast for FRoGS on Monday October 4th and hold a writer’s workshop with Grades 8, 9 and 10 on Wednesday 6th October.
Imran’s novel Unimagined, a warm and hilariously funny memoir of the migrant experience of a Muslim boy growing up in England, received rave reviews and has seen him invited to literary festivals around the world, including Ubud’s own the last two years running.
Imran delighted not only parents with his hilarious and engaging breakfast talk, but students as well. Aspiring writer and Class 8 student Adele Guyton shares her experience with the Green School community.
A workshop with Imran Ahmad
I love writing. I have for a while, so when I heard that a real, live, published writer was coming to Green School, I was over the moon, figuratively speaking, of course. He would be speaking to the eighth, ninth and tenth graders during art on Wednesday. Cool! Of course, when the seventh graders found this out, there were a good number of appeals and complaints. Nevertheless, it was the eighth graders of our class who went to the presentation.
Imran Ahman’s book, ‘Unimagined’, is about his life growing up in London in the sixties and seventies, when bedsits were racist and America was exotic. He read quite a few passages to us, but his presentation had two messages: Don’t judge a book by its cover, and don’t take it personally. He had messages for aspiring writers as well. Obvious though it may seem, his most vehement point was: Write!
Imran began his speech by telling us that, when he was about ten, his dream was to become a writer. For years, he dreamed about this book he would write, and how it would be a bestseller, everyone would be reading it. But he was always putting it off, thinking, “Writing a book would be so much work; I can’t be bothered…”
Finally, around Christmas of 2004, he sat down and started writing his book. Seven weeks later, he had the rough manuscript finished. And he enjoyed it! He enjoyed writing ‘Unimagined’. For years he had been dreaming about the finished work, but he never dreamed it would be so much fun to actually write it. Hence his message to writers. When you’re always mooning away about the destination, you never start the journey. Obviously, any destination, book or otherwise, will not be reached without a journey.
I myself am an aspiring writer, and I’ve found this sort of thing a problem as well. I have lots of ideas, but I rarely get down to write.
The second half of the presentation was a writing competition. We would write about some fond, sad, or perfectly ordinary memory and try to make it as vivid and real to our audience as possible. The winner of the contest would receive a signed and personalized copy of ‘Unimagined’. We had half an hour.
After a good deal of ruminating while chewing my pencil, I wrote about my experience in sixth grade learning irish dance. I finished my essay in the nick of time, and raised my hand when Imran asked who was entering the competition. There were nine essays, short and long, all about the past. In the end, Pak Joel and Mr. Ahman decided that as there had been so many good essays that they would have to award the prize to two. The winners were Kathleen, and to my surprise and delight, me. A picture was taken with us shaking his hand, and then all the contestants were called up for a group photo.
As I said before, I love writing. There are many stories that have inspired me to keep on writing over the years, and as I continue my novel, Imran’s will be among them.