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Letter 7: May the year of 2022 be your best creative self

Shweta Taneja
Shweta Taneja
Welcome! Dear Penpal is a monthly newsletter by me, Shweta Taneja, to support you in your creative journey with tips, opportunities and a few laughs. THANK YOU for being here.
In my 7th letter, I wish that your muse sings on your page, reflect on how hard it is to judge other people’s fiction and on the future of communication.

Dear Penpal
The last month of the year always makes me sentimental. Does that happen to you too? End of 2020, I announced that a dark period of creative slump I was feeling all of 2018-2019 was over. I had struggled with writing through this period, without realising it. Many a times I almost left fiction all together. Even though I did a lot of other things (like run a startup in Switzerland, travel the world, attend WorldCon, get nominated for a French award), they failed to keep my spirits up.
Ironically, in the year of 2021, when the world struggled with the horrible aftereffects of the pandemic, I somehow have kept mostly positive. (Except for the middle of the year, during the second wave, which was just too tragic). I figured an alternative career with a nature NGO, released a flipbook on Indian scientists (which is doing very well!), wrote solarpunk, and most importantly, found optimism and energy that motivated me to pick up a first draft of discarded science fiction and start rewriting it.
All through 2021, I realised the power of positive.
Though the second wave was exceptionally hard, it wasn’t so for me. All my prayers for the safety of my loved ones were answered. I had a surplus of creative, positive energy, which I sent out to friends and family being drained emotionally, mentally, physically and financially by the pandemic. I’m so thankful for just being alive and surrounded by people I love.
For 2022, I would like to send this positive energy towards you.
If everything around you is dark, use this energy from me. Remember, even if everyone around you says it won’t work, it will. If for some reason you think you can’t, you can. Your determination will make your vision work. Chisel. Write. Work hard. I’m always in your corner, rooting for you. Happy 2022, dear friend.
Sundry Sunday
Hypnotic (and inspiring) black hole journey: A pair of orbiting black holes millions of times the Sun’s mass perform a hypnotic dance in this NASA visualization. Inspired me to write a short story.
Colonising through exotica: During the Renaissance, the Medici family founded a famous menagerie in the Vatican with various exotic animals, and a collection of people of different races and languages (designated Moors, Tartars, Indians, Turks, and Africans). I found this article thanks to research for my new SF.
Writing updates
Panel at India International Science Festival. I attend a hybrid panel in Goa with authors Hari Pulakkat, Dinesh Sharma, Devendra Mewari and Pranay Lal (and T V Venkateswaran as moderator) where we discussed how scientists and storytellers need to collaborate to create fantastic, entertaining, factual stories of science.
Judging science fiction. I was part of the judges panel at India Science Festival where I read some really fun imaginations of the future of our world. It was hard and heartbreaking to give points and judge creative fiction written with such love. I came back with a deep appreciation of editors.
A triathlon on Mars? Wrote a short story about an Earther determined to win a triathlon on Mars to become part of an elite academy of astronauts. Thrilled to say I just finished the proofing and it’s releasing early next year in an anthology by HarperCollins!
Writing Prompt
Imagine the world from this creature’s point of view. Write shorts and send them to me for my feedback! It’ll kickstart your new year.
I wish you, my dear pal, a happy new year and all the success you desire. Keep your chin up and keep chiselling at that mountain.
Shweta
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Shweta Taneja
Shweta Taneja @shwetawrites

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Shweta Taneja, Bangalore, Karnataka, India