Shabnam Samuel is the founder of the Panchgani Writer’s Retreat in India, host of the TV show Dew Drops and Words, and author of the soon to be released memoir A Fractured Life. She shared her inspiring journey with us in this interview.
1. What is your profession?
I run an annual writer’s retreat in India (www.panchganiwritersretreat.com) and I also teach memoir and non-fiction writing to individuals and groups. A lot of this I do online.
2. Why and how did you get into this profession?
My writing and love for it, sprouted in India, right from my boarding school days. In the 3rd grade I wrote essays home, not letters! Having lived in the U.S. for the past 30 years and seeing the amazing opportunities we have here in terms of workshops and retreats, I felt my creating a retreat in India would be a small “give back” on my part.
3. What did you hope to get out of this career as a professional and on a personal level?
What I would love to see is someone far far away, who is sitting under a star filled sky with dreams in their eyes, wanting to write, wanting to know what the next step is, needing confidence, needing encouragement from someone who has traveled that road before. I want to be that person for them.
4. What is something unique (ex: perspective, skill, personality) you bring as a writer or professional in the industry?
I don’t know if I have a skill that would come to the forefront in terms of writing. I think we are all unique in terms of our stories, and that is what we need to highlight.
5. What do you wish you would have known about your profession before you started working in it?
How painful editing is!!!!
6. Do you feel you are compensated fairly for the work you do?
Is an artist ever truly compensated? In my particular case, I do it for the love of what I do. Since the day I started my retreat 4 years ago, I have always said, even if I have just one person sign up, I will still fly to India and host the retreat. For me, it’s that one person who is reaching out because they have a need or a desire. I will not let them down.
7. What are some obstacles you have faced in your profession as a woman of color?
To be honest, I have never faced any obstacles in my writing or retreat world as a woman of color. I write or facilitate without any hues and I guess I have never felt differentiated. Now, surprise, that I have faced!. Many, are surprised I speak English “so well”. Many are shocked, that I wrote a book, “like a book? a real, real book?” I don’t believe people say it to be malicious , it’s just what it is.
8. What are some opportunities you have come across in your profession as a woman of color?
The answer to this is kind of the same to my previous response on obstacles. I have not come across any special opportunities either.
9. What advice would you give to women of color who want to follow your career path?
I would say follow your dream, be true to your inner self and try not to judge yourself too harshly because of who we are and how we have been raised. Break out of that stereotypical box, if you want to and soar along with your heart.
10. Anything else you would like to add.
We need strong voices. Strong voices of women. Strong voices of women of color. So don’t hold back.
Thank you Shabnam for sharing your wisdom and experience with us!
You can learn more about Shabnam’s retreat on this website.
You can watch episodes of her show Dew Drops and Words here.
You can purchase her memoir A Fractured Life here.
Hopefully Shabnam’s words inspired you as much as they inspired me. If you have questions or thoughts about her memoir or her interview please feel free leave a comment below.
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These blogs explore my writing process and highlight my favorite writers and books.