We sat down with Aaryana Sharma, the winner of our April 2021 Contest, to discuss what inspires her to create now & what she thinks the future of writing will look like. Read more below.
Novel Minority (NM): When did you start writing? Is what inspires you to create today different than what inspired you to create back then?
Aaryana Sharma (AS): I’ve always loved telling stories and making people laugh at some of the crazy situations I get into, but I started actually writing around 7th grade. It was a pretty spontaneous experience; I remember my English teacher gave us a poetry assignment and I really enjoyed writing it and I guess I fell in love with writing. Now, when I write, I try to capture my authentic voice and intertwine parts of my culture and personal experiences into my stories. I create to see myself in my writing and for other South Asian girls to see themselves as the main character, or lead, in stories which accurately depict their experiences.
NM: What are some recurring themes in your work?
AS: Some recurring themes in my work are identity, culture, the importance of community and sharing, and the individuality. I feel like coming from a South Asian household I feel like so much of our culture is not discussed, or accurately represented, so I try to [infuse] the Desi-American lifestyle into my writing. Parts of my culture I feel more people experience but don’t know about, or just really commonplace things that not a lot of people discuss. Along with this fused culture is a confused identity. In order to make South Asians feel more represented in narratives and find a home for our unique identity and individuality is to narrate the South Asian-American narrative.
NM: What motivated you to approach the prompt the way that you did for our monthly contest?
AS: I wrote the piece Duct Tape Scars & Stick Arms as a representative of someone who used to be held in high respect and meticulously created by their interactions, and slowly, the individual’s respect decreased and they were ignored and abandoned. I first wrote this piece as an interesting representative of some of the art we passionately make, whether it’s school projects, that we never get around to finishing. The reason I picked this metaphor to signify a relationship is because each individual is a work of art, delicately put together, and two doomed lovers are two pieces of art which occupy the same space but don’t have the same understanding for each other that they used to. Something that could be the “disrupter” for these two lovers could be their pride, or lack of focus on each other.
NM: Creating constantly, especially in a pandemic, can be difficult. How do you talk to your inner artist when you experience creative burnout?
AS: Whenever I’m having a creative burnout I try to tell myself to find experiences I haven’t shared yet, and turn these experiences into stories. When I feel like I’ve shared everything I try to experiment with my emotions and personal narratives by embedding them into a character I haven’t played around with yet. The most unexpected, and interesting stories are the most ones with the commonplace experiences because we experience my “normal” events than we do thriller, action or romance.
NM: What's an aspect of writing that you wish more people outside of the writing world knew about?
AS: One aspect of writing I wished more people knew about is that it’s a form of art which captures the most raw emotions and experiences we have to share. Writing can be anything from a poem narrating one, emotion-packed experience, to an entire novel. Like most art, writing is spontaneous and requires a small, but powerful, stimulus.
NM: What is something you'd like more BIPOC teen creatives to practice so they can better support one another within the teen writing community?
AS: Listen to other’s experiences. It can be as simple as attending an open mic, or hearing someone’s experiences in a particular situation. These stories start conversation and different perspectives that stimulate narratives we could not have thought about by ourself. Listening to other experiences and stories is the first way we, as teen BIPOC creatives, can start creating more beautiful, and authentic pieces of art.
NM: You have one piece of advice for young BIPOC writers. What will it be?
AS: Share your story, however underrepresented or misinterpreted it is on mainstream media, it is extremely important to illustrate your authentic voice in the art you produce. Whether you include words from your language or a main character who loves to wear traditional clothing, bringing in your culture and narrative creates a story that that welcomes other BIPOC readers.