By Shiny Hoque:
In my schooldays, I was a bookworm and wrote down the sentences I liked on the blank side of bus tickets, classroom benches and sometimes on the wall (apologies, if any teacher of mine is reading this!).
I even gifted small write-ups to my friends on their birthdays.
At age 19, I got my first mobile phone with internet connection. It marked the onset of my knowledge quest. I literally tortured the small phone, searching for writing competitions, famous poems, author interviews and much more. Gradually, I became conversant with using the right keywords in my Google search and the world of writing unfolded before me.
I got into the mailing lists of many writing-related websites and searched English newspapers for writing opportunities. Amidst all this, my diary continued to be my confiding space.
With time, I felt the need to connect with other aspiring writers like me. I wanted to share my ideas and yearned for feedback on my write-ups. Among the other things happening in my life, I was also facing some challenges on the personal front, one after the other.
I reached a point where I felt needed a space where I could share my experiences without being judged. It resulted in me searching for women-only websites.
After some rigorous search, I landed on SHEROES – an all women forum. The Love and Relationships community and Mala community for legal and counselling support, were my first acquaintances and I started posting little heartfelt write-ups about my real life experiences. A girl from the SHEROES team praised my writing and invited me to write regularly, but there wasn’t any community for writers.
“I thought of taking charge; I wanted to start a writing community.”
Clueless in my mission, a SHEROES mentor helped me get started. For the first time in my life, I created a powerpoint presentation depicting my community start-up ideas. Once that got approved I set out on my new journey.
On August 2, 2017 with the help of SHEROES team members, I started the Aspiring Writers’ Community. My past years of searching and browsing proved to be of great help and they were now my pillars of support in forming the community. Within two months, thousands of women joined the community and with each day, their number was increasing. Through the community, women with similar interests were coming together and sharing their journeys. I was getting close to the members on a personal level.
At the peak of things, I fell ill suddenly one night. By next month the doctors confirmed a malignancy. I was detected with a rare kind of cancer in my urinary bladder. My world suddenly stopped. To my limited knowledge cancer meant the end. My inward struggle began in accepting the bitter truth. I connected with old friends to say goodbye. Forgiving became easy and I forgave those who had hurt me in the past.
“In my illness, too, I continued writing, even if it was with a shaky mind.”
Personal emails poured in from compassionate Aspiring Writers community members. They pumped in hope and assured me that all wasn’t over. Through the community members, I came to know about other cancer survivors.
For me, it was more than a community moderator’s job. It was a place where I derived strength and earned proof of my existence. Forgetting my illness, I restarted my life.
Today, I’ve come to terms with my illness and hope to get cancer-free within a year or two. I’ve grown with my community, and my struggles with cancer remind me that life is unplanned.
The Aspiring Writers community, my companion in worst days, proved what amazing transformations women can bring in each other’s lives. Maybe someday in future, published authors will look back at their old days in the Aspiring Writers community.
About Shiny Hoque:
I’m the Aspiring Writers’ Community Manager at SHEROES. I love to travel and connect with people. I’m an avid reader, passionate writer and dream of having a small library of my own someday. I believe in the power of pen more than that of a sword and consider empathy powerful enough to bring change in this world.