Lending a hand to young, artistic minds

Fairway Holdings conducted the third annual English Creative Writing Workshop on 27 and 28 October at the Lakshman Kadirgamar Institute, 24 Horton Place, Colombo 7. This was an insightful and interesting programme with information, knowledge and inspiration for young artists of ages 16 to 35, for an all inclusive price of Rs. 1000.

Fairway Holdings is a corporation with a prime interest in property development. In the recent years, it has emerged as the animating force behind both the upcoming Fairway Galle Literary Festival and the Fairway National Literary Awards for creative writing in all three languages. The Fairway English Creative Writing Workshop is another one of its initiatives towards the creative intellects of the country.

The workshop was conducted by a resource panel of highly esteemed writers, academics, and publishers. This was a programme dedicated to offer a broad exposure to the amazing process of creative writing, to show the ropes of the transition from a blank page to a published work. The sessions included lectures and discussions on novel and short story writing, poetry, editing, scriptwriting, and publication.

“We want to facilitate the learning process”

The panel for this year’s programme included seven informative sessions that tackled all aspects of creative writing. The Fairway Holdings Deputy Chairman Kavinda Dias Abeysinghe said that it was their vision to provide an opportunity to learn the art of creative writing. “We want to encourage the younger generations to aspire to international standards in creative writing while preserving their image and uniqueness.”

The resource panel this year included:
The first session “Understanding Creative Writing” was conducted by Madhubhashini Dissanayake, the Gratiaen Prize winner for her first novel “There’s Something I Have to Tell You”. She is an English language and creative writing expert and is a senior lecturer in the English Language Teaching Unit at the University of Sri Jaywardenapura.

The second session was on “Writing Short Stories” and was conducted by Ameena Hussein – the co-owner of the Perera Hussein Publishing House. This was a very interactive session which included practical exercises aimed to boost the creative energies of the budding writers in the audience. Ameena Hussein is an acclaimed writer/publisher, who published her first book “Fifteen” in the year 1999. It was shortlisted for the Gratiaen Prize. Her second book of short stories “Zillij” published in 2003 won the State Literary Prize.

The next session, on “Writing Novels” was conducted by Charulatha Abeysekara Thewarathanthri, 2016 Gratiaen Prize winner for her novel “Stories”. Working as a mathematics and physics teacher for London Advanced Level students in the British School in Colombo and S. Thomas College, Mount Lavinia for over 10 years, she is a civil engineering graduate from the University of Moratuwa.

The final session for the day was a very informative discussion on “Playwriting and Screen Writing” conducted by Arun Welandawe Prematilleke – a Sri Lankan playwright and director. He studied drama and theatre arts at Goldsmiths College, University of London and went on to graduate with a first class in 2010. He acted in several productions at the Southwark Playhouse, the Shunt Lounge, and performed in the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 2009. He is also the creator of esteemed plays such as “Paraya”, “Only Soldiers” and the new creation “The One Who Loves you So”.

Day two, creative writing

The first session on the second day of the workshop was the session on the “Secrets of Getting Published” by Vijitha Yapa, Founder, Chairman, and Managing Director of the largest English bookstore chain in the country. He is also a celebrated journalist, editor, and book seller.

The session on “Editing for Publication” was conducted by Jill Macdonald, who holds an M. Phil. in English Literature from Balliol College, Oxford. She is the former Principal of The British School in Colombo, music, dancing, and art enthusiast, and an expert in English Literature.

The next session was on “Writing Poetry” by Ramya Jirasinghe – an acclaimed poet and writer. She is the author of “Rhythm of the Sea”, and “Trinity”. Her book of poetry, “There’s an Island in the Bone” won the State Literary Joint Award for Poetry in 2011. She was long-listed for the Fish Poetry Prize of Ireland in 2011 and was a joint runner-up in the UK’s Guardian Orange First Words Prize of 2009.

The final session was by Writer Amanda Jay on “Writing Your First Novel”; she is a young novelist who schooled at Bishop’s College and went to Colombo International School for her Advanced Level exam. She is the author of the celebrated novel “The Other One”.


The attendees at the workshop were overjoyed with the level of knowledge and guidance they received from the esteemed creative people that were their resource panel. We spoke to some of them and here’s what they had to say:
J. Jeya Ruckshan, student of S. Thomas College: “It is my ambition to be a writer, so I am learning a lot. This is also a very enjoyable way of learning. We are very glad we came this year.”

Student of S. Thomas College: “All of the resource people are very inspirational. I am learning a lot about the tricks of the trade and how to improve my writing.”

Chenelle Wickramasinghe, student of Bishop’s College: “I believe this is a wonderful platform for creative minds like us. There is so much to learn and improve and we are getting the best guidance right here.”


By Pujanee Galappaththi