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Is Your #Writing Any Good to This World? #WATWB #IWSG

If you're a writer, do you think your writing is important to this world?

We are the World Blogfest (#WATWB) focuses on positive stories no matter where they’re found. It is all about spreading peace and humanity on social media.

I missed it last weekend, because my life is a beautiful mess at the moment (I’m keeping it PG13 here, folks!). So today, in the spirit of WATWB, In darkness be the light, I’m sharing the story of Haimanti Sen, a 22-yr old who has taken it upon herself to educate children whose parents are unable/ unwilling to do so.

“Often when they refuse to beg, they are hit. Sometimes their parents even blow masala in their eyes. Can you imagine the courage it takes for these kids to let go of all this so that they can study or partake in an extracurricular activity for one hour a day?”

But a lot has changed since Haimanti, and her team started teaching them. Looking at the teachers, the children make more of an effort to maintain hygiene, comb their hair and look presentable.

Their grasping power has improved, and many of them can easily write their names too.

“It’s been a difficult journey. But now, I can guarantee that of the 15 kids I have worked with, at least five of them can be enrolled in school this year itself. Slowly, I hope I can help the others ease into the formal education system too.”

If you're a writer, do you think your writing is important to this world?Stories like Haimanti’s give me hope in the future of humanity, but personally, they also fill me with anxiety, and a sense of not doing enough. I volunteer when I can, but for the last few weeks, personal and work situations have taken me away from everything–I’ve withdrawn from my volunteering roles, and that makes me sad.

Every once in a while I spiral into a sense of futility. Volunteering gives as much chance at self-abnegation as fiction, but I put in so much time into my writing. What if the work I do for organisations like Project WHY and Chaanv are more important? There are so many writers in this world, why do I need my voice? Isn’t it much better used in advocating and fundraising for those who need it?

A youngster like Haimanti–teaching kids no one would want to– inspires me to do more. Maybe writing is not all that useful–maybe I should make more time for volunteering? I know writing changes the world–but I guess I’m not sure if mine would change anything for the better.

What about you? If you’re a writer, do you think your writing is important to this world? Do you spend any time volunteering–how do you balance both? If you’re a reader but not a writer, have you felt that a writer’s time is better spent elsewhere? What has volunteering taught you? What positive stories would you like to share?

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This post was the 24th installment of the monthly We Are the World Blogfest: I’d like to invite you to join, if you haven’t as yet, to post the last Friday oWe Are the World Blogfest Writing by handf each month a snippet of positive news that shows our essential, beautiful humanity.

The co-hosts for this month are: Shilpa Garg, Sylvia McGrath, Susan Scott, Eric Lahti and Belinda Witzenhausen.

Here’s a sampler of this blogfest. Click here to know more. Sign up here and add your bit of cheer to the world on the next installment of July 26, 2019!


Social media by Chrys FeyThe co-hosts for the June 5 posting of the IWSG are Erika Beebe, Natalie Aguirre, Jennifer Lane, MJ Fifield, Lisa Buie-Collard, and Ellen @ The Cynical Sailor! Go to the site to see the other participants. In this group we writers share tips, self-doubt, insecurities, and of course, discuss the act of writing. If you’re a writer and a blogger, go join rightaway!


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Damyanti Biswas

Damyanti Biswas is the author of You Beneath Your Skin and numerous short stories that have been published in magazines and anthologies in the US, the UK, and Asia. She has been shortlisted for Best Small Fictions and Bath Novel Awards and is co-editor of the Forge Literary Magazine. Her forthcoming literary crime thriller, The Blue Bar is represented by Lucienne Diver from The Knight Agency, and will be published by Thomas & Mercer on January 1, 2023.

I appreciate comments, and I always visit back. If you're having trouble commenting, let me know via the contact form, or tweet me up @damyantig !

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41 Comments

  • Hi Damyanti,
    It is indeed an inspiring story you shared with us.
    No doubt Haimanti’s story is an inspiring one to all.
    Keep writing such write-ups to illuminate others.
    All the best.
    Have a great weekend.
    Regard
    ~ Phil

  • hilarymb says:

    Hi Damyanti – gosh isn’t Haimanti wonderful – reaching out to others … and they will reach out to others too … she is certainly setting an example.

    I should do more … I volunteer to give talks to various groups and help out with the groups I belong to – and visit a lady in a Nursing centre … but I don’t volunteer otherwise. I’d like to publish some of my blog posts and get a series going … and must settle to that in the next few weeks …

    I admire those who create and caretake major volunteering roles … so good for you – things will work out and settle down again – all the best, cheers Hilary

  • Thanks for sharing the inspiring story of Haimanti; most of us could probably do more in the way of volunteering. And I agree with what others have said; your writing has the chance to bring a smile to someone’s face or to help them forget about their problems for a while. That’s the goal of many volunteer opportunities.

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      Thanks for stopping by, Jim. I’ve indeed found a lot of good answers in this thread. Bottomline–the efficacy and impact are not in my hands, so should stop thinking about impact, and just do things–write as much as I can, and volunteer as much as I can, give as much as I can. Our time on earth is finite–best make good use of it.

  • Parul Thakur says:

    What a lovely story! So inspiring and you are doing some great work, Damyanti. Please take it easy and it’s okay when things don’t go as planned.
    Hugs and love!

  • Shalzmojo says:

    I dont think beating yourself up or doubting your efforts is doing any good at all D. We all take time and heart out to do things we LOVE to do – thats the key. So instead of saying you are not doing any good, maybe you need to start looking at it as you are doing good!!! Hugs XOXO

  • JT Twissel says:

    No artist of any sort should claim their work is important to the world so to answer in the affirmative would take much hubris. I have volunteered in near impossible situations – with dying children and their families and with at risk foster children. One taught me young children are less afraid of death than their parents and the other how systemic the breakdown of our society has gotten. Clearly I need to volunteer somewhere where I feel I can do more good.

  • rolandclarke says:

    Inspiring example. I can understand your need, Damyanti in taking a break from volunteering – even if the need remains. I’m unsure how much I did in the past when I was politically and socially active. I’ve tried to be supportive. Now, housebound by my wheelchair, my writing has to be the message.

  • Indira says:

    I totally agree with you, dear. I wanted to reblog it but there are no options for it. Tweeted and shared on facebook.

  • Balaka says:

    Stories like these encourage and motivate us. Keep writing such stories Damyanti.

  • setinthepast says:

    I think writing is a wonderful way of connecting with people. Some people are not able to get out much because of ill-health or because of caring for someone with ill-health, or even because of being stuck at work for so many hours a week, and books and blog posts and social media really help to make the people who read them feel less isolated.

  • Shilpa Gupte says:

    That picture of Haimanti and the kids fills you with such warmth! It really makes you wonder what you are doing with your life!
    Just this morning, I was wondering, does my writing seem useful to anyone? Is it making any difference to someone’s life out there?
    I would love to volunteer…teach kids or maybe work at a shelter for animals…it’s been a dream since quite some time. I have seen how much happiness it gives them–kids as well as animals. 🙂

  • I’ve found that the best way for me to spread peace and humanity is to stay as far away from most social media like Facebook and Twitter!

    I know that blogs are also social media. But I try to stay calm and collected as much as possible. But I do fail at times because with my followers it’s recently been one step forward and one step back!

  • DutchIl says:

    Thanks for sharing!.. life is filled with challenges and how one deals with those challenges will define who they are or may be…“Every single thing that has ever happened in your life is preparing you for a moment that is yet to come”. (Author Unknown).. as for sharing my thoughts I just let my fingers do the walking (typing) and my heart do the talking and perhaps be a rainbow in someone’s cloud… 🙂

    “I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.” ( Mother Teresa)

  • What a worthy way to spend a life. I am awed.

  • Mary Aalgaard says:

    Wow. Of course your writing matters. Think about books/words that have affected you, created a change of heart, or gave you a call to action. We connect through our words. They are also actions. Volunteer, too. There is need everywhere.
    Mary at Play off the Page

  • Pam Lazos says:

    I, too, have been suffering from this very thing these last few weeks, Damyanti, as in, what’s the point of writing when there’s so much more to do and only so much time to devote to volunteer causes. If I stopped writing to work on the volunteer aspects of my life would things be better overall? I have already been doing that this last year and, I don’t know, I kind of feel miserable and all over the place. Perhaps it’s a crisis of faith that I’m experiencing? The state of the world weighs heavy on my and my place in it all — what kind of legacy am I trying to leave? These are difficult answers to pin down. I wish you luck in figuring out your own answers. I know I need it! xo

  • Rajlakshmi says:

    At only 22, Haimanti is making so much difference to the society. Indeed it makes you believe in humanity.
    I feel writing has more reach these days. Although we may not know how it might have helped others, but undoubtedly writing can impact lives too. Be it forming opinions, tips to improve life or reading something very inspiring like this post.

  • Esha M Dutta says:

    I wish I could do more volunteering, Damyanti because I feel I could directly influence a lot many people that way more closely! Having said that, writing about social concerns also allows a much wider reach in creating awareness about the issues that we’re dealing with. I go through cycles when I feel everything I do is futile but thankfully, rather stubbornly, again pull myself up to remind myself that my efforts might be a drop in the ocean but then, every drop counts, so nothing really goes to waste. It is better to do something than do nothing at all, isn’t it?

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      That’s what I tell myself, too. I volunteer, but not enough, and nearly not enough to fill the need. If you ever consider volunteering online, let me know, and I can try connecting you to those who need help.

  • Abhijit Ray says:

    Very inspiring.

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      Absolutely. At 22, I didn’t have the wisdom nor the initiative to do this. I don’t know if I have it now.

  • The way I look at it is, when you volunteer, (and I do) it is just one person doing the work. When I write about what needs to be done, I reach out to many others and maybe two or three more would be inspired to help. I realised the power of the pen when I wrote about Project Why. I was truly amazed and humbled by the response.

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      It does increase the reach when you write on social media and blogs. I guess I should have been clearer, Sunita–I meant ‘writing fiction’. I don’t know if my time spent writing fiction is as worthwhile as my time spent volunteering. Melody’s response below really resonated with me.

  • If writing is an inspiration to even one person who reads what you write then writing is worth something. I write because it keeps my active mind engaged as I put thoughts to pen. But writing is just one of my interests and being of practical help to others should be the main focus of our brief life. Damyanti your writing and sharing of your passion in other areas has been an inspiration to me and I hope you continue to share your talents with the rest of us. 🙂

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      I don’t know if I can deliberately write to inspire others, but like Melody said below, we can’t be sure of what sort of effect we have on whom, and when.

      You’re kind as always, Ian, and I’m so touched by your kindness, as always. If my blog has made a difference to you, that’s a huge solace to me. I write in this space mostly to learn and benefit from others’ wisdom–and over many years, I’ve benefited from yours. So,in case I haven’t said it before, Thank you for your comments, and for your writing.

  • emaginette says:

    Thank you for enlighening me. I need to remember how privialged I am, and the world is full of courageous people making a difference.

    Anna from elements of emaginette

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      Thanks for reading and being open to different perspectives. The world is huge place. There are parents who torture their kids for studying, and then there’s a brave girl who fights the odds to educate them.

  • Sorry life is a mess right now.
    You raise so much awareness for this project and others that your writing is making a difference. Even when you can’t physically do something, you can spread the word with your words.

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      Thanks, Alex! yep, life is messy, but isn’t it always? I need to let it stop bothering me so much. I hope my blog does reach out–if it has helped one person over all these years, I think that’s success.

  • Jemi Fraser says:

    Wow – what an inspiring story!
    I think we all help in our own way – and that there are so many ways to help. Words are powerful. Spreading joy, wonder, strength, compassion, and more in our writing is definitely a way to help. Those young people who are learning the power of words need something inspiring, helpful, informative, joyful to read. They also need the stories full of wonder and what-ifs.

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      Haimanti truly is inspiring, Jemi.

      You’re so right–we all need stories, and those children more so than most.

  • Debbie D. says:

    An inspiring story about Haimanti and her quest to save these children! This scenario is profoundly sad: “Often when they refuse to beg, they are hit. Sometimes their parents even blow masala in their eyes.” We are relatively insulated from the horrors of the world here, in our safe little Canadian suburban enclave. Poverty does exist, of course, and we donate to the local food banks and other charities whenever possible. Due to the nature of my business (every day is different), it would be challenging to commit to any volunteering schedule, though.

    In my opinion, you are already doing much more than the average person, Damyanti, and have no reason to feel guilty! All writing serves a purpose. Someone as talented as yourself needs to be able to express themselves in any manner that suits them. You cannot live your life for other people only nor save the world single-handedly.

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      Haimanti really is a firebrand–most of us in India just walk by these kids. She stopped, and actually is making a difference. I don’t think I do enough, Debbie, but I do the best I can. I just have to remind myself that I’m enough, and what I’m doing is enough. The entire weight of the world is too unimaginably ginormous for me to carry.

  • Only you can answer these questions for yourself after listening to your heart. But I will say this. Both can fail. Great literature does not guarantee that readers will remember lessons offered or that everyone will read. And all the volunteer help in the world can’t promise job security, healthy living, and a happy life.

    However, we never know where our seeds will take root and sprout, either. Someone may read a book where instructions, a story, or even a quote stays with them for a lifetime, teaching them about the human condition and helping them navigate hard times. Sometimes it’s just a half-hour escape from the stress of reality so that we can better handle it after a break. Literature helps us in multiple ways, and one way is not necessarily better than another. And sometimes hands-on mentoring and caring leave an impression on someone’s life that enables them to change their strategies and habits, empowering themselves to live better lives in the same way. Both literature and volunteer work are important. But it’s also important to remember that neither are guarantees for the person receiving the help, and that is not something the helper/writer can control.

    Since you cannot control the outcome for the person you wish to help, the question comes down to which method of helping best suits your ability to give. That is probably where you will benefit the most people. (Feeling useless is just a feeling. It will pass, and we all feel that way sometimes, regardless of our realities.)

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      Very well said, Melody. We never know when, where and how we are making a difference, we can but try. I try and observe my feelings as they come: I can only do my best. Feeling guilty and anxious doesn’t help me, or those I’m trying to help.

  • I think we can’t always know if our writing will change the world for the better or not, but if we go into it with that intention, then there’s no reason why it can’t change the world either. I know that I can use fiction to teach empathy better than any other methods at my disposal.

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      I can’t go into my writing with an intention–I go into it with an image, or a voice. I know fiction teaches empathy, but I don’t know, and can never be sure if mine does. I can just try, and hope it is all good.

  • You’ve struck a nerve for me. I watch the news and despair over the misfortunes of others and feel horrible that I’m not doing more to help. I have a place to sleep each night, food to eat, and am healthy. So many people in this world go hungry, are homeless and struggle with poor health. I do volunteer work, but it seems like it doesn’t really change anything. Sigh.

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      Ellen, it does depress me at times–I have a huge problem of being empathetic to suffering—can’t take it without doing something about it. I like the saying “Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world’s grief. Do justly now, love mercy now, walk humbly now. You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to abandon it.” It brings me some solace.

      My worry is that I’m spending my time doing something not worthwhile when I write–only I can’t seem to help it. It is an addiction, and its importance in this world is debatable.

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