'Writers must know what the readers want – and feel' - GulfToday

'Writers must know what the readers want – and feel'

Hind Saif 1

The panel discussion under way.

Gulf Today, Staff Reporter

In a stimulating panel discussion titled “Emerging contemporary literature in the Emirates and Greece: trends, goals, synergies and future prospects,” panellists explored the current trajectories of youth literature in the UAE and Greece. Discussing key objectives and shared challenges, the panel provided valuable perspectives on how modern writers can adapt to the changing literary environment.

Organised by the Sharjah Book Authority (SBA) as part of the emirate’s participation as Guest of Honour of the 20th edition of the Thessaloniki International Book Fair, the session, moderated by Dr. Khalid Raouf, brought together Emirati author Hind Saif Al Bar and Greek writer Dimitris Sotakis in Sharjah’s pavilion.

Tailoring content to the reader

When asked about her motivation to write, Al Bar, recipient of the Emirati Women’s Award in Literature and Arts from the Emirates Women Writers Association, recounted her childhood love for animated cartoons, particularly ‘The Little Match Girl.’ Initially unaware that these animations were based on written stories, she was fascinated to learn that writers could create such compelling characters and heroes. This revelation inspired her to invent characters that others could connect with, just as she had as a child.

Al Bar emphasised the importance of understanding the audience when writing, particularly for young adults and children. She noted that writers must possess certain qualities to effectively reach these sensitive and rapidly changing age groups. It is crucial to consider both the content and the approach tailored for these readers.

She also discussed the diverse sources of her ideas, which can stem from people around her, the environment, films, and, notably, reading. “I live near the mountains, where many stories about ghosts are prevalent. I love these tales and wanted to create a character that contrasts with the usual depiction. So, I reversed the traditional story of a genie granting wishes to humans and made the human fulfil the genie’s wishes,” she explained.

A connection with the world of writing

Greek author Dimitris Sotakis offered his perspective on writing, saying, “When I am alone, I embrace my solitude. I want to create something beautiful, and this is the essence of writing; it provides companionship. I feel a deep connection with the world of writing, driven by the desire to create a unique universe. I believe this is the goal of writing: to express what lies within us. Writing has given me the space to articulate my innermost feelings and emotions.”

Discussing the role of the reader in the writing process, Sotakis added, “I create an imaginary reader comprising the impressions and feedback from my previous readers. This approach might be risky because this imaginary reader might become an authority imposing a specific idea, style, or format.”

Sharjah is the first Arab Guest of Honour at the Thessaloniki International Book Fair, a recognition of its significant contribution to promoting Arab and global culture. The emirate’s participation in the event features a series of cultural and creative events, along with artistic and folk performances, showcasing the richness of local and Arab culture to visitors of the book fair.


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