Kausar Bilal is a well-known professional writer, lecturer at University of Punjab, Lahore and founder and editor of Magazine Kausarbilal.com.
The title of her cover story is ‘If you are aspirant for success, meet Sajjad Amin Bangash- the mono star who wrote his own destiny.
She begun the interview by asking the following questions.
1. Your introduction? (Family, education and professional journey)
I come from middle class village based family while my father had served two of government departments namely Pakistan Army and then Agricultural Development Bank of Pakistan. Originally, I am from a small village of Kohat district but since; my father was working in Islamabad so we moved to Islamabad back in 80s. I received my early schooling till college education in Islamabad so technically, it makes me the citizen of Islamabad.
I concluded my graduation in commerce from Punjab University in affiliated college in Islamabad. I remained among the genius and intelligent students in my entire academic career and enjoyed this ‘repute’ among my fellow students and well regarded by teachers. I won best debater awards in intermediate and graduation in different colleges which I attended.
I set off to a flying start in a professional journey where based on my excellent communication skills, I put myself on the bench of ‘high rated’ candidates always during interviews which turned out to be great ‘opportunity taker’ in different time frames of my professional career. Starting from early professional career as ‘marketing and sales executive’ in a reputable company, proving to be a lucrative source which expanded my professional acumen and professional knowledge. Oh yeah! I have worked in US and British based call centers as well which is a great plus as well namely Touchstone Communication, Islamabad and TRG in Lahore.
Back in 2005, I was lucky enough to be selected as an ‘interpreter, communication specialist’ in European Union Delegates in earthquake effected areas in Azad Kashmir and Northern areas. This was a lucrative and significant opportunity of its kind since; I had to work and learn with foreign nationals under the disaster management capacity. This further solidified my professional acumen by learning from their professional practices and on job activities. Luckiest part was when I travelled with them in all of the northern areas in Black Hawks, Choppers and Army helicopters. Wow! That was awesome.
Back in 2008, I went to Dubai, UAE and luckily, within first week of stay, I had been selected in ‘Hotel Crown Plaza’, Sheikh Zayed Road, Dubai. This produced a thriving outcome to my professional exposures, caliber and enhanced my practical knowledge about international management and I kept on learning which will stay written on my resume all of my professional life.
2. When did you find a writer inside you and decided to take ‘Writing as a career?
I was inborn writer but over the years I kept this talent in cage and I don’t know why I was doing it. I believe every one of us is born with an additional extraordinary God gifted talent and that’s what Writing is for me. Writing is a beautiful treasure and deliverance from self-restraint dichotomy. It is the ultimate source of beautifying your vision, self-esteem and realization of human love and care.
It was in 2010 when I released off this ‘beautiful talent of writing’ as I couldn’t hold it off for too long. My first writing endeavor started when I first started to write a novel and book ‘My first Endeavor’ and I wrote on my friend from London. I compiled one book, a novel and autobiography of my friend. I then started to teach ‘Creative Writing’ where I created several writers from scratch. It was an amazing experience of its own. I switched myself towards writing a blog and my decision was proven right. I have received tremendous response from readers around the globe and enhanced the confidence in me that we don’t have to murder our talents rather we need to spread it because somewhere, someone needs it.
When I practically launched myself into writing a blog, I really couldn’t imagine that massive response from readers around the globe. But honesty and pure intentions always pay you.
I wrote several articles on politics, social issues, economics, health care, information technology, conducted interviews of successful people who achieved milestones through their lucrative talents and autobiographies of my friends of different countries and cultures and able to instantiate the voice and creating awareness around the world.
In a span of 07 months time, my blog not only accumulated huge applause from readers around the globe but also provided me an opportunity to pile up a huge number of friends from writers to politicians, businessmen, doctors, social media experts, educators, economists, lecturers and professors, engineers all over the world which significantly expanded my social fiber. Now, my readers have become my friends and like family members where I eagerly socialize with them and often discuss several matters pertaining to their personal family matters. I believe that together, we can make this world a beautiful place to live in full of peace, mutual understanding and harmony. We win the hearts this way.
Going along the ways of writing, I met so many precious people who earnestly kept encouraging and appreciating me. I realize it now that ‘I am writer’ lol
3. Don’t you think pursing Writing as a career is something unusual in countries like Pakistan where there is low literacy rate, no formal writing programs and very few work opportunities?
Well! This is unfortunately very true largely because in Pakistan, we don’t have really academic programs neither in schools, colleges or universities which will educate and guide the students in pursuing ‘writing as a career’. Although, from my teaching experience, they have really good syllabus of English Composition and Literature in Cambridge based education systems in Pakistan but still, the professional teachers are what we lack. If you talk about the programs being offered at University level, is sadly not adequate since, they only have Masters in English Literature while at international platforms, they have heap of specialization programs in Literature, Language, Creative Writing, fiction and non-fiction writing etc. which obviously help students identify and guide in a corrective way to choose the career of their choice pertinent to Writing. Moreover, when it comes to ‘employment or career opportunities in writing’, well that’s another sad picture. We have not been able to produce or accommodate the writers in a well- paid off opportunities. The only option left with the aspirant writers is the ‘Newspapers’ industry but again, it requires you to be well experienced in order to become either editor or news reporter. In addition, the fiction writing is a dying industry once it was.
In order to survive in the writing industry, you have to good writer in Urdu language or if really is an English writer then you have the space of columns and articles to be published in English Newspapers column section or too genius to write on fashions, or cinemas in flashy magazines.
It’s very sad to my personal insight, since writers are those who enlighten the whole society and become the beacon of light.
In Pakistan, the unfortunate reality is that ‘we have killed the reading habit’ which causes distortion in the knowledge gaining. People tend to watch TV a lot then read. While, in Western countries, they still have a living culture of reading newspapers, fiction, and non-fiction writing materials and expand their knowledge. Over there, there is still a healthy trend of reading and writers are well paid and regarded.
4. Who is your inspiration in writing?
I have an avid attitude to reading and great respect for writers of the past and in modern times as well. Mark Twain, Virginia Woolf, George Orwell, Ernest Hemingway, Sylvia Plath, Emily Dickenson, Dorothy Parker, and Arundathi Roy are my favorite writers whose writings have infused great inspiration in my writing instinct. While my favorite writing genres are Fiction, Poetry, Romance, Children’s Literature, Satire, Novel and fantasy.
5. Did you go for a College Degree in Writing?
No unfortunately I couldn’t since we didn’t have right mix of educational programs for writing in Pakistan but I had always been good in writing and reading remained my extreme passion all of my academic time period. But thanks to the internet and online digital media which have profoundly expanded my professional acumen in improving my writing skills. Though my keen online research, reading online materials and publications of world’s best universities publications such as Harvard, Yale, UCLA, USA, Waterloo, McMaster University, Canada, Strathclyde University, Glasgow University, Hariot-Watt University Scotland, Manchester University, London School of Economics, Massey, Canterbury University of New Zealand etc.
6. What techniques and resources did you use to polish your writing?
I learned from the publications of world’s best universities and they have great resources for improving writing skills. For fiction writing skills, you need to have sound grasp over literary devices and figure of speech to be able to write well within the fiction bracket since in fiction writing you have to exaggerate each and every aspects of figure of speech, narrative style, or plot mechanism. While, on the other hand, you have to have good repository of technical terms and precise language usage in non-fiction writing. Besides, I often translate texts from Urdu to English which is another great way to enhance your vocabulary stockpile as well and the style of your writing language a lot.
7. What factors play significant part in your success?
I believe honesty, commitment, dedication and hard work are the basic parameters of success in every sphere of life. In addition, you’ve to believe in yourself. My personality is deeply packed with stubborn attitude in getting the required results which means that I keep on carrying on hard work and persistent deliverance till I get the eventual outcomes. I have deleted the ‘impossible’ word from the within the dictionary of my personality traits. Writing was always my passion and I am madly in love with it. The continuous refinement and incessant improvements in learning have always been part of my learning process which systematically leads me to produce maximum output. I am very strategic and goal oriented at times in task achievements and I keep a calculated tendency in speeding up the work flow. Maintaining a healthy social network of professionals always becomes a great source of continuous refinement. Obviously, people have their own parts of experiences and educational backgrounds, getting in interaction with variety of professionals result in efficacy and professional learning process. I am not shy and hesitant in communication with the people and I keep my confidence level always alive and straight upfront.
8. What are your dreams and where do you like to see yourself in another five years ahead of you?
I am a dreamer and dreams are beautiful ornaments in our life. Life can be challenging for most of us as only few of us are born with ‘golden spoons in their mouths’ while a huge list of us, are lavishly aspiring for it. The dream of becoming a writer was among those early dreams of my life but I kept it caged on the belligerent assumption as to let first dreams be fulfilled and later, give its own turn when the right time arrives but I wasn’t right. I wasn’t justifying the cost and the value of dream of writing because it weighed higher than the other dreams – I wish I could talk to my heart for the ultimate jurisdiction of writing dream.
It took me 14 years on the heated debate and argument as to whether should I satisfy this dream or not and eventually, I have fulfilled the dream of ‘Writer’.
I can have a lucrative and prosperous future in writing iNsha Allah as I and my friend are contemplating of launching our own magazine in Ireland and if life gives me a chance, I can see internationally acclaimed accolades under my name iNsha Allah. I would be world’s famous writer iNsha Allah and so far, I am enjoying the fame at international level Alhamdullilah with over 11,000 established readers around the world.
9. You seem like great in networking with the international writers’ community. How did you approach and impress native English Writers?
Majority of my readers are international and native English speakers. If you have the ability to produce the content which is based on truth, realism, humanity and widely acceptable all over the world, which will automatically generate audience or readership. You have to build repute with your readers and in my experience; I do interact with my readers on regular basis. Social media is a great way to expand your readership and profile. I possess exponential knowledge about international politics, current affairs, socio-economic, educational, women issues, science and technology and health etc. We live in a global village and now we can within a blink of an eye we get to know about the happenings all over the world. I have a simple strategy to approach to international readers and that is that I use social media and continuously keep adding up my social circle. Besides, my established readers are always there to publicize and share my written articles which substantiate my profile.
9. What did you find common in the international writers’ community?
Internationally writers follow a well uniform pattern of writing standards and norms. They write primarily on the issues which are pertinent to the common citizens of country and humanity. Their style of writing is quite different than that of ours and off course, it’s their native language so they use the conventions and patterns of language and lexicon which are best known to the readers by avoiding unnecessary jargon and repetitive words which confuse the readers and distract their attention.
10. What role does Writing play in our lives? Does it benefit as a person, student and professional?
Writing and writers play a significant role in the development, progress and awareness of societies and nations. Without writers, the world would be like a tree which does not give fruits. They transform the societies into building civilizations. Without writers and books, knowledge can never be transmitted. We live in a modern time full of specialization and knowledge sharing. We find writing in many forms such as newspapers, books, magazines, online blogs etc. Knowledge enlightens us and obviously, it benefits everyone, an individual, students, common citizens and professionals.
11. Can Writing provide us with a decent living, regardless of where we are located in the world?
Off course it does! Don’t we see the newspapers industry and journalists working there have great empowerment opportunities and become an integral part of our socio-economic life-cycles. An author or writer earns handsome of money and at times, a successful writer’s income is as higher as a wealthy sportsman. Besides, editors, writers, content and legal writers earn a decent amount of earnings.
12. What should a writer do to approach best writing opportunities?
Writers will always great opportunities as an editor, news reporters, author, autobiographer, content writer etc. and writers have lucrative platforms such as newspapers, magazines, software houses, article writer, document writer, fiction and novel writer, children’s literature writer, playwright, sci-fictions etc.
13. How would you comment on the online job opportunities as freelance.com,elance.com, etc.?
There are great potential and career prospects for writing in elance.com and freelance.com, as they have lots of career opportunities for writing as creative writers, editors, fiction writers, content writers, news writers, online writers, document and thesis writers, autobiographers, blog writers, business communication specialists etc.
Many corporate writers find it hard to get opportunities there as new ones?
14. What other careers are you interested in other than writing? Once you get your Writing Dream, would you like to pursue something else as well?
I would be gladly pursuing teaching in creative writing and business communication etc. besides; I have great interest in photography, graphic designing etc.
15. Are Writing and Management inter-related? How do you manage two diverse areas simultaneously?
Yes, they are inter-related since, corporate management dedicate a great deal of time to correspondence and communication internally and externally. So without an effective, well-management writing, there is no guarantee for the growth of organizations and management as well. How would we expect to communicate or conduct businesses and dealings with international clients and corporations? Off course, for that we need a robust writing capacities and productive writing skills. Similarly, in any office setting, the internal and external communication are carried out by e-mails, official correspondence etc.
16. When you don’t write, what hobbies, interests and activities do you pursue?
I write and I am world’s renowned writer now Alhamdullilah lol. I love sports, travelling, socializing and internet chatting to know about the people lifestyles, culture, linguistics, geography etc.