“When Rain Chudori approached us for this project, we actually felt like an tired old woman meeting an energetic, passionate child who was asking us to play a new game,” said Christina M. Udiani, Senior Editor at Kepustakaan Populer Gramedia and Supervisor of Comma Books.
She was telling the audience of how the publishing unit came into shape last week during its first anniversary at Kroma, South Jakarta.Comma Books is a publishing initiative under the supervision of Kepustakaan Populer Gramedia that aims to support young emerging writers in Indonesian literary scene.
“We’ve been doing printed books for long, and it doesn’t get any easier with time. So Rain explains how she wants to provide a space for a young, emerging writers. She told me about her plans – how she wants this to be different, how she would start small by involving her friends to be the first writers. Seeing her enthusiasm, we said yes,” she explained.
“It has not been a smooth sailing, but here we are, along with our young writers. And we couldn’t be prouder. This may seem naïve at first, but naivety is where all the freshness comes from. We are hopeful that if we nurture the passion in words then in words, we’ll have power,” she added.
Comma Books’ first anniversary, themed “A Little Pause” is a small celebration after a year-long journey.
Author Rain said: “We are here to welcome our emerging writers and appreciate people who have worked hard throughout our first year.”
Participants of the two-day celebration could attend several workshop led by various authors. Raka Ibrahim, Muhammad Wahyudi, and Andre Septiawan facilitated a workshop on writing about places that form us, while Leila Chudori led a workshop on writing about heritage and intimacy. Another session on writing about the movements of emotions was led by Agung Setiawan, Waraney Rawung, Farhanah, and Edo Wallad. Rain and Famega Syavira led a workshop on writing about the experience of womanhood.
The workshops’ participants were mostly university students, journalists, and people who are passionate about writing, but never had a chance to learn more.
Said university student Refa, who joined the workshop on writing about womanhood: “I love writing because I have not been good at expressing my feelings by talking it out; I have not been a communicative person.”
In the same session, Nadya, also a university student, said she came because she was impressed by the recently published travel writing called “Kelana”, written by Famega, who is one of Comma Books’ writers.
“Reading about the writer’s adventure makes me think: How could she be so brave, traveling by herself around the world? She managed to reach Siberia and Mongol. I wanted to know how she ended up with such a couragous decision. I want to learn from her and be brave too,” said Nadya.
In the session, Rain talked about the urgency for women to start writing.
“There has been this constant reminder that, as a woman, you should be this way or shouldn’t be that way. But I came to realize that this is actually what makes us resilient. I feel like as women we are, indeed, stronger than we thought,” she said.
Famega echoed Rain’s statement, saying, “Oh, trust me, I thought of the worst when I was about to begin my journey to solo travel to 18 countries. I had a panic attack the night before I departed, but in the morning, surprisingly I felt ready. And, so, I got ready and ordered a taxi. By writing my journey in the travel novel Kelana, I truly hope that other women can conquer their fears as well. Eventually.”
There were also reading performances from Comma Books emerging writers and poets, including Farhanah, Agung Setiawan, Muhammad Wahyudi, Waraney Herald, and Raka Ibrahim. The event was closed with a music performance by Deugalih and Edo Wallad.
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