Durre Shahwar is 28 and from Cardiff. She is keen to pursue a career in narrative non-fiction and is a writer, speaker and PhD researcher whose work, which explores the themes of identity, class, queerness, gender, migration and mental health, has been published in various magazines and anthologies. She is also the co-founder of Where I’m Coming From, the only open mic night series in Wales to predominantly platform writers of colour. Durre is currently doing her PhD in Creative Writing at Cardiff University and working towards her first book; a work of narrative non-fiction about South Asian identities in Wales.
How do you envisage the programme will help you in terms of your development?
“The programme will help by giving me back confidence in myself as a writer that I have lost over the past year or so. I have been spending more time freelancing and studying and despite that being within a creative capacity, it has made me feel like any writing that I have done has been for work/community purposes/to meet a certain remit. Writing has become a means to an end with a heavy focus on production for the sake of production, which has taken the enjoyment out of writing for myself and the attainment of personal goals such as publishing my own book and being able to try new things. The programme would give me the permission to step back and focus on my book and would also help me to believe in my capabilities as a writer beyond an art worker and would also enable me to focus on my own vision without the pressures of deadlines on it.”
What are you most looking forward to as part of the programme? What are you hoping to achieve by taking part?
“I’m looking forward to connecting with other writers and attending masterclasses that will inspire me to write, as well as being mentored by a writer I’m inspired. I also hope that the programme will help me overcome barriers such as knowing how to access and talk to agents, publishers, and other industry gatekeepers to ensure that my book is placed with the right agent or publisher once ready.”
As a writer, where would you like to be in 5 years?
“My goal for the next 2-3 years is to find an agent and to publish my book. I also have further ideas to put together and edit an anthology of writing by women of colour on nature and our relationship to it, but first and foremostly, I want to focus on publishing my debut book. In 5 years, I would like to be a known author of my own books, and touring festivals and speaking at panels.”