Writing workshops, Singlit Comics event go online

The Arts House's online workshops will feature (left) writers Desmond Kon, (right) Gwee Li Sui and Melissa de Silva. Comic fans can join virtual workshops at Singlit Comics Den, one of which would be led by comic artist and arts educator Zaki Ragman.
The Arts House's online workshops will feature (left) writers Desmond Kon, (right) Gwee Li Sui and Melissa de Silva. Comic fans can join virtual workshops at Singlit Comics Den, one of which would be led by comic artist and arts educator Zaki Ragman. PHOTOS: THE ARTS HOUSE, BERITA HARIAN FILE
The Arts House's online workshops will feature writers Desmond Kon, Gwee Li Sui and Melissa de Silva (left). Comic fans can join virtual workshops at Singlit Comics Den, one of which would be led by comic artist and arts educator Zaki Ragman (right).
The Arts House's online workshops will feature writers Desmond Kon, Gwee Li Sui and Melissa de Silva (left). Comic fans can join virtual workshops at Singlit Comics Den, one of which would be led by comic artist and arts educator Zaki Ragman (right). PHOTOS: THE ARTS HOUSE, BERITA HARIAN FILE

Many Singapore writers and publishers are trying new ways to connect with readers online during the circuit breaker period.

The Arts House, a multi-disciplinary arts venue, is holding online workshops by writers Desmond Kon, Gwee Li Sui and Melissa de Silva this month.

Gwee's workshop will be on humour writing while Kon will help participants use their personal experiences of the circuit breaker to generate new work.

Both are expected to draw 15 participants a workshop, while de Silva's, about using inner emotions to craft narratives, will have a smaller group of 10.

Says The Arts House Limited senior programmer Lisa Lip: "I hope these workshops will allow participants to connect as a micro-community of writers as they learn and share this experience with each other."

She says the workshops are good for those with social anxiety or who have mobility issues and would not have been able to come to The Arts House, and those living abroad.

For comic fans, home-grown publisher Asiapac Books will be hosting its first online event, Singlit Comics Den, on Saturday and Sunday.

Participants will be able to attend virtual workshops by local illustrator Vann Law and comic artist and arts educator Zaki Ragman on subjects from character design to dance and gesture drawing.

Asiapac Books manager Chong Lingying says the event had originally been planned as a pop-up comic artwork gallery and bookstore at Kult Gallery, but it had already been postponed once from March to this month due to the Covid-19 social distancing measures.

Also taking things online are writers launching their books.

Singapore-based Canadian writer Darryl Whetter, 49, hosted the launch of his environmental novel, Our Sands, over Zoom on April 24.

"One of the good things about the Zoom book launch was that people all over the world could attend," says Whetter, who helms the creative writing master's programme at Lasalle College of the Arts. His launch was attended by 65 people from four continents.

  • BOOK IT /THE ARTS HOUSE'S WRITING WORKSHOPS

  • WHERE: Zoom

    WHEN: Till May 23, various timings

    ADMISSION: $10 to $20 from www.theartshouse.sg

  • BOOK IT / SINGLIT COMICS DEN

  • WHERE: Zoom/Asiapac's Facebook Live

    WHEN: Saturday and Sunday, various timings

    ADMISSION: Workshops and lectures are pay-as-you-will, and all other events are free. Tickets from asiapacbooks. eventbrite.com

    INFO: www.facebook.com/asiapacbooks

"The downside was that I could not guilt-trip anyone into buying my book, which I usually do during my book launches."

He says it is harder to connect with an online audience compared with a physical one.

"When I read out a portion of the book, it was difficult to judge the response of my audiences. In a real-life reading, I am able to see their smiling eyes and hear their laughs, and that motivates me. The same connection is not possible when everyone turns off his or her video and microphone on Zoom."

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 13, 2020, with the headline 'Writing workshops, Singlit Comics event go online'. Subscribe