Hemlata (Hema) Vasavada
Skagit Valley Writers’ League
As a teenager in India, I became ill and had to take bed rest for more than a month. My uncle visited often and brought me several novels—both in Hindi and English. He told me that H.G. Wells and many famous writers created their stories during their illnesses, so I should utilize my forced rest to read and write. I loved reading, and continued to express myself through researching and clarifying ideas, but I never considered creative writing.
The “writing seed” remained dormant until I immigrated to the United States in 1968 with my husband and our (then) one-year old daughter. When people asked me about India, I started writing short pieces for talks in schools or women’s groups. In 1975, a friend took me to the Skagit Valley Writers’ League. I joined the league soon after and have actively pursued my writing.
With that came submissions and rejections. Finally, in 1982 my essay about coming to the United States, and my experiences and feelings regarding my native land and adopted land, was published in The Seattle Times. I earned $35 for that. Everyone said that now that I had “arrived,” I won’t get any rejections. That was a myth. I didn’t get my second piece published until 1990. Just before the 1990 Census, my experience as a Census enumerator in 1980 was published in The Syracuse Herald. They paid me $25. It was a family joke that eight years later, I’ll get $15, then $5. Fortunately, that downward trend broke in 1995 when the Houston Chronicle paid me $50 for my humor piece about motherhood and worrying. Now, my articles, interviews and humor pieces have been published in Northwest Life & Times magazine, Tea A Magazine, R V Journal, The Herald (Everett), India Currents and Khabar—magazines for Indian Americans, and I Should Have Stayed Home: an anthology of RDR Books. For several years, I volunteered to write for Samachar: newsletter of the India Association of Western Washington, for their Senior Programs, Health Fairs, Music Programs, and volunteer profiles. My novel, The Cascade Winners–a story based on a local industry designing and manufacturing parts for offshore drilling platform, the effect of business mergers and takeovers on the employees, and bonds of friendship—was published in 2014.
Skagit Valley Writers’ League has been an important part of my creative pursuits. The members of my critique groups have been my writing lifeline with their suggestions, corrections and encouragement. I have relied on the league and its members for support, and have held the offices of president, vice president and treasurer.
Realizing that as we age, it is better to be closer to family, we moved to Pullman, Washington, to be near our daughter, son-in-law, and grandsons. Western Washington has been our home since 1968 (except for the nine years between 1987 and 1996 when we had to leave the area for my husband’s job). I will cherish the friends, members of the league, and critique groups who have enriched my life.