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A COMMITSCION HEADS TO YALE (Shreya Dutt, Class of 2010)

“Shreya, we at Yale University are pleased to invite you to attend the 2013 Yale Writers’ Conference.” Those were the opening lines of the e-mail I woke up to at 1 a.m. on February 14. Needless to say, I checked if the name was right, whether the e-mail was indeed addressed to “Shreya Dutt”, and, then, I immediately logged in from the laptop to compose a reply.

When I had first sent in my application, it had been one of those “give-it-a-shot-but-don’t-really-expect-it-to-happen” ideas. Writing has always has been an integral part of my life. I’ve always been a believer of the power of the written word and penning stories of people has been a passion. So when it came to applying to a writing programme, the Yale Writers’ Conference was a no-brainer. It is what any aspiring writer dreams of.

All participating writers, including me, went through a very stringent evaluation process undertaken by the Yale writing faculty. Before sending in my essay, I had to pass an application eligibility criterion. The fact that I was a journalist worked in my favour: I received my acceptance within a week! The annual two-week conference in June consists of a series of workshops, master classes, and individual review sessions with the best literary talents in America. It packs in what a Yalie learns in the writing programme, with the added advantage of being able to meet and work with industry practitioners.

I am very excited at the thought of engaging in discussions with writers from across the world, working with my mentors, and spending a considerable amount of my time at Yale’s Sterling Library. Tom Perrotta, whom The New York Times calls “The American Chekhov”, will be my mentor for my master classes. Perrotta is the author of The Leftovers, Election, and Little Children. His screenplay for Little Children was nominated for the Oscar and the Golden Globe and he is now developing The Leftovers for HBO.

I will also be working closely for ten days with Trey Ellis, who will be my workshop mentor. Ellis is an author, an Emmy Award-winning screenplay writer, Associate Professor at Columbia University, and a regular political blogger with Huffington Post.