Saturday, November 17, 2007


MARY Daya is one of the young emerging writers of the Pacific Writing Forum.

The forum is the creative expression and publications arms of the School of Languages, Arts and Media at the University of the South Pacific.

In the past 10 years, the forum has published more than 250 work by Pacific writer in books, journals, occasional papers and anthologies.

What does it take to be a writer? This is what Mary has to say about what she does. "One has to have an open, creative and dedicated mind in order to be a good writer," she said. "You cannot just go in front of a computer, log on and start typing a story; you have to do a lot of preparation in advance.

"In order to be a good writer, you have to read a lot and read with interest.
"Writing is not easy. You have to work on it for a long period of time. "To be a successful writer, you have to be inspired everyday to be able to write and you have to take it seriously like a job.
"For me, you have to take writing seriously and be into it like you report to any other job in the morning.

"It is not a fairy tale thing that everything will come to your mind and you just start writing. You have to be sure of who you are because it helps you in your writing." Having the skill of writing is one thing but what is more challenging is getting the opportunity to prove your talent, says Mary.

"It is not easy to get recognition especially in the Pacific region. "If you want to be a good writer and be recognised then you have to seek out for opportunities and make your way through."

That is exactly what she did. She enrolled in creative writing course at the USP Literature and Language Department last year and her outstanding writing got her to be part of PWF. Before enrolling at USP, Mary used to write for online readers.

She developed her talent by writing short stories for Asia Pacific Writers and Fiji Speakers Corner. She has also written articles for the USP's Language and Literature Department's annual journal Saraga last year and has contributed articles for this year's journal Dreadlocks. She specialises in writing prose, fiction novels and short stories.

Mary is also supervising and acting as an adviser for a Harvard University student at USP. However her biggest challenge which she has just taken up this week is teaching creative writing to women in Suva Prison. Mary will continue with this for a year she said she was looking forward to be involved in such a project.

Joining the creative writing program at USP, she said, was the best thing that happened to her.
"The best thing to do is join the creative writing program at USP because that is the best thing that ever happened to me. Doing a course is important because it develops your writing."

Mary's source of inspiration for writing further is her lecturer in creative writing program, David Whish-Wilson. Mary loves digging into history, especially the history of the place she comes from. She comes from the old capital Levuka on Ovalau.

At the moment, she is working on a novel based on the history of Levuka and when she completes the book, it will be a big achievement for her. In fact, all her writing, she says were inspired by the place she comes from.

"It is my town and the people there inspire me in all my writings. I am proud of where I come from." With no doubt English was Mary's favourite subject at Levuka Public School.

"I loved English in high school and I would really like to thank my teachers who shaped my writing from the beginning including Suli Sandys, Sera Lockington, Swadesh Kumar and Frances Pene."

She has been writing for the past 15 years and writing is what she wants to do for the rest of her life. "I always wanted to be a writer. Writing is something I was doing as a sideline thing until I made up my mind that it was what I wanted to do in life.

"I would like to spend the rest of my life writing. It does not matter how I do it but I know I will do it somehow," she said.

Adapted from November 17/11/2007