Anjali Sachdeva is an editor, writer and a teacher blurring personal experiences with the factual truth of life. When one describes her creative work, he or she could develop a variety of adjectives, but the most popular phrases range from “humorous,” “insightful” and “charming.” Though to the writer, the writing process is never the same. Originally a journalist, Sachdeva now enjoys experimenting with science fiction, reality and interesting scenes, which she presented Thursday, April 14 as part of the Ohio Northern University Department of English’s Spring Reading Series.
“I’m a slow writer, always working on multiple things. Once in a blue moon I get an idea, go home and write out the idea and the draft is good to go. That never happens though, and hardly does for most writers,” she addressed the audience in the gallery exhibit room of ONU’s Elzay Gallery of Art.
In recent years, Sachdeva has transitioned to writing creative nonfiction and fiction pieces, with her fiction focusing on surrealism, magic realism and literary fantasy. She has been teaching for 11 years and works extensively with high-school students, college students and adults who have a deep passion in improving their writing abilities.
Currently the Director of Educational Programs for the Creative Nonfiction Foundation, Sachdeva edits a wide range of work. She has seen many varieties in writing and advised current ONU students to practice as much as they can as students. The editing process, she explained, is long and extensive, though completely worth it with the finished product.
“Nonfiction editing is like film editing. It’s all with what you decide to show,” she further explained during a question-and-answer period after she read two selections from her creative nonfiction and fiction portfolio.
The first story was a tale of Sachdeva’s hiking adventures in Canada and how she failed to renew her passport, resulting in an interesting conflict with the Canadian government. The second story was a description of aliens taking over the planet, delighting many creative writers in the audience who enjoy science fiction.
Many ONU students asked for advice from Sachdeva, and the writer had several comments to offer to the budding writers in the room.
“Look at the range of your story and decide what is good to keep. Look for connections across sections, across other stories. Allow your writing to have a strong balance between an interesting scene and a reflection of your main argument. You can’t make things up in creative nonfiction, but you can add strong scenes to make the story more interesting to read. There’s so many ways to write a story. Find your own way and stick to it.”
Sachdeva was accompanied by senior creative writing and marketing student Loren Huntley, who performed stand-up comedy he has practiced at various comedy clubs. Sachdeva asked Huntley many questions about how he prepares for his stand-up comedy skits, and he admits that it is a writing process that needs to be revised according to the audience’s reaction.
Sachdeva teaches at Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh. She is the former editor at “Unstuck,” a journal of the futuristic, the fantastic, the surreal and the strange. Her work has been published in “Yale Review,” “Gulf Coast,” “Alaska Quarterly Review” and “Best American Nonrequired Reading,” among other places. She is a graduate of the Writer’s Workshop at the University of Iowa, loves backcountry hiking, and currently lives in Pittsburgh, Pa. with her husband.