BWS 14.11.18: Priya Ramsingh


Priya Ramsingh has been making up stories since she learned the art of cursive writing. She began to frequent libraries, immersing herself in literature and decided she wanted to write for a living. Her career took her into the corporate world to craft copy and she freelanced during her off time at a local newspaper. She finally finished Brown Girl in the Room in 2016 (Tightrope Books) after the nagging in her head became too overbearing. So far, the story has hit home with readers from across the continent who call it, ‘all too relatable.’

Her second novel is complete and she currently awaits a publisher’s interest. In the meantime, Priya writes the occasional op-ed for the Toronto Star and is the author of a monthly diversity column for Metroland Media.


The Journey

Stories. I was a child lost in tales. Immersing myself in pages, standing beside the characters, reeling at their losses, feeling their love, their smiles contagious, speaking their words out loud.

I began my own. Writing, for hours, in my room, alone. My imagination unfolding into words.

My grade 5 teacher was the first to call me out. You’re good, he acknowledged. Keep going.

But how?

I watched, unlike others. I saw, what others didn’t see. I asked why, over and over. Who cares? People would say. Why do you worry?

Fascination made me question. So obvious, such hatred. Fear. Giddy love. Freedom, attention seeking, pain. Where did it all come from?

Suddenly my own emotions surfaced. Overbearing. Overtaking. The words were stuck. I stopped.

I discarded the pen. I looked elsewhere.

Years passed and suddenly it was back. In front of me with a command. Write, it urged. The pen was gone, replaced by keys. I complied.

The criticisms were sharp. It needs work. It needs to be changed. They didn’t see what I saw.

I fell and stayed on the ground. But suddenly an outstretched hand. Get up. Write. Over and over. Scraped knees, bruised ego, deflation and then back up again, grasping hands that appeared out of nowhere. Thankful.

When I was down, it appeared in physical form. Write, they said.

I learned. I wrote. Acknowledgement replaced criticisms, and then praise.

Suddenly, roadblocks. And then pain. Sharp and hard, pushing me over. I held it inside until I heard the voice – write.

The words came out. A flurry, that turned into pages. Agony. Finish, it said. Don’t stop.

I finished. The anxiety was gone. Peace. Brown Girl in the Room was ready. Relief.


Priya Ramsingh visits Brockton Writers Series on Wednesday, November 14, 2018 at Glad Day Bookshop, 499 Church Street, Toronto, starting at 6:30pm (PWYC) alongside Anthony Easton, Glynis Guevara, Rocco de Giacomo, and guest speaker Anne Laurel Carter presents us with tips on “Writing for Younger Readers: Three Essential Strategies.”

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