27 May 2023

Writer’s Block? I Declutter My Workspace!

Malini Lakshmi Bai is an author, English language teacher, and yoga enthusiast based in Cheras, Kuala Lumpur. In addition to her interest in literature as a child, she was exposed to some reading early on due to her interest in history, culture, and tradition. Through writing short stories and poems in school, she became familiar with the world of writing. In 2009, Malini represented the school and district in several youth forums, debate, and public speaking competitions due to her penchant for writing in Bahasa Malaysia and English. “Ankh di Bilik 31” and “Lambaian dari Kashmir” are two short stories written by her and featured in Lakaran Diri (2022). Besides, Eksentrika published English poems by Malini, and Sastera Kavyan published her Bahasa Malaysia short stories.

Malini was part of the Malaysian Writers and Readers Get Together event on 14 May 2023. She shares her creative experience in an interview conducted by Uthaya Sankar SB.


What was your ambition as a child?

I was always fascinated to be a teacher.


When did you first realise you wanted to be a writer?

When I was in my final year of undergraduate studies, I began thinking about becoming a writer. My diary was the first place I wrote down my ideas and thoughts. At that point of my life, I understood that it was a calling for me to be a writer.  


Who are your favourite Malaysian authors?

A. Samad Said, Uthaya Sankar SB, Anuradha Chelliah, M. Mahendran, K.S Maniam, Lee Su Kim, and Shivani Sivagurunathan. 


Where do you get your ideas or information for your writings?

Looking closely at what’s around. I love observing people and their interactions at a coffee shop. 


Which was your hardest book/piece to write?

Struggles are there whenever I write but I remind myself to take a break and relax.


What’s your latest writing project?

Currently, I’m working on English poems; planning to publish them soon.


What do you do when you are not writing or reading?

It is a great pleasure for me to spend quality time with my little Pomeranian, sketching and painting, go out in nature, visit monasteries, meditate, practise yoga, and watch YouTube videos.


Tell us about your full-time job.

Currently, I am teaching English as a second language at an English language learning centre for senior students. In order to teach English, I create learning materials and plan engaging lessons that cover all aspects, whether written or verbal, of the language. Aside from that, I conduct ESL-related activities and programs.


What does your family think of your writings?

They feel happy and proud to have a writer living with them under one roof!


How do you handle writer’s block?

I declutter my workspace and display an image of something that inspires me to write.


If one of your writing/book should be translated into English, which one would you choose and why?

“Ankh di Bilik 31” which was published in Lakaran Diri (2022). To me, it was not just about writing the short story but a complete mystical journey.


How do you promote/sell your books?

As of right now, I don't have any books of my own but the short stories and poems that I have written have been published in local anthologies and also on websites. Social media, including Facebook, is usually where I promote them.


Date: 27 May 2023