Anushay Hossain attended the Workshop in Creative Nonfiction in 1997 and joined the residential staff as a teacher and counselor in 1999.
I’m originally from Bangladesh, and most of my immediate family still live there, but I’ve been working and living in Washington, DC for the past seven years. The military coup in my homeland back in 2007 unexpectedly brought me back to DC after four years living in Europe, London & Italy. Now, I’m married to my Persian-American husband, and we are loving raising our daughter in the District. I think it’s safe to say I am a Washingtonian for life.
After almost a decade as a women’s health & rights policy analyst on Capitol Hill, I finally went full-time with my writing this year. I can finally say I am a writer, and you can imagine how happy this makes me. I had a moment the other day with my cat soaking up the sun on my windowsill as I typed away on my laptop under deadline. I stopped and said to myself, “Oh my goodness, this is what I’ve always wanted to do! Write.” It took me a while, but I finally got here.
A big chunk of my work is blogging, and writing for my online columns in Forbes and Huffington Post, in addition to my freelance work co-anchoring on Al-Jazeera English. I am a social-media-information-news junkie. I am always checking the news, always online. I follow all international news outlets in four different languages everyday. I am always reading news and features and political gossip online. Now that I can finally work fulltime on my writing, I love listening to Chopin on my Pandora station, in my study and write away.
Being from Bangladesh is a huge influence on the kinds of stories I think are important to tell, and the places, the women that I write about. I always believed that there are not enough stories on issues of global women’s rights out there, and when there is they come from this condescending view of, “Look how backward this poor country is.” Who is defining these countries? I can’t stand these degrading labels. It is so offensive. That was one of the reasons why I started my own blog: Feminism in a sense is always different depending on where in the world you are a woman. We are all fighting for different things, different rights, but at the same time all women are still fighting for equal rights. I want to show this struggle, to expose it and somehow unite women’s movements globally. That has always been the principle point of my work. Women’s stories need to be told from our own voices and not have someone else define the narrative. I’m so glad I began blogging. It’s such a fast and powerful way to put yourself and your ideas out there. You do not have to wait for someone to give you a platform anymore. You can create your own.So now and always, I am working on expanding my voice primarily through my blog, “Anushay’s Point”, and telling the stories of women, their health and their rights to as wide of an audience as I can reach through my work, especially online.
You know, now that I am a mother, my answer to any question about my “greatest accomplishment” is easily summed up in my two year old, amazing daughter, Ava. I spent most of my twenties lamenting about how becoming mothers robs women of their independence and identities, so needless to say Motherhood blew me away. My daughter’s birth completely transformed me, and filled my life with so much love. Ava motivates me to be a better person without saying a word. She is so smart and independent, perceptive and focused. I am constantly in awe of her, and she is always challenging me. When you have a child, they become your greatest everything. And yes, as you can see, cheesy parenthood clichés also become true when you become a parent.
UVA changed my life, and YWW is what introduced me to UVA. I started writing in my teens, and my older sister was a First Year at UVA at the time. She recognized my passion and told my parents that there was a writer’s camp at her university I should attend. That summer I went to YWW changed my life. I was this very sheltered teenager from Dhaka, Bangladesh dropped off at Balz dorm in Charlottesville, VA. I had no idea what camp in an American college would be like with so many other teenage Americans. I learned that writing was a skill I needed to nurture and grow. I learned it was something that people would take seriously if I took it seriously first. YWW marked the beginning of my love affair with UVA, a relationship that transformed my intellectual self. Meeting mentors like Margo Figgins at such a young age really impacted the development of my understanding of language, and how to use it. I was so lucky to get that experience before my last year in high school. I went back and applied early decision to UVA. My summer at YWW was one of the most transformative experiences of my life.
Write. That is the advice I would give all writers. Be disciplined, practice and protect your skill. There was a good seven years of my life during which I struggled with a case of writer’s block I thought would never end. I so wish looking back that I had kept writing, even if I was frustrated with what I was producing, or not producing at all. Letting go and giving up on the skill at that time hurt me, and my confidence as a writer. Looking back, I should have had more faith in myself and just kept writing. Whatever your skill may be- writing, painting, never abandon it. I really believe that.