Ritu Bhathal was born in Birmingham in the mid-1970’s to migrant parents, hailing from Kenya but with Indian origin. This colourful background has been a constant source of inspiration to her.
From childhood, she always enjoyed reading. This love of books is mostly credited to her mother. The joy of reading spurred her on to become creative in her own writing, from fiction to poetry. Winning little writing competitions at school and locally gave her the encouragement to continue writing.
As a wife, mother, daughter, sister, and teacher, she has drawn on inspiration from many avenues to create the poems that she writes. A qualified teacher, having studied at Kingston University, she now deals with classes of children as a sideline to her writing! Ritu also writes a blog, a mixture of life and creativity, thoughts and opinions, which recently was awarded first place in the Best Overall Blog Category at the 2017 Annual Bloggers Bash Awards.
Ritu is happily married, and living in Kent, with her Hubby Dearest, and two children, not forgetting the furbaby Sonu Singh. She is currently working on some short stories, and a novel, to be published in the near future.
- How have 3 years of an amazing blogging experience treated you?
I think I have been lucky with my blogging experience. I fell into it completely by accident, and it has become an integral part of my life now. Writing is like a therapy for me. It is what I do to wind down at the end of the day. Blogging has allowed me to air my views and creations to the world, and thankfully my words have been well received by the blogosphere. So much so that I was awarded Best Blogger Award at the ABBA’s (Annual Bloggers Bash Awards) earlier this year!
- When and how did you decide the “Poetic RITUals” is the debut that you had been waiting for?
I have many poems inside me, and I had published a lot on my blog. One day, I just decided that I could collate them, add some new ones, and press publish! It was not a long thought out decision. I always thought it would be my fiction that would get published first, but I have to finish that first! This just came together and I was lucky to have the encouragement of many of my fellow bloggers, who gave me the push to do it. It was in 2016 that I decided this, and once my cover was designed, and formatting done, I was suddenly a published poet!
- What kinds of books adorn your bookshelf? And, which is your favourite among them?
I have a vast array of books on my shelves, from teaching resources and numerous children’s literature, to fiction. I love to read fiction that is not too taxing, too hard on the brain, as for me, reading is a time to escape into a land of fantasy and happiness! This is not to say that I don’t read more gritty books. I do, but my choice is the fluffy stuff! Having said that, I love the author Virginia Andrews and I re-read her books the Flowers In The Attic series and My Sweet Audrina, many times!
- Do you think children should read classics more often to improve their writing skills?
I think we should be exposing our children to a wide variety of written material, from classic fiction to non-fiction, books to newspapers. The more they see these different forms, the more likely they are to use the ideas to improve their own creativity. My children have Enid Blyton books, A.A. Milne books, as well as the newer classics, like J.K. Rowling. They read papers and magazines too, and they love to write creatively for pleasure too!
- Have you ever gone through a writer’s block? What do you think is the best way to overcome the same?
Writer’s block hits all writers at some point or another. I have found that if I am suffering, I need to take a step back from the piece I want to write, and maybe find a prompt challenge to get my creative juices flowing again. Also, if you put pressure on yourself to write, and to finish something that is not really flowing in your heart yet, your inspiration will run dry and you end up with a piece of writing that has no soul. A little distance, and experiencing life for a while is great to find pockets of inspiration!
- Do you think the students should take up blogging when they are in school? How would it help them in the long run?
I’m not convinced that blogging should be something all children take up until they are fully aware of the appropriateness of what they write, and the implications of posting something on the web. As a child, if they are just publishing details of their daily lives, rather than having a blog focus, there is the danger that they give too much personal information away. It is not a bad thing though, as long as it is supervised! I know there is a chance to start a blog at our school, via one of our ICT programmes, but it would be constantly monitored. My daughter is nine and she always says she wants to write like mummy. She sometimes gives me things that she would like me to publish via my blog. Once she gets a little older, and more mature, I would consider setting up a space for her to write and publish posts herself, but it would have to be something that I am able to monitor!
School is definitely the place where they should be being taught the importance of e-safety though, so they can then be educated in their decisions to write online.
- What is the most challenging aspect of being a working mother?
Oh, where do I start??!!
Time is the biggest thing. There aren’t enough hours in the day to do everything you really want and need to do. As a result, we end up burning the candle at both ends, then we get ill. But being mum doesn’t allow for being sick really, so unless you have the support around you that allows you to recover, you end up exhausted, cranky and sick!
I’m lucky, my kids are getting older, so they are more independent, but that doesn’t mean the role of mum diminishes. I have exchanged one set of mother worries for another, as they take the leap into teenage years!
Being a teacher is all-consuming too. If I allowed it, it would affect my whole day. As it is I am at work before 8am and leave past 5pm every day, and tend to have some school-related issue on my mind at home too.
But I have learned to compartmentalize. I have time for the kids and family, time for work, and time for me, where I can either write, read or pamper!
- What is that one hidden talent of yours that has never failed to embarrass you in public?
I’m not sure a talent would embarrass me as such, but I love to sing, and I am not scared to get up and sing in public, be it at a wedding, or in a school assembly or even in a karaoke bar! In fact, recently, I have started posting a regular slot on my blog called Ritu’s Renditions where I sing a snippet of a classic Bollywood song!
- How would you like to inspire the budding writers and bloggers?
My advice would be that if you want to write, just do it!
I hope that by reading my blog, folk out there will see that you can write about almost anything. It isn’t important what you write about, but how you write it, and how you engage with your readers, via your words or your interactions afterward!
I am a 40-something wife, mother, and teacher, and have managed to create a writing space that is all mine, and is so precious to me, along with building relationships I would never have had if I hadn’t started this blog. I have finally managed to realize a dream, and have a book with my name on it, and hopefully another on the way! If I can fit it in, and do it, anyone can!
- Any take on StarWords India and its platform?
I think StarWords India is a great space to showcase new talent and raise the profile of Indian writers and bloggers around the world! Well done for getting it going! And thank you for thinking of me!
Social Media Profiles
And by clicking the following link, you get to Ritu’s author profile on Amazon, where you can find the link to her poetry book, Poetic RITUals.