It was back in 2017, when Luna Nusrat was invited to join a Facebook group called “Pencil” by one of her acquaintances. The group was a platform for literature enthusiasts to share their write-ups and have discussions.
The purpose of the group was to hone the members' creative skills.
Being a literature enthusiast, Luna, then a private service holder, was an avid reader. After joining the group, she started posting episodes of a story written by her.
She received constructive criticism from fellow group members which helped improve her writing and encouraged her to continue posting her write-ups. One day admins of the group called for write-ups from the members and Luna responded.
Out of 200 entries, her write-up got selected by a panel of experts from the “Pencil” group and her novel was published at the on-going Ekushey book fair.
“The advantage of sharing your write-up online is that you receive instant feedback from readers. Getting your work printed and published, however, is every writer's dream,” said Luna, now a mother of two, while expressing her gratitude towards “Pencil”.
“Pencil” kicked off in 2016. For the first time, the Facebook group emerged as a publication house, “Pencil Publications”, at this year's book fair -- paving the way for young writers like Luna, who have been writing online, to get published.
“Pencil Foundation”, which monitors Pencil Publications and the Facebook group, was established last year. Its current president is Akhter Hossain.
“Pencil is a hub for photographers, singers, artists and poetry lovers. We try to promote cultural practices among the young,” said Asker Ibne Firoz, general secretary of Pencil Foundation.
This year, the publishing house brought out 52 books. Of these, at least 50 percent are by new writers, 30 percent by writers who have been published by different publishing houses, and 20 percent by established writers, said Firoz, adding that they targeted to publish 52 books to pay tribute to the month of Language Movement.
The first book from the group was a compilation of poems and stories from over a hundred writers, and was published by Subarna Publications.
Last year, the group published books of young writers with the support from Jagriti publication.
Aside from literary practice, the group has also arranges photography and art exhibitions. The Facebook group has over one lakh members.