From the time when she wrote poems as a teenager, Meena Menezes knew that she wanted to write for a living.
Having lived in Bahrain for most of her life, she started sending features to the Bahrain Tribune in 2003 and was offered a job on the paper the following year.
For the next two years she filed a variety of stories – on traffic accidents, fires, women’s issues and company disputes – before moving to Canada.
She embarked on the LSJ’s distance-learning course in 2005 in her late 30s and liked the fact that it enabled her to find out about areas she had not been involved in as a staff reporter – for example, court reporting and sports writing.
“The assignments that covered these areas were a welcome eye-opener because they taught me what I didn’t know and I felt better equipped to handle these areas,” she says.
While living in Toronto she continued to have features published in the Gulf Daily News, initially on an unpaid basis, but a visit to the editor in 2007 prompted a request for features which would be paid for.
“I did one feature and had great feedback but it was hard to continue, given the d istance and the fact that they wanted features relating to issues in Bahrain and quotes from people within the region,” she recalls. “But they still wanted me to send my columns and paid me for them.”
The LSJ course allowed her to polish her writing and receive regular feedback from her tutor, working through assignments when she had time free to tackle them. She completed the course with distinction in 2010.
“What I liked about the course was that I could tackle it at my own pace and that gave me the flexibility I needed,” she says.
“The tutor’s approach was friendly and his comments were very informative and encouraging. Even when my intros were not strong and lacked impact, he suggested possible alternatives that were not critical at any point.
“Overall it has been a rewarding experience. The material was easy to follow and the feedback from my instructor was valuable. I always felt I was given encouragement and instructions of where I could do better or where I was doing well, which has made me more confident.
“Now it is indeed a dream to eventually have a full-time career once again in the writing field, where I can use what I have learned to my advantage.”