The Best Laid Plans

I know I promised a server switch over the weekend in the forums, but I’ve been a little lazy. Also, I’ve been mulling over other potential would-be hosts and have decided to go with the original I had in mind. In any case, we will be moving away from our current one, soon. Just need to sit down one of these days, and make a copy of everything which is the one thing I’m really not looking forward to at all. At all, at all.

Also putting our website and forums out of business for a while is another thing I’m not looking forward to, especially when they’re particularly alive and kicking right about now. So, things to consider. Meanwhile, of course, the e-zine just keeps being delayed and delayed doesn’t it? Despite the best laid plans and the best of intentions, things don’t always work out like they’re supposed to.

However, that said, our host does seem to have recovered itself somewhat from its downturn episodes, and I might be able to whip up something soon. Incidentally, everything has been done, they’re just a few things to be tweaked and then we’ll be all ready.

Oooh…just realized March approaches, and the issue has to be up before March. There is one piece that might be slashed further. As the count currently stands, we’ve got 10 pieces that have made the cut, out of which only 1 has survived in its category. Won’t give away too much, mustn’t spoil the surprise after all. Removing another would bring the count to 9, which is by far, the least number of pieces that have ever been featured in our e-zine but, and this goes without saying, this is by far the best issue we’ve released. Primarily because there have been some checks in terms of quality control.

Unfortunately, because this issue also represented a deviation from the norm, I’m afraid it hasn’t made me any friends! :) It’s tough being editor-“in-chief” of this place. I have to say I like being just the writer a whole lot better. That said, I don’t think anyone else could possibly realize the vision for this place better. Oh well!

One last decision to make and then it’s home free…fingers crossed that our efforts will be appreciated–writers, editors, readers and critics–couldn’t have done it without ‘em!

Of Strikes & Other News

Now that the writers strike is finally over, we can all collectively breathe a sigh of relief. More importantly, as reported by UH.com (linked on the left), it occurred on the writers own terms. A literary triumph over the power suits; there is something to be said of the power of the written word.

In other news, I’ve re-usurped my editorial duties and as such, am fully on target to meet my February Vol 3 publication date. Still finalizing a few pieces however, I’m on the line about one and as such, may have two further rejection letters to send out. I’ve been holding off on the publication for this reason. Should have a final decision about the matter by later tonight. What follows is hopefully a productive weekend for the website.

Elaborate marketing is being held off for a little while, until the thing I mentioned a few posts back, the thing we are all intensely excited about, has been elaborately planned and once we’ve got that little reading out of the way. What would you think of carrying bookmarks home at the end of the reading, as a souvenir of sorts? For one thing, you can actually use them as bookmarks…genius! For another, you’ll remember the evening…or well, hopefully! :)

So this weekend will, in all likelihood, see the publication of Volume 3 and hopefully this issue will set the precedent for all the issues to follow. Lots of luck wishing and backslapping is in order. Till my next post then!

The Icky Stuff

In case some of you don’t know about the recent fiber optic cable cut beneath Egypt and Italy, allow me to introduce you to the facts: no internet. Or at the very least, spotty internet. What does this mean? It means the publication date’s been shoved forward. Just because I can’t do it, however, doesn’t mean the work won’t still be done…I’ll be pulling the strings while the GM (global moderator) will be doing all the hard labor. Tough job, but someone has to do it.

Naturally, because an ocean separates us coordinating times and bypassing risky schedules has put a damper on things. That being said, however, we are working around this.

The reading is still planned, any ideas any of you might have you can drop into the comments of the blog or email me personally at maryam@desiwriterslounge.net. We do appreciate the feedback you know, and contrary to legend, we don’t bite.

Promise.

Making the Cut

It seems I might have to upgrade one of our website’s more important, if not the most important, component since a newer version seems to have hit the market. Really, I just upgraded the damn thing a few months ago. Technology! What else can I say?

In other news, however, pieces for the e-zine have been finalized although I might not necessarily deliver on my Feb 1 publication date. I will try, undoubtedly, but my work schedule seems to have thrown itself into a bit of a loop…an absurdly hectic one, unfortunately. And I’ll confess: I haven’t been to the site in days, as in properly gone through the plethora of new pieces that seem to have hit the forums.

I do have something to say, however, and I should take the opportunity of saying it here rather than people finding out later and being all “wha? But-but I thought…”

Remember how I’ve been mentioning for several entries now, that not all pieces that have been edited will make it into the finalized list? Out of the 20 or so pieces we narrowed down, only 15 of them have made the cut. Three were cut because the writers failed to make the deadline, and three were additionally cut from the edited work I received about a week ago. Do not doubt that I went through each piece with the utmost precision and caution, but the three that I did strike from the list didn’t, I feel, represent this issue as appropriately as was necessary. I ask the writers who will be contacted accordingly, to accept this decision and honor it. It isn’t personal, I assure you. It’s just the business of being an editor, I suppose, and it was especially difficult in the case of one piece I felt had tremendous potential if given enough time. Unfortunately, it had to be cut.

This is the first time I’ve really exercised my power as being editor of the magazine, primarily because I never felt I had the right, but now it seems, “the board” feels I’m something of “The Editor”…I, more than anyone, know what we’re looking for. And it seems this issue has given me somewhat of total control. Again, not something that’s particularly pleasing but it does allow me to control the outcome and to focus on that elusive term: quality.

Because a written piece is so very subjective, I ask the writers again to not think they’ve been rejected for publication, just that it didn’t agree with my particular brand of digestion. As it is, you will receive your letters. I think it’s only fair, especially after having been contacted by the editors. This is something I feel I should explain: making it to the editing stage doesn’t mean you necessarily have made it into the e-zine, it means you’ve got a chance because often an editor decides to take a particular piece (and writer) under his/her wing arguing that so-and-so can be totally transformed. Whether the end result is indeed all that was asked for, is entirely open to interpretation. My interpretation, unfortunately.

As it is, what’s done is done and there’s no going back on things now. For those who weren’t contacted for the editing stage, and are eager to find out just who did make it in, you’ll have to see when Vol 3 hits the presses.

And remember to leave your thoughts here, on what you thought.

Till then, au revoir my little children!

It begins

So, if you’ve been to the website or forums recently you may have noticed something in the way of a facelift. Yes, it’s finally happened. The new design has been fully incorporated. You may also have noted the new design of the blog in one of the fading images, but for some reason it can’t be seen here…there’s a reason for that. Let’s just say, it looked better as a screen shot. But I’m trying to see if I can capture the same gist of color here with this format, so let’s see how this works out.

Our e-zine publication date may see a slight flutter from its original conception, with the deadline being pushed back from Jan 18 to Jan 25. The reasons for this are the resolving of some personal issues of one of our editors. Publication will be one week after the administrator (yours truly) has received all pieces, to take that time to go through each in full and see if I can’t spot a few last minute fixes. So we might be seeing it going live around Feb 1, which if seen in a certain light, might actually work for us being the start of a month instead of the end or middle of it. All’s well that ends well, right?

Moving on, the next stage of our plan kicks forward after all pieces have been edited or at least after some of the editors have been relived of their editing duties. We do indeed plan on going ahead with the posters, fliers and bookmarks that will advertise our website. The reading as such, won’t be advertised since, at least for the first one, we’re limiting it to members and those invited by members. There still do remain certain issues to iron out, however, but it’s very much a part of our agenda.

We do have something else up our sleeves as well, something we’re not going to put up yet but will in all likelihood announce during or after the reading…so all the more reason to attend if you’re in Islamabad sometime in March or April.

In addition to the small announcement put up on the main site, we’d like to remind anyone who’s interested to help out with the marketing aspect of the site, to let us know. We will be distributing posters, fliers and bookmarks to be distributed in bookstores and possibly some “intellectual” cafes, though whether such places exclusively exist…may be debatable. But that’s us! The incurable optimists! For anyone who’s interested, you can email in at comments@desiwriterslounge.net.

Now my friends, is when it really begins…

Lanterns All Over The Place

I’ll admit: I was a little worried that the new design and the fact that it may or may not materialize. However, after extensive work on it on both Saturday & Sunday, both new designs are coming along quite well. The forums are done, but of course, have not been uploaded yet. So you’ll just have to wait for both to occur together before you see the new logo and design.

Editors are hard at work with their assignees and the publication date of Jan. 18th seems a likely and largely welcome one.

The quicker and better looking our website becomes, the larger chance we have of retaining our audience as well as keeping our existing members happy. Layout still remains a concern, and there will be a lot of testing in the two weeks ahead. Two weeks. What a ridiculously short period of time! However, I am also confident enough in my own abilities…another weekend is all I’ll need. But you won’t see anything tangible until the e-zine hits our virtual shelves. Sorry! All updates must occur together…a little thing I like to call homogeneity.

Then of course, there’s bringing the audience to our website…which is where the marketing (posters, fliers, bookmarks) comes in. Still have to locate a suitable designer for the work, and the budget is naturally not fixed although given the logo considerations, I think it’ll need to be substantially high to cover both design and printing costs.

Once these things are out of the way, I can turn my attentions to planning the reading. We have yet to set a workable date, but I suppose it all depends on coordination and a ton of hardcore planning.

And that’s a wrap for tonight. You’ll forgive me for not writing more, primarily because a) there isn’t much else happening :) and b) my shoulders are killing me!

G’night!

The Jury’s In: Hold On to Your Seats!

After a near three hour discussion over finalizing all e-zine related pieces, earlier tonight, out of an overwhelming 60+ pieces polled, the list has been narrowed down to all of 20. It is, conceded, a little more than I would have liked, but these are all, or mostly all, solid pieces.

Lists will be put up tomorrow evening, with the appropriate writers being contacted and directed according to protocol. Because of my own unavailability for editorial duties, work will be redivided with the four sub-editors. I will, as always, comb through each piece before sending it in to the e-zine.

Protocol must be noted, and followed: we, the editors will be working with selected writers according to a predetermined deadline. No piece will be allowed final entry until and unless the assigned editor has approved. If, supposing, the writer of a specific piece doesn’t respond to his/her editor, the piece will be struck from the list. So if you’ve been selected, and are among those contacted tomorrow evening, you are expected to follow through with protocol. The rules will not be broken, or bent for anyone. After all, if we do it for one person, we have to do it for everyone.

There are a wealth of things planned for the upcoming quarters, including a new issue as well as the reading. If there are things you feel should be added to the site, or any suggestions you have for the reading, please do drop a line either in the comments, or to me personally. I have a knack for writing back, irrespective of anything.

And now, my minions, I bid thee farewell. It’s been a long night, and I should be in bed, snug as a bug in a rug, by midnight.

Adios, and keep your eyes peeled on the forums if you’re a member, and on the e-zine scheduled for release in late Jan, if you’re just a reader. We welcome you in either capacity!

10 Things I Hate About This

No, I’m not going to start listing them down, I just really wanted to use that phrase. Ridiculously short story I have no plans on expounding, which makes mentioning it entirely unnecessary. Lovely!

Now that I’ve located what looks like a promising designer, the only drawback is that they’re located here…as in Pakistan here…as in, in my city Pakistan. Yes. After a rather saddening experience with an Indian developer (God bless the Indians, though; they’re not all bad, one bad seed notwithstanding! Tons of bad seeds in Pakistan, too!), I would much rather not deal with subcontinental developers. However, their ratings, client references and portfolio seems to speak for itself. And they have now graciously agreed to providing me with a mock up…which is basically a prototype of where they’ll take the design of the site, along with showcasing what they can do. Since I was deprived of this previously, and not wanting to take any risks this time around, taking the advice of my very knowledgeable sister, I am a little more optimistic. Of course, the development that I’ve planned and outlined in this blog is still scheduled. But first and foremost, is a face-lift.

Addressing quality related issues is another thing entirely, and which will hopefully be addressed and put to reasonable rest by our small “board” some time this weekend or next week. I don’t know whether it’s the editorial policy or the fact that a small set of members are the only set that post and re-post and thus, are the only ones available for e-zine polling. There are some marketing related issues and plans up my sleeve, which might unfold subject to agreement by the others. There are a lot of things to be decided, and specifically towards our new look, logo and design etc.

There is still the dream of making it to print, which might, ironically, be more quality oriented. The problem with being web-based is that though you’re able to reach a wider base, it becomes a tad problematic when you’re using it for quality assurance. Not everyone’s at the same level, which shows through in the forums, where the pieces are…”workshopped” according to one of our members. Although most of the hardcore stuff happens behind the scenes in the ‘editorial’ stages, which brings me to another question: are we not doing a good job of it? Should we be pushing our writers harder…or what, exactly? I realize that everyone ages at their own pace, and to that extent we should give them both time and space for growth, but this worries me. Because some how, in some way it’s setting us back.

A few posts back I mentioned how a complete stranger stated that my work represented on another website was far better than the content put on display in our ‘zine, which though flattering to me, was a disappointment. Everything seems the same. Are we not pushing creativity hard enough? Not focusing on pushing the envelope? After all, isn’t that part of what a workshop does for you? It pushes you to be your best. One piece or maybe two from members is good, and then they slip again. I need to know why.

I suppose the easiest thing to say is that writing isn’t the same for everyone, which is what I am constantly being told time and time again. It’s frustrating to hear the same thing from different people: not everyone’s like you, not everyone takes writing so seriously. It isn’t about taking it so seriously…it’s about actually using criticism to improve. It’s the want to get better, to progress, to push the envelope. That isn’t asking for much, is it?

Chivalry’s Dead

Although including the perspectives of a completely new member was a bold idea, I thought it might work. You have to understand where I was coming from, however–I thought there would be more talk about goings on in the literary world–I hardly expected a religious debate.

I think it’s key to understand the purpose this blog serves; as an introduction to the site itself. Sure, I’d love for our writers to eventually put up their thoughts and opinions on the goings on of the Pakistani cultural world, but that’s where it ends. Opinions and debates are what The Abstract Thinker on the forums, exists for. It’s exactly the sort of things the Podium will cater to, once it’s actually functional.

I’m having second thoughts about my developer. There are reasons, I think, why the cheap ones come cheap. They are profoundly unreliable. I was to receive updates today…and did I? Nope. In fact, it’s quite safe to say I received no communication of any kind.

In other news, our Orkut community has entirely changed. The description, the way the name’s been structured (DeSi Writers for whatever reason), the location (what was once Pakistan is now Mumbai, India. Pardon the yowls of disbelief!), the image (ours was always a cup of tea. Now it’s your typical pen and paper), the community owner (goodbye, Sana–it was great while it lasted). It’s a little sad to see your past go up like that, but then, as I stated so aptly on the community: that was our past, the site is our present and future. And obviously the new breed of desi writers on Orkut are now entirely disassociated from what we were three years ago. They’ll make their own history. Ours is still there, for those interested although most of our work has made the transition into our archives. I think it’s safe to say, since Sana is no longer the community’s owner, it’s no longer ours. It used to be, yes but it isn’t anymore.

Let’s observe a moment of silence for the death of a great community, and one if it were absent, we wouldn’t be here.

For those of you who live in Islamabad, know that Sharabeel’s latest is here: Be Careful Where Your Clothes are, and according to Obi, is a farce. So…I’ll probably see it, with both my sisters in tow. I have to say, I’m very partial towards plays casting people I actually know. I think I’ve just become a tad lazy though.

Polls continue to run in the forums until December 10 and if you’re thinking of submitting a new piece, know that the deadline for this quarter is December 1. So you have about a week for submissions, and about two for polling.

A request to our members and would-be’ers, please do vote. We’re all about democracy here, don’t you know?