DWL Update

It has been a while since the blog was updated, and in case you’re wondering what happened, here’s your answer: shortlisting and editing for volume 7 of PaperCuts is in full swing!

This means the editorial team is working hard at putting together the content, and not really focusing on blogging too much :) We are super excited at how the thematic content is coming together. There are several wonderful articles in store for you in the next issue, and of course, we will be featuring prose and poetry from the forums as well. In the coming week, the DWL members whose pieces have been selected for editing will be getting emails from the editors, so if you are on the forums, make sure your email address with us is current.

We’re also looking forward to sharing with you the brand new look for PaperCuts, which is being finalized by the creative team as we…type.

So, as you wait for January to roll around, why not come up with some suggestions for next issue’s theme? We would love to hear from you!

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!

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…

Be heard. Be inspired. Or…not so much?

Apologize for the lack of updates…realize it’s been seven days since my last progress report. :)

So then, what’s going on in the world of the ‘Lounge, you ask? Well, despite thinking that my designing days were over, I have managed to complete a new forum template with our new logo which will see its debut on this blog at the same time it goes on everywhere else. So the forum’s done, thankfully which now just leaves the bulk of the main website’s design which is significant…but it does progress. I am hopeful to have at least the color scheme related side of things, complete by tonight. I’ve started writing again, so unfortunately this also figures into the ‘weekend planning’ side of things.

My presence at the forums has been extremely limited to just signing in occasionally, with a precursor ‘all’s well’ and conveniently disappearing again.

Our editors are hard at work, working with their respective assignees to give you the best e-zine yet. Fingers crossed. The January 18 deadline will in all likelihood, be honored and the week following it will be my domain of going through every piece submitted, reading all the niggly bits and deciding on the end product. Meanwhile, I uphold my end of the deal by administering the site, designing the forums, designing a new template for the main site, receiving progress reports from my editors, and all along hoping that I can somehow bridge it all and have a deliverable by my own personal deadline.

Meanwhile, keeps the forums alive and well. There seems to be a strange tendency of things coming alive when the e-zine submission date comes around. The whole point of the forums is to be heard, to learn from others, be inspired by what you see, and take it from there. How can one expect to improve if you don’t let others rip into your creative process of thought before you even think of putting something solely for e-zine consideration. The polls will no longer, at least not in the foreseeable future, have as much of an impact on selection as before. So be involved, be prepared for a sense of community, help others improve, let us help you. It’s all about writing, working together to improve.

Or at least, that’s always been my perception of what the Desi Writers Lounge is. But I guess, perceptions change…or do they?

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!

Going forth into the Tunnels of Darkness

I must thank Clarice, below, for writing in my absence. Though the internet did fail us for a little less than 24 hours, it has returned in full force. So things, are in that sphere at least, well.

There have been no changes in the e-zine publication plans–we will be moving forward with publishing it sometime at the end of January–the interim month will be, as per our now established Editorial Policy, devoted to editing pieces. The reason that it has already been pushed back several times, is because of the search for quality and the understanding that it needn’t be rushed.

The editors will shortly notify the finalized set of writers under their respective categories, although The Poets will be notified a little later. Reasons for this diversion needn’t be discussed, here. Suffice to say, there’s a reason for everything we do.

One thing must be noted absolutely, however: protocol must be followed. Currently, the deadline for which all editors must have their respective finalized pieces is January 18th, 2008. Anyone who doesn’t follow this to the dot, will have their piece(s) struck from the final published list. I need to make this absolutely clear now. We’re all on a schedule here, and allowances for everyone have been made with the rather accommodating date. So to all the finalists out there: ensure that you’ve got an approved and complete piece by then. There are some pieces that require severe, heavy edits before they have a chance to make it in. To these writers, especially, you must follow the guidance of your assigned editor until he/she is satisfied. I will, however, make the last judgment call if there is one to be made.

I am well aware that I am no professional writer, but as Editor and Administrator, someone has to do it. I apologize in advance.

The E-Zine’s publication date has been set for sometime in the last week of January.

A new design inclusive of new logo might be instituted some time before then, or it may make its debut with the new volume. That remains to be seen based on my own time and planning. Suffice to say, it is in the works.

I can only hope Vol 3 is a roaring success, and jump starts our reputation outside of the web as a literary magazine to be reckoned with, hopefully cemented with the reading planned for March. The posters, fliers, bookmarks etc will be promoting the website more than the reading itself, although we’ll probably have a separate batch for that as well, distribution limited naturally, to Islamabad only.

The material for marketing the website, however, will be distributed as noted earlier, in the three main cities where our members reside: Islamabad, Lahore, Karachi as well as a special package mailed to our international member in Washington D.C.

This is all in the pipelines, which I’m hoping doesn’t mean it never materializes! :)

Wish us luck, everyone!

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?

Weekend Blues

I see Clarice has started to post…well, well! Welcome! Really, she’s given me far too much credit, but I’m so taking what I can get.

Had a hectic weekend–those who live in Pakistan know this is full on wedding season–which apparently also means you go to weddings of people you barely know but work with. Hey! Society’s the bitch we all love to hate.

Lahore was…blissfully calm. No riots, no nothing. But all that’s political talk. Let’s get on on to the real stuff.

Development progresses, albeit more slowly than I would care to admit. With e-zine publication slated for the first week of January, this is as mentioned below, going to be an excruciating two months. But, do vote…if you’re a member and if you’re not, my God! That’s just tragic…after all this!

The template (our main design) is still on the rocks with the designer not quite clear on what I want despite showing him repeat versions of what goes where. That said, having talked it over with a cousin while in the City of Food, I’ve decided to revise our current Orange/Maroon color scheme primarily because they’re both from the same family. (She’s an artist. She ought to know). I should have some workable color schemes within a few days, however. Something like Maroon/Light Blue or Orange/Gray–that sorta thing. But we’ll see how things turn out.

The Podium is still under construction, but we do have a ready made gallery which means our members will actually be able to see us! Yaay! Pictures of meetings and events and anything associated with or held under, the DesiWritersLounge.net banner. Speaking of which, although nothing has been made official yet, we’re planning on a poetry reading sometime in March in Islamabad. Not quite clear on all the details, yet but we will in all likelihood host an invitation only event for members and those people our members know. I’m looking into options for printing bookmarks with our logo, color scheme and website URL on its front and back respectively. Kudos to my artist-cousin for giving me the heads up about this option, because after all, we want people to remember us and if you don’t have some sort of remnant of the evening, our message is lost. So there’s that in the works. We might have it covered as a podcast and/or video upload for members unable to attend.

In other news, we’ve got both the event calender/bulletin board still in the works although I’ve begun to think the Nov 29th deadline will no longer hold and for me at least, it’ll be a mad scramble between work, editorship and working with the developer to prove value for money.

I think that about sums everything up.

And oh yes, I got a request from one of our new members to post on this blog…which I’ll grant, so this will become something of a medley between viewpoints, random posts and weekly updates so: Keep your eyes glued to this space.

Policies, Reborn

Ahh…it’s nice to see the site’s header and color schemes here – it gives this place a touch of familiarity – it seems a little strange that I’m writing here instead of on the forums.

I mentioned the editorial policy yesterday, which I’m going to expound upon now. When we first brought out our e-zine in March 2007, there were some problems – formatting irregularities, how pieces were sent in, whether or not they were revised, and the entire brunt of the work aside from managing the site and the people within, seemed to fall on my shoulders. So going into the second issue, I knew something needed to be done about it.

Now, we have a little panel of people who effectively moderate the site and who’ve been there from its inception, so naturally the “policy” itself needed to be discussed in conjunction with them. End result being: editors (moderators) would work with the approved writers themselves to produce an edited version of what was up on the forums, which would only make it into the e-zine if it had been given the seal of approval by its assigned editor. All documents would then be sent to the assigned editor who would then forward them to me. Neat, huh? They would of course, need to stick to a preassigned format.

I must confess however, that although the process in itself is organized and an accomplishment, it doesn’t take away from the disappointment I felt when I reviewed the edited work. Somehow I thought my editors would come up with something better. Most especially the prose pieces. The poems assigned were truly something – especially those I thought were lost forever – reborn. It was a nice turnaround.

Eventually I would like, although my moderators disagree on this, to turn this into a more professionally run amateur literary journal, which would include editors more suited for the task. People who understand that with each new issue, the bar is being raised higher. Quality was better this time around, but still not up to the bar of some of our pieces. I must confess: at this point, the original members are still miles higher than the newer posters, although improvement is a two-way street.

It can get frustrating sometimes – knowing there’s so much potential out there – and yet, still not moving forward.

Somewhere down the line, I’d like to actually open up a physical Writer’s Lounge with impromptu and planned readings, book signings, workshops and general literary awareness in the capital. Something of a budding theatrical society seems on its way to being canonized. It just seems like we’re waking up, and it’s a slow process of reawakening, like a snake shedding it’s skin.

Now the problem is: do I have the patience to sit through the transformation?