Officially 12 AM

What an eventful year it’s been, not just politically in Pakistan and other countries as a whole, but for the ‘Lounge in particular. We have successfully released 2 issues and planned for the third. We have done what we set out to do, and this new year will see the ends of other beginnings, hopefully, culminating in the fulfillment of the various dreams of our different founding members.

I’ll admit to being a little tired with having received no less than four happy new years when 2007 wasn’t over yet. I prefer bestowing my wishes when we’ve actually successfully ended an old one…call me picky, but there it is.

A very happy new year to all members, writers, readers, critics, whatever your role in may be or for that matter, if you haven’t read us yet; from the Team as a collective.

For those of you wondering why we haven’t brought out Vol 3 yet, please see the posts below. You will be seeing it, however, some time late January. We are entering, what we like to call the Editing Stage. Things were a lot rosier when pieces were up for selection…the real clash of egos begins now…


Happy, happy 2008!

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!

Special Update

If you’ve been wondering about the recent lack of activity on the forums, please know that it might have something to do with the situation in the country. I know that some members in Islamabad have lost access to the internet in the aftermath of Benazir Bhutto’s assassination. We can’t say at the moment if this will affect the vol 3 publication date in any way. Hopefully, once the three day mourning period is over, life will slowly inch its way back to normalcy.

Hope everyone is staying safe!

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!

The Stories No One Tells: Writers’ PMS

Being a website administrator is hard work, because not only are you managing things upfront but everything that goes on behind the scenes falls under your domain, too. Being a forums administrator and a website/e-zine administrator; the dual job becomes managing both private with public to achieve just the right balance. Sometimes, it feels like I’m banging my head against the wall. Repeatedly, in an attempt to elicit a response. Sad, isn’t it? 🙂

From negotiating with bidders, to negotiating the terrains of imagination and coming up with a decent idea of how to represent the concept of our site graphically, for an appropriate logo that defines who we are. Not just our web presence, but the very existence of the Desi Writers community. I’ve been thinking a lot about how we can boost our image, and discussing it over with my entrepreneur brother-in-law, I realized: we’ve only just begun. Something as vast as this needs to be propagated more from an offline perspective, which means more readings than just the one we’re planning for March, more marketing outside, more awareness of who we are and what we do, so that the dream of getting our members published becomes an achievable reality, not a distant dream for the future of maybe’s and someday’s. I’m ambitious for this little project and every second we wait doing nothing or standing still, is, in my opinion, a waste of time.

A month was wasted with working with our web developer who was never ours, another few weeks wasted in trying to locate a replacement, until I realized I was a Computer Scientist, and would have to put that CSS knowledge I had amassed to good use. Again. Forgive me, if, besides being an administrator and editor, I wanted to take a break from being a developer, too. We can’t afford to waste any more time. We need good content, an avidly contributing memberbase, and people who are as enthusiastic about their writing, their message and the community, as we are, and locating that niche will be harder than everything else combined.

But we must pursue this actively; we have to build an adequate presence both online and off, and get people to the site who can contribute to it effectively, otherwise it’s all just noise, and most of the time, not even that. Just an overwhelming amount of silence.

They say, it’s something of a phenomena actually, and I really didn’t have any better example than this: every woman living in the same household for an extended period of time, begins sharing the same menstrual cycle. As in, they all PMS at about the same time, give or take a few days. I wonder, if we at the Desi Writers’ Lounge don’t all have a collective writer’s PMS of sorts at the same time? What else can possibly explain the void when one of the bigwigs don’t post?

So, if you’re reading this and you’ve been a long time reader and writer but haven’t joined the Lounge, write! We have big dreams…and trust me when I say, it’s nice to be part of a community that dreams big and has every intention of accomplishing them.

Happy Eid, everyone! Early, I know…but I don’t think I’ll have a blog update on Eid day.

Designs, Looks and Logos

We hope to start revamping the site soon, with a new look and definitely our own unique logo. The hunt for the perfect design team continues as poor MP is driven up a wall. The mods are trying to assist her to the best of our abilities, but obviously feedback from all of the members and readers would be appreciated too. I just thought I’d use this space to ask you for any feedback relating to design issues.

Some things to consider: what do you think of the current main web page? What is your opinion on the ezine displaying on the main page? How do you feel about covers for each issue of the ezine? Do you think we should stick to a classical look for our main page or go with something extremely daring?

On a side note: the Writers Guild strike continues, and with almost no new tv (no House, no Grey’s) till Jan, its been a really entertainment starved week! Maybe its time to finally get cracking on the piled up reading?

The Importance of Being Right…On The Money

The new forums are up, the switch being made from the rigidity that was phpBB 2 to the more fluid and interactive SMF forums. For now, I’ve kept the same color scheme as our old version, although this will change when we’ve finalized a color scheme and layout for our main website.

Heads up: there’s a new writer’s workshop being arranged by British Council in Dhaka, for writers between the ages of 25 and 35. Sadly, I don’t qualify but I’ll be damned if I don’t try. There’s no harm, is there? As it is, details available here including the attachments and documents required before submitting a writing sample. So if you’re interested in attending a workshop, please do take a look.

Because of a slight mix up regarding polling dates on the forums, we’ve lost about a week of potential voting. However, we’re urging our members to vote now and to keep it up till Monday night, when all polls are scheduled to expire. December 11, 12.01 am is when they “officially” expire.

There’s also been a shift in policy, where we now require a minimum of 4 votes (those with a single vote to their name will be independently voted on by the mods, because obviously we didn’t vote the first time around! I repeat: vote to keep these pieces in the running) to make it into Phase 2 of the selection process. Phase 1 remains the voting stage, and is instrumental to our process, but we introduced Phase 2 because of an apparent lag in quality which the votes, although extremely helpful in their own right, don’t always get it right because not everyone’s voting. As a result, the five moderators will step in and finalize all pieces. We’re also not going to be taking in as many pieces as before, with each column having a limit in terms of how many will go in. For this, we are profoundly sorry, and it’ll make selection extremely difficult but someone has to do it.

We’re looking at the possibilities of marketing our website in national newspapers, radio, bookstores, etc well before our scheduled reading in March. To this extent, we require excellent pieces and this isn’t saying that what we have now aren’t excellent. We just mean, with less pieces, we have more time to spend and communicate with writers on those pieces and can, as a result, help in making it the best it can be.

Once the design and more importantly, logo of our website is finalized, we will begin printing out fliers, posters and bookmarks to be distributed in bookstores as a way of getting the audience we want and are looking for. These will be sent out to all major cities where our members reside: Islamabad, Lahore and Karachi with a special care package sent to our international members so they can help spread the word wherever they are. This is marketing on a vast scale, especially considering that it’s been practically nonexistent until now. Taking this in context, you might now understand the importance of both a redesign and new look both in terms of design as well as content. To this extent, we hope that both as members and readers of our work, you’ll appreciate all changes that will go into effect in the new year.

As always, anything you’d like to add, please voice them in the comments or send me an email on either the address available here or at

Eye Twitches & Creativity

My eye’s been twitching consistently for the past week. What do you think the odds are that it has something to do with website administrative duties? Nah, didn’t think so.

There have been updates, however, which is why there’s a new post in less than a week. The forums have been shut down, at least till Monday evening for maintenance and upgrading purposes. Come the new week, and we’ll have a new forum. Well, to be honest, we already have one but I’ve had to convert it from phpBB to SMF which for some reason, wasn’t as easy as I had thought it would be. However, it has been done and my Sunday has been utilized to great effect. Excellent. All members, posts, topics and threads have made the shift.

We’ll also have greater control over the registration process, with these really easy to add modifications. Compared to phpBB, SMF seems like heaven. Literally. Whereas previously the reason for membership and signature fields were one, they have both been miraculously separated with the former being mandatory and coded in from the backend to that effect. If you don’t fill it in appropriately, it will result in actual revocation…how frackin’ amazing is that?! What I’ve wanted to implement for a year has been incorporated in a day. Sad, I realize but also incredibly fulfilling.

There’s also a nifty newsletters option which takes care of my previous concerns and I have the option to send them in HTML which can include our official header/logo (when we have one) on top. Seriously. I was going to pay for this. I am still a CS person, it seems, or at least with a mildly mechanical bent of mind to say the very least (allow me my butter this one time, please).

There’s also a calendar for events, which again, takes up quite a bit of what I wanted incorporated. Eventually, I’ll find a way to bridge our forums with the site everyone else sees and has access to.

Also, you can change your display name finally (this was something I had incorporated in my own vision, before switching over to the open source world. Back when I thought coding was fun!) to something other than your username, which is most especially useful if you want your privacy.

You’ll also get ‘Happy Birthday’ messages from the forum provided you want to, and have entered your birthdate.

So there are a ton of new things in this forum board that weren’t there earlier, and although I’ve spent most of the latter half of the day ensuring everything remains as close to possible as it was before, it’s going to take time for the users to get used to this new format.

But hopefully not too long. I shall admit to being supremely excited; after a much needed length of time, finally something to talk about.

The new forums will be launched Monday evening, and if you’re a member you will be notified accordingly.

I’m hoping for a new design with the New Year, and we’ll be well on our way. With changes in the editorial policy planned as well, things are gearing up to a (hopefully) more productive quarter.