New Chapter, New Goals

posted by Shehla

In the interest of preserving my reputation as a writer/blogger, a disclaimer: I have not blogged in years, and never seriously.

As we undergo a management change, there are many new ideas and plans in the pipeline for Desi Writers Lounge. This post is meant to introduce the blogosphere (see, I know all these bloggy words, I’m legit!) to some of the developments that are scheduled to happen at DWL over the next few months.

First off, we’re revamping the Lounge’s blog. Previously, this space has served as a place where DWL-related announcements go up. We are now trying to morph the blog into something a little more… meaty. We are switching from a primarily solo authorship to a joint one. The purpose is to introduce people who haven’t registered on the forums to the kind of topics, debates and discussions that make the community that much more enjoyable for writers. The less noble motive, of course, is to kick ourselves back into writing mode. Over the last few years, the editing and forum moderation, though pleasurable responsibilities, have taken time away from most of the founders’ writing. We are hoping to get our butts back into the writers’ seats again, so from now on you will see us posting on a host of different topics, reflecting the diversity of our experiences but always seen through the lens of a writer (or something to that effect). We are also hoping to give the members a chance to get to know the team behind DWL.

Many of you may not know me at all, as my involvement with Desi Writers Lounge has mostly been behind the scenes. Being away from Pakistan has also made it harder to interact with the members offline.But DWL has been a big part of my life since 2005, and on most days, my main link to “back home”. I think this is a big reason why DWL is so important to me. As I navigate cultural assimilation andthe constant sense of detachment that is the core of the immigrant experience, DWL allows me a forever-open window into my Desi-ness 🙂

Last night, a few of us founder members were discussing some of the changes that you will all see unfold at DWL in the near future. In the middle of the discussion, one thing struck us. We started as a collective dream of 12 individuals. When it came down to practically implementing that dream, it faded down to five. Now, as life brings new possibilities and challenges, we have essentially whittled down to three.

We have achieved a lot in the past half-decade. We have all grown, as individuals, and most of us also as writers. But we have also been guilty of many mistakes – one of those being not setting achievable goals for the community. There were many wonderful ideas, many strokes of genius, but not many implementable ones. The result was a loss of interest in the project for many of us. There is so much potential in this platform, and we never fully explored it.

I am not here to be Debbie Downer. I am simply admitting that DWL, for all its glory and unique strengths is far from where it can be. And that is what the new administration is hoping to change, with your help. For starters, we are planning on being a lot more stringent with writing samples from now on. Second, we are hoping to recruit more by word of mouth. That is where YOU come in. If you know someone who writes really well, tell them about us. Tell them how a group of random strangers will take time out of the day and give detailed feedback on their writings. Tell them about this wonderful writing workshop that will cost them nothing, but give back plenty (and of course, tell them about the joys of venting about anything and everything on the vengeful B*tch Letters thread, or having the coolest writing prompt in One Day Two Minutes).

We are also planning on taking things to the next level for our writers. Papercuts is going to change significantly from its current format. We’re hoping to build a serious readership and to ensure a broader exposure for our members. And while it’s great to aspire for Papercuts publication, we are now also contacting publishers about a potential DWL poetry anthology to come out in print. We are also going to be on the lookout for competitions and other opportunities for our members regularly, an effort spearheaded by Noorulain Noor. Along with the workshopping of material that goes on in the forums, we’ll also be introducing several exercises, a teaser of which you saw in the shape of the 2010 Desi Awards Competition. (And we do need a better name for that, don’t we? Alright, add that to the list).

These are all things that we have already started the groundwork on, and if things stay on track, there is a lot more coming. Achievable goals to help this community of writers grow. That is the promise, and it’s one we intend to keep 🙂

p.s. How was that for a “welcome to the new and improved DWL blog” post? How did I do? Good? Terrible? Don’t care?

p.p.s. This is where I shut up, right?

p.p.p.s. Ok, thought so. Bye then.



Formal Goodbye

After five years of serving as the administrator of the forums and 2 years as Editor-in-Chief of PaperCuts, and now that it has become official on the forums, I take this opportunity to bid farewell to the Lounge. I have been accepted at a postgraduate program for creative writing in the UK and will be attending in the fall, fingers crossed.

It will therefore be completely impossible to give this blog, the forums and the site their due. As a result, I am stepping down.

From what I understand, the blog will change and update itself to a new vision incorporated by a new Editor-in-Chief, a new administrator and a new creative director, each of them separate individuals. I wish my co-founders the best of luck in continuing this brilliant idea and co-creation and look forward to what the future holds.

Tally ho, my lovelies!

– MP

Future Events / Competition Results

Things have been a little slow on this blog, our Facebook group and pages (although recently, that part isn’t entirely our fault!), twitter pages and website and for that, we apologize. Please know that we are reviewing competition results for our first members only Flaunt It, If You’ve Got It writing competition and associated Desi Awards.

Now that the cover’s ready and designed for Volume 6, the issue will be published shortly as we contemplate further policy changes for our ezine submission format.

Meanwhile, the next pick for the Isloo book club is Kafka’s Metamorphosis, a meaty philosophical classic and possibly the first heavy read our participants have selected. Details on the whens and where’s of the event will be announced on this blog, on our website and (if Facebook’s accessible in Pakistan again), on our FB group and page.

We are alive! Things have just been in hibernation mode these past few weeks…