Submission Deadline for Papercuts Volume 8

Hello all,

Just a reminder that the submission deadline for Volume 8 is almost upon us! Your material should be with us by April 15th. Don’t forget, the theme for Volume 8 is ‘Forbidden’.

You can read the guidelines for submission here.


The DWL Team.


Exciting Reading Challenge

I stumbled across Swapna Krishna’s 2011 South Asian Reading Challenge quite by chance last week. And am I glad I did! Started in 2010, the goal of the SA Reading Challenge is to promote books on South Asia or by South Asian writers. Participants sign up to read as many books as possible that fit the criteria, in a year. What I found most interesting about the challenge were the fun ‘levels’ Swapna has created for the participants. I’m listing them below:

South Asian Encounter – 1 book
South Asian Wanderer – 3 books
South Asian Explorer – 5 books
South Asian Adventurer – 7 books
South Asian Hero/Heroine – 10 books
South Asian Guru – Over 10 books

Papercuts Editor and DWL Co-founder Afia Aslam has already signed up! Do you think you can be a South Asian Guru in 2011? Sign up here.

We’re Back!

So that didn’t take too long! We’re back online after having switched to our new host. The forums are up and running and within the next day or so, Papercuts will finally be available on its permanent address

Meanwhile, watch out for the next installment of Vol 7 material, coming your way on February 15th!

We are grateful for your patronage and your patience during the host switching.

– The DWL Team

Website down for maintenance

Hi everyone,

Just an update that the DWL website is undergoing maintenance right now. We hope to be back online within 24 hours. Till then, you can always head over to the temporary Papercuts site and read the latest issue and comment on the pieces.

We’ll see you soon!

The DWL Team

Papercuts Volume 7 is out!

This is going to be short and sweet:

Volume 7 of our biannual magazine is now available. We’ve all worked really hard to revamp the magazine, and we’re hoping you will enjoy reading it. Don’t forget to comment on any pieces you might like.

Go to and click on the Papercuts tab to read!

Papercuts Pre-Launch Meeting/Reading

Exciting news! We’re holding a small reading in Islamabad next week to promote the next volume of Papercuts! Kuch Khaas has graciously agreed to host us on January 4th, but we HAVE to be certain of the number of people in attendance! If you are planning on being there, please get in touch via email at shehla(at)desiwriterslounge(dot)net. This event is not open to the public, so get in touch with us if you want to attend! (And to get the details, of course).

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!

Piled Higher and Deeper – writer’s block of an unusual kind

posted by Shehla

I once watched a documentary on Leonard Cohen and was struck by his discipline in writing. He insisted that to be a writer, he had to “go to work” every day, and therefore, to write every day. I’m much more liberal in my approach to writing, choosing to wait for revelation, the right mood, the perfect environment. It is one of the main reasons why I often tell people I am not a “real writer”.

So imagine the gravity of the task at hand. Writing the introduction chapter of my Ph.D. dissertation. Is there ever a perfect environment to sit down and regurgitate facts about prostate cancer and molecular signaling pathways? Can one ever be in the mood to describe, in great length, the zonal anatomy of the prostate, the gaping holes in knowledge about the disease, and the dearth of treatment options available for advanced stages of said disease? No prizes for guessing the right answer.

It hasn’t been all that bad. I’ve learned some very intriguing things, which 5 years of doing experiments and reading the literature never taught. Did you know, for instance, that prostatic intraepithelial neoplasia – the precursor lesions that lead to prostate cancer – can be present in men as early as at 20 years of age? Now there’s a reason to be grateful I’m not a man. Sadly, this documented, reference-able fact takes up only one line to communicate. I’m supposed to write an entire CHAPTER. It also makes for very strange conversations, as I go around punctuating dinner with my treasure of “believe it or not” prostate cancer facts.

As stuck as I’m feeling, this is a very exciting time in the life of a graduate student. Years of hard work has finally shaped up to form a coherent theory. And nothing can match the feeling of coming up with and proving a novel hypothesis. My thesis mentor told me writing the intro will be hardest part of the process. I couldn’t imagine what would be so hard about collecting background information on a topic I have lived and breathed for years. Turns out (as always) he was right. It’s not so much collecting the information than figuring out how best to summarize it. Gives a whole new meaning to the term “writer’s block”. For inspiration (or for lack of it), I have resorted to perusing my favorite comic website, Yes, it’s real. Yes, they really do put up comic strips on the life of graduate students. I can safely credit them with hours of procrastination, and in addition to providing the title to this blog post they have also been an amazing support group over the past half-decade. Too bad they can’t summarize the different stages of metastatic adenocarcinomas.

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.