"A writer and nothing else: a man alone in a room with the English language, trying to get human feelings right. " ~John K. Hutchens, New York Herald Tribune, 10 September 1961

Thursday, December 30, 2010

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).

Friday, November 19, 2010

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!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010


posted by Noor

We recently posted Mohammad Umer Memon's interview conducted by chapatimystery.com on the DWL forums. I was particularly intrigued by the quality of work he has translated from Urdu to English. I have always felt that literature in Urdu is overwhelmingly rich - like the arable lands of the country it originates from.

I grew up reading books and short stories in Urdu - literature that was perhaps more suited for an adult than a child. My parents, both writers by profession, maintained an overbearing library - a room with an imposing desk, carefully decorated with fountain pen holders and crystal paperweights, rocking chairs, floor pillows, sketches of writers, my parents' awards, and wall-to-wall, floor-to-ceiling shelves overflowing with books and magazines. From a very early age, I began to know names like Bano Qudsia, Nazir Ahmad, Ishfaq Ahmad, Qurat-ul-ain Haider, Imtiaz Ali Taj, and the like. I devoured these books just like I ate up every last word of Dickens, Shakespeare, and Eliot.

I remember, I was in the library once, and my father came in and saw me with one of Manto's anthologies. "Perhaps this is better suited to a young lady's tastes," he said and extended a copy of Mira'at-ul-Uroos towards me. "After you're done with this one," he said pointing to the book I was holding. Manto is nothing if not controversial. But so layered is his work that I find something new and rather chilling every time I read one of his stories. So rich with metaphors - there was this one story in which a man collects empty cans and bottles and ends up marrying someone who looks like an empty bottle after getting rid of his collection. Sigh! I have butchered it. If you have not read Manto, READ MANTO! His work contains perhaps the most powerful social commentary that I have ever read. Alas! I digress.

I slowly discovered poetry in Urdu, too. I cannot claim to fully understand Ghalib and Iqbal, but took a particular liking to Mir Dard and Mir Taqi Mir. Contemporary Urdu poetry opened up to me like a ball of yarn running loose around the house. The romance in Parveen Shakir's work took me through my angst ridden adolescence. I found thehrao, control, clam (how would I translate this?!) particularly in Mansoora Ahmad's work. Gulzar's "Chand Pakhraj Ka" remains a favorite to this day.

There is such a wealth of Urdu literature in our country - both classic and contemporary - and it's tragic that many in our generation are not familiar with it. In a time when Urdu is no longer the fashionable or cultured language to speak, Mohammad Umer Memon is translating books and short stories from Urdu to English to introduce the depth of human emotion, understanding, and wisdom contained in them.

It's unfortunate that I, too, living in a world where Urdu is seldom recognized as a language in existence, let alone spoken or read, am losing my command over it. Sometimes, I find myself wondering how a word is spelled - if it uses "tay" or "tuaein." Small, everyday battles to keep a little bit of my roots alive. For people who are not familiar with the richness that is in the works of authors who write in Urdu, Memon comes as a fresh breeze, a rescuer of the ignorant. More importantly, he is an ambassador of literature written in Urdu and is a voice that reaches everyone in the world and proclaims: "This is how we do it!"

Currently reading: Harper Collins Book of Urdu Short Stories by Mohammad Umer Memon.

Get a copy!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

How to Tackle Writer's Block (By Indirection!)

posted by Noor

We have all encountered this beast at some point in our writing careers. Sometimes you can fight it head-on; other times you have to cheat it, find a way around it, and give it a surprise defeat.
These techniques may work for you!

1. Start with Chapter Two. Pretend that you have already given all the background information about your characters. Start writing the second chapter.

2. Dessert First. When you're just writing, write the delicious parts, write the parts that you like.

3. Resist the rapture of research. Stay away from Google, the library, reference books. Look up information later. Write now.

4. A good idea that doesn't happen is no idea at all.

5. XX factor. When you don't know a fact about your story, don't stall to ponder it. Put XX there and move on. When you are ready, go back and fill the gaps later.

6. Listen to your characters. How do you know who they are?

7. Interview your characters.

8. Take a shoebox and put physical things in it that remind you of your character. For example, you see an easy chair in a catalog and your character should be sitting in that chair or you can imagine him/her sitting in it, cut it out and put it in the box.

9. What if? Ask creative what if questions that might just jump start your story.

10. Even if you feel like life is interfering with your writing, remember that you need that life and its activities in order to write.

11. Banish the devil on your shoulder - the critical voice. You need a critical voice at some point, but certainly not when you're blocked.

12. Write letters. Besides being an emotional catharsis, it also leaves you with a bank of emotions that you can withdraw from later.

13. Responsive writing. Keep asking yourself questions, they can be random questions, and keep answering them. Question-answer loop on a page to break out of the block answer by answer.

14. The Hemingway Technique. Hemingway often stopped writing at a high point, frequently even in the middle of a sentence. Instead of writing and writing until you get stuck so that the next day you're dreading the point where you left of, you should perhaps stop when you are in the zone and you're loving to write, so that you will be looking forward to the writing the next day.

15. Sometimes writer's block is a message to you that you have picked something inherently wrong to write about - emotions, material, characters, voice, it can be anything. Once you have recognized and acknowledged this message, the writer's block becomes a building block.

16. Sometimes the silence of the black screen is really a shout - it's the silence of incubation.

Useful Resources, Good Books, Websites:
Publisher's marketplace http://www.publishersmarketplace.com/
Halldor Laxness - Independent People
Art of Racing in the Rain - Garth Stein
Enzo - book written from the perspective of a dog - Garth Stein
What If?: Writing Exercises for Fiction Writers - Anne Bernays, Pamela Painter
The Paris Review Interviews (3 volumes)
Bird by Bird - Some Instructions on Writing and Life - Anne Lamott

Friday, October 8, 2010

My friend: The Social Media

posted by Ayesha

The ever changing social media vs. the conventional word of mouth advertising was the debate I read recently on a blog. Not a known blog, just a random rant of an advertising professional who had retired to blogging to pass his time.
On most of these blogs that analyze the impact of social media, while the writers rave on about the role of tweets in changing the world to a well informed, well read contruct; I read on for some heady stimulation that will tell me something I don’t already know.
Or something that I have not already read (Not that I am suggesting I am a reading addict, far from it actually - just imagine my disappointment thus).
Maybe I am jaded but then I know this for sure, from the blogs that I follow to the Facebook likes that I love to click on, I am yet to find a real place for social media in my world.
Other than filling my free moments, I have yet to see if it really fits the role of a life changing, an opinion shaping, an earth shatteringly strong/ mild dose of information inject that it is perceived to be by the analytics. Does it shape my opinion? Yes.
But I don’t think I can *share* it yet. Maybe I can do it on the next Tweet that catches my attention.
But then that’s the whole point. Social media is offering us freedom and superfluous socializing opportunities.
The idea behind this particular article that I read was about interaction having become two way through the medium. One relevant point that I am all for; of course it’s all about clicking submit.
The writer managed to convince me that conventional advertising through word of mouth was in an incomplete campaign in itself. The consumers when now have the chance to use a product and then comment on it, have the power to now change the dimension of advertising completely. I totally agree.
What I do have a problem with is the fuss that is being made about the social media in the process. Fully aware of the fact that it is a medium that cannot be controlled in any of its dimensions, how much can we trust an entity that is absolutely free?
I understand how one relevant opinion piece by Fasi Zaka is repetitively *shared* on facebook for that mere percentage of our youth who can read and ARE able to connect on FB.
I also appreciate how it serves to highlight an issue that would probably not find its due share of attention on traditional media. bBut what happens to an anonymous writer who makes a point and is not able to put it on an authentic blog; does he/ she find h/is/er trust with the reader? Just a random thought.
In his 3 dimensional advertising theory, the writer talked about the content spreading like a wild fire. I then wondered about the fires that do spread in our part of the country.
The wondering being that I am, I couldn’t help but also wonder about the use of the word ‘wild’ by the author.
How wild is the news we read on social media. Oh better yet, how wild are we to believe it? And how many of us are wild enough to write it? Okay that last question is perhaps better left unanswered.
While I am ABLE to comprehend the power of social media in the small, budding life of the PR industry in my country where literacy is little and internet penetration a small seed; I often think about how significant is social media for us?
Here I am referring to the US - Us who are the elistist facebookers and are linked on the In. With our supersonic broadband / wiresless connections, we who are the real people affected by the social media in this time and place, WE - who can read and write and rewrite. Wonder some more and then wonder again.
I am wondering still.
In the PR industry where I am a professional content developer, I understand and realize the constraints that research resources of the noble social media bring with them. When I speak of constraints here, they are not lack of speed or how I cannot stream enough. They are a wee bit more complicated than that.
For one, authenticity of content is such a huge issue for people like moi that I’d probably never be able to whine enough about it. Maybe someone else out there can scream for me.
While having the internet is such a great blessing, Google being the best thing that happened to man since the telephone, I am also faced with the downside of the blessing.
In the big bad world of internet, for me nothing is real and nothing is safe. Everything I see is a creation (not always in a good way) or a re- creation and I don’t mean recreation there.
With all due respect to inspirational writers on the social media and the analytics of its impact, I believe that the this untamed world belongs to an intelligent user/ writer/ reader.
A person who understands that not everything on the social media can be *shared*. Not everything is credible and not everything is correct.
I don’t believe we can entirely keep up with the pace of the changing phenomenon but what we can do is be a part of it. However little is the feedback we can provide, we must do our part at least. Interactivity could be the key.
One thing to note is the communication we make - It reflects on us, on what we portray; the world of internet is only visual, a little care to choose the interaction could go a long way. Choosing the interaction means two things:
One - Choose a platform that helps you.
Two - Choose your words wisely.
When the flood relief news broke on the channels, I was already a little informed because of the industry I am in, but the way the information spread over blogs, Facebook and websites gave me a fair idea of what a wild fire actually is.
The same content that I had prepared was all over Facebook and telecom blogs. Even now I see it being replicated and pasted, even in places I wouldn’t want to be seen but there it is. I have no control and little control is what drives this form of media. Whether I like it or not it is *shared*. A great way to make noise but is noise all we want to make?
So while I am jaded and a little old fashioned, a wee bit wary of the content I find on my RSS feeds and a little fed up for the lack of real NEWS on news feeds, I am a little hopeful too.
Maybe the social media will evolve into some kind of a process or an institution in itself. It is possible that we will give birth to the intelligent user who will not be carried away in the fire but use its warmth and light to see the way.
And carry it too. More power to interactivity and a little wisdom to us - the users!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

On The Dock

posted by Jalal

- in which the author discovers a new condition to his life, attempts to develop a whole new communicable disease, tries to change, is targeted by Halliburton, out does the Pakistani Cricket Team, takes a hike and socks it to big Pharma

It starts innocuously enough.
There’s a pounding in my head, my vision is swirling, I have a shooting pain in the left side of my chest and three fingers in my left arm go instantly numb. So I chalk it up to:
a. Stress
b. Bad posture (damn those office chairs)
c. Last night’s, not-gas-attack-inducing-at-all, masala daal fry
d. The horrible project briefing my team is giving me
Until it gets scary and my colleagues are staring with giant ‘O’s at my face.
His voice is a whisper in the thundering now emanating from my ears.
“You look pale,” my colleagues have a gift for understatement I discover.
And from that moment, from my desk to the emergency room, it took only twenty minutes to be introduced to the rest of my life as a blood pressure patient.

My dad was using the car when I called for it so he came along for the ride. Distinguished elderly gentleman that he is, the doctors and orderlies all assumed that it was he I was accompanying and not the other way around. So they all looked at me funny as I lay down on the bed when the doctor ordered, ‘Will the patient please lie down!’
‘What’s the issue?’ says he.
‘I feel funny,’ Says me.
‘Oh holy crap! Why are you not dead?’ says he, ‘You call this a BP?’

British Petroleum has instructed me inform you that they disavow all knowledge of the unnatural disaster that is this post and besides…it was all Halliburton’s fault anyway.

Halliburton at this stage have also instructed me to inform you that nothing is ever their fault. Nothing. Whatsoever. SAY IT BITCH! OR THE US ARMY WILL BOMB AND OCCUPY YOUR DILLHOLE!

You know you have a serious problem when your heart has a higher score than the entire Pakistani Cricket tea…DAMN YOU CRICKETING SCANDAL! NOW I CANT EVEN BE SURE OF MY JOKES ANY MORE! And here I had this awesome joke about how my BP hit 190 over 140…higher than our cricket team’s batting average.

The doctor in the emergency room put me on BP meds and gave me tranqs and told me to just lie there and go to sleep. Three hours later…I’m still not asleep. The doctor looks at the monitor and says that if the numbers don’t go down soon, I’m getting hospitalized. They go down. I go home. Word travels that Jalal was in an emergency room for three hours. Everyone, family and friends, gathers at my house that night, all concern for my brush with high blood pressure and soothe down me frazzled nerves and racing pulse with such comforting homilies like,


What followed were constant trips to the doc’s to figure out the optimal chemical concoction that is to keep my BP within normal ranges and out of the stratosphere. And doctor’s room conversations with my beloved like the one below:

‘No salt.’
‘Really…just a little…from time to time’
‘Mind your language. And don’t get upset. You have high BP! You’ll pop a blood vessel! What will I do then?’
‘Well I wouldn’t be on edge if you let me eat a little salt.’
At this stage the doctor feels she needs to interject to prevent my then fiancé now wife from killing me with kindness and worry, ‘Actually, he can eat normal food salt. Just don’t sprinkle on more on the top like you have been doing…’
‘HAH! See?’
‘Shut up Mr. 190 over 140.’
‘Are you sure you two aren’t already married…?’

And injunctions from all and sundry that the best thing for BP is constant exercise and the Miracle of all Miracle exercises, God alone knows how we ever lived without it, was…
Prepare yourselves
It may sound like crazy talk
The miracle, universal panacea, the Holy Grail cure for-every-frakkin’-thing is….


Doesn’t it strike you as strange as how the healing powers of tramping up and down are touted as nothing short of miraculous? Or that over 30 odd years of education to become a highly qualified physician and ‘talking a walk’ is the best that you can do for a patient? What next will you be prescribing?
‘Doctor! I’m Dying!’
‘Quick! Take two Nikes and one Reebok then call me in the morning!’

Well after spending 10 minutes circumnavigating the Aunty ridden walkways of Hilal Park, I called up my beloved, then fiancé now wife, and said,
‘Hi Baby! Guess what. I’m off to go shoot myself! Love you. Bye!’
And then life has since settled into a comfortable rhythm. I take my meds, watch what I eat and walk regularly…
Okay. Semi Regularly.
Okay. I walk sometimes.
FINE! I THINK about walking sometimes!
Oh have it your way Mr.Factanista! I lounge on my ass all day and play computer games in the evening and call it exercise. Happy?

And the BP has not been that bad to live with. It could have been much worse. Sure I have my episodes when I push myself or am irregular with my rest. Some days I wake up feeling low and like I’ve been running. The numbers are 150 over 110 and the office gets a phone call from me, ‘Hi team. I’m not coming in today because I’m sick. Don’t do anything that could make me get sicker. Just do what I’ve told you to do. Don’t use your heads too much and remember that I will yell at you if I see you haven’t used your heads at all. Enjoy figuring that out. Bye!’
I am now doing my best to turn high BP into the world’s first disease communicable over cell phone.
No Twitter, I am not talking about you.
At one point, when my episodes kept coming with more frequency, it was time to go get a professional consult. The cardiologist pooh poohed it and told me to get an ECG. That resulted in a rather humorous episode involving a cell phone, two tubes of Anne French, Magic Carpet Rides and perhaps the most bizarre trip to the loo I’ve ever taken.
The ECG is clear so the doctor advises that I quit smoking,
Oh yeah! Absolutely. Tomorrow.
That I keep up with regular walks
Uh huh. Yup. As soon as there comes out an XBOX Walk. Till then…will lots of guitar hero do?
And that I maintain a Zen like calm and inner peace to manage my stress.
Now those of you who know me also know that in my head I am much akin to the hyperactive squirrel from Ice Age, on speed, and crack, with ADD, trying to decide between the world’s biggest pile of nuts or Mad Donkey Stud Monkey sex.
But methinks I have discovered the ultimate groove to mellow out in. Once in that groove not even work can harsh my calm, bro.
It has to do with the Missus. I can come home raging like a lion, pace the floor like a tiger and tirade against the world like Hitler addressing Berlin. Then all she needs to do is go,
‘Aw Poor Baby! Did yoo haz a bad day?’
I pout.
‘Aaaawww,’ she melts. ‘Did the big bad world eated your cookie?’
‘It did! It did eated my cookie.’
‘C’mere!’ she holds out her arms…

Hah! Suck on THAT big Pharma!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The Problem of Imagery

posted by Noor

“There is a simple trick at the heart of imaginative writing…The trick is that if you write in words that evoke the senses, if your language is full of things that can be seen, heard, smelled, tasted, and touched, you create a world your reader can enter.”

-Imaginative Writing – The Elements of Craft by Janet Burroway. Second Edition. Page 3. (Not following a standard citation method here).

I have often belabored a singular point in my critique to poets who must have come to detest it by now: introduce more concrete images to your poem. When you create a poem, no matter how commonplace the language written, it evidently transforms into a masterpiece in your mind. It is the same instinct that makes a mother love her child beyond its physical appearance. Obviously, the devotion to the poem from the poet is of (slightly) lesser magnitude.

During my years at DWL, I have come across countless poems that hold great potential. The themes may be very strong and refreshing, the idea nothing short of genius, but more often than not, the poems fall flat once written. The most important thing that the poet must understand is the importance of getting the reader involved. No one cares about your personal suffering, plight, identity crisis, break-up, et cetera, if it doesn’t somehow pull them into the theme of your poem. If readers can’t hold on to the poem by some kind of tactile imagery offered to them, they will not give a damn about the story you have to tell. Essentially, they want to be able to find a world they can enter – aptly phrased in the quote above.

In my experience, the best way to check a poem for its impact and quality is to take yourself out of the poem. Invariably, my poems are in first-person. Empathy dictates that a large ratio of a random sample of readers should be able to relate to my experiences as written in the poem. If I am to write about my life however, without giving them a chance to be a part of it, chances are empathy will be flushed down the toilet in 2 seconds flat. Even if I am writing about something that is of extreme personal significance, I must make the poem “friendly” for my readers. I generally try to do this by introducing the reader to my world, getting them acquainted with my life and surroundings. I mention the pile of dirty laundry at the foot of the bed in passing. A bamboo bowl of two month old potpourri on the nightstand – almost completely scentless, except the times when a wayward breeze from the broken window teases it. A red lampshade throwing diffuse light on a dried ring of stale chai on the coffee table. These are concrete images. Something the reader can recognize and hold on to. Now if I throw in a hurtful fight with my significant other somewhere between the dirty laundry and the caked ring of chai, with the emotional outburst highlighted metaphorically by the red lampshade – aha! I have a poem and I have pulled. You. In. I do this by writing out what exactly I want to say in the poem (the fight) and slowly fleshing it out with images, metaphors, and similes – figures of speech do wonders for your poem. Be creative with them. The way to flesh out your poem is best done by trying to look at what you have to offer beside yourself and your personal experience. So if you take yourself out of the poem, what is left? If you’ve got a handful of articles and a weak line of introduction, then you’ve got work to do. Build a world around yourself in the poem and you’ve got what you are looking for.

I am going to leave you with a short poem by Yusef Komunyakaa. It is a very personal poem (as most of them are), but please try to look for concrete imagery that he cleverly introduces along with spectacular metaphors and similes. Enjoy – and of course, happy writing!

Facing It by Yusef Komunyakaa
My black face fades,
hiding inside the black granite.
I said I wouldn’t,
dammit: No tears.
I am stone. I’m flesh.
My clouded reflection eyes me
like a bird of prey, the profile of night
slanted against morning. I turn
this way – the stone lets me go.
I turn that way – I’m inside
the Vietnam Veterans Memorial
again, depending on the light
to make a difference.
I go down the 58,022 names,
half-expecting to find
my own in letters like smoke.
I touch the name Andrew Johnson;
I see the booby trap’s white flash.
Names shimmer on a woman’s blouse
but when she walks away
the names stay on the wall.
Brushstrokes flash, a red bird’s
wings cutting across my stare.
The sky. A plane in the sky.
A white vet’s image floats
closer to me, then his pale eyes
look through mine. I’m a window.
He’s lost his right arm
inside the stone. In the black mirror
a woman’s trying to erase names:
No, she’s brushing a boy’s hair.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

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, www.phdcomics.com. 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.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Watched a Movie Lately?

posted by Ayesha

Well-written scripts should be given a well-deserved round of applause. But how rare it is to come across a script that meets expectations, let alone exceeds them.

Most times when I am watching a movie, I am pleasantly surprised if the script manages to add texture to the plot. More than often, the interaction between characters is either overly done or is way too cliched.

As I watched an Indian movie only recently (Once Upon a Time in Mumbai) I realized how thoroughly disgusting over-the-top lines spoken in intense situations can become - especially when you have the likes of Devgan and Imran Hashmi delivering them. In addition to the experience being quite ridiculous, I could not help but marvel at the loss of common sense on the part of the director when he had decided on this match between the screenplay and his super-star cast.

It is a rare situation when the script is exactly the way it should be: defining the story, tapering the edges and moving it along. A good script, while focusing on the story, challenges the skill of acting just enough. The right words simply add some spice; they do not steal the limelight from anywhere else. Most importantly, it is evidence of a worthy story when the screenplay can provide more than one dimension to its viewers.

A screenplay that I found quite amusing and rather original was of the much celebrated Peepli [Live], which I managed to watch over the weekend. With a pint of sarcasm and shadowed treatment that borders on comedy, the movie is not mainstream to say the least. A thorough bashing of the media made for an interesting watch and definitely a fresh POV for an audience that is deprived of originality and the right kind of film making.

In a day and time when bizarre technologies, special effects and twisted psyches have rendered us insensitive to story plots and screenplays, it is a relief to watch a movie with a fresh perspective, whether it is the director who has visualized the concept with a real lens or the writer who has managed to take the time to write an original story line.

In a country where we have hardly any recreational activities, a handful of cinema screens feed my appetite for the love of this art. Only recently have I realized how thoroughly disappointing all the movies I have seen in the past few months have been. I wonder then about how these movies are chosen to be put up on the big screen; are there any criteria at all? Do we realize the impact this media has on our culture/the audience? Who is to be accountable for the disappointment we take home?

This brings me sadly to the conclusion that our audiences don't really give a crap about what goes up, as long as it has some tasteless nudity, at least a few scenes full of senseless action and at most the hint of a story. We have been watching the art for many decades but our sensibilities have not really seasoned.

Perhaps we can't really complain, as who do we know who would want to write for a film? Literature as it is, suffers from a lack of quality writers - script writing is a long shot.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

A Sombre Update

As an unimaginable disaster unfolds in Pakistan in the shape of massive floods, the Desi Writers Lounge community is planning an initiative to take part in the relief efforts as best as it can. We have several ideas brewing on the forums. Primarily we are focusing on ways to get the international community to take note of the horrific plight of millions of Pakistanis. The biggest source of distress right now is the weak response and media coverage internationally, and what that means in terms of aid money that is required urgently.

We have issued a call for articles and eye witness accounts from members based in Pakistan who have the means to visit relief camps and collection centers, which we intend to promote on international blogs and online publications. Another idea in the pipelines is that of a writing competition with an entrance fee in the form of a check made out to a specific relief organization (we have not decided which one yet). We are thinking of promoting this writing competition in universities outside of Pakistan, and roping in guest judges who are established authors and journalists.

These and other ideas are being discussed on the forums currently, and we would love to get feedback and input from you.

The Desi Writers Lounge Team

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

"All your dignity is belong to us."

posted by Omair

Soon, war will be upon us. Not the fun kind with armies and explosives and fascist dictators. But a far more quiet, more sinister war. It'll be clean, quiet, bloodless, and mundane. A war we'll be fighting without even knowing it.

Look at us. If you're reading this, I'm shocked. But that's besides the point. If you're reading this you're probably within three feet of an LED. Look at that smug little bastard, glowing innocently, lulling you into a false sense of security. Pretty colour though. Hehe, shiny.

But yes, the machines are everywhere. In our homes, our offices, our bags, even in our pants. Everything you do, everything, is probably being uploaded on Facebook, youtube, twitter or what have you right now. What's more, you're probably doing it yourself. Some of you, to an annoying extreme. (That's right, you status update fetishists, I'm talking to you. Get a life, and keep it to your damn self.)

Now, because we're people, we do stupid things from time to time. It's our privilege as sane rational adults, to do stupid things. Often in the company of others. Often when someone in said company will have a mobile phone with a camera built in. And that act will be stripped of all context and become a permanent digital testament to the wonders of you, and will remain forever googleable to your friends, family, boss, police, your children and your children's children down the generations.

Your dirty laundry, once safely locked in with the skeletons in your closet, will now not only be aired, but delivered directly via courier to friends and strangers alike.
And that's just us grown ups. What about the little ones? Children thrive on stupidity, and parents ensure their silliness is captured in all its glory and promptly uploaded. Twenty years from now, these kids will grow up and have their childhood rubbed in their faces repeatedly, a curse they will never be able to shake off.

We are merrily skipping down a brightly lit, digitally enhanced, OCD- fuelled dangerous road. Stop the madness! Stop the incessant updating, newsfeeding, twittering and blathering.
For god's sake, live your life without advertising every moment of it.

Keep it real.


Wednesday, August 4, 2010

There’s Death, Good Sir, And Then There’s Death

posted by Osman

There’s death in a blinking cursor; death in a blank page.

I often find myself staring at the John Doe of poetry titles, ‘Document1’ (Microsoft Word); a thousand words bled white. I then look through my poetry archive [read: ramblings of the poor man’s Stephen King/M. Night Shyamalan] and think Holy Frack, what the pig’s scrotum happened to me? I could find terror in a teacup, a tale of macabre waiting to unfold behind the steely blue eyes of a doorman.

Now, there’s only wretched white noise. I think ‘vampire’ – bam! Head stuffed with images from the latest episode of ‘The Vampire Diaries.’ Next thought: evil fetus that drives its mother insane through violent nightmares – hello, ‘Nightmare on Elm Street’ slash ‘Splice’ slash ‘Alien.’ Every thought is unoriginal, derivative. Where once all I needed was a word [‘Whack!’ was my inspiration for ‘Incubus’], a phrase [‘Eat some of my remorse’ from ‘a la carte’ just came to me], or a character [suicidal closet-homosexual, for example – see ‘Sodom’], now I find myself fishing for inspiration; forcing my hand on the keyboard. I wrote two poems recently – they were as effective as Stephenie Meyer’s take on Nosferatu [my umpteenth ‘Twilight’ reference; do you see where I’m going with this?]. To her credit, though, I found ‘The Host’ to be a particularly riveting read. Gaah – I’m digressing again. I can’t write 224 words without – sigh. Moving on.

I once wrote a concept about a little boy who walks in on his parents having sex; he’s told they were playing a ‘wrestling game.’ I must have forgotten all about it: just came across the document while cleaning up my ‘My Documents’ folder. [I also came across a document that only read: ‘PRIVATE MALE ESCORTS NOW AVAILABLE, HANDSOME GUYS FOR YOUR SWEET MASSAGE, DINING AND NIGHTLIFE PLEASURES’ – and before you triumphantly pump your fist in the air, Shehla (she insists on interpreting 'Sodom' as my subconcious urging me to come out of the closet!), that was character research: I played a gigolo in a Lahore Grammar School production – but that’s a story for another time].

The draft/concept read:
“9 year old boy (8? 7? How young is too young?) sees parents in Kama Sutra position number – oh just pick a number. Goes batshit ballistic till daddy tells him they were ‘wrestling.’ Boy wants to ‘wrestle’ with sister – [comment added later: ‘You’re fu***ng sick, Obi, make it girl from school.’], scary freaky shit – to show or not to show?
‘I drew mommy as a trout’ / daddy as (what’s a really big fish? Shark? Lol, this gives ‘Jaws’ a whole new meaning.)”

When I couldn’t think up of anything more original than that concept, I decided to write out a poem based on the material my perverse mind conjured more than a year ago. This is what I came up with:

I drew mommy as a trout; Snotty Steven thought it was a grey
SpongeBob SquarePants - he doesn’t know they don’t have
spines; silvery freshwater seafood – Steven laughed when
I used the fuchsia pink crayon to fill in mommy’s cheeks; but that’s her
only camouflage against the rose bed spread when daddy plays
the wrestling game with her. Mrs. Trellis was quite bemused (I learnt the word
in English-II today) when she saw daddy
devouring mommy; a great big shark, or the whale that wolfed down Geppetto
“Why would you draw your parents that way?” she asked me; but that’s how I saw them,
Swear on the old ghoul that lives in the attic. She said she’d call home when it’s
After dark, but that when’s they play the wrestling game most; the trout and
The shark. Tonight, canvas in hand, I opened their bedroom door, just as
Daddy was done wrestling her on our hardwood floors; they were so quiet after those
Three seconds I was sure he was going to dogheaven (just like old Scooby did)
From a heart-attack, just like that mostly shirtless man from mommy’s favorite soap opera –
And mommy was going to be crushed under that human grand piano
(Sylvester does many times, but a cat has nine lives, doesn’t he?)
They were staring at me but not staring too; so I asked mommy if what they were doing
Was just for fun; and my heart skipped a beat – what if daddy turns into Jaws and mommy’s
No more – sometimes I wish Steven hadn’t made me watch that movie – but then mommy
Laughed in a voice that was much too hoarse, and said of course, baby, of course.
Daddy took me to my room, and while fidgeting with my Transformers model said
that it’s not scary what they do; that might be true
I’ve seen them pray sometimes in between their game; just yesterday I counted
Mommy taking the Lord’s name
Five times (or was it six?) – so maybe it is holy and daddy’s not a monster after all; he crinkled
His eyes and laughed when I showed him my picture;
he tousled my hair and said
I’d have my fill of the wrestling game one day
Little Peggy makes me all funny inside, with her painted toenails and
Maple syrup scent; I wonder if she’ll be at school tomorrow
I wonder if she’ll play.

After writing this, trying to change and alter it into something worth salvaging [read: making it so complex it seemed as though the poor boy was spewing Sanskrit], I have now resigned myself to the following:
a) I should stop trying to enter the mind of an eight-year old (as poetry protagonist, gaah – this reads like I’m a bizarre Inception pedophile),
b) I should stop trying to write poetry that rhymes,
c) I should just … stop?

Oh sweet Krishna, I started off this blog post saying there’s death in a blinking cursor.
Well, there are some things worse than death.

Friday, July 23, 2010

How we write when we write about IDENTITY (The Bluest Eye - Toni Morrison)

posted by Noor

I have always thought of writing as a narcissistic activity. Many of my characters invariably start looking, sounding, and even acting like me. They are always conflicted - struggling with identity, roots, cultural values, treading two value systems at the same time, their senses continuously at war. It is often difficult to separate yourself from your writing, take a step back and view it from a stranger's eye - but you don't always have to. Sometimes, to preserve the integrity of the story you want to tell, you absolutely have to draw from what you know best, what you have lived through, what you have observed, witnessed, and learned. Most importantly, in order to recount a story and remain true to its essence, you must do so in an unapologetic fashion and write it not for the reader, but because the story deserves to be told. I learned this from one of my favorite authors - Toni Morrison and the genius that is her first novel, The Bluest Eye.

Published in 1970, The Bluest Eye spans a year in the life of Pecola Breedlove, a young black girl in Lorain, Ohio. I am not going to recount the story for you all, because that will take me away from the themes that I want to cover today. If you have not read this book, PLEASE do yourselves a favor and get a copy. It is a very fast read, and though the story is tragic, the imagery is delightful. I was struck by the vividness and beauty in the images that Morrison has so effortlessly created. What I really want to focus on is the narrative organization and themes of the novel and how she has managed to create this book of immense power without actually victimizing or criminalizing any of the characters. You are simply told about the suffering and the way Pecola experiences and internalizes it.

1. "Writing without the white gaze"
Toni Morrison has written this book without being cognizant of a white audience. She has not explained herself or her characters. She has simply written this story without apologies or warnings. She has incorporated important elements of the black culture of Lorain, Ohio around the time of the second world war. She has talked about music extensively - both jazz and blues - to the point where you start to hear it as you're reading the book. Most importantly, she mentions in the afterword that it was very significant for her to use "speakerly" language.

2. Seasons in The Bluest Eye
The novel begins thus: "Quiet as it's kept, there were no marigolds in the fall of 1941." This is compounded by the organization of the book in seasons: autumn, winter, spring, and summer. Right in the first line, Morrison introduces this idea of something being wrong - and we all know it's not just about the marigolds. There has to be more to it, but she employs a beautiful distraction to develop her theme. By introducing this idea of nature and marigolds that did not sprout, Morrison has skilfully started to build upon the themes of seasons, the natural order, and the thought that "something has gone wrong." Right away, we learn that Pecola Breedlove is having her father's baby - the problem of marigolds skirts this horrific reality, which is mentioned in passing, perhaps to make it more bearable. This theme of seasons continues throughout the book.

3. Developing "foils" for the main character and explanation without excuse
(Foil: A character that by contrast serves to highlight the distinctive nature of another character).
Throughout the narrative of The Bluest Eye, we see many contrasts between the Breedloves and the MacTeers. Pecola's story is so horrifying and tragic that if it had been presented without the strength of Claudia and Frieda, perhaps we, as readers, would not have been able to accept and process it. So Morrison developed the characters of Claudia and Frieda as foils for Pecola's character. Claudia and Frieda shoulder the weight of Pecola's suffering because their positive experiences and their strength allows the reader to digest the horror in Pecola's story. Pecola by herself is too frail to carry the book on her own. Through their positive experiences alongside Pecola's harsh life, we are able to read the book with a sense of loss and despair, but without getting completely despondent. This is helpful because it allows the reader to see why the characters choose what they choose and how their choices are ultimately a reflect of their experiences.
Cholly, Pecola's father is a product of his circumstances. This is explanation without excuse. We understand how and why someone like Cholly might come to be. Morrison, at no point, makes excuses for his behavior, but when you learn about Cholly's experiences - how vulnerable he is made by all that he faced as an adolescent, you begin to understand his motives and why he committed the terrible act of sexually assaulting his daughter. All this is done by Morrison's organization of the narrative. It is important to pick up a few things here.
The narrative is organized so that we immediately assume that Cholly is a heinous person. Right from the beginning, we know that Pecola was having her father's baby - many of us immediately develop a bias against Cholly for this reason. However, as the narrative unfolds and we gradually begin to discover what brought Cholly to this stage in his life, we begin to understand his intentions and motivations. This is an extremely difficult task for a writer. To make your reader understand your character, think like your character, and realize that what your character does is a culmination and reflection of his/her life experiences is paramount! And very, very difficult. As I mentioned before, however, Morrison has done this effortlessly and seamlessly. The narrative flows from one character's story to the other's in a fluid manner.

There is a long list that I still have in my notes - topics that I wanted to highlight in this entry, but I think I should stop now and let you all mull this over. But if you take away anything from this entry, let it be the importance of organizing your narrative. The Bluest Eye is one of my favorite books, and I discover something new in it every time I read it. Please have a clear theme in your mind when you begin to tackle a story. Even if you know exactly what you are writing about, it is very easy to be distracted - adhere to the themes that you want to establish and develop in your work. Use creative ways to explore the nature of your characters. Develop foils - they do more for your characters and your story than you can possibly imagine! Write without apologies and explain without excuses and keep building on those themes.

Here's to writing like Morrison one day!

Random Trivia: The title of this entry was inspired by a Raymond Carver short story. GUESS WHICH ONE?

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Austin’s Favourite Haunt

posted by Afia

Picking up from Shehla’s blurb from last week, consider this the first in a line of completely unrelated posts. Now that we’ve started our group blog format, you can expect to see a LOT of randomness in this space: fiction, news, comment, observations on life and, of course, DWL updates. The only common feature in these blog entries will be that the team behind Desi Writers will be penning them. We’ll get to yap on everything under the sun, and you’ll get a peek into the sordid minds that run this place.

Experimental? So was LSD, a long time ago.

Speaking of tripping, I have a delicious story to tell. About three weeks ago, my husband and I made a dramatic, weekend getaway to Austin. Alright, so we had our toddler with us – but it was the weekend and we did get away from Houston and anything could be considered dramatic as opposed to this city. Unknown to me, ye ol’ better half had set up a real experience for us on our arrival (if you’re still thinking this is about drugs, you’re about to be sorely disappointed). He had booked us into the swanky Driskill Hotel in the heart of downtown Austin – one of the city’s most famous historic landmarks, a living testament to the opulence and grandeur of the South’s past, and widely known to be Texas’ most haunted hotel. Eep!

No, really. There is something about the Driskill that makes it exceptionally susceptible to ghostly activity (some of the staff likes to joke that it’s better than Heaven, so the dead don’t want to move on). Whatever the cause, incidents abound. Grown men (as if that’s supposed to be some measure of rationality) have reported waking up in the middle of the night to find all the faucets in their bathrooms on. Sounds have been heard of a little girl bouncing a ball on the hotel’s main staircase – these have been attributed to a US Senator’s daughter who fell to her death while playing with her ball on those stairs in the late 1800s. Even celebrities have had their share of ghostly experiences at the Driskill: Annie Lennox stayed at the hotel while visiting Austin for a concert, and apparently received some paranormal assistance in choosing what to wear for the performance (she laid out two dresses on the bed and went in for a shower; when she came out, one of the dresses had been neatly put away in the closet).

The story that really caught my attention was a classic case of unrequited love resulting in tragedy. It took place in Room 427, also known as the bride suicide room. In 1989, a young socialite from Houston had been all set to get married when her fiancé broke off their engagement at the eleventh hour. Heartbroken beyond consolation, she escaped to Austin, where she checked into the Driskill and then took the ultimate revenge: she went on a huge shopping spree on her ex’s credit cards and spent every cent of credit he had to his name. Amongst the many expensive purchases she made that day was a gun. The last time she was seen alive was when she walked through the hotel lobby to the elevator, laden with shopping bags.

Her body was found a few days later, crumpled in the bathtub of Room 427. She had clutched a pillow to her chest and shot herself with the very gun that her lover had unknowingly paid for.

Ten years later, two women on a vacation checked into the hotel and requested a room on the 4th floor of the Historic Wing. Some of the Driskill’s formidable array of ghosts were thought to make appearances on that floor. They were disappointed to find that the Historic Wing was closed for renovations. Not to be deterred by logistics, however, the two adventurers took the elevator up in the middle of the night, hoping to catch some paranormal activity. They found the floor dark and completely deserted, the walls swathed in black plastic sheets. A little unnerved, they reconsidered their plan and decided to return to their room.

This is where it gets really interesting. At the elevator, the two ladies were stunned to bump into a young woman who was evidently returning to her room after a full day of shopping. They called out to her and asked if the renovations had been bothering her. The woman stopped in front of Room 427 with all her bags, turned around slowly and replied, “No, not at all.” Sensing that their presence was not welcome, the ghost-hunting friends returned to their room for the night. They were determined to take on the hotel management the next day for refusing them a room when clearly other guests were being allowed to stay in the Historic Wing.

When they did return with the baffled concierge the next morning, not a soul was to be found on the floor (pun intended). The room to which the mysterious guest had gone was empty, save a ladder and a few paint cans. No one could explain why anybody would be returning from a shopping expedition at 2 am.

I’ve heard a lot of spooky stories in my lifetime (who hasn’t had those late-night, giggly assemblies with cousins where everyone’s terrified out of their wits but still strangely compelled to recount one ghostly incident after the other?) but somehow, this one really affected me. The thought of a jilted bride who took it upon herself to die by her own hand, alone in a hotel room, knowing that the only way she could touch the love of her life was through his wallet… it signified such terrible loneliness and absence of hope. Could it be that her spirit actually roams those corridors, reliving those final terrible moments over and over? Could she still be keeping watch over the last door she ever walked through?

We’ll never really know… but there are two women out there somewhere who have their suspicions.

Monday, June 28, 2010

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 and the 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.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

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 share. 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 for it...and me.

Tally ho, my lovelies!

- MP

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

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...


Sunday, April 18, 2010

Of White Tigers and Mockingbirds...

With a solid turnout for the book club meet for The Five People You Meet In Heaven, and the meeting lasted just over an hour. Because the book itself was such a light read, the discussion was light enough.

We also chose a new selection, with an overwhelming majority: Harper Lee's classic, To Kill A Mockingbird. We'll be meeting on May 22nd to discuss the book.

A Facebook event will be created shortly, where interested participants can RSVP. This is an Islamabad/Pindi event.

The Lahore Book Club is meeting on May 8th, to discuss The White Tiger. You can RSVP to that event, here.



Friday, April 16, 2010

*Bump* Book Club Reminder

To remind our readers, we're meeting up on Sunday, April 18 @ 5 PM sharp at Civil Junction (F-7/3; adjacent to Hotspot and next to Gellato) to discuss The 5 People You Meet In Heaven.

We will also, as always, be picking out our next selection in this session so please come with your book lists mentally prepared, or bring your picks along with you.

This also marks our first departure from The Paper Microphone / The Niche Cafe in 10 months. We continue to be on the lookout for new and interesting venues, to compliment our message and voice.

If you've got any suggestions, please email them in to info@desiwriterslounge.net.



Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Book Clubs & Game Nights Galore...

Realizing this blog hasn't been updated for a while to reflect our jumping activity scene, here we are again.

Lahore has proven itself with a marvelous turnout to discuss In Other Rooms, Other Wonders and is well on the way to becoming a staple at the city's literary scene. Desi Writers Lounge has finally got a foot into that door.

Meanwhile, our Isloo book club and readings continue along with a reintroduction of our game nights. Details on that below. Please note: all our events will take place at The Niche Cafe, formerly The Paper Microphone, above Bukhari Furriers, Main School Road, F-6 Super Market.

Book Club: On Sunday, April 18 @ 5 PM sharp, we meet to discuss Mitch Albom's The Five People You Meet In Heaven. The book is easily available at Saeed Book Bank and all other bookstores in the twin cities. For those of you interested in online purchases, you can find the book at Liberty Books. You can RSVP to the event here

Game Nights Word games galore as Game Nights kick right into gear on Saturday, March 24 at 6 PM at The Niche Cafe (details above). Pick your poison from Boggle, Balderdash, Taboo, Scrabble and Pictionary as you play to win a cash pot at the end of the night. Winner takes all. There are no second places, and no, everybody's not a winner! :) Consider it healthy competition for old fashioned gamers. The entry fee is Rs 200 with 50% going to the cash pot, and 50% as a cover for the event.

Readings will restart in the beginning of May. No dates yet, but as always, you can present your material at readings@desiwriterslounge.net.

That's it for now.


Tuesday, March 9, 2010

March / April Events

We've been a little lazy in updating the blog with the recent events, so we'll make this short and sweet.

March 15, 2010: Our writing competition finally ends; we have been disappointed with the entries thus far and because of the limited number of entries received, will look for just the one winner instead of the promised 5. If we get 6 entries, choosing 5 is kinda pointless!

March 28, 2010 (Islamabad): We meet on Saturday, March 28 to discuss Nathanial Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter at 6 pm at the Paper Microphone Cafe, our usual spot for our events.

April 3, 2010 (Lahore): On Saturday, our Lahore chapter meets to discuss Danial Mueenuddin's In Other Rooms, Other Wonders at a venue and time yet to be decided. Details on that soon, but meanwhile there's a date and a book pick. So if you haven't already read the book, now's the best time to read...or reread it.

And that's what the next few weeks look for Desi Writers Lounge. If you'd like more details on the Lahore events, email us at lahore@desiwriterslounge.net (that's right, the city has its very own email address!), because we take you seriously...

Meanwhile, our FB page and group are linked to on the right and for general queries, we can always be reached at info@desiwriterslounge.net.

Plan out your calendars!


Sunday, January 31, 2010

Confirmed Feb Events

This winter, we've got a couple events lined up extending our official reach into Lahore and hopefully, soon into Karachi as well. Meanwhile, a heads up to our Lahore and Isloo members: we're coming your way!

Book Club (Islamabad): On February 21st, the Isloo chapter meets after discovering the Cemetery of Forgotten Books in old Barcelona, the setting in the New York Times bestseller The Shadow of the Wind (Carlos Ruiz Zafon). We will also pick out our next selection in this session, so bring your picks along with you. The Shadow of the Wind is available in all bookstores in Islamabad/Pindi, most notably Saeed Book Bank. The book is also available online through Liberty Books or free (as an ebook) via DWL's Dropbox folder (click here to download).

Book Club (Lahore): And on February 27, we bring the book club to Lahore...also with The Shadow of the Wind as our first selection. The book is available in all major bookstores in the city, and is available online through Liberty Books as well as our online dropbox folder as an ebook. Click here to download.

2010 Reading Series (Isloo): We're all set to restart our reading series for 2010 on February 27, which coincidentally is the same date as the Lahore book club meeting. As always, we are taking in material now up till February 23. Material can be sent in to readings@desiwriterslounge.net. We hope to hear from some of our newer members during the course of the series.

Writing Competition: Encouraging our entire membership to participate in the competition, a reminder that the deadline is March 15. There is no word limit to the pieces you send in, which can be anything from a poem to a short story to a runt, with varying themes, as long as they contain all words of your respective titles. For more details, click here. You can email in your work to entries@desiwriterslounge.net.

Facebook events for all the above will be created a little closer to the date.

If you have any questions regarding the above, place them in the comments below.

So now that we're all set to start 2010 off in style, we're hoping you're as excited as we are to join us at any of the above.

Bottoms up, peoples!


Friday, January 22, 2010

Icebreaker Pushed

Hello Everyone,

So by common favor, the ice breaker has been cooled (we couldn't resist) off in favor of selecting a book first and then meeting up to start discussing that. Dates of course, will be pushed in favor of late February or early March, depending on how fast we select.

Tally ho!


Monday, January 11, 2010

Going to Lahore...

DWL Lahore will have its "official" launch some time in mid-late February as we kickstart activities in the city, with a book club ice breaker meeting. The ice breaker will be used as a way to literally break the ice as we get introduced to our membership in the city, and they get introduced to one another, along with welcoming additional members and readers into our fold.

Needless to say, we are very excited for this endeavor and hope the Lahoris will be too now that we're "finally" coming to Food Central.

So, a show of hands...how many of you are excited DWL's coming to a cafe near you?


PS We appreciate the positive response concerning the print publication and can assure you that it is definitely in our future.