Growth and change: Soliciting feedback

Dear readers,

This reads much like an ending. I promise, it is definitely not that. For the first time in a few years, this summer, I well-and-truly get to have a summer. In the fall, I’ll be starting my graduate program, the Master of Arts in Law and Diplomacy at The Fletcher School at Tufts University (!!). I’ve been alluding to this news for the past couple of months in my blog posts, but I can now finally confirm it! This is an amazing shift in my life, and as with every shift in my life, I want to keep my blog as a testament to those shifts. This blog went from Neiha Thinks This in high-school – a mishmash of a daily diary/rants about my nascent political opinions/reviews of books and music – to Waxes Poetic in college – its current iteration, filled with introspection and essay-style posts – to…well, I’m not sure.

And that’s where I’d like to solicit some help. While the current iteration of this blog has been fulfilling for me, engagement has not been as much of a factor. In high school, and early on in college, engagement was definitely at its peak. What does that mean? Is that important? I’ll be honest, a widespread reach has never been a goal of mine vis a vis this blog. But I’m content with engagement being a happy accident. And of course I do want to share content that people want to read. But I’d like to stay true to myself and – more importantly – my capacity for maintenance.

So, whether you’ve been reading this blog for years, or just recently hopped on, or this is the first post you’ve read (in which case, read at least a couple of posts in the backlog before you comment!), I’m all-ears:

What have you loved about my blog? What keeps you coming back? What should the future of this blog be? Keep it introspective? Incorporate reviews like the old days? More politics? Chronicle what I learn in my graduate program? More micro-posts?

I’m also considering starting a Tiny Letter to accompany this blog! It would look like a monthly or fortnightly newsletter rounding up what I’ve read (scholarship, news, creative writing/essays/poems) along with micro-updates. Is that something you would be interested in? Or does that belong here?

I’m incredibly excited about my future, Alhamdulillah. I’d like this blog to continue to be a part of it. And I want to shape what that looks like, with your help. Thank you!

-Neiha

Write what you know

As I was reading The Fault In Our Stars by the incredible John Green, I couldn’t help but feel overwhelmed by his vivid description of Amsterdam; it wasn’t just your run-of-the-mill, “What a beautiful city!” but a deep, intimate portrayal of a place known by a man who loves it. It makes sense – John, in his Vlogbrothers videos often mentions his adoration of the city and his frequent visits to it.

In fact, this observation linked to another; that the protagonist lives in Indianapolis, where John himself lives.

…maybe this isn’t news to you, reader, but it was a sudden realization to me:

When I was younger, I’d always been perplexed by why authors chose to set their novels where they themselves live or have lived. I found it kind of silly, like it was a self-insertion.

It isn’t. When your entire living, your raison d’etre, revolves around writing descriptions of people, places and thoughts, why would you write about a place you barely know? To write as beautifully as John Green, one must have intimate knowledge and should have thoroughly explored what is being written.

I would write about Lahore. It is my city. I know how it feels.

John Green, with his love of Amsterdam, a city that – paraphrased – is so free it often becomes akin to sinfulness, invoked beautiful imagery that is perfectly at home with the rest of his writing.

It may not seem like much to you – in retrospect, I feel a little embarassed for making a mountain out of a fairly obvious molehill – but it kind of blew my admittedly easily impressed mind.

Now, back to Texas and TFIOS.