Life feels a little different when we’re pivoting into a new year. I’ve been seeing posts about what people have accomplished in the past decade and realized that I basically finished middle school, high school, and college from 2009-2019. FUN TIMES! Part of why life feels different right now is because my internship is over in the second week of December, and I’m still figuring out what to do next. Something positive I noticed: my mindset has become so much more open. I’m starting to push past the negative weight of time pressure and explore my interests at my own pace.
WRITING: A FRESH STORY IDEA – I want a fun side-project to incubate ideas and grow my writing. I discussed this in my NaNoWriMo Week 2 update, but my novel in progress has made me pretty miserable these past couple of months (I still love everything about The Dream Chasers Society, don’t worry!). So, recently, I polled my close friends and siblings on what story idea I should write just for fun. Here were the options:
- A diplomatic prince chooses a future wife from a stack of papers because he likes that she’s a writer, only to find out that their fates are much more intertwined than they expected
- A college student named Reema is tired of all the essays, sleepless nights, and confusing Psychology exam, but her life turns more intriguing when whimsical things begin happening to her. Think: Alice in Wonderland
…And story idea #1 won 7-2! This was fun and spontaneous; I got to poll people with different interests, backgrounds, and levels of how often they read—a microcosm of media-consumers. Story idea #1 is definitely more light-hearted and reminds me of the ideas I used to think about in middle/high school.
CAREER: PUBLISHING & TRANSFERRABLE SKILLS – My career path has definitely benefited from a deep-dive into the publishing industry. I like that some of the publishing books I’m reading have much more context in conversation with what I’m learning in my internship. This mix of interning, reading, and following industry professionals on social media has also contributed to how I view myself as a writer. I feel less naïve about what it means to be a published writer and have a more realistic internal timeline for my novel.
Lately, I’ve been wondering whether editorial work or marketing suits me better. Each have their own benefits and some overlapping skills. I do appreciate the advice I received that once I have a full-time job in publishing and continue to focus on one field for some time (i.e. marketing), it’ll be harder to switch to another field within publishing (i.e. editing). Another helpful piece of advice is to tell people within your industry and company about what you’re specifically interested in so they can keep you in mind if a related opportunity arises. This definitely speaks to how much I want to work with Young Adult fiction writers someday.
While I would love to stay in the publishing industry in the future, there is a real pressure to build a skillset that’s transferrable to other industries (i.e. tech). I feel a bit of that right now with the kinds of jobs I consider applying to that are outside of publishing. It’s natural to feel nervous about not having enough experience, so I’m channeling that nervousness into building my skills. The job market is incredibly impacted right now with entry-level positions that call for 5+ years of experience, so I affirm people who are looking for jobs right now and college seniors who are starting the process.
CONTENT CREATION: AUDIENCE, INTENTION, & PRIVILEGE – We’re getting a little meta about blogging here, but I’ve been feeling a little stuck with my blog content and social media presence. I’m still figuring out what my topics are and who my intended audience is, or whether this is the best use of my writing time. I think the lower readership of blogs in general contributes to my uncertainty. Given the rise of technology, there is a surplus of content and content-creators but fewer people who are interested in or able to consume and invest in content. This is also true of the traditional publishing industry, too. It’s an ongoing, systemic problem that has to do with gatekeeping, capitalism, media consumption, and more. Lately, I’ve been interrogating my own media consumption and the patterns I see, such as relying on social media outlets to provide me with article links rather than going directly to those websites (i.e. liking Refinery29 on Facebook and clicking on articles on my newsfeed, rather than going on their website in the first place). A large part of it is convenience and comfortability. On the other hand, the readership and consumption go through big social media outlets before the intended website or content-creator, which also has to do with profit/loss. You can read more about this in The Business of Being a Writer by Jane Friedman.
As I mentioned, I wonder about my intentions. Is it to write about post-graduate content for humanities students/post-grads? Is it to write about whatever I’m interested in and hoping people will resonate? To me, it’s a question of whether I should invest more time and money into blogging and whether I’ll see a boost in readership or a more concrete idea of my intended audience. Also, there are two blog posts I started writing but never finished because they felt underdeveloped or the right timing disappeared: why the 1947 Partition should matter to young generations and a look at the current conversation surrounding Muslim-American representation in the media. It’s not to say that I won’t post about these topics in the future, but I didn’t take advantage of the creative excitement I had toward these topics at that time. Taking a risk and finding the right timing are important.
In general, I’ve been thinking a lot about the comfortable topics I write about and actually post vs. the more vulnerable topics I write about and don’t post. Regardless, I need to keep producing content to know how I want to channel my creative energy, even if that content is public or not. I also want to acknowledge my privilege. I’m a South Asian-American Muslim woman, who benefits from my light skin-tone, and lives in the South Bay at my parents’ home. Among other factors: my parents own their house and I have access to therapy. While I face challenges related to my identity, there are privileges I possess. It’s important for me to contribute to the conversation of content creation with transparency about my circumstances. We hear about content-creators who struggle with their craft without necessarily knowing whether they have a support system, partner, and/or family to lean on economically to make creative work easier to engage in. Saeed Jones (@theferocity) tweeted about this recently, and I’ve been thinking more about it. There’s so much to unpack, especially what it means to be a South Asian person living in the South Bay/Silicon Valley (I’m sure that’ll be a future blog post!).
If anything in this post resonated with you or made you wonder about something, I’d love to talk more about it with you! –S.A.
“For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good…But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer.”– IRA GLASS