A journalist that I respect very much-Mridu Khullar Relph- and I started chatting when I chanced upon her blog and wrote her an email telling her about my work as a journalist who had just started out. We struck up a friendship and Mridu went out of her way to advise and help me. What it made me realise though is that sometimes, all you need to do is reach out and politely ask for help.
There are a lot of people in the world who are really interested in your work and wish to help you further your goals. Two other people who have been instrumental in furthering my writing goals are Julie Schwietert Collazo and David Miller. Julie ran the Matador Change website and I had first pitched an article to her about Social Entrepreneurs in India. Slowly, we began exchanging emails and discussing everything from Arundhati Roy to the "Day of the Dead". David has painstakingly edited my travel narratives and once gave me a very important piece of advice about my writing-he said to me "don't front" i.e write in as authentic a manner as possible.
Another person I must mention here is the lovely Alyssa Martino. Alyssa and I are writing buddies and often check in on each other specifically in terms of our work- often editing each others' works and pushing each other. Rudrani and I also run our works by each other before we actually submit something.
The other day, while I was working on my dissertation I realised that I needed to understand the concept of boredom far more intricately than I know, for now. I had heard about an urban ethnographer with an interest in space and place, and knew that he may have insights that I might be able to use in my own dissertation. He wrote back within three days with a complete list of citations and other people that he had worked closely with,that I might want to contact.
From last year, I have also been receiving emails almost every other day about how to get published or how to apply for specific scholarships. I reply to every single email without fail, even if I feel like I am stretched for time because I know the thousands of people who were once unknown to me, but who have become great friends and have helped me in the past and continue to help me, support me, give me invaluable advice and act as mentors. Many of my closest friends have volunteered to read drafts of things I write, comment on them, critique them and correct typos for me- all because they wanted to ensure that I can put forth my best work. All my professors have been ever-ready to speak to me and give me advice about academic concerns whenever I have been confused in terms of what my next step should be.
Literary work, journalistic writing and academia can often be isolating processes. It's great to have the help and support of your mentors and peers. This post is just to let all of you know what a huge part you have played and continue to play in my growth as a writer and as a person.