Photo by Milad Fakurian on Unsplash

A New Adventure

Understanding the Depth of Ideas

Akshay Gajria
Missives from an Island
5 min readMar 4, 2024

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Hello!

When I first draft these newsletters, the files are saved with names in this format: <Month> <Year>. But within the folder that houses those drafts are three files: February 2024–1, February 2024–2 and February 2024–3. The one you’re reading is my third attempt at writing one for this leap day adding month.

There is a lot happing in my life right currently — things I don’t want to get into — but because of this, I haven’t had much time to write as I usually do. Which, unfortunately, gives me little time to examine something quite extraordinary that’s going on under the surface. My writing process is changing. No, that’s not quite right. Not my process. My writing itself.

It’s been over three months (or more) since I graduated with an MA in Creative Writing and since university ended, life got so busy with some big moves that I haven’t had a chance to examine my methods and madness. The MA was intense and each module pushed me and my skills to the extreme, and on occasion, beyond. Living for a year in that high pressure with peers who themselves were not just trying to write, but also striving to improve their craft was everything I expected and more. It proved a saying I’d heard long ago about how if you’re trying to learn a subject, living in a house with people who were trying to learn it too was the best way possible.

Someone recently asked me whether I’d recommend doing an MA in Creative Writing. My immediate answer is a resounding “Yes!” It’s changed the way I write and I can do things on the page that I couldn’t before.

What do I mean by this?

Before arriving for the MA, I was told that the professors will push me to write in a way they deemed suitable, writing from their (western) lenses. But that’s not been the case. My voice is still my own (thank the lords). I may have garnered a few extra words that slip in time and again, but the real crux of change is that my ideas have deepened. I’d noticed this during the course itself but it was still developing and now that I have some distance from it, I’ve started to notice it a lot more as I continue to write.

But how does one measure the depth of ideas?

My writing mentor back in India, Michael Burns, used to say that a writer’s superpower is their curiosity. The more curious, the more interested in the world you are the better you will be at your writing. I agree to this whole heartedly. But I assumed that we were all born with a limited dose of curiosity — and I’m still unsure if my level of curiosity has increased or not. But what the MA did was give me tools to channel my curiosity, asked me to not only see the world as I did, but capture it on the page like a lens refracting the world’s light in my own colours. And those colours are my words.

Artist Unknown — this image has been in my gallery since 20 January 2013. I never thought I’d ever use it anywhere but here we are. Collect things, collect everything you love. You don’t know when or where they’ll find a way to fit.

I’m still deciphering these tools, it’s like my brain received a software update and I don’t yet know all the changes made to the operating system. I’m still figuring it out. (And I’m so glad YOU, as a subscriber, are a part of that journey.) Meanwhile, I’m using this enhanced software to write, and not only am I enjoying it, I can see how much it has grown. Remember the two earlier drafts of this newsletter? Both of those grew out of control and I had to go down deeper rabbit holes of research to do them justice. And as they grew, I decided to change their mediums from a newsletter to a proper essay because those ideas, initially nascent, have grown mightily deep.

The depth of an idea, I’ve come to realise, is determined by how much of it you can distil and bring to the surface.

A much younger me (bless him) would have perhaps thought those previous drafts were enough. But no. What the MA did for me is remind me of how much I don’t know. And how much there is yet to learn still. As I stand here, at the precipice of not knowing, I feel nothing but excitement. What else do you feel at the beginning of any new adventure?

AG Updates 📣

While I continue to write fiction for my own sanity, I’ve also developed a love for writing essays. Two days ago, the first piece of writing I’d created during the MA got published in a publication called Human Parts — somewhere I’ve always aspired to be published in. It is called “Engineering Myself”. It’s a personal narrative. Read it below.

What I’ve Been Reading 📚

This excellent essay by Walter Benjamin called The Storyteller where he reflects on the role of the oral storyteller and how those traditions have passed down to writers. Read it here!

Words to remember 📝

There is more magic in inaugurating a different reality, to meet the hunger of hope and desire.

— Marian Warner

Until next month,

Seek them rabbit holes,

Akshay

You’re reading Missives from an Island a newsletter by Akshay Gajria. This newsletter is delivered to your inbox on the 30th of every month. You can also find Akshay on Twitter (X), Instagram, and Medium. If you enjoyed reading, consider tipping him by buying a cup of tea (or three) here or buying his ebook (linked below). You can discover his work at akshaygajria.com

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