This interview was originally published on ne8x.in. Since the website is now defunct, I have republished it here.
Mahevash Shaikh belongs to a breed of millennials who have taken their role in the postmodern world of the internet very seriously. In an interview with Ne8x, the young author talks about Busting Clichés, what inspires her to blog, and her next book.
What inspired you to write Busting Clichés?
Ironically, a cliché is what inspired me! I was about to turn 25 and I thought that I should accomplish my childhood dream because, you know, 25 is a milestone age by which you are supposed to achieve stuff in your life. Plus, I was sick of people repeatedly misusing popular clichés like time heals all wounds, and blood is thicker than water. There was no book that dealt with this global issue so I decided to write it myself. As Carol Shields said, “write the book you want to read, the one you cannot find”.
I am glad to say my first book did all right, considering that I had zero connections and a small publisher. It was nominated for TCK Publishing’s Reader’s Choice Awards, got a great review on Women’s Web, and acclaimed horror author Neil D’Silva enjoyed it too.
Tell us about your blog, Mahevash Muses. Who is your audience?
All over the world, young people are learning to embrace who they are, warts and all. We are more individualistic than any generation that came before us, but somewhere, we still hesitate to be completely ourselves. Through my blog, I hope to give them the push they need to get just one step closer to being themselves. I want every person who reads my words to know that there is nothing wrong with being different. In fact, it’s probably better if you don’t fit into society’s definition of “normal”.
Mahevash Muses is a safe space for unconventional people who want to be authentic or are already on the path to being authentic. By sharing my honest views about sociocultural and mental health issues, my readers and I have a real bond. On days when blogging seems like too much work, their love and support help me to keep at it. My audience is global and as my blog grows, I hope to share my message with more people.
You recently announced that you are working on your second book. Could you tell us what is it about?
I am glad you asked! I am pretty excited about my upcoming book, tentatively titled Darkness And Light, a collection of free-verse poems that will explore the interconnected themes of mental health and Indian society. It is all about common experiences like birthday blues, corporate culture, workaholism, social media besting, chronic dissatisfaction, and beggars on the street. Some poems also deal with issues like anxiety, depression, PTSD, self-love, emotional abuse, and nihilism. I am sure they will impact all kinds of readers, irrespective of race, religion, gender, or age.
Any advice for aspiring writers?
Embrace your true identity, no matter how uncomfortable that feels at first. Do not conform to what the world around you wants you to be. Also, read authors in your genre of interest. For example, while writing Busting Cliches, I read quirky non-fiction like Austin Kleon’s Steal Like An Artist. And while working on Darkness And Light, I am reading poets like Warsan Shire and Sylvia Plath.
Most importantly, write because you have something to share with readers, not because you want to become rich or famous. The odds of the latter are low and if that’s your sole motivation to write, you will soon give up. If you are writing purely to build your brand, make life easier for yourself and hire a ghostwriter. But if you write because you simply have to, make sure to connect with other writers. Honestly, no matter how aloof you are, all writers benefit from a sounding board. Even if you have just one writer who listens to you and vice versa, you are good to go.
Thank you for this interview, Mahevash. It was a pleasure speaking with you and we wish you great success.
Thank you for having me. This was fun!