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Reflecting on 100 Editions of Splash

One summer day in July of 2017, I decided to start a newsletter. In passing, my friend Stephen had mentioned wanting to start one, and I stole the idea since great artists steal or whatever. I had recently finished my second 100-day project, where I created 100 illustrations over the course of 100 days. I loved that project and how it taught me how creating regularly made me feel my best. With that project finished, a weekly newsletter felt like a less stressful way to keep a rhythm of making stuff. As I signed up for my Mailchimp account, I thought about how cool it would be to grow my newsletter into an enormous list, with hundreds or thousands of people reading my writing or be able to look back and say “I’ve been publishing Splash weekly for 10 years straight.”

I’m still writing Splash, almost 3 years later, but it’s different. When I was doing annual 100-day projects trying to find a creative practice to define me, I never thought that writing would My Thing. I had dabbled in so many different creative practices that I always thought something else would stick. I wanted something else to stick. Since I put so much pressure on this hypothetical life-defining activity, I wanted something more exclusive and differentiated. Writing is something that everyone learns the basics of, especially nonfiction. Being able to weave beautiful fictional worlds is an incredible skill, but if you’re just writing essays, how are you better off than a talented high school senior?

To find the answer, I read a lot of nonfiction. Disappointingly, I discovered that some nonfiction isn’t much better off than what a talented high school senior could write. There’s a great market for boring self-help and pop-science books that consist of some research pushed into a formula and marketed perfectly to be a bestseller. Fortunately, there’s more to the nonfiction world than that. I discovered phenomenal writers like David Sedaris and Jia Tolentino who would construct gorgeous essays and profiles, consolidating their lives with their subject matter, weaving humor and heart and love and pain together. I found the type of writing that I wanted to do. And I was finally able to accept that, yes, I’m happy to be a writer, because I know there are writers that I’d be happy to be like.

For a few months in the middle, I stopped writing my newsletter. I was overwhelmed by my job search and a general feeling of ennui that made writing seem like a fruitless pursuit. In the face of dozens of daily job rejections, digging up enough energy to write something that wasn’t an overwhelming list of complaints seemed impossible. I lost the desire to share much of anything and questioned whether my time spent writing over the past few years could have been better spent trying to be a better job candidate.

When I finally got a job, I pulled myself out of that strange mindset and slowly started to write again, but it was months before I felt like I was able to write something good enough to share once again. Around the same time, I started seeing more newsletters than I had ever seen before. When I first started writing Splash, I had no reference point for what a personal newsletter could be, so I often took inspiration from productivity bloggers who wrote in a semi-personal tone. As newsletters proliferated as a medium, I was suddenly exposed to immensely talented writers who actually read books in college and learned about the craft of writing, instead of making computers spit out numbers and making really bad video games about a vigilante stopping bagel-related crimes. Discovering these other writers has made me want to step my game up in terms of my writing, to put more thought and effort into newsletters than ever before, and prove to myself that I’m a real writer.

Over the past three years, this newsletter has been a public record of how I’ve grown as a writer and a person. I’ve learned a whole lot and changed my mind a whole lot. I’ve written some great letters that I’m really proud of and some horrible stinkers that I never want to even think about again. But the most amazing part of this whole experience so far has been the fact that dozens of people take the time out of their busy weeks to read what I have to say. People from family and close friends to distant acquaintances and strangers have followed along with my weekly babbling as I try to find my voice and bring something to the world. So to all of my dear subscribers, thank you so much for being here. To the ones who have been here since the beginning (hi mum!), I wouldn’t have made it this far without you.

To a hundred more (at least)!
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With alacrity,

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Nikhil · 325327 Georgia Tech Station · Atlanta, GA 30332 · USA

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