Nandini started writing personal essays in 2001 as a way to capture her experiences as “an Indian mother raising American kids.” Her first essay, Brand Name Mania (included in the Abroad at Home anthology), was well-received. It was published on Sulekha.com (a web site that attracted Indian readers) and on Alternet.org (a web site that attracted American readers who were looking for thoughtful, “coloring outside the lines” content). However, the “anything goes” nature of unmoderated comments on Sulekha was debilitating. It threatened to crush Nandini’s creative spirit. At the same time, there were virtually no other web sites like Alternet.org that were open to this type of content. So, it proved to be a herculean effort simply to look for suitable magazines, submit content, and then wait, and wait, and wait.
Nandini was brimming with ideas and reflections. She wanted to write, and she wanted to connect with readers. The many civil and enthusiastic comments posted on Sulekha had convinced her that there was a great deal of interest in a perspective like hers.
Being a software developer (this was long before blogging platforms became a thing), she designed the web site, created a database back-end for it, and started publishing her own essays and those written by her co-founder and other friends. Soon, the online magazine started receiving excellent submissions from other writers who were looking for a welcoming platform. And, the number of readers increased by leaps and bounds as well. It reached as many as 25,000 unique visitors each month.
One of the writers who wrote for Desijournal was Ranjani. She wrote several essays and short stories for the magazine, a couple of which were included in the Abroad at Home anthology.
Nandini and Ranjani lost contact for a few years as each moved on to other projects and roles in their work, family, and writing lives. They reconnected recently and were pleasantly surprised to find that in the intervening ten years each had continued to write. While Nandini has written a deeply researched full-length biography of an Indian trailblazing woman, Ranjani has written a memoir of her “yours, mine, and ours” life.
They started exchanging notes on their publishing experiences and sharing their recent writing as a way to give and receive feedback. The frequency of their Hangouts calls — they live literally on opposite sides of the globe — went from once every so often to once each week. Some of these calls are now almost two hours long! It was through these conversations of mutual support and shared values, and shared goals that the idea to launch Story Artisan Press was born.
By the way, Nandini and Ranjani have yet to meet in person 🙂
Just as with Desijournal, and with the friendship that Nandini and Ranjani share, we hope that Story Artisan Press will grow into a community of passionate writers and engaged readers. If you are a reader or a writer, we invite you to join us on this exciting journey!