An end-of-year thank you note.
Hi, Hot Chips gang.
When I started this newsletter 2 years ago, all I knew was writing on the internet was insanely cool and very powerful. I had experienced a good bit of it myself, and obviously, since I’m on Twitter all the time, I see it every other day.
I didn’t start off writing with having any particular goals — and I still don’t. At least not quantitative ones. If I get a sponsor or a grant or whatever, nothing like it. But my primary goal right now is to raise the bar higher with every piece. Be more ambitious. Get that high-profile music interview (if you know, you know). Or do that absolutely bonkers idea that I have that I know will probably kill me, but it’ll be worth it.
This is a thank-you note for entertaining those ambitions every month. It’s heartening to know that there are people who say that something I wrote answered questions that they had for a while, or questions they didn’t know they should be having. For any writer, making the reader ponder, think, or just feel wow-ed is the ultimate joy. And I am glad that with every piece I did this year, there was at least one person who felt this way.
The year was obviously not without its challenges. Existential crisis, dengue, general feeling of purposelessness, all things that happen to people. All things that I always hope that people get a chance to break through in their own ways. I can’t and won’t lie that the non-physical aspects of well-being do get in the way of writing. But while they create a cold-start problem — in the sense that getting up to write is a challenge — once I successfully got up and said “fuck it”, all I wanted to do was write. In a way, it saved my ass. I remember pushing The Museum of Subtle Arts while bedridden because a mosquito bit me in the metro. Not that I recommend or endorse doing this, but it’s a great adrenaline rush. I will personally pay you all that I have if you eradicate all of these stupid bugs from this world.
Running the newsletter itself had a few hoops I needed to jump through. Figuring out marketing was the biggest one. I had to give up trying to crack Instagram because I hated how much time I was spending on it due to this. I reluctantly accepted that I had to do more on my LinkedIn, not only because its damn effective, but also because I could not rely on Twitter anymore. I would experiment with doing small posts, particularly on media business, to try and get more leads on LinkedIn for Hot Chips. And I found out the hard way that unless I do it regularly, the LinkedIn feed will kill me and have me restart from zero.
Adapt or die, I suppose. But I think it’s become less of a problem now. (M)ad City did really well because of LinkedIn — probably, for the first time, better than any piece of mine did on Twitter. I guess that’s a good sign that I’ve made decent advances with that annoying (and disgustingly effective) platform.
The best part of thank-you notes: I started the year with writing Return To Home Bass 2 and ended it with (M)ad City. In between, there’s been a TON of people who have helped me, either with helping me connect with an expert, or with lending me their thoughts. Some of them have been friends for long, some of them are friends I’ve made specifically through Hot Chips. From top to bottom, the people that have been a part, by piece:
Return To Home Bass (1 & 2 + BTS): Rijul Seth, Ishartek Pabla, Meher Sachdeva, Dhruv Trehan, Aditi Singh, Tanya Singh, Abhiroop Dey, Nicaia D'Souza, Jayant Bakshi, Manik Dua, Chhavi Bahmba, every member of J-Block, Saar Punch, Tarun Kukreja, Bharg Kale, Karun, Viraj Gulati / idek, Gabriel Dattatreyan, Ritika Varshney, Taran Kaur, Sumit Roy
Sound Logic: Chinmay Bhogle, Aaron Barboza, Supraja Srinivasan, Roochay Shukla, Devarsh Thaker, Rafael Pereira, Owen Roncon
The Museum of Subtle Arts of Selling Ferraris: Debasmita Bhowmik, Sukhada Choudhary, Nithya V, Radhika Marwah, Mansi Dhanraj Shetty, Shephali Bhatt
(M)ad City: Gurjot Singh, Niharika Ghoshal, Ishtaarth Dalmia, Tanmay Mehra
And lastly, Kushan Patel, Sunaina Bose, Molina Singh, Jayesha Koushik, Paridhi Puri, for all the edits and proofreads I’ve hounded them with.
I also did 3 of pieces that I went solo with in terms of research. Primarily because these were ideas that probably didn’t require interviews, and also because I wanted to see if I could express original (or at least as original as it gets) thought coherently. I was really happy doing those pieces.
Especially the Succession one. I know I hit the jackpot with that piece.
(Half) jokes aside, I think the one thing I’d have 100% repaired was missing the 4 months of writing that I did this year. I’ve published 8 pieces in all of 2023, 9 if I include this. Not that I’m disappointed, but at this point the lags feel annoying. On that note, hopefully 2024 is more writing for sure.
I’m also toying with doing one other thing alongside the newsletters. I do a fair number of interviews with people who know a lot about some particular subject. I have a feeling that those could make effective
podcasts audio conversations to accompany the piece. I would need some audio editing skills and a good mic to boot with it for this. I’ve had enough people ask me why I’m not doing a podcast yet. It’s because I myself don’t listen to any regularly. But it might be much easier for me to record such conversations and have transcripts of them in public, should anyone want to check them out specifically.
I will also be exploring advertisements — affiliates, sponsors, the like. Honestly, there is nothing better than finding a sponsor that I can integrate smoothly into something I’m writing. For example, JJ Redick does it on his podcast The Old Man and the 3, where he’s talking about the strongest contenders in the NBA, and then effortlessly switches to advertising betting on said contenders on behalf of DraftKings. But I think I’m still a long way away from doing said integration. For now, it’s nothing more than an exploratory exercise.
Maybe I do have one podcast that I’m devoted to, after all.
I will see you guys in February, I think I will give in to some much-needed procrastination and laziness (and maybe reading). I hope you and your loved ones have a happy 2024 :)
Before that, I’ll leave you with one of my favorite introductions to any movie. This is how I feel writing this piece. There are no spoilers here — not like Dazed and Confused is a movie that can be spoiled anyway. If you haven’t watched it yet, you’re missing out the most laidback, adolescent, carefree movie ever.
Most importantly, the signature quote of the film says everything that I feel about how Hot Chips is going. Something about being alright, alright, alright :)