a short manifesto for the morning star
Up until my Freshman year of college, there was nothing I hated more than writing essays. Maybe it was the setting of highschool and training for standardized tests, but I had decided the form had no room for artistic flourish. It would hinder my abilities as a playwright and fiction writer. I suppose that’s the thought process a teenager would have - everything that feels easy and beloved is artistic and rebellious. Anything else is following the rules and “scientific”, whatever the fuck that means.
It was only in the face of a challenge that essaywriting became interesting to me. My second semester of college, I had the luck of being allowed to enroll in Zadie Smith’s Masterclass of Fiction. I had not read a single thing she had written, but I recognized her name. I was very excited until I learned the class would consist solely of reading books Smith enjoyed and writing papers on them. The first paper I turned in was returned with a quick paragraph that began with the sentence: “Kanishk, I’m afraid this is horrible.”
And that is how I came to love essaywriting. Because I suddenly understood there was a trifecta of challenges in its writing process: the lack of grammatical leniency I enjoyed in theater, the unique possibility for a more personal voice than what I utilized in fiction, and a need for clarity in my thought that I lacked just in general. It was also an act of kind fate that I would realize this before diving into any rigorous academic classes. That’s not to say I became a perfect essaywriter - in all my essays throughout college, I still suffered from a scatterbrained approach and a penchant for skipping the rewriting process straight to submission.
Yet, I was now newly able to appreciate the entire range of nonfiction writers I would be introduced to. From Derrida’s writing on Artaud, Gallagher’s theory of fictionality, Lukács and Bersani’s harsh criticisms of Joyce, to contemporary writers, such as Noah Kulwin’s work in Jewish Currents - even if they challenged me to the point of headache, I was enamored. I wanted to write like them, knowing the distance between what I could produce and what they did.
And that is, truthfully, why I decided to start The Morning Star. One of the frustrations I’ve had, as of late, is how little time I’ve put towards writing nonfiction. It is strange, perhaps, to create a newsletter for such selfish reasons - but, to both hold myself accountable, as well as over the flames of potential criticism, I hope to push myself to find even more joy in the form. Right now, I am just trying to grow.
So - the goal is to create one of these posts a week, delivered straight to your inbox. Please feel free to comment, and I’ll try to interact with readers as much as possible. I’m looking forward to it, with a lot of admitted fear as well. But it should be fun - this type of thing should always feel fun.