Writing with Maisha and Victoria
By Maisha Chowdhury & Victoria Chow
Maisha and Victoria talk writing inspiration, college, Gossip Girl, and The Sims.
What makes you want to write?
Maisha: I feel like writing is a way that I can express myself. Many times the emotions that we feel are just bottled up inside of us and we don’t fully understand them. However, once we put things on paper, it is definitely a stress relief. It also helps me understand my emotions and me as an individual even more.
Victoria: I write to help make sense of how I feel. Memoir and creative nonfiction are my favorite genres because I can step back and see things – heartbreaks, milestones, everyday memories – in a completely different light. And on the other hand, there’s value, too, in keeping a journal or diary. I love going back and reading how 16-year-old Victoria felt in the moment.
What did, or will, you write for your college essay?
Maisha: I am thinking about writing a college essay that shows my personality and how I developed that personality. I want the essay to be such that when anyone reads it they understand me and know how I am as a person and what circumstances or incidents led to become who I am.
Victoria: I wrote my college essay in 2010—about my hair, which at the time was super frizzy. In high school a lot of people told me it was un-Chinese because it wasn’t straight and shiny, and it made me really insecure about where I fit in as a Chinese-American. So my essay was about my journey to figure out that identity, but it started with my hair.
How did you start playing Sims 4, and what do you love about it?
Maisha: Interesting, since that is what my college essay is all about. I always found myself choosing certain personality traits similar to mine. I love Sims 4 since it gives me a reflection of what I really want my future to look like. I also love how I can create the problems that the characters face and what their reaction would be like. It’s safe to say I’ve always liked to be in control.
Victoria: When I started playing the Sims, I loved creating the architecture and designing homes. But now I totally agree with Maisha. I don’t really play for the outrageous deaths or crazy gameplay. Over the years, I learned to love creating storylines and characters that reminded me of my life—playing felt very aspirational.
Where do you get your writing inspiration from (TV, movies)?
Maisha: I get my writing inspiration from my surroundings. I’d watch a TV show such as Gossip girl and think that but in reality not everyone has a rich luxurious life shown in that particular TV show or many times the social issues that go around also definitely inspires me to sit down and write about how I really feel.
Victoria: Growing up, TV shows like The O.C. and Gossip Girl definitely influenced my writing. I wrote a lot of fictional teen drama—too much, probably. Recently I’ve found myself feeling inspired by music—especially the podcast and show Song Exploder, where artists break down the stories and process behind some of their most famous songs. It feels very similar to the written word as well.
Enough about writing. What are other things you do in your free time?
Maisha: Besides writing, I spend my time advocating. I am able to do so by being a part of multiple non-profit organizations. I also have interests in the computer science field. Thus, I am a part of a coding program at Google. It really does keep me busy but I love being busy doing the things I love.
Victoria: A year ago I discovered a creative side of me I didn’t know existed—knitting! I’ve been obsessively knitting sweaters, scarves, hats and socks for friends and family, and recently decided to donate any profits from commissions to organizations and charities I care about.
We wanted to interview each other, documentary-style, about why we write, where we gain inspiration (everything from TV shows to The Sims to music), and our other hobbies and passions. This was also a good learning experience with audio and film using Kinemaster. While there were many bloopers and restarts during the actual filming process, we got to learn a lot about each other and highlight our mentee/mentor bond!
Maisha Jahan Chowdhury
Maisha Chowdhury is a 17-year-old teenager who has unending enthusiasm towards expressing herself in the form of writing. She is currently a junior in high school, and plans on taking every opportunity that comes her way. Maisha is an activist and has given back to the community by being an active leader in non-profit organizations such as Integrate NYC, Yvote and TAP NYC. She also takes great interest in the computer science field and is a part of Code Next by Google.
Victoria Chow is the head of marketing and communications at Pop-Up Magazine. Previously, she worked in communications at Public.com, Reddit, Time Inc., and Penguin Random House.