The Owlet - Write of Passage
Greetings from Sonipat, Haryana!
This week's issue is a long one!
I have something very exciting to share this week—I have officially enrolled in Write of Passage!
For those who don't know, Write of Passage (WOP) is an online cohort-based course that teaches you how to publish your ideas on the internet. It empowers you to use writing to accelerate your hobbies, interests and even your career.
WOP was started by David Perell, who is the go-to guy to write online. Having been at this for more than 5 years, he's figured out the tricks of the trade, which he has distilled into his 5-week course.
I've been familiar with David's work for over a year now. I've consumed practically all his free content. As I embarked on this creator journey a year ago, I took his advice and made a website. I started my newsletter (you're reading it now). I made a note-taking system, writing weekly content for both the blog and website.
WOP is expensive. The basic plan starts at $4000 and goes up to $7000. As a student, this is way out of my budget. And so I figured I'd have to wait several years until I earned the money.
But the serendipity of online writing kicked in.
In David's weekly newsletter, "Monday Musings", I read that in the 9 cohort of the course, the WOP team and Jim O'Shaughnessy were offering 10 full-ride scholarships! Suddenly it felt like WOP was within my grasp.
I found the application quite intriguing—3 questions and links to your best creative work. By this point, I had written several articles on my website and published a few photo stories. I figured that I had a decent chance of landing the scholarship.
In Hindi, we have an idiom that goes like "laga tho aam, gaya tho pathar", which essentially translates to "what do you have to lose?". What did I stand to lose by giving this application a shot?
So for the next few weeks, I worked in secret, brainstorming ideas and refining my website. In keeping with the WOP method, I poured through my notes and asked for copious feedback from my peers. Slowly but surely, I wrote my application essay.
When I received my confirmation email, I was shocked beyond words. I simply could not believe it. I needed a couple of minutes to get my bearings.
The moral of this story is that fortune works in mysterious ways. Serendipity lurks around every unexplored opportunity that comes your way. Be sure to take them.
The next few weeks will be a whirlwind of experiences for me. Can't wait to get started!
If you are interested in reading my application essay, then read it below!
Why should we give you a scholarship?
I adore snakes.
I admire their languid movement, obscure mannerisms, and ability to vanish into their environments. I marvel at the terror they invite from everyone who lays eyes on them. I respect their power to kill in a single bite.
They possess a certain grace, having honed their dexterity through a life of challenges. In many forms, they embody the myriad ways of the wild.
My love for wildlife is hard to contain. It forever lurks in my mind, creeping into every conversation. It lingers like a latent brood of cicadas, waiting to surface at the right time. It has me trekking after tigers, swimming after sharks, and running after (and away from) elephants. It wakes me at odd hours, straining my ears to hear birds at dawn.
Nature grips me with a surreal mysticism, exceeding what even the best words can say. Yet its allure is lost on the world right now. We seem to have forgotten our connection to nature.
By writing on the internet, I see a way of unfurling my passion for the natural world. The potential writing (combined with the internet’s reach) holds to influence people is formidable, worthy of any number of exclamation marks.
I have seen others fire the imagination of thousands through writing, adamant that I can do so too. But as a 19-year-old student, I am incapable of investing in this quest. All I have to offer is pavlovian excitement, creative prowess and unerring determination. By sharing my ideas, photographs and art on the internet, I will reshape how we perceive nature.
This is my compelling reason to apply for the scholarship for Write of Passage. The learnings and connections from the course will be my compass as I navigate and, by extension, reconfigure this new world.
What’s your vision?
I wish to reignite the world’s latent fascination for the wild.
Everyone knows about the current environmental crisis. With wild spaces shrinking across the globe, the need for immediate action is paramount. Policymakers, activists and ground-level practitioners have been grappling with how to solve this massive problem.
Never has it been more critical to rally the public around conservation. But today, the field is plagued with disunity. Researchers, conservationists, and activists forever lock horns while the earth gets destroyed in the backdrop.
The solution lies in a unified approach. This starts with reminding people of how nature underlines much of our lives today.
With the internet’s reach and quotidian serendipity, I wish to illuminate ordinary people with ideas orbiting nature. In time, as their fascination grows, I will look to involve them in the conservation circle.
Members of this collective will hail from all disciplines. Economists, mathematicians, lawyers, programmers, historians, artists, scientists, doctors, sociologists, philosophers, entrepreneurs, environmentalists—you name it. I am confident that a multi-faceted approach is our best chance at tackling the environmental crisis.
Our problem solving will operate on the “Wisdom of Crowds”. Academics, ground-level specialists, and other professionals will consolidate their prowess to formulate well-rounded solutions to our most pertinent environmental issues.
Through citizen science, activism, and local initiatives, we will assemble the most holistic approach to conservation the world has ever seen.
Name one esoteric idea that everybody should know, but most people don’t.
Nature is inextricably linked to creativity and the human condition. They weave into one another in more ways than one, shaping much of our daily lives.
Take trains designed after owls, plastics modelled after sharks, architecture inspired after termites; all these mimic phenomena uncovered from nature. Whittled by the delicate hand of evolution, these ideas form the basis of many structures we take for granted. From velcro and tape to construction and circular economies, the list goes on. We might pride ourselves on inventions but forget that evolution invented us.
Nature also snakes into our lives in the vocabulary we communicate in. We wolf down our favourite meals, and we chicken out of numerous affairs. We fish for ideas, and we monkey around with friends. Our lexicon is riddled with visions from the natural world. It is said that language shapes cognition; one wonders how much nature shapes language.
Sharing my ideas on the internet kills several birds with one stone; it sharpens my thinking, attracts like-minded people, and has a greater impact.
Most people today are copycats, stuck in the rat race of everyday jobs, clamming up at the thought of writing online. But not me. The world is my oyster, and I cannot linger any longer. I will not hold my horses back; instead, I will get on them and ride onward!
My Favourite Links
Write of Passage – An online course by David Perell — writeofpassage.school An online course by David Perell
The world is moving from the traditional, institution-based economy to the creator economy. Advances in education and the democratization of technology will change how we work and earn a living. Eventually, everybody will be in the creator economy.
An interesting look at starting a business for a newbie.
The vine snake's ability to vanish into its environment is astounding. Hidden in the picture above is one such snake. Find it!
“Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.” -Rainer Maria Rilke
Have a Great Week!
If you’re new, welcome to The Owlet! My name is Ishan Shanavas, and here I talk about my work, along with curating the most interesting ideas on the internet. I confine them to topics like Nature, Culture, Photography, and Art but often fall prey to other genres.
If you know someone who will enjoy the content, share the newsletter with them. Spread the word!