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Notes on the Valley

By Monith Ilavarasan

E-mail Monith Ilavarasan

About this blog: My parents, brother, and I moved to Pleasanton when I was in the seventh grade. I then graduated from Amador Valley High School, went to college at UC Davis and started out a career in tech. After several years working in large co...  (More)

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An end of year reflection

Uploaded: Dec 21, 2022
As this year draws to a close, I figure now is as good a time as any to reflect on the past year. I started this blog series back in the middle of March not really knowing how it would turn out.

My initial intention was to focus the blog primarily on investigative pieces that explored a topic deeply. I wanted to take the topics that we see in national or regional news and tie it back into how it shaped the community around us.

There are a few pieces throughout this past year that I believe accomplished this goal. The pieces centered around understanding the lived experiences of members in the Bay Area and I am especially proud to have written them.

They have helped to expand my understanding of the different types of people in our community. My hope is that they’ve provided readers new points of views to think about as well.

Writing these pieces gave me a newfound respect for journalism and more specifically local journalism. Local journalists focused on true investigative reporting have to be diligent, relentless, and consistent in getting at the truth. They have to be on the ball week after week and cannot take breaks to write about more personal topics.

The staff writers of the Pleasanton Weekly and other local newspapers in the Bay Area deserve all the accolades they get and more. They’ve kept me deeply informed of what is going on and have also given me some great ideas on areas to explore further.

One thing I didn’t expect going into writing a weekly blog was how much of my content would be centered around my personal experiences.

The standard expectation for a local blog writer is to write every single week. At times this has involved staying up late at night after a long day’s work to get my phrasing just right. My posts often feel like an extension of myself, so I want to make sure that they at least hit an internal bar I’ve set.

Even though it was at times a challenge, being pushed to write every week has been a blessing in its own way. The weekly posts often became ways for me to process experiences and events in my life. Taking a breath and actually thinking about what you experience in life is a privilege I'm incredibly grateful for.

One of the biggest themes I found myself writing about over and over again was around the importance of family, friends, and overall connection to a broader community. This past year has had its ups and downs, but when I look back the times where I strengthened these connections stick out the most.

Looking forward to the new year, there are a few goals that I want to set for myself with relation to this blog. The first is to write a longform post that spans multiple weeks on a topic that deeply affects our broader community.

I want to have the courage to do first hand research, talk directly to members of the community, and tie all these components together in a piece that is actually readable. There are some amazing blog writers and journalists out there that I deeply respect, and I want to use 2023 to take a step in that direction.

Finally, I want to use this time to show gratitude to a few people who have helped me in this new journey of writing. The first is Jeremy Walsh and Gina Chanell Wilcox. They were the ones that reached out to me and gave me the forum I have now.

Jeremy Walsh in particular has been gracious enough to give me feedback on the technical aspects of writing. He gives keen and impartial feedback that has helped me grow as a writer.

The second is my parents. They read every article and shoot me a text every now and again about how they are proud of me. When writing every week starts to feel tiring, their encouragement keeps me going.

Finally, I owe an immense amount of gratitude to my partner. There have been many late nights where she has forgone some much needed sleep in order to give strong feedback on what I’ve written. Even though our wedding vows didn’t specify sticking with someone through good writing and bad, she has stuck with me so far.

I’m taking the next few weeks off as I will be traveling to visit extended family in India. I will be back to posting regularly in mid January. I’m looking forward to the new year along with the new experiences and challenges that it will bring.
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Comments

Posted by Pton Resident, a resident of Foothill High School,
on Dec 26, 2022 at 8:18 am

Pton Resident is a registered user.

Keep up the good work, Monith. I have enjoyed your columns, particularly the more personal ones. Your column harkens back to the good ol' days when newspapers had staffers who wrote first-person columns. It's always nice to see someone's personal take on issues or even their own experiences.


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