I felt compelled to write – to express myself through pen (and now keyboard) – ever since I was a little girl.
One of my earliest memories is of my primary school teacher smiling and telling me that no other student she had ever taught did what I did. What did I do? Whenever she left a comment or feedback in the margins of my workbooks, I used to write back to her!
I guess that was a sign of what would come later in the form of poetry, short stories, blog posts, a novel and now children’s books.
I never once stopped to think ‘I want to be a writer’. I just was one. Naturally.
I didn’t choose to write, writing chose me.
And now I’m here, choosing to share my pieces, past and current, with my children when they’re older…and you.
My name is Rabia and I am a writer. Pleased to meet you…
A few years ago I put down A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini and felt bereft. I couldn’t eat or concentrate on my pre-Hosseini hobbies for days. Eventually, my mind came out of its stupor and began to imagine its own stories again. One day it wasn’t a short story I had in mind; it would be my first novel. I grabbed my laptop and began typing the scene furiously. I had it. My first chapter. I had wanted to be a published author since I was a little girl but every piece of fiction that I had written or envisaged was never any longer than two sides of paper. I was in my early thirties and I finally began realising my once forgotten dream.
I hadn’t written in over fifteen years at this point. It was time for a refresher of sorts. I found a ‘Towards A Novel’ course in the City Lit Institute in Central London. A week-long course full of promise. I booked the course and booked a week off work. I was excited and couldn’t wait to get started. On reflection, perhaps that was my mistake – being too eager. I hadn’t been in a literature class since High school so I found myself absorbing every pointer as though it was the only way to succeed.
My first chapter got re-worked during that week and was presented to the class on the final day. I received good feedback, but something didn’t sit right with me. The chapter stayed in my laptop for a long time after that; gathering virtual dust.
It took a few years before I picked it up again and almost 11 months later, I had written a novel.
I worked with a wonderful editor to go through my novel and learnt a lot. But I didn’t agree with all of her suggestions (and she was cool with that). I had grown better at listening to my own voice, but I wasn’t quite there yet so my novel went back into hiding.
The plan is to sit with it again. I’d love to re-work it as I have grown as a person and a writer since I last worked on it (and continue to grow). This time, I’ll be doing it alone.
Don’t stifle your voice by trying to imitate others or follow instructions. Let the natural narrator in you tell the story.
Ooh, what a great idea for a story/poem!
I’m too busy to write it down now…
But my idea is SO good, I’ll definitely remember it later…
If you’re a writer or entrepreneur or a human being with a creative mind, you’ll have experienced the above at some point, right? It’s so frustrating when that great idea gets lost in a dark corner of your mind, never to return no matter how hard you wince and rub your forehead – aarrrgghhh!
Having learnt the hard way – I keep various notebooks scattered around the house, in my handbags, in the car and my phone never leaves my side. Now I drop what I’m doing and write/type the idea straight away – unless I’m holding someone’s baby, that is!
Take action against that faulty memory and be ready when the next creative idea creeps up on you: litter your life with notebooks.
© Rabia Bashir 18th Jan 2014
My friend gave me a beautiful notebook – around the time I started to seriously write my novel. It turned into a ‘diary’ for my novel…. some days I wrote what was going on personally or why I hadn’t written in my novel since the last time…
But every time I sat to write, I wrote the minimum of:
– words written that day
– total word count so far Continue reading “Dear Diary”