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…

How A Writing Course Stopped Me Writing

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.

My advice:

Don’t stifle your voice by trying to imitate others or follow instructions. Let the natural narrator in you tell the story.

The Notebook

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

Dear Diary

Dear Diary

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:
– date
– words written that day
– total word count so far Continue reading Dear Diary