Click here if you’re a parent of a toddler and want to learn more about how to peacefully parent your little adventurer! I’m super excited about Iris Chen’s contribution. I love her work on untigering.
So it’s Feb 2nd 2020. My newborn is almost 5 months. HOW DID THAT HAPPEN?
Alhamdulilah, the blessings of being busy with little ones – time passes, and hey look, there’s another email from a literary agent in my inbox!
I’m thrilled to report that I’m no longer dying from waiting stress. I’m still getting email/form rejections, and I’m also getting really helpful personalised rejection emails from the agents who’ve read my full manuscript.
I even got one super rare and uber helpful revise and resubmit (R&R) request!!! Okay, so it’s not an offer of representation….but now I know that there is ONE agent in the Vast and Unknowable Sea of Agents who loved my book enough to take the time to write me very detailed email on how to make it better, and to please resubmit if I do take on the suggestions. UM YES PLZ THANK YOU!
Based on the R&R and similar feedback from other literary agents, I’ve decided to 1) stop querying 2) start revising my manuscript to make it even stronger 3) hold off on sending out my full manuscript to interested agents until it’s fully revised. My deadline is 2-6 months from December 2019. Wish me luck! I can’t and I won’t give up now!!
Am I still drowning in self-doubt and imposter syndrome? Yup. I make space for those feelings, take a deep breath, exhale, and remind myself that:
1) I wrote a whole book, got it beta read and professionally edited while pregnant with my third baby.
2) Nobody else can tell the story I’m telling.
3) It’s better for me to take my time with my revisions, so that the best version of my book will get read.
4) Even if nobody ends up representing my first book…I can always write another. And another. And another. Rinse, repeat!
5) I have the rest of my life to write, and this intense time of mothering little ones will end. I’m enjoying the cuddles and milky snuggles while I can!
So if you’re also in the querying trenches…hang in there! Keep at it, one day at a time. Keep writing and keep living well until the day the right agent snaps up your book and loves it as much as you do, if not even more ❤
I type this while my 2 month old son lies fast asleep next to me. I really ought to sleep too. Eh, I will, after this. Blissful solitude is something I don’t get much of in the daytime!
So, what’s it like having a 2 month old, almost 2 year old and 4.5 year old?
That, my friend, is a summary of my day.
Alhamdulilah for my three healthy, vibrant and strong little ones ❤
Novel update: I got my query letter, synopsis and manuscript in shape in time for Pitch Wars, but didn’t win a menteeship. Still, it was a great experience. Lotsa supportive writer folk on the Twitter #writingcommunity
Good news: I scored some wonderful literary agent interest through the #DVpit Twitter contest on October 28th! One of my winning tweets:
MEAN GIRLS x GILMORE GIRLS x CHARMED
16F Insyirah moves to Malaysia and inherits her grandmother’s handsome and loyal Star Trek-loving jinn. Take that, school bully. Keeping him means risking harm from evil jinn. Exorcising him could kill them both. #DVPIT #OWN #F #IMM #CON
I’ve submitted (query letter and partial manuscript) to four agents so far and oh, the waiting game, the waiting game. It’ll take weeks, if not months, for the agent(s) to get back to me requesting my full manuscript, and then it’ll be even more waiting to see if I get an offer of representation (or not). Egads. Traditional publishing is not for the impatient. Luckily, I have small children, so I am literally not going anywhere. They are the Jedi Masters of teaching me patience.
#PitMad, another Twitter pitching contest, is running on Dec 5th. I’ll aim to pitch my manuscript then too.
So how do I write with a newborn, toddler and preschool? In very small bites. lol. Literally. It all adds up! Writing is also how I decompress and make sense of my world ❤ But it’s either write or sleep so eh, one day I’ll feel more rested.
Recent articles I’ve published on SBS:
Recent articles I’ve published on Medium:
OK I GOTTA GO SLEEP BYE
Alhamdulilah, I gave birth to my baby boy, Mohamed Suhail, on Sunday, the 8th of September 🙂 Please make dua for my little boy and his two excited big sisters. I didn’t think I’d be that mother with three kids under 4.5….but there you have it. Motherhood has taught me to never say never! Back to the newborn haze, with waking up every two hours to breastfeed ❤ And the delicious newborn snuggles. And watching my little girls adoring their baby brother. And then fighting with each other, and then being friends again. Never a dull moment.
Writing-wise, I’m giving my manuscript a break while I rest and recover. This is my third newborn rodeo, and I’ve surrendered to the reality that it’ll be a pretty exhausting few weeks and months. I’d like to work on revising my manuscript and getting it agent-ready, but, honestly, imma too tired. And that’s okay. I look at all the writing mamas out there who juggle so much, get books published through the chaos, and I hope that one day, my turn will come too ❤
Belated Selamat Hari Raya and Eid Mubarak!
Wooooo alhamdulilah, I’ve more or less finished my first draft! Truly, it goes to show that consistency does pay off. Sikit sikit, lama-lama jadi bukit! If I can write 60,000 words with while pregnant, with a 4 year old, 1.5 year old – YOU CAN TOO! I couldn’t have gotten this far without the hands-on support from my husband and mother-in-law – thank you for all the help!
My first draft is with my trusty beta readers now, and I hope to get some super helpful feedback within the next few weeks.
I’ve also sent my manuscript to be edited by Michele Sagan, who has been nothing but incredibly supportive from the get-go. Thank you, Michele! The fact that she is an editor, an agented and published author, and a mother of FOUR CHILDREN gives me so many warm, fuzzy feelings. My manuscript is in good hands ❤
So what’s next for me, writerly-wise? Some ideas:
- Not to look at my manuscript because I’m at the stage where I’m like…WHO’LL EVEN READ THIS?!!!
- Start writing my second novel! Or at least, start outlining it.
- Research agents for my first book.
- Start drafting query letters to agents.
- Keep lurking on @pitchwars and prepping for the December #pitmad.
In other news, I am 37 weeks pregnant. I AM LITERALLY GOING TO GIVE BIRTH SOON. To an actual baby. Not a book baby! A baby baby! This is both exciting and terrifying. Please pray for me and baby. My 4 year old and 1.5 year old can sense a big change is coming, and are clinging to me for dear life…..so let’s just say it’s a good thing I’m no longer worried about hitting my word count :p Now I can just (try to) rest, listen to birth affirmations, and enjoy the last few weeks of being a mama of two ❤
So it’s been a while. And yes. I’m PREGNANT. Again. Yup, baby #3, alhamdulilah, due this September. Please make dua for me, baby, my 15 month old and my almost 4 year old. We are gonna be in for a partayyy with 3 kids under 4.5!!!!
I’m working on my first novel – a YA multi-generational family mystery with a backdrop of Malaysian magic realism. Have I finished planning it? Nope. Because I am a panster, with a vague novel outline. SO I kind of know where my novel is headed-ish. I’m 28,389/60,000 words in, so I’m almost 50% in! PRAY FOR ME TO FINISH THIS BEFORE I GIVE BIRTH. Plz. Thanks.
So my plan is to keep at 500 words a day, and I either write in the mornings when my eldest is at preschool, my baby is napping, or in the evenings when my kids are asleep. I’ll keep the word count update here, to keep me going too. Once I’m done, please let me know if you’re keen to be one of my beta readers 🙂
Dictation is my friend! It’s kind of hit and miss with the dictation function Google Docs. What dictation software do you use your on iPhones? Do share.
I’m thrilled to start off 2019 with my latest creative non-fiction piece, published by Lunch Ticket, as part of their Amuse-Bouche A La Carte series – The Healing. Thank you to the wonderful Lunch Ticket team, for giving my stories a home. I first read Adab at Seksan 🙂
I hope my stories speak to you, especially if you’re an exhausted mother of two (or more) little ones. It does get better.
I vividly remember submitting this 2 am, after yet another night of broken sleep. I’ve come to realise that these exhausting early years of motherhood have given me a kind of creative haze and lucidity – I am both slowed down and sped up. It’s like quicksand and slow motion film, all in one. Do I make sense? Ha. Who knows.
I drew long before I could write…and these days, because I’m so tired, it’s been a lot easier to draw. And I have plenty of daily inspiration to draw (ha ha) from.
You can find my comics on Instagram here @raidahshahidil I’d love to hear from you!
One of my brothers asked me today what it’s like having two kids. My first response was “Someone is always crying.” Then I added, “But it’s really cute when they play together.”
And that is a summary of my life, as a mama of two. Mama guilt doesn’t leave. It just multiplies, and grows extra heads. And then even the mama-guilt-extra-heads start fighting with each other. And please don’t say – “But your mum had six kids, you only have two!” because that, my friends, is a WHOLE OTHER STORY. #don’tgothere #twoisplenty
Cute moments in the car: My baby in her car seat, trying to lean forward to take a peek at her big sis. Big sis making funny faces and voices, making baby sis laugh and smile.
Not so-cute moments in the car: Trying really, really hard to do breathing exercises and stay calm in KL traffic while either Baby 1 or 2 is crying, or when both are.
I love, love, love Dr Laura Markham’s Peaceful Parenting approach. Deep thanks to Fareena Alam for sharing the Aha! Parenting website with me, all those tiring years ago ❤ If you enjoy Janet Lansbury’s Respectful Parenting, then you’ll like Dr Laura Markham’s approach too. I just find Aha! Parenting’s three principles a lot easier to apply on a day-to-day basis. This is a nice cheat sheet to stick on the wall or – even better – memorise. The test is remembering to apply it all in the heat of the moment, when there are tears and screaming. But hey, the joy of kids is that every day, they give you LOTS of opportunities to practice lol.
I’ve definitely noticed that it’s easier for Taskeen to cooperate with me when she feels connected to me. Getting her to giggle helps her let go of tension and then she’ll say “O-kay, Mama.” Because she’s so spirited, trying to strong-arm or yell at her doesn’t work anyway. She’s compelled us to up our game, since she was very little. So we’ve been asking her “What’s the solution?” since she could understand and respond. But the hilarious downside of that is her sometimes saying, with whole-body scorn, “That is not a good idea!” lol. Irfan and I want her to be a trouble-shooter and a problem-solver, so one of the mantras I repeat to her is, “We’re a problem-solving family!” I read somewhere that the opposite of blame is problem-solving. I like that.
Little Husna is almost 7 months and has found her voice!!! She recently discovered coughing, now that she’s trying out solids. And she proudly showed me how she could cough, then she grinned. And then Taskeen started coughing too, just to show that she’s still the boss. Haha. OH MY BABIES.
I’m SO excited about attending tomorrow’s talk. Hanna Alkaf is my hero because she:
1) got published through Salaam Reads, my dream imprint.
2) has TWO KIDS UNDER FOUR!
3) has TWO KIDS UNDER FOUR!!!!
4) is incredibly humble, supportive, and very “if I did it, then so can you!”
I’m just sayin’. Wow. Can’t wait to hold her book in my haaaands next year.
Hanna’s Q&A will be my baby Husna’s first earthside literary event haha. See you all tomorrow at Kino inshaAllah ❤