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When I’m not writing, I’m reading, or listening to audiobooks. I learn so much simply by reading other books, and it’s such a necessary part of my creative process.
Here are three authors I support on Patreon:
Hanna Alkaf: Hanna is one of my favourite Malaysian authors. Not only do I love her books, she also strongly encouraged me to finish my first draft (instead of ahem sporadically working on all 5 of my WIPs/ works-in-progress). “Your story is in your first draft.” TRUTH. I was pregnant with my second baby at the time. By the time I gave birth to my third, I had my polished manuscript. Right after he turned one, I had signed with my agent! Never underestimate solid writing advice.
Meredith Ireland: I had the privilege of being Meredith’s mentee during my novel revision process during lockdown last year. My manuscript became about a million times stronger with her help, and that was the version my agent fell in love with and offered to represent.
Fonda Lee: Fonda’s Greenbone Saga is my favourite fantasy trilogy so far. She writes so brilliantly about the Asian diaspora experience, amongst many other incredible themes. I love how complex her morally grey characters are. Even when they make horrible choices, I can understand why. Jade City and Jade War have left me on the edge of my seat. I fear that Jade Legacy will destroy me. I CAN’T WAIT! I’ve pre-ordered the audiobook version and it drops at the end of this month.
I’m so excited to share the news about the very first Virtual Australian Muslim Writers Festival, from Sept 25 to 2 Oct. Please share widely and register – it’s free! I’m looking forward to refilling my creative cup. It’s always so validating for me to listen to Muslim writers, and Aussie Muslim writers hold a special place in my heart.
Speaking of being a mother and a writer, this article resonated with me SO MUCH: The Heartbreaking Ingenuity of the Mother-Writer. I could read this article a billion times and love it more each time. Only fellow mother-writers could relate to the creative, exhausting, hair/hijab-pulling methods we use to get our words down!!
As many of you would know, I am an avid SFF (science fiction and fantasy) fan. My latest obsession is the Green Bone saga by the brilliant Fonda Lee. Jade Legacy is coming out in November, and Fonda Lee has started up a one-year-only Patreon which gives patrons exclusive access TO COOL THINGS. Her series is incredible! Asian-inspired, which I absolutely love. No shortage of strong, complex female characters alongside believable male leads.
I absolutely love Fonda Lee’s Jade City and Jade Legacy. One thing she wrote about so brilliantly, which I have never read elsewhere, is the diaspora experience. I’m a returnee to my Malaysian motherland and to have her write about what it’s like to be a foreigner, how it changes you so irrevocably…that was really validating, to see reflected back to me. I was born in Singpaore, moved to Sydney when I was 12, lived in Jordan from 25-27, married at 28 then moved to Malaysia at 30 and I’ve been here for almost 8 years. All of this shapes me, my parenting, my writing – the lens through which I view the world and interact with it.
Selamat Hari Raya/Eid Mubarak! My kids are all asleep after an exciting and exhausting first day of Eid. We made it, alhamdulilah, to the end of Ramadan. And what a Ramadan this has been. May we meet many, many more. May there be an end to global oppression.
We’re back to MCO 3.0 in Malaysia. Inconvenient but necessary because Covid19 numbers shot up once again. This is my second Raya/Eid in lockdown…I miss my family and friends back in Sydney. I don’t think we’ll be able to fly back to visit anytime soon, so in the meantime, we have our family Whatsapp groups, video calls, messages….this is our new normal. What a test of patience.
Ramadan greetings to one and all! Selamat Berpuasa 🙂
It is a very different Ramadan…but alhamdulilah for all the blessings we do have, big and small. Many things are different, but many things are also still the same. Namely: me finding creative ways to lie down while my kids play around me. Hahaha. My youngest is already 7 months and turbo crawling.
I have three small kids under the age of 5, so Ramadan has been indoors for me for a few years now. One thing is for sure…I WILL MISS THE RAMADAN BAZAARS!! There are online bazaars now, apparently? GetMakan looks amazing, but based in Johor. Let me know if you figure out how to order them tasties in Petaling Jaya :p
Also, if you’re looking for a grassroots way to help Malaysians in need, #Kitajagakita is a wonderful platform.
In writing news….stay tuned! I participated in the #DVPIT twitter competition and garnened a lot of agent interest. I’m so grateful for the support of Meredith Ireland, my #DVPIT mentor who gave me EPIC REVISION tips. Lockdown with kids took on a whole new meaning while I was frantically adding 10,000 words of world-building and plot tweaks, and I am SO happy I had Meredith only a Whatsapp message away. THANK YOU MEREDITH! So much of writing is solitary, so it really helps to have an experienced author believe in your book, and help you make it even better.
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 ❤