On Poetry

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It’s been a busy week! I’m in the middle of uploading my entry for the Australian Muslim Artists competition, organised by the IMA (Islamic Museum of Australia). I’ve chosen to upload three of my best poems – Bone Marrow, Cannibals and Utopia – and I’m looking forward to the feedback.

Speaking of poetry, hop on over to my buddy Maryam Chahine’s blog! Maryam is a published poet, and I love the way she carefully constructs her poetry. A joy to behold. Maryam and her family are very dear to me, and getting to know them was definitely one of the highlights of my stay in Jordan. Maryam and her sister Noora really helped encourage me to complete and refine my book, Finding Jamilah. Close friends in Sydney who kept in touch with me also supported me through my writing – Fatima and Lisa, I’m looking at you!
Their support goes to show that writing is something not done in complete isolation. Sure, the act of writing does take place in solitude, but refining it and being encouraged to complete one’s work takes a lot of support. Behind every writer is a special group of friends and family. Thank you to each and every one of you!

Why write?

“The role of a writer is not to say what we can all say, but what we are unable to say.”

— Anaïs Nin

I’ve lived an interesting life spanning many continents. My childhood, adolescence and adulthood each had their raptures and ruptures, and the threads that kept me together were faith and fiction. I remember being 12, new to Australia and the labyrinth of highschool. I had my own minotaurs, and no Ariadne to guide my way. My sanctuary, however, was the school library, where I was safe in the cocoon of Tamora Pierce’s Wild Magic. There, I lived vicariously through Daine, who was more afraid than I was, yet she grew through her trials and, of course, saved the day. Now that was a good book – it gave me respite from reality! Most of all, I could relate to Daine, and hoped for her courage in the face of adversity.

As an adult, writing gives me a healthy outlet for the drama of daily life; my “Are You Married Yet?” article spawned a lively debate. I’m very grateful for the outpouring of support, and as for those who disagreed…well, there’s always two sides to a fence 🙂 Writing that piece was fun and therapeutic, and personally, I find writing opinion pieces much, much easier than fiction.

Finding Jamilah, on the other hand, took months of concentrated effort. I made a point of writing every day. When I procrastinated, my mental “You should be writing!” would finally reach melting point, and tip me over to writing something. It could be a word, it could be a sentence, sometimes two…but that first step of opening up my word document was the hardest thing. Akin to pulling a tooth out. Minus anaesthetic.  Once that was done, then usually, the story flowed. Usually.

When it didn’t flow, I would try another day, and another day, and another day, and slowly, my story came together. Supportive friends and family made all the difference during my writing slumps! Friends and family are a tremendous blessing, particularly when it’s late, you’re tired and wondering why you started writing this story to begin with. They remind you that your story is a a story worth reading, so get on with the writing! So if you’re writing your own book – keep going. Don’t stop. Have a supportive group of friends and family around you who 1) encourage you 2) hold you accountable when you get lazy and start chilling out at Writer’s Block!