I grew up on Star Wars, Star Trek, read Lord of The Rings and The Hobbit….science fiction and fantasy were my favourite escape pods. I loved these genres as a child, and I still do. But did I ever come across sci-fi/fantasy characters who were Muslim too? Nope. Not until Alif The Unseen, by the brilliant G. Willow Wilson. She’s also the writer behind Kamala Khan, a Pakistani American Marvel comic superhero. Ah, representation matters.
Muslims in science fiction. It’s a growing thing. Click here for the super exciting ISLAMICATE SCIENCE FICTION SHORT STORY COMPETITION! Spread the word!
Short stories. How I love them.
There is something so exquisite about being pulled into a story just long enough to be hooked, only to be released shortly after. Spell over.
Speaking of which, I’ve stumbled across a gem of a short story (thank you, Binders!), titled, “A Modern Girl’s Guide to Childbirth” by Elizabeth Evitts Dickinson. I love her lyrical prose, the use of second person, and her gorgeous past and present childbirth juxtapositions.
One of my favourite lines from her piece:
If this were 1800s France, the midwife would warm her hands in almond oil after lining your bed with boxes of powdered cumin and myrrh meant to dust the baby and protect her from evil spirits.
Which short stories have stayed with you?
I have great news! I’ve actually passed my minimum writing quota of 9,ooo words! I’ve just passed 11,000 and I’m really happy that my story is taking shape.
Here’s the first line:
My name is Yusuf. Let me tell you the story of how I turned my world upside down.
It’s amazing how fond of my characters I’ve become over the course of writing Yusuf’s story. Like every other story, it started off with a blank page, and now there’s a whole cast of characters jostling to take centre stage. The hard thing about writing a short story is that the action has to happen quickly, and I can’t spend too much time meandering through the plot. Reading 8 Unstoppable Rules For Writing Killer Short Stories really helped me organize my story. Check it out! One of the best pointers it gave was when to actually introduce the conflict while balancing world-building.
Going away to Port Macquarie has been great for giving me the mental space to just buckle down and write. I tend to get distracted when I’m at home, and writing in short spurts is the only way that works for me. Here, I’ve got the luxury of time, so I’m much more likely to sit down for longer periods of time and churn out words. I’m trying very hard not to fall into the trap of editing my work – that can wait until it’s finished.