Writing

It took me having a legit panic attack to know I’ve been writing them all wrong.

“I had a major panic attack.”

This is a phrase people throw around too lightly, when they’re under a lot of pressure, or even when they’re just a tiny bit stressed… myself included. I recently finished writing a book where my main character constantly suffers from panic attacks, and I thought if I read enough about their signs and symptoms and people’s genuine experiences, I would be able to write about it properly.

Boy was I wrong.

panic attack
You feel like you’re going to die. (Source: Stylist)

I’ve been under a lot of pressure those past three months. I left my job early September, and the hunt for a new position hasn’t been successful. That is not to say I haven’t been working; I’ve actually been buried deep in freelance work and I’m generating more income than my previous salary. Still, it’s very nerve-wracking when you don’t have a steady paycheck, and I have gone through several sleepless nights over it. I guess it was inevitable that I would eventually crack under all that pressure. Continue reading “It took me having a legit panic attack to know I’ve been writing them all wrong.”

Writing

On Research and Writing

I have a confession to make: I am a pantser.

That’s right. I never plan a book before writing it. I never know what the ending will be, or what the major point of conflict will end up as, or any other information beyond a main character and the very bare bones of a plot. This often leads to excessively long periods of writer’s block, but I honestly can’t help it.

researching your novel

I’ve recently begun working on a new book. I am exceptionally proud of it. I feel like it could be the one. You know that one book you feel will be the best book you ever write and has a higher chance of scoring you a publishing deal? Yes – that one. It’s still at the very first stages, and all I can reveal about it right now is that it’s (probably) going to be titled, “THE UNDERWATER LIBRARY”, and that it’s set in the 1930s, 40s and 50s… or to be more specific, pre- and post World War 2. As you might imagine, this means that it’s a bit grounded in the bloody history of that time period, and – yep, you guessed it – it also means it requires a whole freakin’ bunch of research.

And it’s frustrating.

Continue reading “On Research and Writing”

Writing

I finished a book!

And it’s only taken me two years, two months and three days. Well… seven years and nine months if you count the last book I actually finished writing, which incidentally never got to see the light of day.

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It’s no secret that I’ve been struggling with writing. I thought I’d have more time to write when I started living alone, but whoo boy was I wrong. What nobody tells you about working a full-time job and managing your own household all by yourself is you just never have time for anything. The nine-to-six life is not ideal for a writer. By the time you crawl back to your apartment you’re just too exhausted to do anything that requires oiling the cogs of your tired brain even further. All I want to do is have my dinner, a nice cup of tea and lose myself in a completely mindless activity (usually Netflix).

Writing is not the only aspect of my life that’s suffering. I have 155 unread books on my shelves. I have a whole trunk of ink bottles and calligraphy supplies that are collecting dust. My inbox has over +1000 unread emails and I’m scared to go through them. And this blog is just… cobwebs all over, I swear.

But anyway. There will be a time for a life update later (if any of my followers are still hanging around enough to care haha). But for now… I FINISHED A GODDAMN BOOK. Continue reading “I finished a book!”

Writing

I haven’t published anything in 6 years.

And it’s daunting.

Every year I say, “Okay. This is it. This is the year I publish my second book.” But I can’t even finish a second book. All my manuscripts are scattered around me, at 50%, 25%, 75%, 40% and 20%, and it’s like a big pile of laundry where I don’t know if I should start with my whites or my darks.

I won’t lie; I’m starting to feel kinda frustrated with myself. I feel like I’ve bitten off so much more than I can chew. I start new projects every other week or month – whether it’s launching my own business, or taking up calligraphy, or marathoning entire shows – and I almost never see them to completion.

But I am not writing.

Credit: The Veragist

Continue reading “I haven’t published anything in 6 years.”

Books · Reading · Writing

Revisiting the Swearing Question

Five years ago I wrote a post about how I always avoid profanities in fiction, declaring my stance against including swear words and sex scenes in my books. To begin with, let me just say I’m still fixed upon the non-inclusion of sex (except maybe in fade-to-black-situations), but recently I’ve found myself budging when it comes to swearing.

When before I didn’t think they have any merit, I realise now that there are some situations that call for the occasional f-bomb. When before I thought I could find squeaky clean alternatives, I instead found myself struggling with authenticity. Try as I could to make things work without resorting to profanity, it just wasn’t working this time.

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(Credit: Uncommon Goods)

I’m working on a book (currently) titled “Mail Order Thief”, and my main character is as cynical and rude and angry as they come. When I set out to write him, to draw the outlines of his character, I tried to wash his mouth with soap but he spat it out and snapped at me. He was not amused, not in the slightest, that I was trying to drown out his voice just so I wouldn’t bruise my ideals. Continue reading “Revisiting the Swearing Question”

General · Writing

On Muslim Women’s Day, let’s just remember they’re human too.

So apparently today is the first Muslim Women’s Day ever. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that until I clicked on the trending hashtag on Twitter, and then I was promptly disgusted. There are so many misconceptions, so many views depicting Muslim women as beaten-down creatures that are basically slaves to men, so much sarcasm about how it’s sooooo great to be a Muslim woman on this day.

As a Muslim woman, I have a few things to say. This rant bubbling inside me just won’t die.

I’ve never spoken about my religion on this blog, mainly because I like to keep my religious and political views out of my writing and “public persona”, but here goes nothing.

There was never a time when I wasn’t a Muslim. My parents are devout Muslims, and I grew up in a conservative household. I wore my hijab at the age of 9, and I’ve never taken it off for 19 years now, even when it’s boiling hot outside. I’ve never missed a daily prayer. I fast for 30 days every year during Ramadan. I also refrain from physical contact with unrelated men, alcohol and gambling. Continue reading “On Muslim Women’s Day, let’s just remember they’re human too.”

Books · Reading · Writing

2016 in Reading

For the second year in a row, I was unable to complete my Goodreads Reading Challenge. Even though I’d lowered my goal instead of going higher – as is customary for me – I just did not have the time to get to all the books I wanted to read. I tried to do too much… way too much… that I barely left time for myself to sleep. And it still wasn’t enough.

Yet I kept adding to my TBR pile, going nuts with my bookstore “raids”. In fact, my bookcase has really filled up compared to last year. And become so much more beautiful, if  I do say so myself.

Still keeping up the colour synchronisation! And look at all those creatures that have found a home between the books. :D
Still keeping up the colour synchronisation! And look at all those creatures that have found a home between the books. 😀

Still, can’t go (further) into the new year without a wrap-up list! Continue reading “2016 in Reading”

General · Inanity · Writing

In Defence of 2016

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you have probably heard some (or many) people complaining about the trainwreck that was 2016. Many famous people died, Brexit happened, Donald Trump got elected President, we’ve had a number of terrorist attacks and a coup in Turkey, etc. And yeah, sure, these are all bad things, but that doesn’t mean the year was any worse than any other.

2016

People forget that bad things happened in 2015, 2014 and every other year before that. Why, we’ve had a lot of famous people die before… Leonard Nimoy and Christopher Lee in 2015, and Robin Williams and Philip Seymour Hoffman in 2014. Plenty of terrorist attacks occurred… in fact, I feel that 2016 has been calmer on that front than 2015.

On a personal level, I had an uncle pass away in 2016… compared to an aunt and uncle in 2015. I know it’s not a nice comparison to make, but I’ll still take the year with the one less tragedy.

But a lot of good things happened this year too. People simply choose to forget them.

Continue reading “In Defence of 2016”

Books · General · Reading · Writing

The Most Beautiful Bookshop in the World

In October, I had the absolute pleasure of spending my birthday in Italy. We visited Rome, Florence, Venice, Milan, Como, Bellagio and Turin… and it was probably the best 11 days of my life, even though right now it almost feels like one beautiful dream.

Venice was my favourite. Words cannot describe how charming it is, from its water canals to its narrow cobblestone streets and old houses and gondolas… I was and still am absolutely in love. Our hotel was right on the Grand Canal, and we had the most amazing view from our balcony.

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The golden sunrise casting its rays on the rooftops and water.

We went off the “beaten path”, so to say. Though we explored the typical tourist sites like the Doge Palace and Piazza San Marco and most of the popular bridges, we found ourselves trudging through empty alleyways and stepping inside the loveliest shops, filled with carnival masks and calligraphy pens and inks and… sigh. Continue reading “The Most Beautiful Bookshop in the World”

General · Writing

What Translators Can and Can’t Do

posterfix-449x700I watched “Arrival” this weekend. For the uninitiated, it is a movie about aliens arriving on Earth and the world’s attempts at communicating with them. The main character, Louise Banks, is supposedly one of the best linguists in the world, a translator whose work has greatly helped the United States, and naturally she is recruited to translate the alien language. Whether I liked this movie or not is besides the point, what I want to address in this post is the portrayal of Loiuse.

While I’m absolutely thrilled that there’s a movie that paints us translators as the real MVPs (because let’s face it, we’re not the most exciting bunch around), and sheds light on the importance of languages… during run time, I was just thinking, “Um. That’s… not how translation works?” Now that some time has passed since I watched it, I think I can finally put my finger down on what was bothering me.

Translators can translate one language into the other, provided that they do know both languages before hand. 

Translators cannot translate a language that, until two days ago, had not existed and there is no record of it anywhere. They cannot be expected to translate anything that is given to them. They are not walking dictionaries, for goodness sake. I was absolutely baffled when the MC was approached with some voice recording and asked to translate it. Like… are you even for real?  Continue reading “What Translators Can and Can’t Do”