Surprise!!! I'm still here!!!
January.....was a terrible month. Terrible. The Worst™. Condense all of 2020 into one month, and name that month January 2021, and you'll understand that ya girl has been Going Through It.
But it's February! I'm working again (I, in fact, have two jobs, both of which I love and enjoy), the sun is appearing once every ten days instead of once every three weeks, and I've sort of clawed my way to some semblance of normalcy. (Sorta).
I have not written anything for my wips since December, and not for lack of trying. I can't tell if I'm burnt out, or bored, or simply suffering from writer's block. I just know that I try to write, and nothing happens except that I get increasingly frustrated and riddled with despair because I just...don't want to write these stories. But I still want to write. Truly, it's agonizing.
Back in December, I had decided to dedicate February to writing daily prompt fills with Hyba, since I had so much fun doing Fictober. But I was so low in January that I regretfully told Hyba I wouldn't be doing it. Disgruntled, I thought: this was what I got for having the temerity to plan anything, because the moment I plan is the moment all my plans blow up in my face. This has been the tradition of my life.
...Figures that seven days into February, I would be seized with the desire, energy, and motivation to actually take up that writing challenge.
Basically, I wanted to write, but I didn't want to work on any of my wips, and I couldn't come up with any ideas for new wips. To this, my brain very proudly went "AHA! DO A PROMPT!" As if I hadn't been wanting to do that since December.
So I took out my 'everything and the kitchen sink' journal (a notebook I use for...everything and anything), googled some prompts, chose the first one that caught my interest, and wrote. By hand. It was immensely satisfying, even though I'm feeling this simmering sort of resentment that 1) I couldn't make progress on my wips, 2) that I'm doing this seven days later than I had planned to, and 3) that I'm doing this after having gone through the mortifying ordeal of flaking out on my friend.
Am I gonna do this every day of February? No idea. I don't want to say I will or won't, because clearly that is just tempting fate to laugh directly into my face. I wrote. I updated my blog. I'm about to send out a newsletter. That is three things I've been wanting to do for weeks, and that's enough for me.
It's the little things, babes.
Happy reading and writing!
So I was flipping through my bullet journal yesterday, looking at the very beginning where I wrote all my optimistic goals for 2020 (hah!) and how many I just uh...didn't achieve. (HA!) And one of those goals, listed right at the top, was to try and write 50,000 words of CofM before 2021. To finally make proper headway with my novel, instead of just thinking about it for oh, I don't know, another ten years (😭).
And I was looking at that goal and the way I couldn't cross it out because while I had written (what is to me a very impressive) 20k, 50k seemed such a long way away considering I...hadn't written anything other than fan fiction in about a month.
I just. Got stuck. Got in my own way, stressing about hypotheticals and plot plans rather than just opening the doc and writing a crappy version of it all, so that at least the words existed on paper, ready for me to improve. But something happened last night.
I was talking to my wonderful friend Hyba (who has a novel coming out this January!) and she really got me so excited and rejuvenated about CofM by both listening and exploring possibilities with me. So I sat down, and despite all my own fear and self-imposed pressure, I opened my google doc, and started reading the last chapter I had written.
As one does, I edited a little bit here and there, noticed certain holes and patched them. (At one point, a character takes her shoes off to climb a wall and never puts them back on, which is a problem because then she runs through the city). Then I got to the heading Chapter Eight, and all the blank space underneath.
And immediately I started feeling antsy and bored, a stress response if ever there was one. I had to stop myself several times from opening Youtube, TikTok, Instagram, and my mobile games. I had to stop myself from getting out of my chair and spur-of-the-moment reorganizing all my drawers. I had to resist the urge to procrastinate with all my might.
But I managed to power through all my uncertainty and fear of failure, teeth literally gritted, just to write the first line, which had been bouncing around in my head all day, fully formed. ...And then I wrote a little bit more. And a little more. I recalled the way I had phrased something in an earlier draft, went to find it, and found a whole section that could fit into this chapter with some tweaking and adaptation. (This is why I try to not delete anything).
And then it felt like I blinked, and looked up, and it was 3am, and I had written 20,000 more words! Putting me at 40,000 words total. Meaning I'm only 10,000 words away from achieving my goal, with thirteen days until the end of December! AAAHHHHHHH!!!!
Which is to say, guys. I might actually do it! I might be able to write 50,000 words of CofM before 2021!!! I can't believe it, I have never written this much for CofM before! I honestly doubted if I ever would! And yet! Here I am!!!
You might be wondering why I'm celebrating now and not when I hit 50k. The answer is twofold. 1) I'm literally too excited to keep this to myself. 2) I am still worried I won't hit 50k, and I'd rather celebrate 40k than beat myself up about it. Anyway, enough about me! Have an excerpt from the latest chapter, featuring Halah, my main character, and my darling Ilyas.
❝ Eventually, Ilyas ventured to make conversation with her, though he began rather abruptly. “Did you have another dream?”
Happy reading and writing!
You may or may not know that I'm rewriting Rivener, my post-apocalyptic novella and first original, completed, long-form work! I currently have about 14k in the doc, much of which is new content expanding upon the old. I'm having a lot of fun with it, and I'm excited for all the ways Rivener is gonna improve. I'm not actually changing much of the plot, but more of the structure and characterization to, hopefully, make it a stronger story.
And unfortunately, to do that, I am going to have to delete about 50% of the new words.
A huge part of my brain is having a temper tantrum about this, full out wailing and kicking at the ground and sobbing huge cartoon tears, the works. The other, rational part of my brain is saying, finally. The truth is, I kinda got stuck with Rivener 2.0. I went in a new direction, plot wise, and though it was fun to write, it didn't really serve the story as a whole.
I wrote myself into a corner with it, and then I couldn't find a way out without—to continue the metaphor—having to stomp over the freshly painted area. Which I was loath to do. Alas, I have no choice. I gotta kill my darlings, those darlings being the new words and by extension, the hours of work that went into writing them, which makes me feel like it was a whole lotta wasted time and effort. Boo. But actually, that's just a bad perspective.
Those words weren't a waste, even though they're gonna be removed. (Strictly speaking, I'm cutting and pasting them into a new document because I may end up using those words in some way elsewhere. Never actually delete your work folks! Hoard them words! You will regret it otherwise!!!) Those words helped me figure out several things, develop my craft, and guide me to the right path to take with the story as a whole!
And now that I've accepted what I need to do, I can hopefully get myself out of my rut and write on! Exciting!
You may or may not know that I'm writing a Muslim-themed fantasy epic temporarily titled The Chronicles of Mourra (or CofM for short). I've been working on it off-and-on for about a decade now, which means I've been doing research for it for the same amount of time. I'm quite blessed in that I grew up surrounded by easy access to an excellent Islamic education (any and all ignorance is a reflection of me entirely lol).
My parents especially instilled in me a love of my history, traditions, and religion. Both my parents are educators and storytellers, in different ways, so that I haven't really needed 'outside' research to create the world of CofM (as it stands now). I base a lot of it on my lived experience!
Still, when someone on Facebook asked me if I was able to do my research easily, and lamented struggling to find resources on notable women in Islam, especially in positions of power and leadership, I went on a researching binge and compiled a very non-exhaustive list of resources on magnificent Muslim women.
This is more a jumping off point so you can have a direction when researching online (there's a lot of books out there too!) I focused mostly on medieval women, as there's a wealth of easily accessible information out there on all the incredible female companions and contemporaries from the Prophet's (ﷺ) time. (Although, if y'all want a list of them, do let me know and I'll make a part 2 to this!)
1) Via Ballandalus, a truly excellent online resource on Islamic history:
2) Extraordinary Women from the Golden Age of Muslim Civilisation via 1001inventions
3) Women’s Contribution to Classical Islamic Civilisation: Science, Medicine and Politics via MuslimHeritage
All these links include references that should lead you to more information! I did my best to make sure they're all credible too. Some standout favourite women I want to learn more about include:
Do you know of notable Muslim women of history that are absent from this list? I would particularly like to find more women from outside the Arab world! Comment below and let me know!
Until next time, happy reading!
I was asked a series of questions on my tumblr, and I decided to crosspost them here for easy reference to any new readers (hi!).
Why did you start writing?
Honestly, I was always daydreaming as a kid and I was so amped about them that if I didn’t get them out I’d feel this big pressure in my chest, and the more I tried to restrain it, the more wired I’d feel. If I wasn’t daydreaming, I would be acting out those daydreams! I’d climb trees and build little fairy castles in my backyard and make up languages and speak them, or sing songs without an ounce of shame while at the park. In public. By myself. At like, thirteen.
…Anyway yes, if I didn’t channel all that into writing it would have come out in other, probably less socially acceptable ways. Writing feels like a usually invigorating, sometimes painful compulsion, tbh.
Give some fun tidbits on the oc(s) of your choice!
Ooh! Ok! So Raoul of CofM has two younger sisters. I haven’t decided on their names yet, but one of them will be the protagonist of my genderbent Aladdin retelling! Due to circumstances (spoilers!), the story will open with her living as a boy on the streets, where she bumps into a very sheltered prince, and adventure ensues!
What are some of your favourite authors?
Oof, many. Off the top of my head — Patricia A. McKillip, Ursula K Le Guin, Guy Gavriel Kay, Georgette Heyer, Gail Carson Levine, Jeff Smith (of the Bone series), and Catherynne M. Valente! My goodreads is here 😁
If you could, what advice would you give yourself as a young writer?
Save all your writing, even the crappy, cringey stuff, in multiple places, both online and in hard copy. You’ll want to look back on them, see how far you’ve come, what’s changed and what hasn’t, and have a record of it all.
Also! Lean harder into writing the stuff that makes you happy! Somewhere along the way people’s opinions get into your head and hold you back, and it takes you a long time to get your mojo back.
Also also! Watch what you read, it influences you in ways that are often negative! Yeah, your parents actually were right about that one, and you’re gonna beat yourself up about it for a while.
So I’ve written a lot of words for Chronicles of Mourra, and felt largely unsatisfied with most of them (just a fact I’ve mostly accepted lol). the current version of draft #1 (all the other version being incomplete) has about 7.8k words and…..I am probably going to scrap all of it once this draft is complete.
Why? Because i don’t think (at this moment, anyway) that any of it needs to be told. But! I need to write it out.
All these words are, currently, backstory and relationship development and largely just me getting familiar with these characters (which, yes, I know I made them myself but that doesn’t mean I know them) (#justwriterproblems). The actual like, inciting incident is probably gonna happen around the 15k mark (maybe even 20k).
And I don’t mind! I mean, I mind a little, but this is actually helpful to me! iIf I know these characters and their backstory at the level of detail I’m currently at, then the beginning I create for the reader (aka in draft #2) is actually going to be coherent and hook this hypothetical reader even though they won’t know everything (yet). Instead, the character relationships and how the inciting incident even came about will be revealed in fun little tidbits.
That’s the plan anyway. Who even knows how this will turn out.
— written Monday, 8 June 2020
Welcome to the blog!
Featuring prompt fills, excerpts from my wips, posts about my writing process, and more.