#WriteYourselfAlive – Questions 15, 16 & 17

Question 15:- Who are your role models in writing, at the moment? What is it that you most admire about them? Can you see reminders of both, their qualities and weaknesses, in yourself?

Lang Leav, Edgar Allan Poe, Paulo Coelho, Tyler Knott Gregson, C.S. Lewis, William Blake, Ernest Hemingway, Jane Austen, etc. Oh this list could go on forever! #sigh 

I could list 100s of writers that I can easily identify with. Each one on a different level, for different reasons and all at different times in my life. But the elements that keep that bond going strong is the following;

Their strength, convictions, courage, passion, grace, vulnerability, humanity, demons and compassion, etc. Again, another list that is endless.

Question 16:- Have you ever taken a writing course or a workshop or participated in any other writing event or group activity? If so, what was your experience like? If not, what has kept you from doing it, held you back or made you quit?

Honestly, no. I would see an advert or two from time to time over the internet. But it was either seriously bad timing or just not the right course for me.

Question 17 A:- Tell me what the critics are saying right now, in this or a parallel future reality, about your new book or equivalent piece of writing after you finally finished it and released it into the world – despite your fear, expectations or any other demons you have battled. What do you want them to say?

Breathtaking imagery..”

“Well voice and raw..

A new creatively new outlook on… Was not expected..

Better watch out for this new and upcoming writer, the darkness frightened me..

Question 17 B:- So, after neutralizing yourself from outer expectations or any (dis)illusions of grandeur, what is it really about? What would make your Inner Critic sleep well at night and feel like Yes, Maybe This Shit Was Worth It After All? Say you have died, and this Inner Critic stays behind to write a goodbye note in the third person that commemorates your work. What would make you Rest In Peace? Write it below. Copy this paragraph on a post-it, put it in every corner of your house, and read it at least 100 times each day.

There are six reasons anyone does anything: Love. Faith. Greed. Boredom. Fear. Revenge. – Joe Solomon

This is a work of all six.

#WriteYourselfAlive – Question 13 & Question 14

Question 13:- What does your madness taste like? The dark asylum in your chest nobody’s visited. Have you explored it? (How) does it reflect in your writing? Are you ever afraid of touching insanity with the tip of your fingers and never being able to come back? Of dying? Disappearing? Forgetting or being forgotten? What are your nightmares of the soul, your unspoken ghosts? What makes you shiver in the middle of the night? What is the ugliest part if you, of the world, of life as seen through your glasses? Describe and stay with this darkness for a few minutes. Face it head on and remind yourself that this too, shall pass.

I trust in the darkness, therefore I do not fear it. There are no surprises, the light however.. That is what I fear because there are no guarantees in the light. But in the dark? The darkness is simply the absence of light.
I would not describe it as tasting of death, for I have not died and therefore can’t imagine it… But what I will say for now.. Is it tastes of fire. Scorching hot white, yellow and red flames that is never put out.

There is nothing more comforting than the brutal and honest thud of when you hit rock bottom. There is nothing more graceful than the roar of thunder from within you, the agonizing realization of what has come to pass, then comes the rage, ache, and finally the calming emptiness, despair and loneliness that engulfs you before you even know it. There is a sweet serenity in losing your breath and drowning in your own silence and sorrows.

It is almost poetic; and quite frankly, strangely predictable.
The only question is time.

I believe in the maddening beauty that is writing. I believe in the hunger and lust to create, the barbarism and savagery of perfection; the torture and destructive nature of what it means to be human. I suppose for me writing is not only therapeutic but a vain attempt at remembrance. A reminder to those that cared of who and what I was.

We live in an age where those responsible for inflicting pain on others are no longer held in contempt but rather admired; admired for speaking and acting out freely, whilst those persecuted are ridiculed for what is foreseen as weakness. Freedom of speech is now hailed as an act of patriotism, with no remorse to the repercussion and damage it may inflict.

We live freely, but are we truly free? Slaves to our words and that of others, more like it.

Question 14:- Let’s come back to the light. What makes you come alive? What makes it worth the fight, the effort and the sweat? What things, people, situations, activities, moments of joy – that have nothing to do with writing – give you the strength, hope and courage to keep alchemizing the world into words, even if it’s not the easiest, most comfortable, or most “efficient” occupation? What/who do you love? What/who makes you be in heaven for at least a few infinite minutes?

Hope, Faith, Patience and a handful of the worlds most amazing family members, and fabulous best friends a gal could ask for.

Also, the moment I hear someone say, “Oh” from something I may have written or a thought I randomly shared. The courage to keep going in another human being gives me the strength to take my next breath, and the one after that, and the one after that.

The giving of one human being to another is about the only thing that keeps this world spinning.

#WriteYourselfAlive – Question 11 & Question 12

Question 11:- What is hurting you the most in your life right now (Even if it’s the ashes of a previous fire) and how could you best burn this pain through words? How can you most optimally reframe your story (Or stories) of loss through your writing and recycle your heart into art? Think in terms of what type of project, style, narrative, voice, and literary resources could best illustrate what your heart is dying to get out.

Two main elements of Pain:

Expectations and DisappointmentsI know, I know! Never expect = no disappointments.. Honestly, I know.. But being human sometimes you can’t help it; and Allah knows I canNOT help it! Here it goes

  1. I am disappointed that I have yet to obtain my PhD, though my entire life I had planned to have it by the time I reached 30.
  2. I am disappointed in the vanity and lack of honor of human beings. The greed for power and control never ceases to amaze me, even with the gentlest of souls. You know, you grow up sheltered thinking that life will always be as you were at 10 years old; fast forward about 20 years and not even our parents expected such a drastic change?! I remember the “idea” of a decent, kind human being and nowadays such a person no longer exists. And, should he/she actually exist they are bathed in dishonesty, pride and cruelty.
  3. I am disappointed in not being where I want to be creatively with my writing, though I had never set a time frame for my novel; I had just assumed that by my 30s I would have been inspired by now. I guess I need to stop waiting to be inspired and rather inspire my damn self!
  4. I am disappointed that my career hasn’t gone according to plan. Don’t get me wrong, I love what I do; but… 9 years later? I think it’s about time to move on to something more challenging to my soul, wouldn’t you agree?

My biggest pain stems from the questions that rise in my mind, that haunt me every single waking hour –

  • What is my life purpose? What have I learnt so far in my short-lived life? Should I die tomorrow, what will people say of me? Think of me? Have I done enough?
  • Why do I constantly feel like something is missing? What happens if I never find it? And what if I don’t? What if it is SO not what I expected, what then? Will I or can I be satisfied?
  • Are they proud of me? Am I proud of myself? When I face Allah, will I stand tall and say, “I used every talent you blessed me with, I am ready for the afterlife.”? Or will I shy away?

Feelings that come to mind right now:

  • Anger, Betrayal, Confusion,
  • Untrustworthy, Revenge, Retribution,
  • Strength, Courage, Grace, Let go,
  • Loneliness, Disappointment, Expectations, Happiness, Love

I do not know how I would frame my story according to my experiences; I suppose thats the beauty of writing via inspiration, you never truly know until it happens.

Question 12:- What are the top 3 fears or feelings of inadequancy about your writing, which may be holding you back from showing up to your fullest potential and jumping from the highest cliff? Can you see how these writing fears are related to – and maybe even derived from your greater fears in life? (All things are one).

  1. ValueNot having anything important to say; Am I good enough?
  2. RejectionFear of my writing being rejected, Or people that read my writing reject me.
  3. FailureWhat happens if I can’t do this? What happens if I lose my voice?

And yes, all the above are reflections of fears that I struggle with daily.

#WriteYourself Alive – Question 10 A & B

Question 10 A:- What are 3 writing projects/goals you would like to create/accomplish in the next 5 years? Please, be unrealistic about this. Extraordinary things don’t happen by chance. They happen to people bold enough to believe and attempt them. Your time on this planet is limited. If you’re going to try anyway, you might as well go for your wildest dream. Whether it comes true or not shouldn’t determine your ability to imagine it.

I would like to creative bodies of work in these 3 areas;

  • A fiction novel,
  • A book about Sports & Sociology within the UAE,
  • A Song writer &/or Script writer for film &/or movie

Question 10 B:- Based on the 3 projects you annotated above, what would be your overall mission for your writing – how does it fit in the bigger picture and what can it give to the world? How about your vision for yourself as a writer – what do you want the world (Or universe) to give you in return? How do you see both, your writing mission + vision combined in a more alive version of you, 5 years into the future? How about 10 years?

My Vision –  To create a body of work that reaches into the depths of someone’s soul, somewhere so desolate there is no escape but for a few words written in a book that comes alive in their minds. To show that not only are they not alone but that this too shall pass.

Mission – To use the written word to change the way the citizens of the UAE view literature, that there is magic and beauty, creativity and innovation waiting for them between pen and paper. To give those that are unable a voice, in order for each of them to pave their own paths ahead of them; personal or otherwise.

I suppose once I am able to put out my own experiences, I hope the universe allows it to reach those poor souls that need what I needed when I did. And in return? I hope that they contact me! I would love to know their own stories and maybe, just maybe there is a story lying within them that can be inspired into reality!

In 5 or 10 years from now? I’d love to say I’ve got this plan all laid out with respective dates along with it; but in all honesty I barely know where I am going to be tomorrow! So for now, I will put this part of the question on hold; and as I dive into this writing course and find my own voice, I will revisit and let you know!

#WriteYourselfAlive – Question 8 & Question 9

Question 8:- Where do you write best and under what conditions? If you could have it all, describe your writing sanctuary. What (If anything) is keeping you from creating this daily haven, right now? How can you come as close as possible to it, without having to undergo any major lifestyle surgery?

As an emotionally-inspired writer, my most ideal situation is holed up in my room, music ringing through my headphones [Most likely Whiskey Lullaby by Brad Paisley], sprawled out across the floor and under stress from a circumstance that has just happened.

Having said that, and just now realizing how important it is to take the location into consideration; I think a more healthier and relaxing environment would be a workspace or a book shop. A room filled with books where I can draw inspiration from by diving into the minds of the old and taking a new spin on their thoughts, views. A place filled with the aroma of rich and tasteful coffee beans; with the noise of people chatting and walking by that can easily distract me, as I observe their conversations, gestures, facial expressions.

My biggest problem facing my writing is the timing, patience and understanding. Location is an easy fix, as living in Dubai we definitely have no shortage of coffee shops and/or workspaces to work out of. Timing relates to two main problems areas: My ever demanding job that keeps me tied up in some event or another and the responsibilities of my family and having to spend time with them. I lack the understanding that in order to write decently, I need to make the time and effort into it and the patience in order to do so.

I don’t believe I have to make a drastic change to my life, it’s more of a little shuffling of what I do and allocation of time.

Question 9:- What would be your ideal writing schedule and what is currently keeping you from doing the work every day? Frequency? Time of day? Are there any days of the week when you are able to write more than others? Can you create a realistic but optimistic weekly writing schedule right now and try to stick to it, for the life (And art) of you? The mort constant and consistent you are, the more your muse will follow and your writing will improve.

My ideal writing schedule would be a 2 hour sitting in the evening, 2-3 times per week, switching off all technology and diving into the subconscious and hopefully making it back alive. I don’t think this is such a difficult thing to manage, as I said; it is all a matter of time management.

#WriteYourselfAlive – Question 6 & Question 7

Question 6: What are your strengths as a writer? What do you love most about your talent, or the way words flow out of you, or any aspect of your writing process? What do you secretly or openly admire most about your writer self?

Strengths – I’d like to think that there are two main strengths to my writing.

  • Fearlessness: I am not afraid to voice my honest opinion about the way I envision a situation, whether it be right or wrong to the reader does not concern me. I am honest and raw at all times. I take no prisoners, because I feel that I write to and for myself.
  • Description: I like to describe things in the most complex and contradictive ways. I enjoy the challenge of attempting to describe things that are generally perceived as bad into good and then flipping the good into bad.

Admiration: I admire my tenacity and fearlessness, and that I like to push my boundaries. I like that I experiment with opposites and if it doesn’t work I don’t throw it away, I keep it for another time when I can see the situation in another perspective – I suppose one would call this being stubborn.

Question 7: What are your weakness as a writer? What would you like to improve on? List your limitations, the parts you are not proud of, your occasional causes of embarrassment.

Weakness & Limitations

  • Writing Styles: I found a style that I am comfortable with and have limited myself within that square box. I am not too familiar with different styles of writing as I have never truly explored or attempted to explore the world of literature.
  • Emotions: I am an emotional writer, where I am inspired to write a poem or a story mostly ONLY when I have had a profound feeling occur within or to me. This is makes it VERY difficult to write on a regular basis.
  • Negative: My original work used to be quite dark and rather negative to everyone; most people couldn’t understand my need to discover that level of hurt, anger pain. I tapped into the worst parts of a human soul, researched negative subjects and drowned myself in that. The problem with this element is that I have barely touched the happy and positive side of things, because I feel like I write strongest in the ugly; a subject I think a lot of people steer clear of because they either cannot handle it or don’t want to. At the same time though, I do see a bit of this as somewhat a strength because I want to shed light on the evils of human emotions; the darkest of pits that can be reached by any one person.

#WriteYourselfAlive – Question 4 & Question 5

Question 4:- What has been your family and friends’ take on your love affair with writing, while growing up [If you’ve been writing from a young age], or at any point through your creative process – up until the present time? Have they allowed, encouraged and supported your passion? If not – Why do you think they rejected it?

ElhimdEllah, I have always had such a strong circle of love and support from my family and friends when it comes to all my endeavors. Since writing has always been a passion of mine from an early age, they each recognized it in one way or another and therefore have each cherished, encouraged &/or challenged me at times to pursue it as much as I can. Honestly, without a few of my super closet friends, I don’t know that I would have pursued this writing course!

Question 5:- What genres/types of writing do you enjoy the most? Pick 3 – in order of preference. What is it you love about each? What are the limitations (Or what would you change about each) – if any?

Poetry:

  • Love – I find there is a certain kind of struggle to make the words of a poem flow just right. It’s not a matter of the words rhyming, but the intensity at which the feelings spill out of the paper and into your bones. The intricacies, the details required in structuring profound sentences. The need to gather all the right words in the right place, in the right moment. at first I feel imprisoned trying to get my point across, the transformation can be absolutely exhausting and challenging all at the same time. The struggle to articulate feelings into words is the most beautiful part of the entire process.
  • Limitations – I don’t know of any that I have discovered to be honest, but if I ever come across any; I will for sure update this answer!

Autobiographies:

  • Love – I love truth. Truth behind stories that revolve around the topics of triumph and success, perseverance. I enjoy knowing that no matter what obstacle a person faces in their life, he/she can overcome them. The human strength of passion and will-power is quite alluring.
  • Limitations – Again, I don’t know of any that I have discovered to be honest, but if I ever come across any; I will for sure update this answer!

Young Adults:

  • Love – Who doesn’t love a fantastical love story where everyone ends up happily ever after, right? I enjoyed these types growing up and well, they sort of stuck.
  • Limitations – I think sometimes they can be so magical some of us grow up and faced with a very different reality. I am not always sure if this is a good or bad thing?

Write Yourself Alive – Question 2 & Question 3

2) Question 2:- They say that writing picks the writer – that you don’t have much of a choice before you go down with word fever. But if it were the other way around, why would you say you (Consciously or not) picked writing? What did writing save you from or what did it do for you, when you chose it as one of your main forms of self-expression?

I’d like to say that I chose writing for this and that reason, but honestly? I truly believe writing chose me. Hell, one look at me and words could tell I was going to be a terrible artist [Ask anyone that knows me well! I do however, remember my Dad taking over an art project or two! Hey don’t judge me, you’d have done it too had you seen my skills! – Yes, THAT bad!] And I never did consider playing an instrument; I suppose at that time I may have thought it such a trying task, despite that nowadays I wished I could play the violin. And though sports is now my career and I enjoy it ver much, back then with my restless spirit; it just simply wasn’t enough.

You see, I was different from the very beginning, I knew it and they knew it. And they made damned sure I felt it too. Different in the sense that I didn’t fit in with the crowd. I suppose most people say that, but picture this: A young and fabulous [May I add] blue-eyed, blonde-haired, fair-skinned child in a room that seemed to have an assembly line of the same manufactured child type: Beautiful chocolate brown, flowing locks with gorgeous big brown puppy dog eyes and radiant olive-colored skin? Going back and thinking bout it now, it’s all rather silly, can’t believe I thought that way! Nevertheless, my two older brothers didn’t get it, my Mother wouldn’t accept it and my Dad was never around anyway so I had to find my own world where I was comfortable, somewhere I felt safe.

The written world became my haven, I could build and alternate universe brick by brick; or in this case: letter by letter, word and sentence. I loved the very sensation of creating different characters and plot lines that I could see myself living. Writing gave me a medium of self-expression with no fear of sounding:

A) Silly – Because it was a world that I created and I was master of all fate. And second, of
B) JudgementA feeling I had long come to find a close ally of mine.

3) Question 3:- Who was your first mentor in writing or the first writer/s you admired and wanted to imitate – in one way or another?

I don’t think I saw it that way at the time, thus I don’t have one per say. I do remember reading a variety of books that left me inspired to write though, such as:
a) Charlotte’s Web
b) The Neverending Story
c) Winnie The Pooh
d) The Goosebump Series [Of course]
e) The American Girls Collection

17 Questions for the Writer’s Soul – Introduction & Question 1

Writing has always been a passion of mine, when I was younger it was a form of escape. An alternate universe made especially for me, by me. What else could be better than that? I lived in a fairytale and dreamed in reality.. Ever had that feeling? Nothing like the imagination of a child.. Oh but once we start growing up, a sense of responsibility, social status and future endeavors start rolling in. That once fantastical child’s imagination starts to transform into something more responsibility driven, adult-like state of mind. And I cannot imagine anything worse! Because that’s exactly what happened to me along the years.

Simply put: Life got into the way and I became too lazy to work on my craft.

Don’t get me wrong and don’t misunderstand my confidence for arrogance, I do have talent for writing; I say this not because I had always been praised by my family, friends, peers and school teachers, but because I know that when I put pen to paper; I feel magic.. And isn’t that all that writing is? Magic? The worst of its kind no doubt..

Days past into weeks, months and years. From writing journal entries daily [Which I lost in my younger years, I’d have loved to dive into my child’s mind], I moved to writing every few weeks, to every few months and even less into my teen years. From writing freely, it felt alien; forced.. It wasn’t my voice anymore so I stopped writing creatively [Mostly short stories] and ventured into hells of poetry. They were shorter, direct and raw. My feelings all wrapped up in a couple of lines, that satisfied my hunger of self-expression.

High school became cliques, music, fashion, boys and sports. Too busy to write what was ravishing through my mind, I distracted myself subconsciously with other irrelevant things. University rolled around soon after and writing became as foreign as the Country I then called home. Boys, education, boys, sports, boys… Distractions. I had occasionally written throughout my University years, but it didn’t flow like it used to. I did take a writing course, my senior year though and for those quick 3 months I felt that rush of love again.. I longed for it, but as quick as it came rushing back, it fled.

8 years later and the love affair I have with words is still there.. Sadly, it took me this long; but the journey has given something for me to write about, inspiration that I needed to survive.

Two weeks ago whilst scanning through my social media sites; I stumbled upon a post by one of my favorite writers/poets of now and it felt like my calling, ‘FINALLY‘..

A “30 Days of Writing” Workshop with Tyler Knott Gregson and Andrea Balt

So now here I am, about to begin the single most terrifying and exciting journey of my life and I cannot begin to put into words what this means to me. Instead I decided to bring you along the madness. What’s a writer to do, but tell her own story right? So, first up is a warm up project before the course begins, January 29th by the way.

“A series of 17 questions for the Writer’s Soul.”

As a very descriptive writer, you can imagine that some of these responses will most probably get quite long, so I have decided to post at least one to two questions per day until the day I officially begin. I warn you though, this will not be for the faint of hearts; it will be graphic, raw and real. The truth will hurt you, but will most likely kill me first. Good luck and welcome to my inner thoughts – Let the bleeding begin:

1) Question 1:- When did you first realize your love for writing? Do you remember any people or events attached to your first writing ecstasy or have any significant early memories around this art? Go as back and as deep as possible.

Picture this: A classroom surrounded by fingerprint littered glass windows, the morning sunlight pouring into the already hot, but violently air conditioned room warming the bodies of around 15-20 grade 5 student [Girls, of course]. Sitting on a thin layer of blue carpet located in the corner of the room close to the door, a yellow stool with a teacher in her mid 40s, wild golden-yellow hair wearing a floral dress, I don’t remember the shoes. 15-20 pairs of dreamy little eyes watch her every move, waiting for what happens next as she continues to read from the latest copy of the R.L. Stein Goosebump series. Innocent little girls chased by scary, ugly monsters; courageous boys that climb to the highest peak of whatever it is they climb up! I am transfixed, mesmerized by the world that flashes in my mind, as if the book has come to life before my very eyes.The silence of the room only makes the sounds in my head that much louder; I look left embarrassed and search right quickly, but no one else can hear it.

I remember this so vividly because the collection of books we would read an hour, once a week with Mrs. Jane, were mine. I was an avid reader from an early age. I don’t know exactly who encouraged me, but I am pretty sure I picked up a book much earlier than the 5th grade and never put it down again. I realized in those stolen solitary moments, listening to Mrs. Jane’s singsongy voice, I wanted to become a writer, I wanted to create worlds for others like me, others that could imagine them in their minds, other dimension that they could escape to.

I Do Not Love You Except Because I Love You

I do not love you except because I love you;
I go from loving to not loving you,
From waiting to not waiting for you
My heart moves from cold to fire.

I love you only because it’s you the one I love;
I hate you deeply, and hating you
Bend to you, and the measure of my changing love for you
Is that I do not see you but love you blindly.

Maybe January light will consume
My heart with its cruel
Ray, stealing my key to true calm.

In this part of the story I am the one who
Dies, the only one, and I will die of love because I love you,
Because I love you, Love, in fire and blood.

By Pablo Neruda