Becoming a Writer and Golden Egg Geese

June 1, 2010

“But let’s not talk about dying geese because that’s no fun. Let’s talk about beginnings. Last week I spent a little fortune on Amazon.com. It took me half an hour to find the books I needed to buy, and three days to justify the expenditure to myself. I know the goose died. I know!…”

Dear Papaito,

It is 10:30pm, and the weather has finally cooled down outside. I have opened both windows in my bedroom, and all other windows in the apartment, but the afternoon’s hot air likes it better inside. Stretched to the four corners of this room, it hovers around me comfortably and thoughtlessly, as one who doesn’t know he’s unwelcome in a place. If you were here Papaito, we would go out for a walk, and let the hot air have the room for itself. Do you think we would still find it here when we return?

I had mentioned to you one post-graduation development, and that concerned my first attempts to speak to Muslim teens. These first trials were encouraging and inspiring, and they set some preliminary foundations –albeit modest ones- for future exercises of this kind. The second development concerns my writing. Shortly after the graduation commencement, I wrote an article about the new Miss USA. As is the case with all my writing, I did not plan to write such a piece, it simply happened. The article was quite successful for being my first., alhamdulilah. It first appeared in Altmuslimah.com. Then it got quoted in an opinion piece on The Guardian. Then in another piece in The Huffington Post, and finally, an international feminist blog, Gender Across Borders, cross-posted it today.

This short piece has traveled a lot more than it had intended, going places it never thought it would go (a feminist site?). Like the first development, this one was also encouraging. It showed me that if I work on my writing, perhaps I can find a stable outlet for this passion of mine. And who knows? If I am good enough at it, maybe I can even find someone who will pay me for it. They call it job. Have you heard this word before?  I don’t think you are missing out on much if you haven’t, but unfortunately, it is something I need to think about now because my goose of the golden eggs, aka scholarship, died  last month.

But let’s not talk about dying geese because that’s no fun. Let’s talk about beginnings. Last week I spent a little fortune on Amazon.com. It took me half an hour to find the books I needed to buy, and three days to justify the expenditure to myself. I know the goose died. I know! But I needed those books for my project of becoming the next Gabriel García Márquez, or Isabel Allende. Since I want to write stories about/for Western Muslim teens, I had to buy a bunch of books on Muslim Youth in America for my preliminary research. I also had to buy some used short story collections to begin to study this genre a bit more systematically. Finally, I bought a book about writing tools for beginners, and three beautiful red notebooks for artists. The latter was probably a bit excessive, but I can consider that my graduation present to myself. It’s all good, inshaAllah.

But going back to geese, -since not everything in life can be fun, and I do need to talk about it- I need to find another one, preferably one that will not die on me after two years.  Maybe I had an old rich uncle I never met, and he left me a fat inheritance I am not even aware of. The mere possibility would justify a fact finding mission, don’t you think Papaito? The second option is finding a grant. The third is a fund raiser. The fourth is a job. But a job will leave me no time to write!  So which possibility will you bet for? (bets are haram, but you know what I mean). The grant? The rich uncle? The job? I go for the rich uncle.

I will keep you posted Papaito, on the meantime, pray for a goose.

J.

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