The biggest worry in being a ‘do gooder’ is not the risk of stopping the doing of good. It’s getting arrogant about it.
Ooh, arrogance, that most insidious of faults! That creeps up on you till you really do believe you’re better than others.
And in believing that, you prove that you’re not.
Yeah, there’s more than just a little bit of irony in that whole situation.
I heard one hadith where some of the companions of the Prophet (peace be upon him) threw dust in the face of those people who were praising them. I remember thinking at first that it was really rude of them, but then it later went on to explain that these companions did so to stop the people from praising them to their faces, because they feared growing arrogant about the good they were doing.
And that’s a legitimate fear!
I’ve said before and I’ll say it again, that I’m really fortunate to be surrounded by family members who love me enough to tell me when I’m getting full of myself!
I absolutely count on them for that!
Maybe other people don’t have that around them.
I know of one particular author who embraces every cause! Who rides like a champion out to slay the forces of darkness, kind of. And boy has he become obnoxious over the years!
I never used to think so.
I recall a friend saying that her son thought this author was really full of himself and I remember being shocked and jumping to his defence.
But later when I heard of some antics he pulled at a school where he’d been invited to speak, where the kids hadn’t participated in his little scenario to his satisfaction, where he stormed out in a huff and promised to give the school their money back, and what a sour taste it had left in these teachers’ mouth, I thought ‘wow’. Maybe my friend’s son was right. And I reserved judgment.
I’ve been watching a lot of Dr. Phil, and I’ve been sensing him getting a bit of a swelled head. He’s become more belligerent when faced with foolish people on his show. It’s sad to see really. He used to be more patient with them, to the point where I thought, wow, the guy’s a saint!
Um, not so much any more.
And you know how you can see his signature, at least I think it’s his signature, on the big sign at the back of the stage? Where the ‘P’ in Phil has a huge belly to it? Well I was observing it one day and I thought of something I’d read about handwriting analysis that said people who make huge loops or bellies in their name tend to be arrogant, and I thought, “Hmmm.”
Recently I received some interesting feedback.
I’m doing a storytelling set at the Mosaic Storytelling Festival on March 9th with Donna Dudinsky at 3 pm. It’s at St. David’s Parish Hall, 49 Donlands Ave. (Donlands and Danforth right off the subway).
Donna had emailed me asking how we would conduct the set, whether we’d do interspersed stories or take a half hour block each. I said half hour block and I’d like to go first.
The reason I wanted to go first was so I could get it done and then just sit back and enjoy listening to her stories. But Donna emailed me back and asked for the first half hour because she said I was the ‘headliner’.
That was news to me!
She also said that I had my fans and that they’d want to come up to me afterwards and take a look at my books. And I thought huh? So she told me that she’d been at some of the previous storytelling events through the Mosaic Festival and when our set had been announced and particularly when my name had been announced, some people had yelled, “Yeah! We love her!” or something like that.
Wow! It felt so strange to hear that.
And then yesterday I went to a school, actually very close to that area! I hadn’t seen the librarian for about ten years! She still remembered me, and had invited me to speak to her grade 7-8′s (my favourite group!) about my novel Wanting Mor. Well ever since the India trip, I changed the presentation to straight storytelling minus any technology and it actually works even better! So I was doing the presentation and there was some sort of kerfuffle with one of the teachers who grew a bit belligerent and took the boys of his class out of my presentation because he wanted to give them a health test.
It was weird.
I’ve never been in that situation before.
He was yelling and being quite rude to the librarian and I actually felt sorry for him because he was making a fool of himself.
When I finally started the presentations (and was talking fast to make up for the late start) he actually came back to get some of the girls who hadn’t exited with the boys and the librarian refused to allow them to leave. Well this time he started shouting! And I had to pause for the noise to go down.
Anyway, later, during the third presentation, it went along swimmingly, many of the students came up to me and told me they remembered me from other schools in the area! And they had heard parts of the presentation before, and yet they loved the presentation again. I asked them if they were bored? No, not at all! They assured me.
In fact some of the girls who’d stayed behind, from that belligerent teacher, had snuck in to see the presentation again because they enjoyed it so much!
And I thought wow! The fact that kids would actually sneak in to see the presentation again…just wow!
And then one of them asked me to sign her agenda, and while I was signing, I grew alarmed because I noticed that my signature had changed a little.
The belly of the ‘R’ in my first name and the loop in the ‘h’ in my last name were really quite big! And I thought of Dr. Phil’s signature, and I grew afraid.
And I wondered if my previous thoughts weren’t some form of projection, where you see your own flaws magnified in others.
It definitely brought me down a notch or two.
And if I had some dirt to throw handy, I might very well have tossed it, not at them, just in the air, to remind myself not to become arrogant.
And to definitely not take myself too seriously!!!
When I was first starting out in this field, I had to go through a sort of discipline process.
I actually think that everything I went through was necessary, it was a sort of preparation for where I am now, but it is definitely possible to get stuck in a phase.
When all you have are your dreams, and then the internet beckons…it’s easy to get caught up on it instead of at work on a new manuscript.
I spent YEARS on a politics and religion forum, defending my beliefs to a body of complete strangers whom I had never met.
That was extremely valuable!
It taught me how to handle myself when I was being attacked and challenged…you know how blunt people can be behind the anonymity of a computer screen! But after about fifteen years of trying to convince the same old die hards the same old points…I realized that the usefulness of the process had run its course.
It was hard to let go.
I thought of some of these people as my friends. I had genuine affection for them and I was reluctant to leave.
But then I realized that there were a few people whom I thought of friends, who really weren’t. Long story short, I abandoned it, finally, and moved on.
Besides learning how to handle myself in a very volatile and hostile situation, I learned that some people who attack you with arguments, aren’t interested in the truth, only in proving you are wrong.
If you engage them legitimately, type out pages of proofs, they will counter with the flimsiest of arguments and present them as ironclad proofs with so much of their own confidence that it might actually shake your own.
Think of the way Republicans can obfuscate an issue like climate change, and throw enough bogus but legitimate sounding facts till they feel they’ve actually clouded the issue enough to have created some doubt.
I dealt with a LOT of obfuscation!
I researched everything and people complimented me on the soundness of my beliefs, the way I had thought everything through, and then eventually some newbie would come along and attack me all over again and I had to go back to the defence. Till one day this person stated that she lived in a university town and there were a lot of Muslims and she had a strong feeling of bigotry towards them and couldn’t seem to help it. Then she challenged me to change her mind.
I told her, “Frankly, lady, I don’t give a damn.”
And she got royally miffed.
And finally, finally, I didn’t care.
I finally realized it’s not my job to change anyone’s mind about Islam and Muslims.
If they want to be a bigot, hey it’s a free world!
I learned so much for those days, but I got to a point where I thought why am I expending so much energy on such a small forum? I need to put that energy into my books, and so I did.
Then came along Facebook and social media, and I see many rookie authors making somewhat the same mistake.
A few posts ago I posted Neil Gaman’s commencement speech, and I keep remembering something he said: He looked at where he wanted to be as an author and saw it as a mountain peak in the distance, and when he came across an opportunity, even if it was a very good opportunity, but it didn’t bring him nearer his mountain peak goal, then he didn’t take it.
Social media is like that.
Even sometimes I worry that this blog is taking away too much time from my wriitng but I look at this blog as a kind of give back. I often try to share the lessons I’ve learned along the way.
And anyone reading will notice that there are times when my posts are few and far between and the quality of them drops off. Those are the times when the writing is going smashingly! Masha Allah.
Right now I’m busy with some projects, but I did want to warn anyone who might be reading this, to limit your time on social media. Especially Facebook!
Someone told me that people who spend a lot of time on Facebook tend to be depressed!
I can understand why that would be true. It would be easy to look at all the bragging that goes on, on it and get sad about the state of your own career.
But on the other hand, I’ve come across a lot of useful articles I wouldn’t have found except that they were recommended by friends. I post very little.
I’ve seen authors take it far too seriously!
It’s much more important to keep your website updated, and keep on top of email correspondence than it is to see how many ‘likes’ you get! Or comments you generate!
It’s just a big popularity contest! And who needs that??? What you really need, what you really want… IS TO WRITE THE BEST DARN BOOK YOU CAN!
Something that will ADD to the body of literature worth reading!
And you can’t do that while farting around on social media!
My husband said I left out two major steps in my last post and that’s the one where I talk about doing it, and the other one is where I complain about doing it.
So let’s just call them: “I should…” and “It’s so hard…”
Fill in the blanks.
I know it sounds like whinging (that’s the British way of saying whining and I like it a lot more as a word because it has more onomatopoeia in that it sounds like what it is) anyway, before I actually do ‘just do it’, I spend a bit of time, okay okay, sometimes a CONSIDERABLE bit of time saying to myself, “I should do …”
But then I do that in so many aspects in my life and honestly I don’t really see anything that wrong with it.
I’ll be sitting on the sofa thinking of all the chores I need to do. And my kids would actually make a joke of it. I’ll say out loud, “I should go clean the bathtub.” And then I won’t. I’ll sit there and think of other things and then after about five minutes have passed, I’ll say again, “I should go clean the bathtub…” only this time I’ll add, “It really is quite grimy.”
And then another five minutes will pass thinking of other things and I’ll say again, “I really should go clean the bathtub…” only this time I’ll think of how nice and shiny it will look when it’s all clean, and I’ll smile to myself, as if I’ve actually done it.
And then another five minutes will pass of me thinking of other things and then I’ll say, with a LOT more conviction, “I really should go and clean the bathtub…” and I think of how happy my husband and son (the only other people who still live here) will feel stepping into a nice clean bathtub, and I’ll feel kind of righteous because I’m going to take care of my filial duty towards them, and there’ll be that hadith in there somewhere that says ‘cleanliness is half of faith’ and I’ll be thinking that hey, cleaning the bathtub is like half of my faith, and then FINALLY I’ll lean forward, rest my hands on the armrest and get myself up and go and actually ‘just do it’.
Maybe my husband, being the annoying person he is, would just go think it and do it, but I’m not like that.
There’s a process.
The bathtub eventually does get clean, the chore eventually does get done, and the story eventually does get written, so what’s the harm?
And then after the bathtub is clean, or the story is written, I feel all righteous inside and I think to myself, “Wow, that was a lot of work! I scrubbed really hard! It wasn’t easy.” and “Oh I really like that story! Not sure if the publishers will, but that part, ooh, it gives me the shivers. Well done! That wasn’t easy! I had to go deep for it!”
And this is the part my husband would say I’m whinging, but really no, it’s just an acknowledgement in a way of the effort I’ve expended, and really what’s wrong with that???
It’s not like I say this to him.
I’m really only saying it to myself.
Kind of a pat on the back, an ‘attaboy’ or ‘attagirl’ because I just did a task that no one ever really thanks me for, but one that still needs getting done and yeah, I’m glad I did it.
If I didn’t write the story… I know perfectly well that the world would still keep revolving.
And who am I kidding, would people’s lives really be the poorer for it if I hadn’t written the story??? I’d like to think so, but it’s really true that you don’t know what you’re missing…
And yet years later, when the story does get published insha Allah, and I get some email out of the blue saying how much it meant to someone, I nod to myself, and think, “Oh yeah, they did like it. Alhamdu lillah”
And then the hardest part of all, I have to build myself up to go and start the process ALL OVER AGAIN!!
Which reminds me.
I really should get back to work on that story I was thinking of!
Been thinking of the Nike slogan lately.
There’s so much darn wisdom in those three little words.
One of the things you need in this writing field, besides a complete misunderstanding of the odds of success, is someone at your back that will push you to do things you kind of, sort of, feel scared and/or intimidated by.
It would be great if the world just beat a path to your door now, wouldn’t it. But that’s not the case.
People it seems can very well carry on their lives without ever having heard of you or your work.
And sometimes I think it’s crazy that I want to write stories that are so good, so excellent that they simply HAVE to track them down and read them or else their lives will be the poorer for it.
I know, I know, I’m smiling to myself even as I type that.
The nerve, eh?
That’s the old guy critic in the back of my head speaking. He’s saying loud and clear, “Who the hell do you think you are???”
I don’t even bother arguing any more, because from the little success I have had, great literature doesn’t come from big loud actions. It seems to come about almost by accident.
For ten years I was telling my version of the Big Red Lollipop story (you can watch it here) and then my editor asked me to rewrite the story in Rubina’s perspective, wrote it in fifteen minutes and voila, it became the hit it is.
And Wanting Mor didn’t even seem to be marketable to me. I just wrote it to find out what would happen to this poor abandoned girl in Afghanistan.
In both of those cases I never set out to write something fantastic. I just did the job.
But when I was done with Wanting Mor and it didn’t achieve the success that Big Red Lollipop did, I felt tired. Exhausted!
And I might have mentioned before that I never came closer to quitting the profession of writing than I did back then.
You write your heart out and yeah, some people notice, but not EVERYONE!
And then it’s back to the drawing board, start all over again, find something that stirs the passions within me, and hope to God that the story comes out good.
Anyway, the point I’m trying to make in my long rambling way, is that success is a series of kicks in the pants, just go and do it. Even if you probably WON’T succeed, even if the old man critic in the back of you mind laughs and says, “Probably won’t??? You mean DEFINITELY WON’T” just go and do it anyway.
There’s an old saying, ‘nothing ventured, nothing gained’.
When I first started out in the biz I applied for lots of arts grants. I fancied my grants were even well written.
Just over the weekend though I cleaned out ALL my files and I came across the grant applications I’d written and oh they were sad!
The unmitigated gall I possessed!
And yet now I’ve often been fortunate to receive grants, especially travel grants!!!
And to be perfectly honest, I still possess an awful lot of chutzpah.
Because I’m not there yet.
I’m not even close.
There’s so much more I want to do.
And even though it’s scary, I just get up and start doing it.
I will continue to ‘just do it’.
Chipping away at the stories I want to write. Clearing my throat till I say the things I need to say.
Even if it’s scary.
Even if it’s crazy, because fundamentally I do believe that the greatest authors don’t have anything that I don’t have. I just have to reach down deep and pull out my best.
And just keep keepin’ on.
Just do it.
They say that most writers are frustrated actors.
I find that funny because I never wanted to pursue acting, not that it was ever a choice. Acting was considered a licentious profession in Pakistani culture and that was actually something I agreed with growing up.
Besides, I never had the confidence in my looks to think I could make a go of it.
But something about drama on stage does appeal to me, and luckily I’ve got the storytelling to fill that need.
Anyway, getting back to Philip Semour Hoffman…every once in a while you do come across someone who is extraordinary at what he does.
I first noticed this actor in a low budget movie hardly anyone seems to know about called Owning Mahoney. It’s a Canadian film from the seventies I think, and it has that gritty fuzzy sepia look of a lot of the movies from back then. It was filmed in Toronto and is about this Mahoney guy who committed the biggest bank fraud in Canadian history because he was an addicted gambler.
It’s a fascinating little movie if you can get past the technical flaws. Hoffman puts in a performance that is remarkable because he actually makes this really weird guy sort of understandable.
Now that’s hard!
Because people are a lot weirder than fictional characters and it’s really hard to take a true story and show the motivation of someone who committed a crime that seems inconceivable according to his character and lifestyle.
I finished watching Owning Mahoney and made a note to myself to watch out for this actor.
Then when I saw him in Doubt…all I can say is wow!
Everytime that the movie Doubt comes on, I’ll sit down and watch it.
Mind you, Hoffman was playing against Meryl Streep, and they’re both in very fine form! By the way Meryl’s another actor who is fabulous, but then everyone knows that!
And he played an obnoxious reporter in Red Dragon, that really brutal prequel to Silence of the Lambs with Ralph Fiennes. It’s really good! And Hoffman is really obnoxious. A completely different character again!
And yet watching him in Red Dragon, where he’s pictured in his underwear superglued to a chair before he’s tortured by the Ralph Fiennes character, makes him look quite vulnerable because he’s quite pudgy.
And seeing that made me wonder if that would affect his confidence like it affects my own at times.
I told a relative recently that I have absolutely no business having any confidence whatsoever…and yet I do. When I get up on stage I don’t even think of how much weight I have to lose.
I get caught up in the story I’m telling.
Weight just doesn’t matter.
People seem to like me despite of it.
I wish I was immune to the way we’ve been socialized to value the thin, but, hey, I’m not. And I bet Hoffman wasn’t either.
Apparently it was no secret that he suffered from drug addiction.
And I thought, I think I know why.
Maybe the drugs take you away from your insecurities for a while. Maybe they offer a release. And once again, I thank God that they are forbidden in Islam, because if they weren’t… shudder.
And then I wondered but didn’t he come in contact with people who constantly told him how much his films meant to them?
And then I started to wonder if Hoffman listened to their kind words and then dismissed them after a while because his inner demons were calling.
And then I thought of how easily kind words and compliments just wash right over me and it’s always the stings and barbs that linger.
I think we need to focus instead on the love.
Remind ourselves constantly of it.
Even while we strive to overcome our deficiencies.
I’ll stay on my diet, and I’ll keep going to the gym, to bring the weight down, but I’ll also remind myself that my work has touched a lot of people and I am blessed.
So give it a break.
Sometimes I feel like if I could only delve into magical elements, I could write a bestseller so easily!
I think having religious restrictions can make it much harder to write an engaging story!
Alice Kane is considered one of the grand dames of storytelling. She came from Ireland I think, which has an epic storytelling tradition, and she was of the opinion that a storyteller should really only sit completely still and let the voice tell the story.
Funny how she could captivate an audience in such a manner!
When I was judging Iran, I met another storyteller who used a similar technique. She was a tiny little creature, very petite, very pretty, named Anna Sophia (can’t remember her last night) and was from Portugal. She had a drama background, she was actually an actress, but when she did storytelling she deliberately prevented herself from moving. She sat quietly on a chair in the middle of the stage and told such a powerful story about a community and their elders that it blew the entire audience away!
And mind you, most of the audience didn’t speak English! They spoke Farsi, and yet such was the power of her storytelling that they could feel the passion of her words, even without the translation!
Alice Kane was apparently that good too. She wrote a book about storytelling that some in the Canadian storytelling community almost considered to be a bible of sorts.
There’s a poem in there that she included (not sure if she wrote it) that I often quote in storytelling workshops I have run:
The dreamer awakes
The shadow goes by
When I tell you a tale
The tale is a lie
But ponder it well
Fair maiden, good youth
The tale is a lie
What it tells is the truth.
Love that poem!
But anyway, later on in her book The Dreamer Awakes she says something interesting about folktales. She said that folktales have their roots in paganism. That they’re actually a bit on the subversive side towards religious thought and society.
Being a practicing Muslim that sure didn’t sit well with me.
But I definitely understand where she’s coming from. Some of the most ‘satisfying’ stories have elements of paganism in there. And it behooves me to be careful regarding my faith, when I’m navigating that terrain, and navigate it I must if I want to be proficient at writing.
The stories I choose to tell to audiences are always based on true tales, or personal stories.
And the stories I write are definitely firmly anchored in the real world. The truth of what she said is in fact one of the reasons that I abandoned fantasy.
There was too much shirk in it. Shirk is the Islamic concept of ascribing partners to God.
Oh how I used to love fantasy! It began with The Lord of the Rings but then I just got to reading all kinds of really bad stuff that I got turned off all the glowing orbs and levitating stones and nonsense. I think the kicker was A Wrinkle in Time which I rather enjoyed until it got to the fact that the villain was a brain in a jar for Pete’s sake!!! Ugh!
Pan’s Labyrinth… ah…what a masterpiece!
It’s worth studying it just to admire the way Guillerm del Toro put together this amazing story!
As a storyteller it has all the aspects of high storytelling at its finest! As an author I just couldn’t believe how beautifully he wove the disparate strands of the story from the Spanish civil war backdrop, to the fairytale with Ofelia and its Greco-Roman/Pagan flavors.
It really is exquisite! Much better than most of what Hollywood produces!
I can’t do that with the realistic fiction I write.
And yet when I looked at it years and years ago, I decided that realistic fiction can be every bit as compelling as the strongest fantasy because ultimately the power of a story doesn’t rely on how elaborate the ‘magic’ conceit that you infuse your story with is. The strength of a story always relies on your characters!
And the problem with too much fiction today is that most of the characters are stale!
They are interchangeable.
Insert spunky heroine or self-doubting hero. Blech!
In Pan’s Labyrinth, Del Toro creates a very interesting character in Ofelia indeed! At once archetypal and familiar and yet also fresh and new! And I love that the characters aren’t Hollywood good-looking. The Mercedes character is even quite plain looking, but her acting abilities…ooh!
Oh it’s a gem!
Even if part of me cringes at all the Pagan references!
And the fact that it’s in Spanish with English subtitles…wow! I think the Spanish is absolutely crucial to conveying the mood of the story.
Went to a publisher party the other night and had a number of very interesting experiences.
It was chock full of people, most of whom I didn’t know, but I did see a dear acquaintance of mine and went over to say hello. She’s always worked on the business side of children’s literature. She’s attended conferences and festivals all around the world.
We were talking to a couple of people in the media and shamelessly, I name dropped that I’d met Cornelia Funke. And I told the media people, “Oh she was so nice! So down to earth.”
And then my friend said, “I met her too! And yes! She’s just lovely!” And then she added something interesting! “All the really good authors are!”
And I thought, “Wow!”
On one level that makes so much sense!
Forget all the movies you might have watched where people are scrambling over each other, and stabbing each other in the back. Oh yes, that does happen, I’m not saying it doesn’t, but what my friend was saying is that the people who really make it, who are really big, are very nice.
And I think I agree.
Wouldn’t you think it had to be that way? Because you don’t publish in a vacuum, and if you’re not nice to people, then they really won’t promote your work to the fullest extent. Even if your work is fabulous, even if you’re making them tons of money, if you’re a jerk to them, they’ll play it out because they know that sooner or later your star will fade.
But the people who really make it, who show consistent quality, and then rise to the next level…well those are people who are being supported by the companies with which they work, consistently.
They have forged good relationships, I imagine.
In short…people WANT to work with them.
Now being nice won’t get you published, but once you’ve got something worthwhile to sell, being nice and easy to work with really goes a long way towards people wanting to work with you again!
That’s what I’m saying.
And then of course, I had to look back at my own behaviour through the years, and I realized that the more successful I got, the nicer I got.
When I was first starting out, I think I was a bit prickly because I was scared people were trying to rip me off. Not so any more.
Food for thought.
Got some more accolades for King for a Day!
It got a fabulous review at Book Dragon , and this review really mentions what I was trying to do with the story! Shows that Malik, the main character (which means king in Arabic) has all the properties of a really good one!
Loved this line:
… By highlighting Malik’s many other strengths and talents, author Rukhsana Khan seamlessly presents a hero who is much more than his physical challenges: His patience and skill prove stronger than any bully’s cruelty and greed….
And now another piece of good news! It’s been shortlisted for an award–already!
Drum roll please…
King for a Day has been shorlisted for the Bank Street College Irma Black award!
It’s an award that will eventually be decided by child readers!
I’m one of 16 finalists! Yowza!
Hmm, I could get used to this!
Write a book, and people actually pay attention! It gets noticed!
So why am I feeling so anxious???
Gotta relax and enjoy the ride.
Perhaps it’s a new reality that I just have to get used to.
I’ve been working all these years for it…and now that it’s here it’s absolutely ridiculous that I should be scared in any way.
Stop asking yourself, “What do you do to top it???” Stop asking, “What if you never write another thing again???”
It will come, insha Allah.
It will come!
See that’s why I always liked having a book in the works.
It was like a security blanket of sorts.
And now for the first time in more than fifteen years…nada, zip, zilch.
I’ve had comments from two different relatives about it, and it’s really thrown me for a loop.
Shaken me to my core.
The comments weren’t from people I was expecting them from.
Yeah, sure, I had one relative, ages ago, respond to my wish to be a world famous children’s author with the comment, “You’ll never get published, look at the way you dress.”
She wasn’t being mean about it, it’s what she really thought. She might have even been trying to warn me so I wouldn’t get my hopes up.
And yet nobody was more proud of me than her, when I did get published.
And then there was the other relative who asked to read an early novel of mine, and when he was done and I asked for feedback, he evaded the question by asking me what I was studying in university at the time. I told him I was thinking of becoming a teacher and he said, ‘Stick to that’.
But now the comments are different.
I was telling one relative who I admire, about the New York Public Library honor and she said a funny thing. She said something like, “Who would have ever thought your story about you and your sister would have made it so big.”
But it distinctly felt like she was saying, “Who ever thought you’d do so well?”
And then again, today, another one, said pretty much the same thing. “Who ever thought you’d get so up there.”
These are people who’ve know me since I got married, almost 35 years ago.
And I must say it really stung when they said that.
It’s like they were thinking out loud, looking at me and having a hard time re-evaluating me in light of this new stuff.
And when they said that, I was kind of forced to step back, kind of get outside myself, and look at me the way I must come across to them.
I’ve always known that I’m not very impressive to look at.
Put me in a room full of Pakistanis or Muslims and you really couldn’t tell me apart.
In fact it makes me laugh to think of how that actually happened when I was first starting out. Went to Regent Park P.S. to do a presentation because it had a high Muslim population.
A bunch of the mothers came in to see it, and they were sitting in a semi circle. There was a seat in their midst so I went and sat down with them and introduced myself and started chatting them up.
The librarian who booked me turned from doing something and looked for me, and when I saw her, I waved, and only then could she pick me out from the other ladies there.
I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that they never thought I could accomplish what I have.
I just took their belief in me for granted.
They don’t realize that I still feel I’m just getting started. I’m nowhere near where I want to be.
It’s taken 25 years of writing to get to this point. Now, insha Allah, comes the real hard work!
I have always felt that I could be a tour de force. I have always told myself, what do the great authors in history have that I don’t? They all pulled stories from their imagination!
We all are blessed with an imagination.
We just need to go deep enough.
And the older I get, the more I realize that the people we encounter fall into various archetypes.
I asked my husband if he was surprised that I’d achieved what I had too? And he said, “Nope. I knew you had the drive in you.”
And if it doesn’t happen, alhamdu lillah, but it won’t be from want of effort!
And I wonder what they’ll say then.
When the writing gets better, the blog will suffer.
I’m working hard these days, and it’s so exciting that it’s very hard to concentrate on writing something here.
What I would suggest for all the new folks who’ve been joining the feed is to check out some of my older posts. I have a pretty big archive and there are a lot of good posts (if I say so myself) in there.
One thing I try never to do is to repeat myself.
But I did think I should post tonight because…drum roll…it’s official!
KING FOR A DAY is officially released!
And it’s already received some nice fanfare.
Over at the Fantastic children’s literature blog Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast, Julie Danielson talks about King for a Day.
And Kirkus gave it a starred review that you can read here: https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/rukhsana-khan/king-for-a-day/
It also got a starred review from School Library Journal! Yay!!! And… it was a pick of the day!
You can read that review here: http://www.slj.com/2013/11/reviews/pick-of-the-day/pick-of-the-day-king-for-a-day/#_
So it’s very very good!
And it’s really nice when the heads of organizations are contacting you, making sure that your new book is submitted for consideration of their honors!
We’ll see. Insha Allah something good will come of it.
It definitely seems that I’m on people’s radar now!
Only took about 25 years of writing! Alhamdu lillah.