If there is a ‘rule’ for writing, everyone says it’s ‘write what you know’.

But sometimes you feel compelled to write about something beyond your circle of experience.

And I’m struggling to figure out a way to make it work.

This goes back to that post about ‘What’s Your Angle’.

I did discover an angle to tell the story and I think it’s working but unfortunately I’m getting pulled in several directions from various family members who’ve read the first draft and feel very strongly about where the story should be headed.

Like my book Wanting Mor, this story is based on a true story.

About ten years ago, in a masjid, this lady came up to me and said, “Rukhsana, I have a story for you.”

Usually when people do that, I cringe.

She said, “It’s a true story, it really happened. You can do with it whatever you want.”

She said, “There was this boy, he was the son of a maulana, very righteous man, but he had a weakness for video games.

Some people noticed this, so they lured him with video games and drugged him. While he was unconscious, they raped him and they took pictures.

When he woke up they showed him the pictures and said, ‘Now you do whatever we tell you to do or we’ll show these to everyone.”

So the boy did what they asked. And he kept going back to those people, and getting molested.

At one point they told him to set a bomb in an apartment building, and while he was planting it, some people saw and they told his father and some other maulanas.

They held a trial among themselves, found him guilty, and they executed him.”

Ten years went by and I did nothing with the story. But then some time last year, the story rose again in my mind, and once again I felt horrible for this poor boy who had been killed. I thought, ‘What would it feel like to be in that position.’

And I started writing it last March.

Good writing tends to go quickly. It just flows. The first draft of Wanting Mor  took only five months to write.

Shame, the title of this book, took even less than that.

I passed it by my son who is fifteen years old. I was worried that here I was writing from a boy’s perspective, and what if I was getting it all wrong. When he finished it, he said that it was definitely NOT a children’s book, but that every boy over thirteen should read it.

One of my conservative daughters also read it. And she agreed when I said that I thought it was better than Wanting Mor.

The long and the short of it is the first publisher I sent it to, rejected it. The editor there, a wonderful lady, who was a joy to work with on another book of mine, said it didn’t work as fiction.

I think it’s an important story. When older students ask me what I’m working on, I tell them that it’s a story about a boy who does something so shameful he thinks he deserves to die.

You should see their eyes light up.

I’m almost finished revising it. I plan to send it out to a different publisher to see if they will take it on.

It’s almost a corollary to Wanting Mor. In Wanting Mor, the main character, a girl named Jameela, never questions her faith.

From the very beginning, Asif, the main character in Shame,  is forced to.

So how do I think I can do this? 

Sometimes I wonder.

But the fact that both my son and my husband could find nothing wrong with the male perspective in the story makes me think that it is indeed possible.

It’s a David and Goliath story, I just want to make sure that David really wins.