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!