Ever see the circus performer spinning plates on the end of sticks?

I feel like that.

There was one in particular I saw, who actually had a kind of rack with different plates spinning on top, and while he set up other aspects of his performance, he’d go back and give a plate that was starting to teeter a bit of a boost, so it would spin faster and not fall down.

I find life is like that.

Or at least each genre that  you try to get good in is like a plate on the end of a stick that you’re trying to get spinning.

Lemme see then, so to take this analogy to its logical conclusion, if I were a plate spinner I’d have a plate for being a wife, being a mother, being a grandmother, a plate for picture books, a plate for young adult novels, a plate for short story collections, a plate for storytelling, a plate for adult writing, and now a plate for screenwriting.

The family stuff is non-negotiable. A priority. Those plates haven’t ever stopped spinning.

It’s the other plates who sometimes suffer a lack of momentum and get a bit wobbly.

I have to admit that when I first started writing, twenty-one years ago, I was immediately drawn to picture books. When that plate seemed too hard to get spinning, I moved on to writing young adult novel (one at the time: Dahling…), but then the picture book plate started spinning and I sold four or five picture books, but they never really got enough attention, so I went back to the short story collections and wrote one of those (Muslim Child).

But short story collections are hard to sell. I mainly did them for information purposes.

Novels seemed to be where it was at, so I went back to those and had limited success till Wanting Mor. So I’ve basically got the novel plate spinning. But then again I ran up against a challenge.

I wrote a novel called Shame that is really good, but seems to be too adult for even YA, so hence an adult novel.

But then I was approached by some folks from Pakistani and Dubai to write an animated series, so here comes the screenplay plate.

I even go ahead and invest in a screenwriting course, that I’m almost done by the way, when all of a sudden, a picture book I wrote starts spinning so fast it practically lifts off! 

Go figure!

So now I’m an expert in picture books because I’ve written the best picture book text of the year!

But it’s been so long since I wrote a picture book, and I’ve been so busy spinning the novel and screenplay plates, that I’ve got to go back and get that plate spinning again.

I’ve noticed there’s a pattern to it.

For me, before I get a proper picture book story, I produce some lousy ones. I think it’s a matter of the imagination relearning something when it had made new pathways into different sorts of stories.

Insha Allah, it’ll come. It’s just a matter of patience and selectivity.

I’m getting LOTS of picture book story ideas. Some of them are even hilarious stories, but picture book texts they’re not.

Or they’re just not exceptional enough to follow up Big Red Lollipop.

I’ve made a dua. I’ve asked God to give me something way better!

I hope He does.

In the mean time, I’ve got tons of stuff to do keeping these novel and screenplay plates spinning!

The storytelling seems to take care of itself. I do so many presentations, that plate hardly ever slows down. 

At least I do have a picture book in the works with Lee & Low.

But I want another one!

I want to get that plate spinning well!