Where the wind comes sweeping down the plain!

And the waving wheat can sure smell sweet when the wind comes right behind the rain.

I’ve been humming the tune ever since I found out I’ve been invited to Tulsa and Oklahoma city to do some presentations.

Seems like the next few weeks will be very busy in terms of traveling!

I’m leaving early early on Thursday morning and I’m thinking, “Yikes!” got so much to do!

A Muslim community in Oklahoma has invited me and it should be quite an interesting trip.

I’ve finally finalized my trip arrangements for the Muslim Writer’s Award in England.

I’ll be leaving on Nov. 19th and coming back on Nov. 29th, insha Allah.

What has been enormously surprising are the offers of hospitality I’ve received!

I’m a member of a children’s literature listserve that functions mostly out of the UK and has some very prestigious academic and literary minds on it!

Two ladies on the listserve, hearing that I was coming, have offered me accommodation! It’s so touching!

What has been quite surprising is how difficult it’s been to get school bookings. One British author put it bluntly, “Schools have zero funds!”

So things are apparently very tough over there.

On another note, after watching tonight’s Oprah Life class, it was about a woman who suffered a terrible loss. She was a mother of four, had gone out early one morning for a jog, and while she was gone her ex-husband had come to the house and killed all four of their children, and then himself.

Of course I cried while listening to her tell her story.

Oprah talked about why she does shows like this. She said that it was because we can often learn things from people who’ve gone through such terrible trials. She tried never to be voyeuristic in her approach. If the emotions were too intense and personal she’d ask the cameramen to stop shooting.

Then Oprah said something I really disagree with.

She said that what happened to the woman was ‘the worst thing that could possibly happen’.

If only death were the worst thing that could happen!

It just goes to show how actually sheltered Oprah and most westerners fundamentally are.

It’s funny how you can learn things from your characters. James Cameron talked about how he often told stories to learn about things.

One of the nicest compliments I ever got about my writing was that it seemed that I wrote to discover things! Linda Sue Park told me that many years ago, and I still cherish those kind words today.

That’s precisely why I write stories. If there’s nothing for me to learn in the writing of it, I mean why bother?

Any story requires a great deal of investment of time and energy. I want a payoff as much as the reader does. And I want the journey to be worthwhile.

Nowhere has that been more true than with my book Wanting Mor.

One of the biggest things I learned from Jameela in Wanting Mor happens to be not to take things for granted.

We in the west take practically everything for granted.

We think the natural order of the world is one of entitlement.

We’re entitled to a ‘childhood’. It’s enshrined in the human rights code for goodness sakes!

We get appalled at places with child labour! Children have the right to be nourished and taken care of and educated and cherished.


Because children in the west have these rights?

Because we are empathetic and we naively want what is good for our own children to apply to children all over the world?

And yet we support regimes in direct and not so direct ways that enable child exploitation all over the world.

When I was reading some of the reviews on Goodreads.com for Wanting Mor I was really struck by all the comments about how the stepmother works Jameela like a slave. And because of this, many people likened the book to a cinderella story.

And yet in the story Jameela never actually minds working that hard. Why should she? In fact there are times when she seeks out hard work, and she does this to endear herself to people, especially the other girls in the orphanage with the idea that if you can’t be beautiful you should at least be good, people will appreciate that.

And Jameela tries to be good by being helpful and working hard.

But a lot of people don’t seem to understand what Jameela’s underlying supposition really is.

It’s not so much that she’s ‘selfless’.

It’s that she wants to carve a place into the social hierarchy. Ever since her mother died, her place is in no way guarranteed! She works so hard in order to make herself indispensible, wanted.

That doesn’t sound that noble does it?

And yet she is noble.

She is unbelievably ‘good’.

And while I was writing Wanting Mor  I was astounded at her attitude, because she really doesn’t take a single thing in her life for granted except for one thing. She takes for granted that her father will not abandon her and in that she’s disappointed.

Afghanistan is full of war and bloodshed and carnage.

In fact much of the world is filled with chaos and disorder.

Without peace, middle class morality cannot thrive. Without stability, family life cannot thrive.

People come home to find their families slaughtered far too often!

Not necessarily after they’ve gone for an early morning jog through their middle class neighborhood, and not often as a result of an ex-husband’s psychotic actions, but the end result is the same!

And finding your family dead like that isn’t even the worst thing that can happen!

It can always be worse!

I would suggest that knowing they were tortured or violated before they were killed would be worse than just knowing they’d been killed.

At the risk of being macabre, there an infinite variety of things that can be worse than any scenario that happens to us.

Basically it can ALWAYS be worse!

Women all over the world have to pick themselves up for the sake of their surviving kids and keep on keeping on.

But then they don’t live with the expectation that it’s not supposed to be like that. But that doesn’ t mean their grief is any less.

I felt myself getting really annoyed at the woman who’d lost her children and was now talking about how she kept herself from committing suicide.

If her children were alive to see her in that state, they’d shake her! Why should she destroy her life just because they’d lost theirs?

That’s what they would tell her. I’m sure of it!

Sometimes I find the ‘aha’ moments that Oprah comes up with are actually pretty shallow. But then I guess I’m coming at it from a completely different perspective.