A year in the life

Usually when I disappear from people’s lives, social media and basically no one hears much from me, it’s because I am either overwhelmed and need to recover, or I have fallen into depression -again – and need to wallow. That’s how it’s always been. The people that know me well know this about me. They let me be for a while, until my disappearance lasts too long and they intervene. Bless!

I want to say that this is the old me, but I am a bit too scared to jinx it. So let’s just say that I used to do that for those reasons. Not anymore though. I haven’t posted to my blog in a while, not because I haven’t been writing, but because I’ve been too focused on all the projects I’ve got. All my energy and writing mojo goes into my book.

Nanowrimo is nearly over and most of you – those that read my blog and follow it are from the writers online scene thanks for following me btw – know how it could take its toll on you. My emotions are up and down every single day. On top of that, I am running my small business and working on three major projects. I don’t even have time to think about what to write for this blog.

Looking at my last post, I see that it was posted almost two months ago. My instinct is to beat myself up about it and feel shameful that I’ve let this go. But what would be the point. Other than make myself feel bad. Instead, I sat down to write this post.

I feel like I am slightly freaking out because I’ve been on an amazing writing streak. I am writing everyday and it’s been a breeze mostly. The idea just come to me and I show up everyday to let them come through me. I fear losing that. That fear is paralyzing me. But it’s part of it. Part of this journey. And that’s ok. Usually that would send me into a spiral, and maybe I am growing up, or I don’t want to waste my time falling into anymore spirals, but I don’t want to let fear control me.

I know a lot of people experience those feelings and I spent many years trying to find the answer, the cure. I don’t know if I found it, but I know that I choose to move forward. To get right back up every time I fall. I’ve fallen a lot this past year, but you wouldn’t know it because I almost always got right back up. Is this the right way? God only knows. All I know is that I’ve come so far with so many things, especially writing. I can always count on that.

I am thankful for November. I am thankful for Nanowrimo. I am thankful for writing. And I am thankful I get to do what I love every day.

PS: yes the title of this post is from Gilmore Girls comeback show. Which I am currently watching in the background. I just feel like I’ve been in the making, for over a year now, and things are coming together. It’s a little incredible how much has changed in just one year.

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A State of Comatose – Post Nanowrimo

Part of me knew that something like this would happen. That I would shut down after the words marathon my brain had – not willingly – participated in. I had never spent more than a few days writing in a row, let alone an entire month. It was a binge-like behavior. I was binge-writing and coming down from that high was a little depressing, I am not going to lie. It has felt like there weren’t any more words to write, as if my brain had run out of words.

I’ve mentioned this on my blog a few times before, but I’ve never actually written more than 10k words a year. This includes my diary, the myriad of blogs I’ve kept over the years, and any type of personal and recreational writing. For work, I would write nearly 40k words a year. Writing has always been a means to an end, despite the passion I have for it. Continue reading →

I win I win I win

What!??? I did?

HELLZ YEA I did. 50 thousand words. 50k.

My draft is not even done yet, I still need at least 20k words to wrap up the story, but that doesn’t matter. I made a promise to myself, and I kept it. I completed NaNoWriMo, and it was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. I am very proud of myself, and everyone who participated this year.

Yay Us. YAY US!!!!!!

I Write, Therefore I am

Looking back at the amount of journals I kept over the years – not necessarily keeping them filled and fed – and the number of blogs I started – again, not truly committing to them – and how many notes I have on my iPhone and even the old blackberry, notes about my feelings, emotions or experiences, all written down for posterity and a little bit of therapy, and finally, the folder I have on my computer that is called [My Writing], which is filled with word documents of things I wrote. I honestly don’t know how I can look at all of that, and still question my vocation as a writer, and natural attraction to write it all down – do I need someone to stamp it across my forehead in order for me to believe it? Continue reading →

An Effort in Descriptive Writing

In an effort to expand my horizons, get myself out of the house and force myself to get inspired and notice my surroundings, I took a trip to the beach.

I actively saw what I saw, I wiggled my ears so as to test it’s hearing abilities. That’s silly, don’t do it, you’ll look stupid. Or maybe do it, who cares if you look stupid. I tried to identify what I inhaled. I gripped the steering wheel tightly, focusing on the heat coming through and the smooth texture.

I thought about all the missed opportunities, all the things I saw, smelled, heard, touched and felt. Things that are now forgotten.

I arrived at my destination. I paid attention to how I parked the car. How people look when they are driving and finally spot the parking they want. I couldn’t help but imagine a jungle where the survival is for the fittest and fastest. I pushed the thought of the reckless drivers out of my mind, that’s not a pretty picture.

I took a seat at a cafe on the strip across from the beach. I wasn’t dressed for the beach and thought it best to sit back and watch.

As soon as I ordered an iced frappe, which is pretty for a very cold coffee, I noticed the man occupying the table next to mine. Alone. Why is it that men who dine alone seem more charming than a man dining with company? Does his solo status elude to his actual status? He just seemed so interesting to me. He picked up his phone and I imagined his secretary on the other end, confirming his schedule for the rest of the day. After his call, he looked into the same direction, the beach. Was he trying to notice his surroundings too? I really wanted to know what he was thinking. I couldn’t help but watch him watch people as they went about their days.

In my peripheral, I noticed the leaves fall and I celebrated internally, for noticing this happen, and for the welcome suggestion of an upcoming winter. Out here, it still felt like a cool summer. Autumn was merely a suggestion and winter was just around the corner. Winter here feels like a very cold spring; perfection.

Tall trees surrounded the cafe, I looked up to admire them. Practically yellowing where the sun light hit them, and vivid dark green were those in the protection of the shade. I need to find out what kind of trees they are. Their leaves were tiny, I don’t think I’ve ever seen them before. I probably just didn’t notice.

The (big umbrellas) – I don’t know what they are called, they covered the tables that were out of the shade – hung free, hoisted to the ground by weights. It wasn’t windy but they swayed from side to side as if dancing to Adele’s song “Hello”. I mouthed the words and caught myself swaying too.

I sipped from the sweaty glass and frowned when it wasn’t cold anymore. The ice had completely melted and I was barely half way through. Serves me right for noticing my surrounding instead of the drink infront of me.

I wondered about every one that was out on the beach at 11 AM on a Tuesday. I didn’t have anywhere to be, that justifies why I am here. Could it be? all those people are jobless too? That didn’t sit well with me. Surely some of them are tourists, some set their own schedules and some work shifts. Maybe that explains it. Regardless, it felt naughty, like ditching school or calling in sick.

Finally, I noticed that descriptive writing is hard, but it’s so much fun trying to paint a picture with words like a painter or an artist, I’ve never been happier about being a writer and an artist. I feel proud and lucky that I can do what I love, spending a morning sipping a cold frappe at a cafe overlooking the beach at 11AM on a Tuesday.

Immerse yourself – It’ll keep you going

If someone asked me a year ago, Reem, can you imagine ever writing a novel? I would’ve said no. Despite of the fact that I wrote a bunch of stories from the ages 9 to 13. Short stories mostly, but stories nonetheless. Other memories I have are of me cooking plastic food for my parents in a toy oven, presenting it in plates and expecting them to pay for it. Two things I was sure of growing up, although not entirely during the lost years; 1) I love cooking and possessed the entrepreneurial bug, 2) I had a wild imagination and loved imagining stories and writing.

Of course, the only valid career choice was business related. And so, I went to business school, specializing in tourism. I went to work. I did great, for a while. And then I was miserable. I’ve just summarized nearly 10 years of my life in 3 short sentences. What I am getting at is, that I never saw myself ever pursuing writing as a career. Even now, that I am actively writing. My family doesn’t really know, because I haven’t explained it yet. My friends don’t know either. A few close people know. The world – whoever reads my blog – knows. 

When I decided to write a novel, specifically, participate in NaNoWriMo, I became very aware of my apparent shortcomings. I started wishing I studied literature, at the least, taken a creative writing class. I scoured the internet for tips and tricks, the tabs piled up on my screen as I fell down the rabbit hole and the headaches started.

What kind of music should I listen to when I am writing, I asked google. What’s the best way to say “she walked really fast because she was very angry”, and yes, that is literally a sentence captured from the novel I am currently writing. It’s a place-holder, or so I tell myself. I found a number of books that are supposedly useful for aspiring writers. Aspiring. HA! Another word I hate about describing myself. A word I used to use. I now say, writer, aspiring to be published. I also looked up movies about writers or fiction, I figured that they would somehow help me focus or spark an idea or two. I did most of this prior to NaNoWriMo, as part of the prep I suppose.

On the 31st of October, I watched Will Ferrell and Emma Thompson’s “Stranger than Fiction”. I thought it was brilliant, and it didn’t inspire me. It depressed me a little. Because it was so good and imaginative. How will I ever make something this good? I can’t. Queue depression and self loathing. Ugh, us writers can be very annoying. Jeez. Somehow I got over myself, and on day 1, I wrote.

Day 2 came around, and I wrote. it was tough, I procrastinated, and I watched “Love Actually”. Not exactly a movie about writers, although, there’s a writer in the movie. Anyway, skip this one. It did nothing for me – writing wise that is. I used to love this movie, I’d watched it a few times before. I managed to write despite of the lack of motivation and inspiration.

Day 3, 4 and 5 are a blur. I didn’t write much, because everything I wrote was garbage. I was also in the middle of reading “Me Before You” by Jojo Moyes. You see, that’s another thing I’ve been doing lately to help in my writing. I’ve been reading a lot more. I would now randomly pick up a book from my (To Be Read) list and kind of force myself to read it. For research, I’d tell myself. The book was good, but long, and sad. I sobbed when it ended. Rejoiced when I found out that it was being turned into a movie, and then sobbed some more. I was mostly sobbing because I imagined watching the movie in the cinema, and I felt that I would burst into tears when that thing happened by the end of the story. But part me of was sobbing because I barely wrote anything for NaNoWriMo, no, for my novel, and my word count was suffering. The chart on the Nano homepage was mocking me. Thankfully, on day 5, I discovered word sprints and virtual write ins and writing buddies. The sobbing helped it seemed, to get the juices flowing, pun intended. Day 5 gave me my word count, and then some, making it possible for me to take day 6 off and most of day 7 off too. Most importantly, day 5 gave me actual content I was proud of.

You see, all this, simply means that I have survived week 1 of Nano. All it took was for me to completely immerse myself in writing. All my senses are attuned to my surroundings, focused to help me write this novel. Gosh, it would be a shame not to finish it. A damn shame. It’s hard to be excited about something that is this hard, time consuming and also emotionally draining.

PS: Other movies I’ve seen that helped me write and gave me motivation are: (Under the Tuscan Sun – Julie & Julia – Midnight in Paris – Eat Pray Love). There are other movies on my to-watch list as well.  I just realized that I’ve watched 7 movies in about 5 to 6 days. Read 1 book and started two others. I’d rather do this for research than the alternative. Multiple tabs on safari truly depress me.

PPS: The featured image is an alley of the streets of Stockholm, on a clear cold night, in October of 2014 (one of my many travels).

Happy Writing to all the NaNos out there or anyone crazy enough to do this thing.

Molly tries to write

I am so obsessed with this scene.

s1 s2 s3 s4 s5 s6 s7 s8s s9 s10 s11 s12

Just your typical writing process

When Writing is Too Hard

The Reason I am not writing is not because I can’t think of anything to write, or that I suddenly feel blocked and without thought. It’s not because the story has hit a wall, or my character’s having a bad day. The Reason I am not writing is because the more I write, the more I realize how crappy the story is.

I am not pitying myself, I am not looking for reassurance or advice, I am only stating the facts as I see them in this moment.

Days pass, this shall too. Writing takes its toll and some days it makes sense to close the notebook and put the pen back in the drawer.

Am I really Outlining? -Nano Prep

I am not an outliner, at least I don’t think I am based on experience. I never outlined essays or research papers. I definitely never outlined any content I produced at my old job.

The way I see it, outlining is boring. I have a great difficulty doing boring tasks. If it’s boring, it will not get done. No matter how hard I try. Continue reading →

The Writing Process – Nanowrimo?

I’ve been writing since I was a kid. It’s a natural thing for me. Something that I do because that’s how my brain works. If I ever needed to work something out or was stressed out, writing about it would give me some kind of a resolution. I didn’t exactly keep a journal, but I’ve written about the best and worst experiences of my 29 years.

Continue reading →