Poem: Write!

Think of a prompt. Any prompt.
A field of daisies. A battle field. 
Any image that will help to yield
Words, sentences, verses.
Literary genius, masterpieces, bestsellers.
And with some luck (maybe not), money and fame.

Search for the spark. Write what you know. 
Maybe not. Disfigure the origins of your tale 
So that those whose lives you have 
Plagiarised won’t recognise themselves,
And the fear of being caught
Does not impede your flow. 

Keep the pen moving, the fingers typing.
Do not pause or edit-as-you-go. 
Write in the morning, write in the evening. 
Write daily, or as the muse strikes. 
Write in private, write in public.
Write on paper, on tablets, on stone. 
Write through the block, because
You cannot write over it or under it or around it. 
You can only smash through it, 
With your pen, a tool far mightier 
Than any weapon you could wield. 

Write what is in front of you, 
Or a million miles away in space,
Or decades, centuries, ages away in time.
Write what is in plain sight. 
Write what is only seen in your mind’s eye.
Write to break hearts. Write to mend them. 
Write for the fun of it. Write deadly serious. 
Write truth to power, to raise up, to bring down. 
Write to give hope, to inspire, to be the change. 

Write because you want to, 
You have to, you need to, 
In the same way you need to breathe.
Inhale reading, exhale writing.
Inhale inspiration, exhale words.
Write because there is nothing else
In the world you would rather be doing. 
Write when you are doing everything
In the world to avoid it. 

Write to speak your truth, or write blatant lies. 
Write to express, write to understand.
Write to know yourself, to be yourself,
Or because you need to take 
A much-needed break from yourself.
Write to take you to the furthermost
Reaches of your universe and, when 
You cannot go any further,
Write to guide you home. 

Write what you want, when you want, how you want. 
Whatever life might have lined up for you
Know this much to be true: 
You must write. 

The story behind the poem

It seems fitting to choose a poem about writing as the first of my ‘secret scribbles’ for the website.  I suspect that every writer has penned at least one verse on the subject at some point in their career. I drafted this poem when I was completing my Morning Pages on the 17th of September 2018. Reading it makes me smile as I wrote it a few months after finishing the Becoming a Writer course, so it reminds me of the early exuberance that came with finally claiming the title.

On Courage and Dreams

Hello again. It’s been a while. A whole lot longer than I’d originally planned, in fact! I hadn’t intended to do a disappearing act right after setting up the website but soon after hitting the launch button, the beta-reading window for my novel (When You’re Smiling) closed and the next stage of manuscript development opened and—poof!—I was lost in the world of editing.

It has been an interesting and exciting but also quite intense couple of months since my last blog. My lovely beta readers gave me a rich body of supportive and constructively-critical feedback that helped me to look at the novel afresh and make some important changes. That phase of revision gave me manuscript draft four and a story that was finally just where I wanted it to be.

I then completed further readthroughs for line-editing and proofreading to polish up the final manuscript and get it submission-ready, after which it was time to start querying agents. But before launching into that stage of the process, I took a moment to simply celebrate and appreciate the fact that I had finished writing my novel.

Writing a novel might not sound like a big deal. Plenty of people write them, after all, so getting a novel published is what really counts… Or so, that is how the narrative goes. But I don’t believe that for one moment. Given the time and effort that it takes to grow a tiny idea into a full-sized book, it is without doubt an achievement in itself to write one, whether or not it ever reaches publication.

I mention elsewhere how being a writer has been a long-held ambition for me. It was when I was sitting in my GCSE English class reading The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton that my dream of writing a novel first hatched, and I am now <cough cough> in my mid-forties, which means that it has taken thirty years for just this bit of the big writing dream to come true.

I made a few attempts in the intervening years to write a book but didn’t get far very far with my efforts – partly because I didn’t have many viable ideas, partly because I didn’t have the know-how to build my maybe-decent-enough ideas into book-length stories, and partly (well, mostly) because I didn’t have confidence in my words, have the belief that they were worth writing.

It was this last problem that I needed to address first, because I knew that I would be forever tripping up in the pursuit of my dream if I didn’t develop the confidence to back myself and do whatever needed to be done to make it come true. So I resolved to work on the dream bit by bit, digging deep to summon up just enough courage—the tiniest of grains—to take the first step in the right direction, and then the next grain for the next step, and so on.

Thankfully, I wasn’t on my own for very long. As I found those grains and took those steps, in a laws-of-attraction sort of way, the dream started drawing closer to me. The door opened to a writing course, which led me to the heart of a wonderful writing group. Further mentoring and development opportunities came next, my family too threw their support into the ring as well, and other things began to align, easing my way.

And all the while, a maybe-decent-enough idea that I had for a novel that I had started writing up in 2016 grew and grew and grew, fed by all the love and encouragement and knowledge and advice that I was receiving along the way, until it became a manuscript ready to be sent out to the publishing world.

I don’t know what the future holds for When You’re Smiling. That’s up to agents and publishers to decide (and whatever God wills, of course). But the bit of the process that was up to me, I did it. I wrote a novel. I wrote a novel. The dream had come true. To me, that was definitely a big deal and an achievement worth celebrating.

So that’s it from me for today. I will leave you with a quote from Khun Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, late chairman of Leicester City Football Club, my home team.

The quote was on display beside a portrait of Khun Vichai in the stands at Wembley at the FA Cup Final in May, when Leicester won the cup for the first time in their 130+ year history. His words resonated particularly strongly with me because When You’re Smiling is set against the backdrop of Leicester’s amazing Premier League victory in 2016, so in a way the achievement of my dream has been helped by Khun Vichai having made Leicester’s dream come true. The quote is now stuck to the wall beside my desk, and I can personally testify to their truth: our dreams really can come true if we have the courage to pursue them.

Peace and blessings,


A New Chapter

Hello dear reader, it is nice to meet you.

As you have probably gathered from the way it is plastered all over everything on this website, my name is Nazira and I am a writer.

I am, and have been, many other things beside that over the years (which I’m sure I will go into in future posts) but writing has been the one thing that has consistently coursed through my veins for most of my life. So this website and blog is all about my writing. My practice of it and my love of it.

As you might already have read on my ‘About’ page, I have only been calling myself a writer for around three years. Before that, people around me knew of my love for writing, they knew about my secret scribblings (but, of course, were not allowed to read them), and they knew about my aspirations to be a published author. How could they not, when for over twenty-plus years they had put up with me whispering with due regularity and reverence the words, ‘I am going to be a writer someday’?

In the meantime, they turned to me for help with their writing projects, engaged my services on a freelance basis for their businesses, and praised the high quality of my written output both in my professional roles and academia. They did this because they saw all along what I was too shy to admit: I was already a writer. And a rather good one at that. I just needed the courage to embrace it as fact.

What changed three years ago? I completed the Becoming a Writer course from The Asian Writer, which made it clear that engaging in the act of writing was enough to qualify me as a Writer (with a capital W), regardless of publication credits. And so I embraced it: the identity, the title, the capital W. And sure enough, as it so often does when we take affirmative action in the direction of our dreams (wise words from Julia Cameron, The Artist’s Way), doors opened, pathways were illuminated, and the vision began transforming into reality.

Fast-forwarding to today, I find myself in an interesting position. I have grown so much as a person and developed so much as a writer, but there is still much to learn and do, and I am still working towards achieving the big publication dream (for my novel When You’re Smiling). So I have mulled a fair bit over the question of when it would be the right time to launch a website. I haven’t exactly ‘made it’ as a writer, after all, so what do I have to offer others and why would they be interested? Aren’t people simply going to look at the site, scratch their heads, and say ‘Nazira who?’

But, as these past few years have taught me, there is no such thing as the right time, there is no magic line between ‘nobody’ and ‘made it’, and there is also no hard rule saying how long you must remain an apprentice and when you get to become the master. Because, as my Qur’anic Arabic teacher once said, ‘Everybody knows something that could benefit someone else. Even if you only known one letter, you can teach it to a person that doesn’t know it.’

Well, I have been very fortunate to benefit from the teaching of experienced writers and industry experts through schemes like the Middle Way Mentoring Project, and I have also benefited greatly from the knowledge of peers in my writing groups and the generosity of the writing community at large. As a result, I have gained a lot that could in turn be of interest and benefit to others, which seems a good enough reason to share it.  

So, in the spirit of the writing community, and inspired by all those that have been so generous with their knowledge, skills, and support, I have decided that now is as good a time as any to launch my website. I am very excited to be starting this new chapter in my writing story. I hope that by sharing my work and what I have learned along the way through this site, I can make a greater contribution to the creative and literary ecology, give back and pay-it-forward, and help other shy secret-scribblers like I once was to courageously claim the capital-W and step into their lives as Writers.

If you’d like to stay up to date with the blog and other postings to the website, please enter your email address into the subscription box below.

See you again very soon.

Peace and blessings,