While we are thinking about the importance of reading and engaging with books, we have asked some of our authors to explore how they have used their writing to inspire themselves and others.
Author J. Samia Mair talks about losing herself in her writing, the role of her working environment and how everyone has a story to tell…
The other day I was listening to a Shaykh who said that after knowing who God is the next questions to ask oneself are: “Who am I?” and “Why am I here?” He mentioned that one way to help discover if your activities are in line with your higher self is if you lose track of time when engaged in that activity. Apparently Einstein wouldn’t eat for days at times when engrossed in some scientific pursuits. It made me wonder. Is there anything I do where I lose track of time? One of the answers that came back was writing.
I can write for hours and hours and not even notice what time it is; it is usually the adhan calling from my computer that reminds me that time has passed. My family even joke about it—if I am writing a book, for instance, they usually just leave me alone, knowing that I am in the “zone”. Sometimes, they can be in my same little basement office room trying to talk to me, and I don’t even know they are here until one of my daughters calls me by my first name.
My office, which is exceedingly small, becomes my world for long periods of time— when I’m lucky. It is functional at best. It still needs to be painted in an inspirational color yet to be decided. I have a photo of the Green Dome and a minaret from the Prophet’s, blessings and peace be upon him, masjid that I have taped to the once white, now marked up wall. It inspires me, along with some drawings my daughters drew when they were younger and a few other muses. Our two cats drop in from time to time to look out the window, get a quick pet, or sleep on top of my bookshelf. There are scattered papers everywhere, books, homeschool supplies, office supplies, a hodgepodge of used furniture and storage containers, and other clutter too insignificant to mention—and of course my computer. I remember—and this dates me—when I would write by hand on a yellow notebook. Initially, I thought typing into a computer would hamper my creativity—that typing into a keyboard was somehow too many steps between ideas forming in the brain and being documented. I’m sure that is nearly impossible to understand for those who were born after computers. I get it. I could never go back to writing by hand on paper now, but I do remember my reluctance to give up the pen and paper.
I think I lose myself in my writing because I lose myself in my characters and stories. I ruminate over a plot for months, even years, before I actually put it to paper—oh, I forgot, to screen. That’s why I love the idea of sequels, as I am not quite ready to let my characters go. Right now I am working on a sequel to Zak and His Good Intentions, and I have the plot nearly complete for a sequel to The Great Race to Sycamore Street. I am also working on a historical novel, which I have been wanting to write for years—and this might actually be the year to start it, insha’Allaah.
People often tell me that they have a great idea for a book but haven’t written it. I firmly believe anyone can write a book if they want to. We all have a story to tell and our own unique voice to tell it. So, if you love to write, write…and keep writing.
J. Samia Mair is the author of Zak and His Good Intentions, The Great Race to Sycamore Street, The Perfect Gift and Amira’s Totally Chocolate World. All are available from Kube: