Embracing the storyteller

You know what can be terrifying sometimes? Realizing that you have so many interests, passions and ambitions that you end up feeling totally unfocused. Four years ago I picked art and I have the consistency disease. I literally stick by what I choose through thick or thin. So while the fear was always there, so was art. I wouldn’t give it up, even in the moments where I felt I was a fake, pretending to be an artist.

But you know what that did? That sole, blinders-on kind of focus made me exclude some of my other interests as important. I love literature but studying it properly? Nah. Gotta focus on art. I love writing, but writing something and getting it published? Nah. Gotta focus on art.

I don’t remember anymore if I wrote a blogpost on this or not, but a while back I joined a writer’s club (I was about to write family, because that’s literally what it feels like; home) called AlfKalimah. We outline our monthly goals and then get together once a week for company and to write 1000 words and get critique and basically achieve our goals one step at a time.

Last Wednesday at the AlfKalimah meet-up we had a new member so we did a round of introductions. It  was fascinating how utterly different we all were in every possible way. Smokers, non-smokers, filmmakers, writers, teachers, mountain climbers, bungee jumpers, sports-haters (haha that’s me), high school students, moms (again me), arabs, indians, british… okay you get the point. We were literally all SO DIFFERENT. But we had one thing in common other than our love for writing, we all had so many diverse creative interests!

It made me realize that it was okay to express your artistic self in whatever way you choose, and in multiple ways at one time. It made me realize that I could allow the storyteller within me to write as well as paint. So I went home and I wrote a story I submitted to the Salam Award for Imaginative Fiction open to Pakistani writers. Here’s the story I submitted.

Lone Wolf

I have also, since then, been writing profusely. Yes, that puts creating actual paintings a bit on the back burner but like I said, I realized that whatever contributes to the expression of the art within me is overall contributing to this whole reflective, introspective process.

I am currently working on a short story based on Jeddah since AlifKalimah is trying to publish an anthology. The objective is to make it a tour guide for Jeddah, with an interesting twist. Unlike other factual guidebooks, the purpose of this one will be to introduce Jeddah locations to the reader through fictionalized tales written by the people who truly know Jeddah. I chose the Mameluk Lanterns as my location. They have always caught my eye and they even got represented in the first mosaic ever that I made ‘I capture Jeddah’. They really stand out to me and I know my story will involve them, though I have only the fuzziest of ideas atm about what I am actually going to write.

I am also working on an anthology for The Untold Edition. I want to take a part of the stories of all the humanitarians I meet, fictionalize them and create short stories. Let’s see how that works out!

Update: here is the completed story which will be published soon!

The Souq at the Mameluk Lanterns

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