Followers

I call myself a Writer. Yet I have not yet told how this came to be.

Perhaps we should first look at my childhood. Since I was young I was good at telling stories. My biological mother always would say "Brandy tell me a story." Later as I grew up to around 6 or 7 I saw many Shrinks and Social Workers and I was always Narrating my past so they could analyze me. In Kindergarten I was just learning to read things and in the foster home that taught me to read one of the younger boys made fun of me that he could read before me. This fulled my rage to be better than him and so I read like crazy. In 1st grade I was reading so well that they moved me up to the 3rd grade reading hour (where I'd go to 3rd grade just to read books with them for an hour). In the 3rd grade class I had so much fun and I felt so special being advanced. Also the smartest boy in that class was tripping over a new "hard word LIGHTENING" and I was so tempted to say it out loud to help him but I held my tongue wiggling in my chair saying it over and over in my head. Finally the teacher corrected him and moved on and I never had the chance to show my brilliancy. I was disappointed but still elated I knew more than the smartest boy of 3rd grade. Once I started living with my father and my new mom they encouraged me all the time to read and I did voraciously. All my tests showed I had advanced reading and comprehension skills many grade levels higher than I was in, consistently through the years. I used to spend summers reading book after book eating ice pops curled up with my cat. Also playing pretend with my childhood best friend all the way until the middle of high school led me to enjoy the world of imagination.
In school plays, because of my advanced reading levels, I always got the part of the Narrator because I could easily read quickly and memorize the many lines. It was my inner joy that I was still "the best" at reading. My 5th grade teacher, the wonderful Mr. Vasquez, used to read to us out loud in class and it would send me into the enchantment of books to the point I'd wait eagerly for the reading hour and when it ended I wished I could take his book and finish it off myself. I also by this time had made a few simple poetry books and the teachers had applauded them thoroughly.
Middle School taught me further the power of words and writing. One of the teachers read the first book of Narnia out loud. Another book he read out loud enchanted me to the point where when reading of drunkenness you could almost feel yourself sloshing sideways out the door to the next class. Words held power. I was still writing poetry here and there and practicing my use of imagery with just the right word well placed. In 8th grade our teacher gave us an assignment to write an actual long story. My mind was racing! Oh the plots to make! It was fabulous fun. I wrote a Science Fiction booked called "Journey to Pluto". Basing the characters mostly off of my real life friends. A Book I'm still polishing to publish to this day (it's there in a file!) But I made a short version and gave it to the teacher and she liked it very much.
More importantly though my parents showed it to my Aunt who is into writing and publishing and I had no idea we had so much in common. As we edited the story to make it longer I fell in love with the writing process. I was having fun with this. Also I continued to write poetry to the point when we'd eat out with my grandparents nightly I'd write out a new poem on the napkins and spend the evening trying to find that perfect word and driving my whole family insane trying to capture a feeling with only one word. Eventually my parents gave up and bought me a thesaurus.
Sadly shortly there-after my paternal Grandmother's health was quickly deteriorating. She was placed on Hospice Program and I read literature and pamphlets on how to deal with death. One pamphlet said to let the person know you love them. So one night I went to my grandmother's room and held her sleeping hand while Beethoven's Fur Elise played in the background and finally she woke and I told her how much I loved her and she assured me how much she loved me. That night I was feeling so emotional about it all I wrote the entire experience down and sent it to my mom through the post office since at that time I didn't feel comfortable enough to hand it to her. She saved that letter unbeknown to me at the time.
Later, when my Grandmother died, at her funeral everyone told special things about her. I was too shy to stand up in front of everyone though I had so much to say. My mom though stood and read my letter out loud to everyone. I felt better. As we were walking to leave the cemetery my Dad's Step-sister told me she loved my letter. His other Step-sister came up then too and said "Wow that was powerful. You know you should be a writer!" I was really stunned by the compliments. I know it was heartfelt but 'powerful!?' Me? A writer? Could I be? Am I? Is this where I belong? Is this what I can become? More family members complimented me and a dayIi expected to be so sad turned into something amazing. The beginning of my dream to become a writer. From that moment on I was insatiable in my quest to read more challenging books and each summer I took a classic author in Science Fiction and read all their books. One summer Alan Dean Foster, Andre Norton, Anne McCaffrey, the entire Star Wars novels series. I also inherited my grandmother's Romance Novels and there were hundreds.
I couldn't get enough of reading. It's all I wanted to do. I let homework and school slack as I finished that last page of a great novel. I lived my life in imaginations and fantasy. While I moved around in the physical world my mind was always dual mode in an imagination. I was the Queen of Europe gliding gracefully toward the evening supper and later the grand ball as in real life I went to my next class and to the cafeteria. People around me were just extras on my personal set. Instead of doing homework at night I'd spend hours and hours acting out my personal imaginations when I wasn't in a book, like being a famous "Riverdancer" as I danced to my Celtic Music in circles in my room. Being an only child ensured I wasn't interrupted or bothered.


But the best of all during these High School Years was writing novels. Instead of listening to a history lesson I'd be writing the 7th Chapter to my latest novel. Two weeks later I'd have a new idea and relate to my friends the new plot. Sometimes during lunch I'd get them to chime in on plot ideas. My closest friends can attest to my obsession. Sure I flunked a few classes but it was worth it at the time to finish that part of the book. Plus there was always Summer School. By the time I finished 12th grade I had 20 yes TWENTY unfinished books in various stages of completion. Yes I am a procrastinator with Attention Deficit Disorder. But I'm a writer!

So as I met my future husband and had to deal with a suddenly difficult life. My solace was writing and reading. I read so many books while unemployed that I could predict (correctly) the entire plot by the end of the first chapter. It got so bad I lost the interest to read and write anymore. I couldn't enjoy the books when I could predict it all. Just then luckily I was too busy working at the movie theater to worry about time to read. But for me Movies are like Books with free pictures. I even used to ditch school on Fridays to catch the latest Picture Book ;) that was released. I never stopped having my dual reality of imaginations during real life but it got harder and harder to find the right plots to match my life. I made a rule though that no matter how difficult Praying 5 times a day got for me I'd never "pretend" to Pray or be a Muslim Character. Islam is always been the one thing I don't use in imagining. Because Allah is real and Islam is not something to play with.
After I got married and moved to Lebanon I spent much of my time cooped up with myself as is my habit and made more imaginings and I had suddenly a lot of free time to write but social obligations to hang out with the family caused me strife with time management. Until my younger sister in law H, showed an interest in my stories and in making her own poems and story ideas. Such a special bond we share. She was my happiness in those early days when few spoke English and understood my aloofness. Now I'm able to share books and stories with her easily and she's my sounding board for everything I write. When I had the idea to write with Arab characters for the first time she was right there helping me with names and themes. To her I owe much. While pregnant with my daughter I had ages of free time to write and finally I finished my rough draft to my book I'd been working on since high school. I finally got to write "THE END". It's been 4.6 years since I wrote THE END and still haven't had time to finish typing it into the computer and getting it polished to send off and of course it's a Romance Novel so it's unIslamic and I have that whole debate still going in my head of if I morally SHOULD send it off...
Now I have over 50 books in various stages of writing (one completed!) about 12 of those Islamic, and I've made my dream to be a Writer. This was how I got to this point of finally opening a blog to find people "just like me". Muslims who Dream to Write.


7 intelligent thoughts:

Susanne said...

That was interesting. Thank you for sharing your story. It sounds like you truly enjoy the process of creating characters and plots and so forth. :-)

I really got a kick out of this:

"I'd write out a new poem on the napkins and spend the evening trying to find that perfect word and driving my whole family insane trying to capture a feeling with only one word. Eventually my parents gave up and bought me a thesaurus."

Ha, ha! :-)

How nice that your SIL has been a source of encouragement in your writing.

Best wishes in all you do.

Anonymous said...

Assalamualikum,

I think it great that you love to write and are a Writer.
I would love to read your novels.
I hope you ll publish your books one day,in cluding the Romantic one.-)
umm s

S. E. Jihad Levine "Sister Safiyyah" said...

Salaams Sis:

Wow, I didn't realize that you had written that many books. Alhamdulillah!

BTW: you are tagged! See: http://shaalom2salaam.blogspot.com/2008/11/when-in-masjid.html

.:: Muslimah ::. said...

mashallah a nice post sis :) i just found your blog, i'll be stopping here once in a while inshallah

http://cherished-jewels.blogspot.com

Aafke said...

It is so special to read this, and for you to share this.
I felt the same, only I didn't write but draw and paint, during lessons, on napkins, and live in daydreams whenever I want...
Thank you for sharing such a personal story

Susie of Arabia said...

Keep writing, Brandi - and I hope your dreams come true!

Aalia said...

Wow, I can't believe how similar our stories about love of reading & writing in childhood are! Subhan Allah! It was like I was reading about my own past, masha'Allah!

I hope u do get published one day insha'Allah and I will for sure buy a copy!

Something I learned: It's never too late for someone to become an author, reading & writing stories is an experience anyone can learn to appreciate & love!

Support Earth Hour March 26, 8:30pm, Turn Off Your Lights!

Earth Hour - Proudly Committed