On Writing and Definition

The fact that I want to (already am?) to be a writer is quite obvious to those who read my blog.

But why do I want to be a writer? Of course it is well-known that art is a calling and not necessarily a choice; writing has always been my way of coping with life and struggles and it just about burst out of me at thirteen much without any thought on my part. At the moment of writing my first poem it was quite literally write or explode and when I had finished I was astonished that I could actually write something that resembled a work of art. Emo and angst-ridden it was, I admit, but even reading what I had written years later I was still struck by the raw brutality of it.

I can’t explain how crucial it was for me to let the words out. Often times I would wake up at 3am and write the brief snippets of the words or poetry that were plaguing my dreams, they were like angry bees that gave me no rest until I had freed them from their cages. Later I heard other writers refer to writing in the same way, but until that time I thought it was only me who was beset by the need to write at odd hours. For years I kept a pen and pad at the head of my bed and many a poem or idea for a story were written while I was still asleep.

But thats not why I want to become a writer. Or, to be more honest, why I want to become a well-known writer. There are so many issues that I represent and so many misunderstandings that I want to right and that is why I want to be a writer.

How many female Muslim writers are there in the world? How many of us hear their voices? How many Muslim-American women writers are there? How many are well-known?

There is a large audience out there waiting for the other side of the story. An audience that has read countless books about opressed Arabian princesses and Taleban beheadings or women beaten by their husbands who are justified by their brutal religion.

All of us say “NO!” but who hears us?

Thats why I want to write.

And yet I don’t want to be confined by my defintion. Categorized in my own writing as this or that, a femi-nazi or a sheherezad, a Muslim who would be lambasted by the community for writing something “wrong” or disagreeing with the “uncles.”

I don’t want to be constrained for what I represent. Its a fine line.

I was looking at the website for the Arab Media & Society this afternoon and despite their valiant attempts to be pan-Arab and Middle-Eastern they still fall into the trap of thereby being “Muslim;” although they pander to no religious or political authority.

The key to writing for Arab Media & Society is the ability to help readers better understand media’s role in shaping Arab societies and the broader Muslim World.

It just reiterates the wrong assumption that Arab=Muslim and Middle Eastern=Muslim. Definitions and categories are so easy to fall into and so hard to break out of.

My blog is called Multicultural Muslimah because I am. I am a white (ahem Caucasian-American,) Spanish-speaking, Egypt-living, interracially-married, still at least half Latina (figuratively,) Muslim American.

Half the time I can’t even figure myself out, so how can anyone else?

So I will write and each story speaks about a side of me. Thats why I want to be a writer.

*deep breath*

So… yea. In other writing news I will be closing mostly all future posts on Cairo Calling except to those who have the password and I’m going to be EXTREMELY picky about those who I give the password to. I’m sorry, I hate to shut people out but because I will probably, at some point, publish things I write on there I have to be careful about people being able to steal my work. Ya’ll know it has happened before.

I will post some things that are open to everyone and when I do I will make a link on here. I will be emailing the password to those I want to have it so please do no email me asking for it. (Man I feel like an ass, I’m sorry.)

I also do periodically post on The Veridical Paradox so please keep checking. I promise it will get more interesting as I will be unemployed in a week and will be able to focus on my ten-step program.


8 responses to “On Writing and Definition

  1. You’re so right. We need more Muslimah voices out there.

  2. Nice aim!
    And yes, we indeed need more insight into the lives of Muslim women!

    Perhaps you know of the author of the book “Mother without Mask” – Patricia Holton…it is such a nice book

    May be soon I could see you soon writing stronger books…

  3. I believe habibiti Inshaa Allah you will be a great writer. I am proud of you and I am sure you will make me more proud.

  4. great post.

    you’re half latina?

    i hate defining myself. it’s hard and annoying.

  5. figuratively-speaking. I spent a good portion of my life in the latin community which is how I speak Spanish.

  6. 😀

    I completely understand your part about needing to write and all that… That’s how I’ve always been. I have a notebook full of poetry I started in junior high (uggh it was awful lol) and some I did in college, journals as far back as 3rd grade… now I’m limited to blogs and wishing I had time to work on the novel that’s sitting in my head. I’ve done a little on a site that I can’t remembers name at the moment… but is so hard to find time to really work on my writing now. I miss it.

    And I agree too about needing more Muslimah writers, even us non-Muslims can see that. My paper for college (wasn’t a thesis, but along the same lines) was along that subject (how the Qur’an affects Arab women writers… I didn’t focus just on Muslims – partly because of where I’m going w/ this here). I don’t think I did it justice, but most of that was because it was so hard to find material and sources.

    Anyways, I look forward to reading what you make open to the public!

  7. Salaams Molly:

    May Allah (swt) grant you success with your writing as all success belongs to Him.

    There are numerous Muslim women writers. Email me sometime and I will send you a list, Insha Allah. It’s late now and I have to get up early.

    Let us know when your Cairo blog is public again.

  8. You are such a great writer! I am sure you will be a great success insha Allah!

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