Do you consider English a first language or a second?
I am an ESL. I was born in Pakistan and my mother tongue and first language is Urdu. Whenever I am not on WDC, the language that not only I but majority uses is a mixture of both English and Urdu. Many of the English words have found a way into our daily life conversations making it easy to understand what the other person is saying more efficiently. However, on WDC, I speak and write only in English because there are hardly any Urdu speakers here, except for one whom I met a month ago on WDC.
Do you write in both Urdu and English? If so, do you find your writing changes from one language to another?
I write mainly in English because writing in Urdu is a very difficult task and a challenge I found myself unable to do. Sure I can write a letter or a short story in Urdu, that’s easy but the poetry is where I can’t even attempt without getting proper classes first. Urdu literature poetry has nothing like ‘free verse,’ there are so many tools, so many techniques and requirements and forms. Another obstacle I find in Urdu is the limited vocabulary I have. The vocabulary used in Urdu poetry is beyond one’s imagination and I bet there isn’t one person who knows all the words of Urdu.
Hence, I have written poetry and short stories only in English.
Do you write differently when you’re writing for an international audience than for a Pakistani audience?
Absolutely, without a doubt! When I know I am addressing an audience of Pakistan, I automatically turn to things I feel very deeply about and things that affect me of my society so that others can understand and perhaps ‘come to life’ and try to make a change, bring a difference. For example, I was representing my country, Pakistan, on an online WDC contest and I knew I had to write something that was related to my country. For that purpose, I evoked emotions about social evils and religious views of the Pakistani people. Surely if Pakistanis read it, they would be influenced differently and more as compared to the international audience. For some reason when your mind senses you are writing for your own country, it turns to the matters about the country that disturbs or inspires the poet.
You’re young. Do you think that is an advantage or a disadvantage when it comes to your writing?
Yes, surely. I believe that it’s fortunate that I started writing at a young age. I have lot of time, hopefully, to write, expand my horizon and experiment with new forms and techniques and learn something new every day along the way. Being young has it’s advantage when it comes to everything. ‘Young’ means young blood, new thoughts, new ideas, concepts, different perspectives, different analysis of the same situation and most importantly, the liveliness and rawness of the emotions found in the youth.
I agree that we, the youth, are inexperienced, there are so many things we don’t know but there is an addition to the ‘idea pool’ in the society, I remember five years ago when I got a review for my poem and the reviewer had mentioned the term ‘stanza’ and I had absolutely no idea what it was! The reviewer was kind enough to explain it to me and send me links of more poetry terms.
Young or not, every individual brings something unique to writing. So, my being young adds an advantage for me too.
You’ve tried your hand at poetry, short stories and novels. Do you have a favourite format?
This is a nice question. Hmm, if I have to choose between all the formats I have written, I’d say poetry is my favourite format. Poetry is easy and almost everyone can write it and have a take on it. Poetry has no limits, you can write free verse, rhyming couplet, quatrain and so many different invented and conventional forms of poetry! Any idea, any thought, any feeling can be expressed in poetry in just a few words.
Poetry are brilliantly powerful and influencing. A haiku is a three line poem, what could be in it? You’d be absolutely amazed to find the depth in it! When I finish writing a haiku, or any poem for instance, and go back to read it, hell sometimes I lose myself and wonder what did I create and how!
What genres do you write in? Do you have a favourite?
I write poetry and short stories in different genres. I have noticed that I don’t write in the same genre for stories and poetry. When it comes to poems, I write mostly in Romance, Emotional, Personal Experience, Loss or Tragedy, Family, Dark and Psychology. However, on the other hand, when it comes to writing stories, I write in Horror, Dark, Romance and Fantasy. Sure there are some similar genres between my poems and stories but genres like Fantasy and Horror are ones that I use only in my short stories.
My personal favourite is Historical Romance. For years, I have been in love with historical romance and been reading so many books about it too. The entire era, the setting, the sophisticated people, manners, the dresses, the concept of romance, everything is perfect and I absolutely love it. Other than this, my favourite genre is fantasy mixed with romance. I don’t like ‘romance’ as the sole and main genre of anything, I’d prefer it to be mixed with some other genre. For example, I enjoy reading and watching fantasy movies where romance develops as a secondary genre but I dislike watching purely romantic movies or books. Same is the case when I am writing something of my own.
Are there any genres you’re afraid to try, or struggle to write in?
Historical Romance. There are so many things that I don’t know how worked and happened in the past so I can’t really attempt Historical Romance. Being an ESL, I have no idea what many of the dresses the women and men used to wear were called back in those days. I have learned a lot reading historical romance novels but still there are a lot of things I don’t know and I cannot attempt writing on historical romance unless I know about them to bring the realistic touch in it. Besides, I myself wouldn’t see the story from my eyes as it should be supposed to in those days.
I have written drafts of so many story and novel ideas and plots pertaining to Historical romance but the reason I am afraid to attempt is my lack of knowledge on the topic. I do hope to rectify that. I have followed some of the authors whose historical romance novels I have read and I even chatted with one of them and she was very nice to send me some articles and useful links to learn about the historian era and the way things were done.
Do you read in the same genres that you write in?
Most of the time, yes. I read romance, fantasy, supernatural, mystery/detective, dark, horror and family.
How do you choose which book to read next?
I pick the next book to read by the genre and then by the blurb.
What inspires you? Where do you get your ideas from?
I have a very long answer for this but I’ll try to keep it short.
1. For me, anything around me that inspires me, gets me into thinking or in an emotional state, strayed from the equilibrium be it happiness or sadness, gets me writing.
2. I watch many English movies as well as TV seasons and read lots of novels. I have a very special gift of being a good observer. All of these combined inspire me to write, get new ideas.
3. When my muse has abandoned me or when I don’t have much time to get something written, I randomly find writing prompts either on the contests on WDC or search on Google. Among the results I find, those that really strike me and makes me say ‘Yes, I want to write something on it!” I copy and paste them into a notebook to get something written on them when I get time.
4. It happened once but it did that I read a beautiful, impressive poem on WDC (written by Norb Aikin) and after reading it, I was so awestruck that I wanted to write something along the same lines and I did write something and was very happy with it!
5. I have a very active imagination and every now and then, when I am lying waiting to fall asleep or sitting idle, I make up scenes in my own mind inspired by fantasy and other movies or books I have read. Sometimes, I draw a completely new setting in my mind and use some characters from movies or books I have read or watched to make a story and create conflicts, villains, relationships, how he/she speaks etc. I love this part of my day. I usually do this when I am on the bed to sleep or when I am coming back home from my classes so on my drive back, I imagine scenarios and stories. It gives me a lot of ideas and exciting plots!
Do you have a favourite author? Or perhaps an author you view as an inspiration?
Yes! I absolutely love Susan Ee and her trilogy. I used to hate apocalyptic movies, stories and novels. Hers was the first that I started reading and I fell in love with it immediately! It had the fantasy element with romance, both of my favourites, so I had to read it and I am so glad I did! I definitely see her as an inspiration because of the idea she brought forward, something new to me and I enjoyed it. It has allowed me to explore further possibilities in the fantasy genre mixed with real life to some extent.
What is your purpose in writing? Do you aspire to be published?
I write because I feel so happy writing, I want to share that with others. Writing brings great joy to me, and we all know how excellent of an outlet it is for the emotions and the human mind to relax. I write to complete torn lines and distorted images, plots that come to my mind and give them a complete beginning, middle, ending, characters and voices. I love bringing my creations and ideas to life through words.
I started writing because it was something completely new to me and in Pakistan, let me say that literature and writing stories and poetry in English is not very common and not everyone does it. I got started into writing when I read Shakespeare’s abridged versions in sixth grade and when my English teacher used to give the students a line or a theme and asked us to write a story on. Ever since then, I found my love in writing and have been writing since then.
Sometimes, I want to approach the audience, to make social awareness or inform others about something and for that purpose, I write. At other times, I write because I feel like it, when something is disturbing me mentally or affecting me deeply.
Published? Um, it would be nice to get published but that is not my primary focus. Being a full time student and aspiring to pursue in medical career, that is my main focus. Writing is more than a hobby, a part of life, but I won’t stress about getting published. I have been published twice in international magazine “The Literary Hatchet.” Every now and then, I read what I have written, select the best ones according to my opinion and then send them out to magazines. At the moment, I have three poetry submissions that are ‘in-progress.’ So I’ll definitely try to get published but if it doesn’t happen, there’s no stress or tension to get it done by any means.