Thank you to author Suma Din for taking the time to answer our questions and connect with our aspiring Muslimah writers insha’Allah
How would you describe yourself as a writer?
One that’s drawn to reality, sometimes off the beat, but real life fascinates me, as do people’s stories.
Can you give us a peek into your passions that describe your personality?
That’s a deep question! Here are a few of mine: meeting people from very diverse backgrounds; village life in different countries and their crafts; art – especially textiles; international food, beautiful natural places, especially mountains; poetry and walking. I enjoy true stories, through a variety of mediums: books, theatre, film, interviews, live story-telling. Not sure what that all says about me though!
What or who motivated you to get started in developing your craft professionally?
The motivation for my first book started as a need to inspire women who felt down, or always read negative things about Muslim women. I set out to compile inspirational (translated) verses from the Qur’an and hadiths in a creative way that would be visually pleasing. As the collection of motivational quotes grew, the ‘creative’ bit emerged as a theme about water. I love water in all it’s shapes, forms, colours and hues. As I had never put a book together, I was hugely helped and motivated by an accomplished writer and publisher – Abdul Wahid Hamid (author of ‘Islam the Natural Way’ and ‘Companions of the Prophet’ MELS) who guided me all the way through to submitting my manuscript to the publishers.
What insights into your ‘good days’ working routine can you share with our aspiring artists?
Good days are when writing or researching starts early in the morning! Knowing that something productive has been achieved by noon is a huge accomplishment. For me the afternoons and evenings have always been busy, so making the most of quiet times is the key.
Keeping your intention in mind is vital, that’s one way you overcome difficulties and keep your eye firmly on achieving the goal at the end.
What are your three top tips for maintaining momentum when working alone?
Plan for each day the night before. Decide on which writing project you’ll be focussing on and exactly what you want to achieve the next day.
Share your short term goals with someone who will ask you about them.
Communicate with someone ‘out there’ who can give you critical feed back on your project.
How do you incorporate challenges into your process?
The whole process of writing, submitting ideas and working towards publication is a Challenge – with a capital C! It’s difficult to be specific. To give your readers a flavour though, all sorts of things can go wrong. A book was published with the wrong paper weight that made the pages and cover floppy, like a brochure, instead of a book. This was a mistake made by the printers, not the publishers!
For another book, I chased a photographer’s company for a couple of weeks, with several phone calls and emails for some important photographs of a wedding I wanted to use in a children’s book called Special Times. After all the chasing, I was told they’d lost the hard disk.
What these small things have done is teach me what to look out for and anticipate, what to double check and how to work on solutions, fast! There were much bigger challenges with other projects, and again they’ve taught me valuable lessons. The message is that writing is only half of the equation, publishing is another animal altogether – and there are plenty of hurdles with both. One last thing, I’ve had wonderful editors, so you’re not alone on the lows!
Keeping your intention in mind is also vital, that’s one way you overcome difficulties and keep your eye firmly on achieving the goal at the end.
Which of your own books would you recommend to our young Muslimah readers?
Dr Hany El Banna: A Servant to the World’s Poorest People. It was a huge honour and pleasure to write this book. It’s a short biography about a founder of the charity Islamic Relief. Rather than just being about the charity, it’s about the motivation of Dr Hany, his faith-centred perspective and how he made his wildest dreams and visions about the charity come to life with the good people around him. A person, a youth worker, in a workshop I was presenting the book to, said he read it in one night and it’s changed his perspective on life. Not bad, alhamdullilah! I hope you’ll enjoy and I’d love to read your reviews and thoughts on it. There’s more information on it here: http://www.sumadin.com/mmw-series/4581970458
One Day: Around the world in 24 hours is a children’s book about time zones and the parallel lives of children around the world, over a 24 hour period. Even though it’s for children aged 7+, for aspiring writers who might want to write for children, it’s an example of how you can be original and create your own genre. This is non-fiction, but has fifteen fictional stories in it, and much more! There’s heaps more about this title on my website: http://www.sumadin.com/one-day/4581896349
Please like the One Day Facebook page too, if you’re on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/pages/One-Day/1467607856804987
For late teen Muslimahs here, I hope they’ll be inspired by a chapter or two, maybe more, of my first book Turning the Tide, Reawakening the Woman’s Heart and Soul. This may be a book they would like to dip in and out of. Most of the feed back I’ve had over the ten years since it came out, was that it’s an inspirational and motivational gift book. I think this review sums up what it’s about quite well:
This is a beautiful, valuable and inspiring book. The journey from the innocence of a newly-created soul to the anticipation of the soul preparing to return to its Maker, is a journey of hope, love, encouragement and faith. An excellent book. —Ruqaiyyah Waris Maqsood, Author, Educationalist and Counsellor
Here’s an excerpt from the ‘Myriad Voices’ section I wrote for chapter 3 called ‘Youth Streams’. I hope some of you will find it speaks to you!
‘Who am I really?
At home I fulfil all their wishes, say what they want to hear,
Read and watch what they don’t mind much.
Outside I step into a different me – what I say, what I see,
what I think – I am free.
Or am I an echo? A shadow of my friends?
Hear what they hear
Say what they say
See what they see
Think what they…
-do I think?
Am I me?’
© The Islamic Foundation 2007
And importantly, what new works can readers look forward to from you and where can we go to access them?
I’m working on an adult title right now, and children’s texts that don’t have a publisher yet, so not spilling any beans there! Anything that’s about to come out will be flagged up on my website for children’s publications www.sumadin.com
Thank you for your time and support to our readers mashaAllah; jazakillahkhayr.
Thank you for inviting me to your site. I hope your readers find inspiration in the fantastic efforts of Young Muslimah Magazine.