Novelist and screenwriter Kamran Pasha on being a Muslim in Hollywood and having the courage to follow your dreams, whatever your spiritual path.
I am not sure why I have not written in a long time. I try to dissect my feelings. To open up the bloody mess and follow the veins of my thoughts and explore the chambers of my heart. I get lost every time. I must accept that I will never find my way through the clutter.
Of course, I miss Ibrahim. I have learned that I will always miss him. I miss him in different ways everyday. Most days, I miss his smell or even the smell of the sterile hospital. His now-yellowed white hospital hat, which I store in two Ziploc bags and smell daily, no longer has his scent. So instead, when I visit people at the hospital, I pump the possibly carcinogenic hand sanitizing lotion twice, close my eyes, and breathe it in deeply. I am immediately taken back to his bedside- his pink abdomen moving rapidly and his lips cracked around the breathing tube. I don’t feel grief ,rather, joy for the short moment with him. I open my eyes to see my husband, the only other being on earth who knows why I do this, looking at me. I avoid eye contact and rub my hands together as if nothing happened.
Yes, it’s complicated.
I started bicycle riding a few months ago after a twenty-five year lull. A fellow writer sold me the bike. She looked concerned when I ceremoniously mounted the saddle and peddled away. I rode a few yards before losing my breath and compromising public safety.
“Um, do you think this is such a good idea?” she asked. I couldn’t hide my wobble. I jerked the handlebars with such violent imprecision that she became visibly nervous.
“I advise that you wear a helmet,” she commented.
I took off the next day to explore the greenway beside my home. One mile in and I became certain that others on the path were secretly laughing at my amateur swerve and heavy breathing.
A week later, I ventured even farther, my lung capacity stretching to accommodate this newfound distance. I discovered hidden geographies and alternate passages to new places that I had missed while in a car. A different world revealed itself, and it was one only accessible by bike.
Many of us love to write and aspire to cultivate our thoughts through the written word. But most of us feel intimidated by the process, imagining that if we don’t have the villa off the coast of Italy and a cup of coffee steaming as we begin our deep musings, why bother? Because I once was that person myself, someone who wanted to write but was terrified to actually do it and thus put it off year after year, I’m sharing five motivators to actually get to it and procrastinate no longer. With GIFs.
Journalist and writer Zahir Janmohamed pens a brilliant piece in Guernica about being a writer of color:
I wanted to tell them that if being a writer is to endure loneliness then being a writer of color in America is to suffer banishment: the only boat off this island often being if I write a certain kind of story in a certain kind of way for a certain kind of audience, which is to say—and we do not say these words enough—for a white audience.
Read more, here.
Are you a writer of color? Meet your writing family at VONA Voices, here.