Writing Diaries 5

Writing Diaries is my current blog where you can follow how I am getting on with writing my latest novel, provisionally named The Henna Painter. I hope to be posting every so often- so you’ll be getting live updates on my progress and perhaps even a sneak peak here or there of the actual manuscript when it’s in a fit shaped to be shared!

Writing this novel has been a challenge as it is set in Morocco and Paris- another world, another culture with different customs and way of life. I love Morocco and the people of the country who I have made friends with. Some of whom are helping me with the research for this novel.


Separation                                                                                                       09/02/2014

Writing…writing….yes I am writing but not stories. I’m working on inspection reports and notes.
My lovely characters – who have been taking shape in my head and clutching at my heart -Salwa, Turaya, Imane and Hassan- are all forgotten. Ruthlessly thrown out of my life yet again. Even the task of publishing tweets and facebook posts are assigned to some one else or are buffered.
The writer and the writing is neatly cut out of my life. A blocked time of agreed separation. The get together will be poignant and enriching…simply can’t wait for that moment…the hugging …with the characters – of knowing who is doing what, what crisis they are facing, what feelings are being generated – what plot line is developing.
 It all seems so distanced. Indeed in reality it is. As the world that my characters inhabit is on another continent – the big continent of Africa, the wonderful country of Morocco and the cities that I am fixing my characters in  – Marrakesh definitely. But not sure if Rabat will be swapped by Khemmist, a smaller city – don’t even know where exactly its located in Morocco. It all depends on my visit to Morocco for research purposes for this novel in April or May.
I have to and intend to add flesh to the skeleton of this novel, the colour, the sustenance, the locale, all that has to be added to my my novel, to bring the wonderful world of Morocco and its people come alive and real… can I do it?… And successfully as my previous novels set in Pakistan? Wait and see – we will see… it’s a challenge… a daunting task, that I am facing with this latest novel
more so than with the others. For it is novel is set in an unfamiliar territory. I need to know, have to know the culture, the language the customs, and above all to focus on every life of Moroccan people.
I can just dream on – but there is no time to dream about my creative world.
For now its my inspection time and not just that – household chores, cooking, family commitments, a wedding, a dinner invitation and packing for the Irrawaddy Literary Festival just days away to be got through, rushing from one activity to another – and not forgetting the Zumba classes in between!


Time Flies                                                                                                      03/02/2014

Balancing a career in writing and in education with family life is a juggling act in itself. But when my commitments to work in education take priority, the task of writing my fourth novel has to take a back seat for the moment. At times like this I often find myself thinking ‘so much to do, so little time’; flying away to literary festivals, travelling as an education consultant and writing the Henna Painter. As a mother, my mind is always on looking after my family but also focused on tasks I must complete before deadlines. Although there is a lot to do, striving to do the best I can whilst retaining a calm persona is the key this balancing act.

So at this moment in time I can only say that progress on the Henna Painter has been paused for a short while. I have managed to fit the odd day in where I had a good writing session. It’s been a busy start to the year but hopefully I’ll be able to concentrate on my fourth novel soon.


Distractions                                                                                                06/01/2014

Just sharing my latest progress and apologies that this post is a little late, but we’ve managed to overcome our minor technical hitches with the website.

I am struggling again with writing. First thing I wanted to do was write to make up for two lost days. But so far I have managed to get very little done. Morning gone! This morning it’s the same. I am doing other things i.e. cooking, tweeting, answering emails etc. but not writing.

I am finding with this latest novel- the biggest hurdle is other distractions. The prime culprit has got to be- INTERNET & SOCIAL MEDIA. I feel like asking some one to remove the internet from my computer, so that I can just concentrate on my novel. I wish you or some one else says sternly – JUST WRITE !


Christmas Eve                                                                                               24/12/2013

I didn’t think that Christmas Eve would be a productive day- writing wise- but thrilled with my progress. I actually managed to write a powerful scene. It’s the second time in my life I have actually cried when writing a passage.

Its a powerful scene between Turaya, an older woman, and Hind, a young Moroccan woman. Women who have hated each other. A baby lies in one woman’s lap- won’t mention anything else as I don’t want to to give the plot away!

Last time I wept during writing was when I wrote and read a very powerful scene where Zarri Bano, my heroine of The Holy Woman, breaks down in her mother’s arms- after she has found out who her younger sister is going to marry.  She cries out in pain to her mother-

‘He said that I will remember him till the day I die, Mother. I thought that I had killed and buried the old Zarri Bano behind the folds of this burqa, this black shroud- but she lives, Mother. She lives! Tell me, Mother, how can I kill this woman inside me, still passionately in love with this man.’


New Names                                                                                                   13/12/2013

Busy with the first draft of my fourth novel- provisionally titled the Henna Painter. Many scenes to be written yet. In the process of embedding authentic Moroccan names for characters- supplied by a kind Moroccan friend.  Quite a task finding out who’s who and what their names are. I can assure you that it is not an easy job, names are getting mixed up here, there and everywhere. Replacements are leading to deletions and it’s all getting rather confusing-  but I will get there eventually!