101 in 1001 days, life, motherhood, writing

The book update I never wanted to give

Thank you for your kind words. Luckily, it didn’t take weeks to feel better, just a few days. As most of you who read this blog know, I’ve dreamed of being a writer for years, probably since I first learned to put pen to page. My love for writing naturally led to dreams of getting published. I’ve written articles, I write this blog, but my novel- that was the ultimate dream. That dream inched closer when I got an agent at my dream literary agency. I thought once you got an agent, a difficult task in and of itself, the rest was cake.

It wasn’t. My agent is awesome. She got my foot into doors at major publishing houses and I’m still amazed these editors read my novel. They gave feedback and I revised. For nearly a year. But ultimately, in one area I could not revise because for me it changed the core of the story and then I couldn’t stand behind it. So for now, my book is put to the side. For now, my dream is deferred. 

Obviously, this news breaks my heart. I dreamed of seeing my book on bookshelves. The fact that it won’t be there- well how else can I feel but hurt? You hear a lot about writers who almost didn’t make it. Who went to the last publishing houses- and just then they sold and now they are living legends. We are a country proud of overcoming obstacles and these stories give us hope and inspire us. But the truth is- for every writer who makes it, there is one who didn’t. Failure is rarely spoken of but its there- and sadly- its a part of life, albeit a bitter part. It hurts to share but share I must because its my truth.

When I first found out, I didn’t want to write anymore. All that effort and for what? I thought. But as the days passed clarity set in. As much as this hurts, its not the end of the road. That effort is not all for nothing. There are good things that have come of this. I have an agent who stands by me and will support my next book. I have confidence in my writing- as the reasons for the no wasn’t my writing abilities but technicalities that could not be overcome. And the truth is, while the ultimate dream is to be published- I never wrote for that. I wrote because I had to give Naila’s story a voice. I wrote because its what I love to do. Because I find peace within the written word and because its just a part of who I am. I can’t not write. Publishing or otherwise doesn’t change that.

My analogy of feeling like a tree without leaves is accurate. I felt like a leafless tree. Not a tree-stump. Not a hollowed out tree, dead but standing. No, my sadness is natural but it is seasonal. Trees lose their leaves (except those hoity toity evergreens) but leaves grow back. Spring will return. Its the natural order of things.

Perspective too, is a beautiful thing. The day I heard the news, tears falling down my face, my son looked up at me while I held him in my arms. He put his hands on either side of my face, leaned his chubby face towards me, studied me with his large brown eyes before he leaned in and gave me a wet kiss on my cheek. My first kiss.

When we lost everything in Hurricane Andrew my parents firmly told us, we can fall down but as long as we have each other, we can always get back up. As I sit here typing these words while he sleeps in the swing across from me, I know those words to be true. He heals my wounds. He soothes my aching heart.

My book is put to the side but life is not. Its just as beautiful as it ever was and despite this mountain-sized bump on my path to authorship- I’m down but not out. Thanks for all your support along the way. Your comments have been like virtual hugs and I can’t thank you enough.

What happens to a dream deferred?

Does it dry up
like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore–
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over–
like a syrupy sweet? Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load. Or does it explode?
-Langston Hughes-

16 thoughts on “The book update I never wanted to give”

  1. I am so very sorry, Aisha. As a yet-to-be-published writer myself, I can imagine how hard it is to see a beloved book set aside. Little-boy kisses will help, and you're right – it's a seasonal sadness – and, once you ARE a published author, you can always publish your 'hard to publish' book. But it's hard to see it set aside today. Thinking of you, and looking forward to reading your next novel.


  2. Wow! As I look for an agent for my recently finished memoir, I am struck by this post…that is so sad that it wasn't meant to be. But kudos for getting your foot in the door which is the first battle! Your words are so eloquent, anything you have in print or even here on the web, I'd be willing to read! Thanks for stopping by my blog! Happy ICLW! (#72 & 106)


  3. so very disappointing, i'm sorry. for every writer that makes it there and a HUNDRED who don't, but i believe you will be one of the minority. you never thought you would have waleed but here he is, your next mountain is getting published and i'm sure you will persevere.


  4. I am so sorry for your disappointment. Hang in there, there's probably a better book deal just waiting around the corner! I enjoy your writing, and your blog is so pretty!! Sending you lots of good thoughts!

    ~Elaine, ICLW


  5. It was very brave of you to stand by your story… thats what really matters.
    You will be published. InshaAllah.
    Glad that you are feeling better.


  6. oh no! That is so sad! But your attitude is the right one! keep writing! Your agent supports you and she will help you with your next one. And think this: she considered your book good enough for her to be your agent, that should tell you something! Publishing is a bussiness, sometimes it doesn't matter if your book is good, only if the book can sell and with the financial crisis going on, things are getting difficult all over. I am sure it will eventually be published, probably after your next one is, but keep on trying!

    And don't self-publish…at least in Spain if you self-publish, that's your dead end as a writer.


  7. Some writers lose their integrity and creative dignity by changing their story (and ultimately, themselves, as a writer) in order to publish. You can change your beloved story to please others and to possibly even sell books, but in the end, will you truly be pleased? You made your decision using your deepest instincts and you shouldn't regret that. Keep pursuing and never give up on your dream.


  8. This is the most frustrating part of the book publishing process — reaching that point where you need to let go of the book. At least for the time being. Books have a funny way of jumping back up and working their way into future projects. And I hope that your next book brings you that goal of publication and that this old book comes alive again in a new form down the road.


  9. Thank you SOO much to everyone who commented- I appreciate it so much- your support means the world. Adnan, self-publishing is an option- but there are many many draw-backs to it. I'm going to wait it out, work on my next book and see what happens. I'm hoping some day I can find a way through traditional publishing.


  10. Aisha, I'm so sorry. I've not been giving much attention to my blog or anyone else's lately, and I missed this post. I am so sad to hear this news.

    Though your dream of publishing may have been deferred, keep in mind that by its definition, deferment is not the end, it's just not realization in the present.

    Your time is coming. In the meantime, hold onto the peace you find in the written word. This is why I write too. And, keep at it.


  11. hi aisha, i really enjoy your writing and look forward to when you get published. in the meantime, i am so glad you write and share here 🙂 wish you all the best, inshAllah.


  12. Raising- thanks for reminding me deferment is not the end. your words mean a lot.

    Ash- thank you- as someone who has been reading my blog for so long- your words move and inspire me. Thank you for that.

    RS- thanks so much 🙂 Your comment helps motivate me to keep on writing here. Thank you for taking the time leave a comment.


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