The END! I love writing those words. I only write them when I have fully finished a full first draft of a novel. I know it’s not the end, because there are months of editing ahead, but at the same time, it feels so good to round off the narrative and finish one step of the writing process. I’ve always felt like this about writing. When writing academic work – essays, dissertations, articles – getting to the end, however rough the work is, feels like a significant milestone. It means that your work has passed through its period of gestation, and like a baby, has been born fresh, new and alive into the world, an entity in its own right. The labour is over, now comes the work of fostering and nurturing the baby to grow into itself and take on a mature identity. But like the initial period of gestation, the growth of the work comes with time and energy, attention and love. At times, you will hate it like the rebellious, sulky teenager it is, truculent and difficult to manage. Like any good parent, the writer has to deal with the demons of despair, doubt and depression, but coming through the wilderness requires commitment and determination. Love fires this, the love of the work as something you believe in. Whatever it is I am writing, it must go through this process. By the end, I have come through a process of transformation. The work exists, and I am changed as I assume my identity as its author.
Being published also changes my identity, because I now feel a legitimacy in writing that I didn’t before. Writing is my job now as much as teaching and research, and I am coming into my own as an author, learning a new set of skills and discovering a new personal and professional landscape. It has been interesting, during the book launch events and readings, to hear the questions and comments from those considering reading the book. I feel as if I have been through two life transitions – sending off one child into the world as an adult (my published novel, Inshallah), and giving birth to my next. I look forward to the next period of growth and development.
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