Tell us about yourself and when you first realized you wanted to be a writer.
I have loved reading since I was a kid, and I wanted to make use of my passion of reading by writing. Being a writer isn’t a decision though, it’s finding the feelings and thoughts that motivate you to present them in any kind of art work, wether in cinema, photography or music depending on your personal talents and interests. It’s more like an inner volcano that urges you to follow what needs to be done for eruption. Back then, I was a photographer and a journalist. I still love photography and I never abandoned it, but it’s more of a hobby now. Right before I started writing, I felt like I have reached a certain level of constancy in life. Despite there was success, a family and a stable income, I felt something was still missing, which I later discovered was change. So I decided to make a career shift and start writing.
It’s challenging to create fiction. Would you tell us about your writing process?
It’s a very organised process for me. I don’t start writing before gathering all the details. If you improvise as you go or start with an idea and try to develop it while writing, this may obstruct your track of thought. What does it for me is writing down the plot line before dissecting it into smaller pieces and in sequence.
You also cannot write what is told to you; it has to be burgeon from your inner desire for it seem real. Your process of writing should be driven by passion from the start.
I think a writer has to love what they’re writing because they will work on this project for a long time. It takes me around two years to write a book. On the other hand, I love to write early in the morning because that’s when I feel like more energetic. Perhaps this is the only thing I allot a specific time to.
What genres of books do you like to read?
I love books that help me develop my thinking and introduce me to new scientific theories, especially social and physiological works because those are usually loaded with information. Fiction comes second, where plot, of course, is very important to me, and can become a very good reference for me to write better.
Does writing energize or exhaust you?
It does both actually, because if I’m not writing, I feel like something major in my life is missing. At the same time, writing drains you and harnesses your energy. Once I finish writing, I eat a meal and take a two-hour nap after spending six hours of writing, then repeat. This becomes very exhausting, but when I look at the whole picture, I find that writing energizes my life. For some people, reading becomes a habit instead of a hobby. It’s like a sport that demands hard work and extra effort, but when you undergo glory, success, and the audience’s approval, you know it’s worth it.
What are the most difficult challenges a writer may confront?
The biggest challenge writers may confront is themselves. Since writing isn’t a financially rewarding career for beginners, a writer can become obligated to work multiple jobs for profit. This becomes an obstacle because even though their creativity may be sharp, it can be limited under hard social and financial circumstances. Writers can also distract themselves by wasting too much time on searching for references, and fretting over unimportant details. They succumb to their body’s defence mechanism; whenever it feels like it’s approaching a time that demands extra energy in writing, it squanders time out of fear. Other than that, depression can result from negative criticism that isn’t constructive. That’s why I say that a reader can be a writer-killer when they don’t read the book subjectively. If a writer isn’t ready to receive such criticism and understand its motives, this could be a major factor in destroying their potential.
How do you incorporate positive feedback and criticism in your work?
Any novel is followed by both good feedback and harsh criticism. What I do is put in consideration constructive criticism that confirms my doubts. As for negative criticism, I believe it only happens now because in the past people didn’t have the ability to directly address the writer through social media, so I shrug the negativity off. Mr. Naguib Mahfouz used to meet his readers in seminars only, nowadays, people can send insults to the writer without even finishing the whole novel because it wasn’t their cup of tea. I mean, we still have some weird and deranged values because readers today won’t pay EGP 60 to buy a novel, while also being open to spending more for a cup of coffee. The new-age reader does not have the capacity to accept the art of work as it is. We do not have this culture. After ten years of working in the field, I no longer take the insults personally because they don’t add anything to me or my style of writing.
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