Recently I read a story of a book launch “A December Evening”. I was amazed to read about the author Fatima Khan, a final year MBBS student at AMU. “A December Evening” is reportedly her second book after ‘Feelings Take Flight’ which was released in May 2014. It is really an achievement to be a published author at this young age. Fatima Khan is a student of Aligarh Muslim University’s Jawaharlal Nehru Medical College. We interviewed her through email, where she shares about her journey as an author, her inspiration, the challenges of being an author an advice for budding authors. This could be an inspiration and a guideline for aspiring writers. Read on.
Please tell us a brief about you? Where were you born and brought up, basic education etc?
Born and brought up in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), I came to India to pursue MBBS in 2009. Since then, I have been splitting time between UAE, India and the interesting travels in between. My penchant for writing began at school, when it became more than scoring top marks. And it has been my passion ever since.
My subjects for writing are everyday experiences of my own and others I meet. I could be romanticizing everyday conversations or taking a sartorial stand on modern day ills. My first published book, Feelings Take Flight, a collection of poems was released on 23rdMay, 2014.
‘A December Evening’ my second book and first collection of short stories wasunveiled by Mr Jerry Pinto as part of the Aligarh Muslim University Literary Festival 2015, on 20th March.
Can you share in short, how did the journey of writing started?
Writing started as the forced creative writing exercises at school which I soon I began to enjoy. As part of the school’s Gavel Club, part of Toast Masters International, we had to write what we were going to be speaking about. I loved the experience and discovered my wit. Interschool and Gulf Level Writing Competitions brought many accolades. The icing on the cake was a radio interview in Dubai for being awarded the Worthy Wordsmith in one of the writing competitions and being given the first place in a Gulf Level Writing Competition. Prose became my forte.
Still prose was not enough. I had a friend back in school who wrote well. We decided to write a double poem once. One line contributed by each of us. By the time it was completed, I liked the writing form. I did not pay much attention and the only poem I wrote again was an amateurish goodbye poem when that friend left for higher studies.
Years later,poetry became an outlet for my emotions while going through a rough patch.Then I wrote The Spirit – a poem I truly fell in love with. For starters, I couldn’t believe I had written all that. Thenceforth poetry became the chosen medium of expression of my thoughts. That led to my poetry collection, Feelings Take Flight, and my first published work.
However,since poetry has a niche audience, I decided to explore prose again. Forgotten incomplete stories lay scattered across my journals. Some asked to be completed. Others were just taking form. Soon my collection of short stories, A December Evening, was ready to see the light of day.
How does it feel to be a published author?
It is an amazing feeling to be recognised for your talent. It is a personal feat to strike a balance between my studies and my writing. Being a published author while still at college gives me an incomparable high.
What are the challenges of being a writer?
The greatest challenge of being a writer is being true to yourself. It is easy to get distracted by the quantity of sub quality texts doing well and crossing the million mark sales. One starts cutting corners, compromising on the language, grammar or even the story. That is destructive.
What inspired you for writing? Your biggest inspiration.
Life inspired me to write and it remains my biggest inspiration. An offhand remark, a stolen smile, a silent tear, joy, sadness, success, failure – Inspirations everywhere.
What are your plans for future?
My next project is a novel, it is a pet project that has been on the back burner for a long time. I have decided that for some time, I shall be writing only for my MBBS exams and preparing for my Post Graduate Entrance or so I always say…
What suggestions, you would give to aspiring writers?
Read good writes to write good reads.
Be true to the story and writing form that you choose. Do not cut corners in any way – language, storyline just to cater to a certain audience. You have to be true to yourself and the story. Seek criticism of your work. Build upon your weaknesses and learn from your mistakes. Be prepared for rejection. Do not quit.
Anything else if you want to share, that we might have missed?
As a parting thought, I’d like to add
The closer you get to excellence in your life, the more friends you will lose. People love it when you are average because it makes them comfortable. But when you pursue greatness, it makes people uncomfortable. Be prepared to lose some people on your journey.
At times life surprises you with wonderful people on your journey too. However, they are just surprises. You will enjoy them only if you expected nothing to begin with.
Learn from mistakes and move on. Never let them burden you.
Mantra for Life – Learn, Labour, Love, Live, Laugh and Leave a legacy behind.
For readers who would like to get in touch or know more about her published works, please visit https://www.facebook.com/adecemberevening.
CareerZest team thanks her for responding to our request. We would like to see her next project soon becoming a reality. We wish her luck for her future endeavours.