At least take the time to read the book jacket!

It’s hard to not be lured in by the images social media feeds us. The fact that the amalgamation of these images is even called a ‘feed’ makes me wonder: Did Al Gore predict this all along?

In all seriousness though, I don’t know how those of you who have resisted the pull of social media do it. I once prided myself in being a social media pariah. But then, as the story goes, I had to join for work. And now here I am.

Work, however, is not the reason why I check my phone before Fajr prayer. Work is not the reason why, on a Saturday morning, I’ve checked Facebook definitely more than once. To be fair, I’m not as addicted as some of my peers. But I haven’t been able to evade its negative effect; and so in the end, it doesn’t really matter how often I frequent. It only takes one quick scroll for the damage to do its work.

Yesterday, I was in a crummy mood. My husband works from home on Fridays so I didn’t have the space or time to compose myself (I need a full 8 hours!). Obviously, he picked up on it. Thank God for PMS as a ready excuse! But there’s always a provenance that goes deeper. PMS just makes me feel a bit more self-deserving about not being my usual anxious but amelioratory self.

There were many reasons why I was feeling crummy. One which Mr. Rafia was able to fish out of me (I’ve finally figured out that the way to stop loved-ones who “lovingly” bully me for my Ichthyophobia is to not give them the satisfaction!) was: my social media-induced jealousy. In particular, one Muslim writer who was featured on HuffPo. I read her article and thought, “Really? They rejected my article and published that!

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The short story I’ve yet to finish – but hey, at least I started! Right?

I am not proud of my reaction, but I am glad that I was able to talk it out with Dr. Phil Mr. Rafia and then, what finally gave me closure, write about it in my journal this morning.

I am not going to extol the many benefits of daily journaling – it’s like telling everyone to exercise. We all know it’s good for us, but the highs of exercise just cannot compete with the highs of chocolate cake – but it is one thing I am most consistent about, because it’s helped me sort out my fears and anxieties. At the minimum, it makes me feel productive at least once a day.

We’ve all heard the adage “Don’t judge a book by it’s cover,” the not-so-common wisdom of not letting prejudices get in the way of our decisions, but I also think it can help ward off pangs of jealousy. No one takes selfies during fights or when they’re just having a bad day. It doesn’t mean they don’t have them. I mean, take a look at my own “feeds” and you’d think I have the best husband in the world who always buys me cake. He doesn’t, by the way. The Best Husband in the World would though.

I’m still new to the world of writing. I still haven’t been able to take full ownership of the fact that I am a writer, still using qualifying adjectives as “aspiring” and, as recently as last week, “trying to be.” One woman was kind enough to remind me that it’s become unconscious.

Clearly, I have lots of work yet to do – both mentally and in terms of output.

Through the course of my morning journaling today, I reminded myself of my many blessings and was in turn reminded why I first began to write: it was…is the way I best express myself. Recognition, if that is what is meant to be, will come. I surely don’t deserve it yet. There will inevitably be many rejections in the weeks, months, and years ahead. But if I am serious and committed, it will be the love, the insatiable need, the soul-stirring rattling that I feel in my bones that will propel me forward – not the accolades I see others get based on a three-minute read.

13 thoughts on “At least take the time to read the book jacket!

  1. Ugh social media. I’ve been tempted to delete the apps from my phone and/or implement a strict limited time table for myself. How did I allow myself to get sucked in like this?

    Liked by 1 person

    • I still refuse to download the FB messenger app on my phone! I guess that helps, I think? I can only imagine how much worse it would be if I had it. Also, I TRY to limit my screen time after 10 pm. I don’t know if that’ll help, but I hope that it does for me anyway.

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  2. I think any kind of mental comparisons, online or off, are a dangerous, slippery slope. But I think even the most self-actualized, confident, zen people are “guilty” of doing it sometimes. How does one not?? It’s such a painfully human reaction.

    I totally agree with your “don’t judge a book by its cover” approach. Who knows what the circumstances were that surrounded that other writer’s article being picked by the HP? Maybe she herself had been rejected hundreds of times before finally being selected.

    Looking forward to reading that short story one day! (If you decide to share it with us!)

    Writing is a dog’s life, but the only life worth living. — Gustave Flaubert

    Liked by 1 person

    • Your comments always make me feel like it’ll be okay in the end. Thank you Laura for your encouragement and support for all these years! I should say (or sing) “THANK YOU FOR BEING A FRIEND….!”

      I would love to share it with you. My fear is that no one will read it. So yes, please! I still have so much to work on. I have a draftish, but it’s so one-dimensional. I think I need to give it some time. I’m not going to follow Stephen King’s 3-month max advice. It may work for him, but then again, I do not aspire to be a writer like him. So I feel somewhat better that it’s taken me this long. If nothing, this experience will teach me that I should probably just stick to non-fiction.

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  3. Hey Rafia. Look, don’t beat yourself up too much about rejections. Remember that platforms such as Huffpost are often looking for a certain style of writing, and certain subjects that are more likely to maximize their readership. A bastion of literary finesse it is not. Their rejection has probably nothing to do with your writing and more to do with their BS criteria for “a good story”.

    I know that rejections hurt and do wonders to induce self-doubt, but don’t let it kill that fire in you. I find your writing insightful, candid, refreshing, and most of all supremely human. Come to think of it that might actually be the problem. I find that unless a Muslim woman is talking about being oppressed, miserable with her religious and ethnic identity, or is willing to embody a controversial approach/topic, most platforms (magazines, publishing houses) tend to simply ignore us. So yeah, it is an uphill battle. Maybe we should look into creating our own platforms??? Let me know if you ever want to take on that Goliath…I’ll be preparing my suit of armour loool.

    Sending you hugs and loads of positive energy….(I should be ashamed for sounding like a new-agey hippie)

    Liked by 1 person

    • “A bastion of literary finesse it is not.” So true. I don’t know why I still hold on to that nebulous goal of being recognized by HuffPo. I should aim for higher literary publications! I think you’re onto something, Geeky! The media doesn’t care about Muslim women who are surprisingly just like other women. I would totally love to start our own platform – but there are so many out there already. How could ours be different? None of the existing ones seem like good fits for me, for some reason. Thank you so much for your encouraging words and vote of confidence! I really appreciate it. *hugs back*

      Liked by 1 person

      • Go for it Rafia. Submit some stuff to other publications and see how it goes. I feel the same way about existing Muslim platforms. Most the time they lack in diversity of content. I find that often they are aiming a certain niche market within the Muslim community, so they tend to be very limited in the type of subject or style of writing they publish. A lot of the time fashion and lifestyle are heavily featured by these platforms, or they focus way to much on 20 year olds at the detriment of everyone else. Honestly, I would just love for an eclectic group of Muslims (gender, age, nationality, class, professions, interests) to create a platform that caters to the broader Muslim community and not just a certain demographic. I’ve also noticed that Fiction is not at all on their radar. Maybe we could start one that focuses on creative writing instead? Can you imagined all the untapped talent in our community, just waiting to be unleashed? I see a lot of potential in something like that.

        Liked by 1 person

      • That sounds amazing! And I agree – the current more well-known Muslim platforms are lacking diversity, both in content and in perspectives. Not sure if this what you are referring to, but I came across a Muslim literary magazine called Blue Minaret (http://www.blueminaret.com/). I’m hoping to submit my short story there. Let’s see what happens!

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