you're full of ideas and they're always amazing! you are so much smarter than you give yourself credit for, even though you try to appear like you're a bit of a daredevil, you don't always like to come too far out of your cozy little comfort zone. but I promise, if you come out a bit more you can experience so many exciting things, and your abilities will make you shine like a star in the night sky.
not only are you are a badass, you're also super cool. if there are any haters its only because they want to be like you - really though. you just have an aura about you that pulls people in and once they get to know you, they don't ever want to get away. people want to overindulge in you, and if that wears you out then take a break and don't feel bad about it, your friends know you'll come back at the end of the day.
you're not a two-faced backstabbing bitch, you are a beautiful person who struggles with having to listen to an angel and a devil on your shoulders all day, which I can only imagine is super tough but you've done an incredible job to even come all this way and you should be so proud of yourself, I know I am. and lets take a moment to appreciate how you can walk into a room and suddenly be everyone's best friend with your natural charm and easy-going nature. you could take a bullet in the chest and your smile won't even falter. you're so determined to get what you want and you're so passionate and just everything you do is admirable. keep going, you rock this world.
if we're being real here, you don't actually cry *that* much. this is what it is - you have so many emotions swirling inside of you and they are like a beautiful storm of bright lights. and you should continue to let that out and share that beauty with everyone! but even with all that, you can be pretty hardcore and you are so strong, inside that whirlpool is a fire than burns bright, you should show people your intense passions as well as your caring side.
you are amazing, and everyone around you knows it. if you're being too hard on yourself, lighten up a little because so far you've done everything right. everything happens for a reason, and if you feel guilty or sad about something just remember that your experiences have shaped who you are today - a beautiful, wonderful, magical creature with sparkling eyes, a loving soul and fabulous hair.
you work so hard to be on top of the game and I know how stressful that can be, but trust me when I'm saying that if you're doing the best you can, please don't push yourself any further. I'm sure you know what it feels like to get 3 hours sleep only to just scrape everything in on time, but you're doing just fine and please remember to reach out to your friends and loved ones and talk about how youre feeling. honestly, letting out any negativity makes you feel so, so much better, and you deserve the best.
it's not that you're indecisive, you just like to weigh out all the pros and cons of a situation before you go into something - which is such a good idea, and I admire you for that. I bet you wish you had a crystal ball and could see the future to know how your decisions will turn out, huh? but the reality is that you should stop worrying about about the future and live in the moment. if you're not focusing on the present, you won't get to where you want to be in the future, and we definitely don't want to see you somewhere where your talents aren't being showcased.
your personality is just so magnetic and you're so hypnotic, so many people absolutely adore you and would do anything for you - but sometimes they might not be 100% certain that the feelings are mutual. now, I know you love your friends and family so, so much with a fiercely strong love, but would it kill you to tell people that you love them and how you're feeling sometimes? everyone is here to help you and guide you on your journey to reaching the stars, but you can't build your rocket ship without the help of others.
you are incredible and so smart, it actually makes people stop in their tracks when you open your mouth and spout some beautiful, philosophical words of wisdom. or even just opening your mouth to say anything. everything about you is great but I'm not sure you appreciate yourself as much as you should. all the friends you have who love you should be an indication of how great you are. if you don't learn to love yourself, you might not be able to see through and out of your own little bubble and actually notice how much people care about you. because they care so, so much. don't you ever doubt that.
your motto is work hard and don't take shortcuts, which is amazing and everyone admires you for that. it takes a lot of hard work and dedication to be you, and even if nobody mentions it, everyone is impressed. you're gonna go far, kid. but know that even if you're stuck in a rut right now you just need to jump a little higher and climb out. if you're stressed, talk to someone you trust and just open up and tell them what youre feeling. help them help you, and everything will be okay.
we're not emotionless, we have a lot of feelings and we just choose not to express them because we're scared of people being overwhelmed by us, and we like to trust someone 100% before we open up. and there is nothing wrong with that. you're so good at listening to people's problems/how they feel and your advice is 10/10, but if you don't take time to talk to people about how you're feeling, you bottle everything up and one day it'll get so full that the lid will burst - and I know you're afraid of letting out all your feelings in one go, I definitely am. the only way around that is to let it out, bit by bit, slowly and over the years, to maintain your composure and sanity. and nobody will see you any different or judge you if you open up to them.
you're passionate, your creativity is out of this world, you're so good at helping people and you don't have a selfish bone in your body. you're always so up for helping people, and that is amazing! you're compassionate like no other, and your ideas are off-the-charts crazy cool. and you're not weak! you are perfectly capable of putting up your barriers, you just like to trust people enough to keep them down a lot of the time. and you're definitely not weak either, you've probably lived through some heartbreaking experiences, and you're still able to walk around with your head up and your heart open. now thats real strength.
The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.
Now, prepare for the third volume, the most in-depth behind-the-scenes of writing books yet…
Every book that you read has a story to tell. Not just the one in the pages, but so too the behind-the-scenes hell.
I documented what writing a book looks like from Day 1 to Release Day. The work never ends. You write wherever and whenever you can.
And when I say write, I mean, you have to WRITE
Here’s a secret: the more you write, the longer the book gets!
Sometimes you’re gonna be absolutely STUMPED. Like the entire universe is just being petty and conspiring against you.
When all else fails, drink coffee. Worship coffee. Sacrifice your first-born child to coffee.
Sometimes you’ll show up at your regular writing spot AND SOMEONE WILL HAVE STOLEN YOUR SEAT, THE STUPID, FAT HOBBITSEES
So you’re forced to write out of your element, totally distracted as you figure out ways to make it look like an accident…
And remember how your teachers always said you’d need to use math everywhere in life? Well, they weren’t wrong…
Every day, you persist. Inching closer. And closer. Every word pushing the story toward its close.
It might take a week, or a month or two or three, but every time you add another 10k, you can’t help but feel a swell of pride.
There will always be the days you miss writing, but that’s absolutely okay! Don’t beat yourself up! You can make time for it. Writing is art, and art takes time, and shouldn’t be rushed.
And one day you’ll sit down and stare at your screen and realize….the end is near. You can feel you’re closing in on those final words, those last sentences with the characters you’ve spent the past year with.
When you write those last words, a wave of relief will slam into you. You might shed some tears, because writing a book is difficult, and finishing the first draft is an incredible feat to achieve. Treat yo self. You deserve it.
Then…..take a break. Take as long a break as you need. Some people might need a month, some a year. Whatever your rhythm is, find it, stick to it, and never give it up.
No matter if you edit by hand or by computer, print out that first draft. Hold it in your hands, feel the weight of the words you wrote. The words that were stuck in your head for months, even years. Flip through those pages and look at what YOU created.
Then, when the time is right, edit that book.
Maybe you’ll finish editing a chapter in a day. Maybe it’ll take a week. For me, it’s usually an hour per page! Edit at your own pace. It’s not a race!
And then…..voila. You’ve edited the first draft!…….
If you have other books out, don’t let them fall to the wayside! Keep marketing, keep telling people about them (and showing them your work on the newest one!!), and get book signings and events whenever you can! Bookstores are ALWAYS looking for authors to feature. Just ask!
And of course, make it fun for yourself, too! Book flare and merchandise? Um, YES PLEASE.
Aaaaaaaaaaand now you need to focus again, and, you know, actually put all those edits in. Which usually turns into an entirely new round of editing in-and-of itself.
Keep putting those edits in….
And more, and more, and more edits…
Did I mention sometimes you’ll need to go to extreme lengths to fit in writing days?
Although art itself is so, so, so rewarding, we’re all still human. Some days will be more difficult than others. Some days, your mind will weigh you down. These can be the hardest days, but push through. Find an anchor and hold tight and take care of yourself.
Other times, you’ll be traveling! Take your writing with you. I find that when I’m on vacation, I’m a much more productive writer! The atmosphere is usually more relaxed. You’re not in a familiar place, so it gets your creative juices flowing stronger!
When you’ve edited your book a few times, FIND BETA READERS. These can be friends, followers on social media, or someone random you meet in your coffee/tea shop! Get fresh sets of eyes looking at your work! They will make suggestions, edits, and faun over your book.
Sometimes they’ll make corny jokes.
You will get a TON of feedback, and you will have to compile them all together, chapter by chapter, reading and considering every single comment and comma.
Your beta readers will love you forever when they finish reading your book. Guaranteed. Always. So in love. Yes.
Eventually, your beta readers will finish, and the countdown to publication will begin…
As you near the end, the Universe might have some surprises in store for you. Me? It took me back to the exact seat and window where I wrote the entire first draft of the first book in the series….a very poetic twist of fate.
Finally, the day will come when every major edit is done. When you’ve skimmed and scanned and combed and proofed. When you have a cover design and formatted all the pages to books, it’s time to order those first copies.
And then….the day comes….when your book finally arrives. You see the mail truck pull up and you see the boxes, and you just KNOW it’s for you.
And then you open them and look inside….
And you get to hold it in your hands for the first time ever…..
And you get to put it next to the other books that come before it….
And then you get to ship some of them out to ARC readers who will be reviewing your book before it’s released!!!!
And then you get order an entire shipment for upcoming book signings, and copies to send out to people who pre-ordered, and seeing them all stacked together will ALWAYS be a beautiful sight. Cherish it. Take a picture to show off to potential readers, that image of YOUR books all stacked together.
This is what writing is like. This is what goes into all those thousands of hours of sitting behind a computer. This is how books come into existence. It’s not the same steps for everyone, but the process for all of us is similar. It’s not easy. You won’t see a dime for your work for years, unless you already have books being sold.
But it’s worth it. Pouring your soul into writing a book, or making music, or graphic art… This is the beauty, the struggle, the dedication, the pain, the hours of lost sleep, the gallons of caffeine, the barista friends you make along the way….
Even though they might catch you in your candid element…..
But you will form a bond with them. They will learn your favorite order, have it ready the moment you walk in the door. And if you ever leave, it will be a heart-wrenching day…
They might give you a keepsake, too, to remember them by….
Stay humble, and remember every moment. Every experience. Appreciate everyone who helped you along the way, from giving you free drinks and food, to all the support and encouragement, to the avid fans who rave about your books. They’re all here for you, following your journey as you write.
For this particular book, the journey was 23 months, from December 2015 to October 2017. It takes a long time, even when you work every single day, and stick to a strict schedule. Some days you won’t want to write at all. Some days you won’t want to stop. That’s okay. Just hold true to your passion, and celebrate your accomplishments.
Don’t let anyone tell you not to write. Don’t let anyone tell you you’re doing it wrong. We all live through the same process, from the great artists to the starving artists. If you want to write a book, this is what it looks like. Though writing a book isn’t easy, the reward of holding it in your hands is worth the days, the months, the years. You will have created something beautiful. You will have created art.
Hijab is not for angels. Hijab is for flawed, beautiful humans, who are saying everyday that they are trying. And there is so much beauty in that struggle. God sees it. Never belittle any act of love and worship. It could be this act of obedience that God accepts. And it could be because of it, that God forgives your other flaws.