Yesterday was November 1st and the start of NaNoWriMo. NaNoWriMo is like the Boston marathon for writers. In one-month participants are challenged to write 50,000 (or more) words in 30 days. Many people constantly worry and nit pick their creations to the point that their story becomes a concept stuck in their minds. Don’t be that person. The point of the month long exercise is not to finish a novel but to just get one started period.
“Writing is an exploration. You start from nothing and learn as you go.”- E.L. Doctorow
There are also perks from sponsors like Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing and Scrivener, who give free or discounted services, which aid writers who want to go further after the NaNoWriMo challenge. Plus you get cool badges and banners that help keep writers motivated and inspired throughout the intense writing period. It’s a wonderful thing, and I owe NaNoWriMo for getting me started in writing a novel as well as inspire me to create my blog site.
You are probably wondering, if you love it so much why not participate? I am not going to lie I did consider doing NaNoWriMo this year. I love the feel of keys tapping beneath my fingers, the constant need to type, and watching my story develop right before my eyes. But I digress, I only want you to remember that the key to success in this challenge is to just type. Writers (I include myself in this obsessiveness) need to stop thinking too hard on the grammar and mechanics. All that comes later in editing and rewrites.
However, this year I have decided to fine tune my manuscript, “Voices of Clara” for publication. Ironically, the story is one I wrote and finished during NaNoWriMo 2008. I was so excited when I saw how the story came together. No, it wasn’t perfect, but it was my imperfect story, and I had written it in 30 days. Now it’s 2014, and I still haven’t published, “Voices of Clara“. That’s a long time to sit on a book and have it go nowhere. I don’t want my work to have been written in vain. I like the story of Clara, a young adult woman trying to figure out life and what she wants from it. While having, a few funny and heartfelt adventures and discoveries along the way. I feel that many people could relate regardless their age because we have all struggled in our early adult lives.
Now you know why I am not NaNoWriMoing this year. I encourage other writers to give it a try even if you don’t reach the 50,000-word count goal. I have seen some participants’ word counts go far past the intended goal. Hopefully, I will be able to participate next year because I love a good challenge.
It’s Not Too Late To Participate!
Are you participating in NaNoWriMo 2014? How far have you gotten in your word count? A friend of mine and established author has written over 10,000 words, and she’s only just begun.
Good luck to all the participants and I wish you all the best success in your challenges.
Can a foreigner ever understand the harsh reality of the constant struggle of the Afghanistan people and their culture?
Omar Farhad’s début novel gives readers a closer look at what it takes for people to survive in a world where chaos has become the norm, but where deep cultural rituals and habits are kept alive.
While Farhad’s story is fictional the novel sheds light on real living conditions in a world constantly torn apart by war. Honor and Polygamy shows Afghanistan’s plight from a different perspective.
Nicholas Blake, a UN diplomat from New York is assigned one last deployment to Afghanistan. However, Nicholas does not realize how much this deployment would change his life. He never planned on getting kidnapped, and used as a tool for the very Taliban he is trying to help remove from Afghanistan. Nicholas takes readers on his journey of hardships, and the terrible decisions he must make to stay alive, and return home to his wife and children he left behind. Farhad describes both Nicholas’ American world and his Afghanistan world with the relatable interactions of his characters. Will Nicholas’ knowledge of Afghanistan culture, and his nearly perfect Pashtun help him survive his captivity? How far will he go to save his life?
“What if I had done it differently? Would I be in the same mess? If I explained it to Lisa, would she understand? No . No matter how good my intentions were and how bad my circumstances are, my wife will never understand. She will always feel betrayed by and disappointed in me.” –Nicholas Blake in the novel Honor and Polygamy by Omar Farhad.
As a spouse, mother, sister, aunt, and friend of men and women who have deployed to Afghanistan. I am very aware of the dangers that can occur for people on deployment military or civilians. I also think much about Afghanistan people and how the war must affect their way of life. Honor and Polygamy stirs the hearts of readers to empathize with Nicholas’ actions to survive. Readers are left to reflect on how Nicholas’ survival may conflict with their own cultural beliefs and moral values. How far would you go?
We speak briefly with Omar Farhad about his novel and what brought him to tell us his story.
Budom: Were you concerned how recent current events might affect feedback from your readership regarding the political nature of the story?
Omar Farhad: First, I want to thank you for allowing me this opportunity to express myself and at the same time explain the nature of my début novel.
Honestly, I am very concerned with the recent US government’s reckless behavior in the Middle East and Afghanistan. Looking at the recent government changes that the US made or encouraged starting in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Egypt, and now in Syria, the political situation in mentioned nations have become more dangerous. The new weak and corrupt governments are not able to defend their nations against the new created fundamentalist ideology. Therefore, “one dictator is better than many corrupt official”. That in mind, the US experimentation of forced-fed democracy in the Middle East must stop at once before the entire world is pulled into a world war III.
Budom: As an Afghan-American man writing, a reader might assume that the book is very one side. However, I found it was not. Was it difficult emotionally for you to write the story?
To answer the first part of your question, every reader will judge my point of view according to his or her level of understanding. As a writer, the very first thing I have learned in writing is to be honest and truthful. I will never deviate from stating the facts directly or indirectly.
I used to work as a contractor in Afghanistan for a little over two years. After the end of my second year, I realized the US efforts in Afghanistan will ultimately have fruitless ending. In Afghanistan and the rest of the Middle East where the United States has been involved politically, the US government simultaneously failed to recognize the cultural distance, societal complexities, and change political practices. One size does not fit all.
Budom: Could this have really happened in Afghanistan if someone like Nick should request “Nanawatai,” which means “asylum” in Pashtun’s culture, and the language of the southern and eastern Afghanistan people?
Omar Farhad: The honor codes that I have mentioned in my book does exist in reality and yes, if someone like Nick who needed asylum “Nanawatai” would have been taken in by a Pashtun family. These codes of honor are many thousands year old. In a tribal uneducated society like Afghanistan, these codes of honor are still good as gold to bring order and to keep peace.
Budom: What do you want ‘Honor and Polygamy’ to accomplish as a novel? Do you find it is getting good reception with readers and critics?
Omar Farhad: Yes, the book is received warmly. Feedbacks from Amazon and goodreads.com are all positive.
I as an Afghan born had many hopes for Afghanistan. However, “seeing is believing” and what I have witnessed in Afghanistan did not give me hope for a better future.
After 14 years of US involvement in Afghanistan, after many lives lost on both sides, and after billions of dollars lost to a created corrupt system, the American public does not understand why we are involved in that war. The most typical and basic perception of the American people is, the spread of democracy. Well, that is a great idea but, did every American woke up one morning and realized they were born free? The answer is no. Democracy in the United States was achieved over a period of 300 years with many sacrifices made by those before us. The same is true about other nations and the same process and time is needed to achieve democracy.
With Honor and Polygamy, I am hoping to point out missed opportunities, cultural distance, and cultural complexities that were first missed by the British invading Afghanistan in late 1800s, the Russians in 1980s, and the US since 2001.
Budom: Will you be writing more on this subject on a future novel or do you have something else planned?
I am currently working on my own memoir, which also have a political side to it. My journey as a child begins right before the Russian invasion and I grow to a young man in war torn country and as a refugee in Pakistan.
Thank you Omar for giving us a look into another world and culture. I look forward to your next book. Honor and Polygamy can be found on Amazon.com.
About the author:
Born in Kabul, Afghanistan Omar Farhad move to the United States over 27 years ago, and now resides in California. Farhad holds degree in Aviation from Spartan School of Aeronautics as well as a degree in Global Economics from the University of Phoenix.
The Rest Is Illusion is a gripping tale of discovering oneself while accepting the things in life you can and can’t control. Dashel “Dash” Yarnsbrook is a college student gripped in a painful illness. As the story unfolds the reader is drawn not only into the life of Dash, but his friends Ahsley and Sara. Then there is the villain of the story, Wilder Rawls, who makes life hell for just about everyone he meets.
Dash, Sarah, and Ashley like many students in college must face issues that many students come up against. There are issues relating to trusting their own decisions and discovering that not everyone in the world is full of good intentions.
Readers can find a little of themselves in each of the characters. We’ve all been in a place where we are not sure of how we feel about each other, the opposite sex, or even how we would react when faced with death. The Rest Is Illusion touches on these subjects as well as giving readers a look on how far a little faith can change a life.
As I read this story I was touched by the realistic approach to the feelings of the characters. I contacted author Eric Arvin requesting an interview and he was kind enough to answer some of my questions. I invite you to meet Eric Arvin. He answers the questions with warmth and an openness that makes you feel like a life long friend.
The character’s perspective of their lives we interesting. As a writer did you plan these perspectives or did they just fall into place?
Eric Arvin:“They very much evolved over time. The tale was originally a short story wherein Dashel was a supporting character and Wilder was the lead, and he was a decent guy, too. But things happened in my life and the personalities of the characters shifted. There’s a psychological aspect to these changes, but that would take way too long to get into.”
You had mentioned this was your first novel. Was this the first novel you ever wrote?
Eric Arvin:” The first book I ever wrote – if you don’t count the two I did for the Young Authors program when I was a wee thing – was a book about a boy born with wings called The Demon of Jericho. I’ve just recently shortened and tinkered with that book for publication in the anthology Crack the Darkest Sky Wide Open, due out in May from The Barn Cats. Meow.”
Is there a bit of you in these characters?
Eric Arvin:” There is a bit of me in every character I write, from the most hateful devil to the most beautiful…devil.”
Wilder is the epitome of the villain you love to hate. Have you ever met anyone like Wilder Rawls?
Eric Arvin:” Not exactly like him. But there were a couple guys in college that came terribly close. Fellas with political aspirations who had no issue with using others to achieve their goals. AND NOW, I SHALL EXPOSE THEM!!! …Not really.”
I love the menagerie of characters such as Ashley being an Albino. Was he intentionally made to be an Albino or did he just evolve?
Eric Arvin: ” Again, that was total evolution. His character wasn’t even in the first version of the story, nor the second. But by the time I began to write the third I realized I needed someone to balance out Wilder Rawls’ character. Ashley is the closest thing to an angel in the book. I reference that in a few scenes, including one at the falls.”
Are there any new novels or writings in the works?
Eric Arvin:” Aside from the anthology mentioned above, I have written a novella with Tj Klune, Ghouls Gym, for Empire Press’s Zombie Boyz anthology. Also from Empire I have The Mingled Destinies of Crocodiles & Men and its prequel Azrael & The Light Bringer set for release this year, both of these set in the same valley as The Rest Is Illusion. The audio book of Woke Up in a Strange Place, as read by Charlie David (Bump, Dante’sCove), should be out soon. I’ve just finished writing a spec fic epic called Terms We Have For Dreaming, but that won’t be seen by a publisher for a while.”
Are any of your novels being consider for a film?
Eric Arvin: “The Rest Is Illusion is making the rounds, as is a telescript for Subsurdity.”
His return to his homeland Iraq gives Abu cause to review his life past and future. Abu’s story tells heart-wrenching stories of the different people in his new place of residence in Iraq bordering on Kuwait.
Abu feels like a foreigner among his own people. It doesn’t help that he is new to the a city that is stuck in limbo.
With the Americans still using their roads to continue a war in the distance, yet so close. Abu’s days are disrupted unexpectedly by a young girl, whose penchant for all things American, borders on blasphemy in their Muslim world.
But as the story unfolds we wonder if people are right to be skeptical of Abu. Abu’s is a stranger with secrets and a mission. The question is whose side is he on?
Ever since I was a child I have always been a big daydreamer. My imagination would run wild and it didn’t help that I loved watching shows such as Sesame Street and the Electric Company (Remember this? HEY YOU GUYS!!!). These shows promoted imagination like it was a prescription drug that would cure-all your woes. When I grew older and in my late teens a friend of mine would comment, “Bu, you’re an idealist and I am a realist.” I would laugh at this and I suppose that is why we balance each other out so well. Books would be another way I would carry my mind away from every day annoyances. Before I knew it I started writing my own short stories.
One summer I tested my writing skills by getting a Spiral notebook and proceeded to involve my sister’s and my favorite band Duran Duran into our lives. My sisters and I each liked one of the band members. My sister Lina’s favorite was Simon LeBon. I remember my sister Julie and I felt it would be funny if we told her Simon had died in a boating accident ( Simon was an avid sailor). Oh, the wailing that my sister emitted at the thought of her beloved dead at the bottom of the sea. It was quite difficult to keep ourselves from laughing. Boy, was Lina mad!
That was then and this is now. Now I am a grown woman; a wife and mother. I still find myself daydreaming and coming up with stories in my head. There are times I dream a whole story line while and when I wake up I feel as if I was really there. Unfortunately, daydreaming is not doing and that is the bandwagon I need to be on. I should take Nike’s advice and just do it. I have a finished novel and it has been finished for at least three years. Yet, I still have to get it published.
My daydreaming has left procrastinating to the to the point that procrastination has become my enemy. You see dreams will get you started on the path you want to take, but it won’t get you where you need to be if you don’t do something about it. I wrote this story when I entered into the annual NanoWriMo contest which has writers write a 50,000 words of a novel in 30 days. I am happy to say that I took the challenge in 2008 and won. It was a great time in my life and that how I came up with my novel, Voices of Clara. I finally found a place to publish my works and now it’s time to get out of that dream state and just do it. Writing this blog is a way of getting me started and I feel the writing bug waking up inside me.
Remember to always keep dreaming and to make your dreams worthwhile you have to make some of them come true.