Saturday, 7 April 2018

First Drafts & Finding an Agent | Writer's Diary #2

I am a writer. 

Not a published writer. 

Not even a writer who writes every day. 

I am a writer who cannot even write regular blog posts. 

I am a writer who can just about muster a weekly Instagram post. 

I am a writer who has neglected her diary for far too long. (This is the one that saddens me the most because for many years I would end every day scribbling along the faint lines in my latest pretty diary, writing until my hand ached and falling asleep feeling a little lighter. A better way to end the day than scrolling endlessly through every social media app on my phone before squeezing my eyes shut while my mind remains alert with a dozen different thoughts and worries.) 

Yet, despite all of the above (and more), I wrote a novel. 

An entire novel. 

My last post was written in October, and it is now April. 

I finished the first draft of my novel in February. 

I know. I am terrible with these update thingies. But I wanted to share it here anyway, on my - much neglected - corner of the internet. 

I wrote a novel. 

The novel that I began writing in May 2016. The novel that I felt would never end as I neared the end of 2017 and became consumed with full-time work, leaving my draft to (metaphorically) gather dust. I was lucky if I wrote 1000 words per week. But I refused to accept defeat, and eventually I reached the end. 

Since then, I've read through all 32 chapters and edited the minor things. Deleted a sentence here, added a comma there etc. etc. I then sent it out to four beta readers a week or two ago and have already received incredibly uplifting feedback and wonderfully constructive criticism. 

Once I had emailed my manuscript to the four beta readers, I began my hunt for an agent. So far, I have discovered (or rather, my suspicions have been confirmed) that the world of literary agencies and agents is glaringly white. As a British-Pakistani Muslim Woman who has written a novel packed with British Muslim characters and looking to be one legitimate voice for young British Muslims, I need an agent who is just as passionate as I am about creating diverse representation NOT because it's what's trending right now but because it should already be a norm in publishing. We shouldn't be able to count on one hand the books we have read with genuinely legitimate representations of POC or Muslims. And while we are beginning to see a gradual influx of POC writers with POC characters, we've still got a long way to go.

And I want to be a part of this new, hopefully permanent wave.

I believe in my story. I LOVE my characters and their feelings and their struggles and the way in which they overcome them. I know that I have truly written the novel that I WISH I could have read when I was in my teens and struggling with everything from religion to self-esteem. Like I wrote in my previous post, I dream of a young Muslim girl reading this novel and feeling validated. Affirmed. Finding a voice that truly represented the various nuances of her own life. 

Despite the new wave of POC writers, if I managed to get published, I will still be one of the first Muslim women writers writing for young Muslims. While this is saddening and disappointing, it is also very very exciting. 

Hence why I need an agent who shares my ambitions. Who is willing to take a risk on a young, untried Muslim writer, writing not for a white audience, but for POC. I am not suggesting that there are no white agents who are actively looking for a story like mine and who are open-minded and empathetic with a fierce desire to create change, but they are certainly rare. Therefore - seeing as most agents (and the rest of the publishing world) are in fact white - I'm a little worried. But I'll battle my way past that bridge when the time comes. Right now, I have to focus on perfecting my novel.

So, what's next?

Well, I am going to wait until I receive feedback from all four beta readers, and then I'm going to begin editing my draft... again. Big changes this time. Structural changes. Just the thought of digging into my novel and tearing it apart in an attempt to put it back together better than ever is rather... daunting. 

But I've come this far, and I cannot - will not - accept defeat. 

Until next time, friends. 

No comments

Post a Comment

© soulflower | All rights reserved.
Blog Layout Created by pipdig