Written by Stephanie Siam
As some of you may know and many of you may not, November is
National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo)
I know, I know. You may be thinking:
“Wait. . .what? Isn’t this islamwich? Where is the straightforward, no-spin, thought-provoking content I usually find?”
Have no fear!
For those of you who’ve been with us for awhile, you’re most likely no stranger to the eye-catching logo that crowns the top of the islamwich homepage. If you’re new, check it out. Go ahead. I’ll give you a second.
As you see, the goal of this blog is to reflect the diverse identities of not only the writers who contribute here, but also the unique characters who make up the Muslim population (or ummah) overall: one slice Muslim, one slice ‘merican, and all that comes between.
It is in this “between” area that I locate myself for this post. I am very much Muslim, alhumdulillah (all thanks and praise to God). I am also very much ‘Merican. Most of the time.
But besides these, I also align myself with a very prominent identity that is in part fulfilled by my (occasional) contributions to this blog: writer.
Sure, you’re thinking:
“Well, of course you’re a writer. I’m reading what you write. Right now.”
True. But that doesn’t make me a writer. There are tons of bloggers who blog as a hobby, but their interests, careers or jobs reflect otherwise. Like cooking. Full-time parenting. Home-schooling. Photography. Auto mechanic. Everyday-run-of-the-mill-genius-extraordinaire.
And, if merely judging by my career (thus far), you would probably define me as a teacher. If I’m lucky, you’d specify “writing teacher”. But that’s what actors refer to as “my day job”.
Yet, how I identify myself and define my purpose is writer.
Forget that my graduate degree is actually in writing. Forget that I’ve been typing (or penning) words on paper since as far back as I remember. Forget that the voices in my head can usually be attributed to unfinished (or not-yet-started) conversations between usually-unmet characters.
Writing is how I live my life. It is how I deal with my problems. It is how I express my beliefs, connect to others, bridge the gap between the introvert I know I am and the extrovert I sometimes pretend to be. How I glorify my God because He blessed me with the ability to string words together in a somewhat-convincing and creative manner. Without writing, I lose my mind.
After going a period of time without writing, my vocabulary dwindles. My ability to express thoughts becomes mangled. The inner solace I find simply by releasing emotions I don’t feel comfortable with voicing dissipates. Writing is my release. It is my therapy. My outlet.
But most of all. Writing is my advocate.
How can something intangible be an advocate?
- Because my writing supports my mental health, it is my counselor.
- Because my writing improves my vocabulary and forces me to thinks logically, practically, rationally, it is my teacher.
- Because my writing represents me and holds my truth, it is my representative.
- Because my writing shares with others what I might not be able to express otherwise, it is my backer.
- Because my writing bridges gaps between myself and others, it is my intercessor.
And as a writer, I know the positives engaging in this often-marginalized activity can produce.
Which is why I am advocating for YOUR participation in National Writing Month.
Now, I know it is November 15th – and yes, National Novel Writing Month is halfway finished. But that doesn’t mean you can’t get started. Who knows? Perhaps you will break the dam that holds back your fountain of prose.
Don’t know what to write about? I suggest choosing something that is important to you:
- If you’re a revert, write about your “transformation” into a Muslim
- If you’re not a revert, write about your life growing up Muslim in a non-Muslim country
- If neither applies, write about a topic that is dear to your heart – fiction, nonfiction, it doesn’t matter
And if you don’t write, you can still participate.
See, National Novel Writing Month isn’t just a trend where people slack off from work and focus on their would-be best-sellers (I wish!). The organization is also a verified 501(c)(3) non-profit that supports various writing advocacy programs, such as Young Writers Program. Additionally,
National Novel Writing Month organizes events where children and adults find the inspiration, encouragement, and structure they need to achieve their creative potential. Our programs are web-enabled challenges with vibrant real-world components, designed to foster self-expression while building community on local and global levels.
Therefore, NaNoWriMo participants are also encouraged to act as fundraisers in support of NaNoWriMo’s mission.
And this is where you come in.
You may not be a writer. You may not even like to read (other than islamwich articles!). But hopefully, you can agree with and understand the importance of advocating for literacy and self-expression among children and adults in both local and global communities.
To learn more about how NaNoWriMo contributes to creative development worldwide and/or donate to this cause, you can visit Stephanie’s NaNoWriMo Fundraiser.
Note: All donations go directly to NaNoWriMo for disbursement via the 501(c)(3)’s regulations.
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