I am filled with gratitude to all the writers who planted the seeds of imagination and yearning in my head firmly Image Credit: Green Chameleon/Unsplash

I write. Daily. Perhaps badly. But passionately. I wrote self-consciously and secretly hid them away in the many folders of my laptop. In my mind’s eye, I imagined myself as a classy, elegant, charismatic writer who dived into the vast sea of personal experiences and laced stories with poignant and earthly depths.

I was sure I wanted to be a world-renowned author. A book like Arundhati Roy’s ‘God of Small things’ and Booker prize was the vision, the beckoning light at the end of my long writing tunnel.

I was the child writer in my family. My ingenuous resume comprised a few articles published in a column called “A room of my own” in a children’s magazine. With good grades in English to boot, I was always the go-to person for family and friends to edit letters, resumes and essays. Two liners and poems came easily to me.

In inspired moments, I was even able to concoct stories that fit perfectly into the genre of magical realism. It was not at all difficult to imagine conversations between twinkle-less stars and benevolent cerulean skies for a dreamer like me. I kept writing. Poems. Articles. Stories. Haikus. Perhaps badly. But always passionately.

I am writing still. Daily. Perhaps badly. But there is a fierce passion for words coursing through my veins. I guess that’s the only reason that is ever needed.

- Feby Imthias

I imagined myself as the emotional Ani in ‘A girl like me’ by Swati Kaushal and the brave Bonu in the ‘House that BJ built’ by Anuja Chauhan.

A writer’s heart always flutters when the words of another writer spring out of the books and spread their beautiful wings and take you on a ride. After reading particularly intense stories, one often walks around the home or office imagining oneself as an extremely well-portrayed character.

Even while adoring Paulo Coelho and Khaled Hosseini, my tastes turned entirely to Indian authors and familiar domestic terrains after the book bug bit me seriously. Sudha Murthy and Anita Nair vied for my attention on the bookshelf. The rapid ascent of Preeti Shenoy to the rank of best-seller in the charts inspired me.

Rereading the ladies

I became the sunflower in ‘the Sun and her flowers’ after reading the poems of Rupi Kaur. When I finished reading a book by an author, I kept filling my shelf with subsequent titles of these women authors of Indian origin. I was caught, hook, line and sinker. When I exhausted my shelf and had no means of replenishing my book stock, I resorted to rereading these ladies.

I kept doing interviews and features for some leading newspapers. After some time, I struggled to juggle between my fast-paced office and interview schedules. My heart always lay in the editorial sections as I enjoyed reading the short intellectual pieces. I knew my voice was reflected in this kind of writing.

It was those times when viral bloggers got book contracts and I was inspired to be a blogger. I decided to launch a “Living in the UAE” section on my blog. On Wednesdays, I would share my thoughts with a target audience whom I imagined would feel their hearts melt in resonance with my thoughts.

I envisioned myself as John in “Marley and me”. I went so far as to think that I could have a collection for my grandchildren to browse and experience the slow transformation of life in the Gulf. But when my blogs began to appear in other locations under other’s bylines, I felt robbed and vulnerable.

So I carried on writing. Daily. Perhaps badly. But passionately. I continued stashing my pieces into secret files hoping that my articles already available for consumption in the public domain would be picked up by a literary agent or a book house scouting for literary talents.

Story with a purpose

I fancied writing a novel about a second generation expat based in the UAE and India. It even occurred to me to co-write the book with a close friend. When I pitched this idea with my writing buddy, he discouraged me with a, “For what?” “Your story should have a purpose,” he pronounced.

I racked my brains to find a purpose to write a novel, but for the life of me, I didn’t have a clue. I resigned to being content with writing my ‘thinking aloud’ articles and of course hiding them away.

I kept reading opinion pieces and by this time bylines of favourite writers popped out of the lines and started dancing in front of my eyes. I laughed out loud at the antics of Mrs Funnybones, Twinkle Khanna, admired the ‘floccinaucinihilipilification’ of Shashi Tharoor and followed every word that Anand Neelakantan uttered in our alumni writers group.

Then 2020 strode in gently and noiselessly. Nobody suspected that the world they knew till then would be torn apart by a pandemic. It is said that people find hope in art and literature in desperate times. The elusive quarter page in the opinions section of this well-known daily became mine. I ravenously took delicious bites of that coveted cake.

Today I have published my first book with a collection of stories to be released at the Sharjah International Book Fair (Nov. 3 to Nov 13th, 2021).

I am filled with gratitude to all the writers who planted the seeds of imagination and yearning in my head firmly. The National Council of Teachers of English has designated October 20 as the National Day on Writing. Giving and touching people with words is the best gift anybody could give or receive.

I am writing still. Daily. Perhaps badly. But there is a fierce passion for words coursing through my veins. I guess that’s the only reason that is ever needed.

Feby Imthias is a writer based in Abu Dhabi and author of the book, Children of the Sun, Sand and Seas. Twitter: @Feby_Imthias