New Voice: Reem Faruqi on Lailah’s Lunchbox

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I have read Cynthia Leitich Smith‘s blog Cynsations for a while. It is a great place for author information, resources, and most importantly, inspiration! I was featured as a New Voice on her blog here.

Below is an excerpt…

As someone who’s the primary caregiver of children, how do you manage to also carve out time to write and build a publishing career? What advice do you have for other writers trying to do the same?

Trying to write and mothering young children can be very tricky! I have a two-year-old and four-year-old and have learned that you get better at working through interruptions. When I’m writing, I’m usually receiving interruptions from my children to take them to the bathroom, for another snack … the list goes on!

When my four-year-old is at school, I have my interruptions cut in half with just my two-year-old’s needs. That’s when I feel I get the most writing done.

I do try to write sometimes at night when the children are asleep and find it semi-successful. I find I work best during daylight. I love natural light and find it conducive to working and getting my ideas flowing.

At night, it is easy to feel tired after a busy day!

When I quit teaching to stay home with my children, I wrote a lot of children’s manuscripts when my first child was a baby. She slept a lot during the day so I enjoyed getting that time to write.

Those stories didn’t make it in the publishing world, but through them I now found a stronger voice that works for me.

“Writing” her name with Webdings

I do think it’s important though to rest when your children are resting as that time is precious and when your mind is rested, it is easier to write. Sometimes whole stories will pop in my head when I am doing something random like getting my children ready for bed. It’s as if I can visualize the story, the words, the illustrations, but sometimes when I sit down at the computer, it is frustrating when that story disappears! But if it’s a good story, I believe it will resurface.

The title for my story, Lailah’s Lunchbox, popped into my head when I was cooking: I thought it would be fun to write a Ramadan story about a child who “forgot” their lunchbox every day during Ramadan. I wrote the title on a sticky note and put it away for some time before coming back to it.

For those trying to write and raise children, I would tell them there is no such thing as having it all! You may have a great manuscript you’re working on but you will be eating left-overs for dinner for the third day in a row and children that need a bath! Or you may be itching to write a story, but find yourself caught up in bathing children, cooking food, laundry, dropping and picking up children from school, etc!

Something has got to give way when you write. Sometimes I may be caught up in a story and look around at my house and children and think What Happened?!

This happened when I was writing once!

At those times, find reassurance in your words that you have just worked on and know that because of entropy, your house will continue to keep getting dirty. Putting your words out there takes work and in due time your work will pay off!

Could you tell us the story of “the call” or “the email” when you found out that your book had sold? How did you react? How did you celebrate?

For the answer and to read the rest of the article, click here to Cynthia’s blog!

Copyright Cynthia Leitich Smith (Cynsations, 2015). Used with permission.

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About Doodling Through Life

I doodle. All the time. Doodling helps me make sense of the world around me. When I doodle, whether it be swirls or figurines, I am transformed to a world in which my doodles live, and my thoughts become clear. My mind breathes. Through my art medium of pencils, paint, potting soil, and pixels, I thrive. I am a teacher and have taught 2nd grade in Fulton County Schools in Atlanta, Georgia for 4 years. I am currently a Stay-At-Home-Mommy to a ___ daughter (she was born in June 2010—you can do the math !) and a ___ preschooler (she was born November 2012) who is exploring my creative outlet via the aforementioned 4 P’s! So far, I’m an author whose book Lailah’s Lunchbox was published in 2015 via Tilbury House Publishing. I have 2 new picture books projected for 2019: Amira's Picture Day (Holiday House, 2019) and Let Me Show You The Way (Eerdmans, 2019)! I’m an Atlanta based children-family-lifestyle photographer on weekends. Thank you for stopping by!

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