The Push & Pull of Writing

How can I consider myself a writer when I haven’t written in a while? When I’m having trouble picking up a pen (in reality, my laptop) and weaving words together in a way that is simply coherent?

I honestly struggle with feeling insecure about embracing the label of being a writer. It’s one of the reasons why I tend to be extremely hesitant to publicly share some of the things I write (ironic, huh?). Imposter syndrome is something that is spoken about frequently⁠, it isn’t anything new. Although it feels a little redundant bringing it up, I just can’t ignore it especially when I consistently wrestle with these thoughts.

I question myself often — if the very act of writing that I do is selfish. If it’s something that I use to make me feel better about myself. I wonder if a little part of me writes as a way of reassuring myself that, “Sure, I’m pretty decent at something.”

Writing has always been something I’ve admired. When I first picked up a book, I couldn’t wrap my mind around the fact that someone can create an entire world by using only words. I also clearly remember the first time I had the courage to write something substantial.

I was a complete die-hard fan of James Patterson’s Maximum Ride series. I mean, what kid wasn’t at the time? Every time my siblings and I would visit the library, the first thing that I would do was make a beeline towards the shelf that I knew held the colorful, glossy books.

One particular day, I reached the last page of one of the books and noticed that there was a writing competition being held. The competition entailed creating a filler chapter, and the winner could possibly have their piece published in the book itself. I can’t describe to you how I felt at that moment. How quickly my eyes grew wide, and how my petite 12-year-old frame literally shook with excitement.

Of course, I did what any sensible fan would do. I sat in front of the bright computer screen at home that day as my fingers glided across the keyboard, attempting to type each letter fast enough to keep up with the myriad of storylines racing in my mind. In order for me to have enough time to stay on the computer and write, I had to bribe my siblings with something I knew they couldn’t refuse. I would tell you what that thing exactly was at the time, but honestly I can’t remember. What I do remember though, is that it worked.

After I completed the chapter, I read and re-read what I had written, making sure no words were misspelled and whether or not the scenes I had created fit naturally with the story. I was super meticulous about it for a 12 year old, which is a little interesting to me now looking back. And I did feel nervous, very nervous. I wondered whether what I had written was going to do my favorite series justice.

Somehow, I managed to push all feelings of hesitation away and asked my dad if he could help print the page out for me. I then found an envelope in our house and with my mom’s help, scrawled the address on the front of the envelope, put our home address at the top and licked the envelope sealed.

To this day, I still remember the surprise I felt when I realized that I was actually allowed to write whatever idea came to my mind. That there were no specific rules to creative writing, and therefore — there was nothing holding me back. All I really had to do was sit…and write. With some adjusting here and there, I was in awe when the words on paper actually came to life.

Years have passed since that moment. I’ve gotten a few years older, had more life experiences. Like most people, I blamed college for sucking the love of reading for leisure out of me (since then, it’s been a process of re-learning how to love it).

But since that specific moment in my childhood, writing became everything to me. I’ve used writing as a keepsake for my memories and love the nostalgia that washes over me whenever I look back at what I had written.

It’s also been an outlet for me to pour my emotions into. There’ve been times when I’ve turned to writing when no one else listened — the scratch of my pencil against paper being the only thing I found comfort in.

I’ve jotted down odd ideas for potential stories and wrote poems that caused my toes to curl out of embarrassment. And unexpectedly, a few of those pieces that I was brave enough to share garnered positive reactions from people, which in turn gave my anxiety-ridden self a tiny bit of confidence.

Writing has always been a constant in my life when everything else around me was changing. It has always been something that was easily accessible, something that I could always rely on. Maybe the reason why I’ve been in this slump is because I’ve unknowingly taken advantage of something that I loved so dearly.

I’ve done this by writing only when it was convenient for me. I noticed that I began viewing writing merely as something that I might be good at. “A talent.” Unknowingly, and as time passed, I dismissed the fact that writing was actually something I consciously decided to work to improve on everyday and instead, I’ve become passive.

Every time I’ve sat down to write, it was a beautifully complicated process. A process that consisted of multiple failed attempts of formulating my thoughts into words, trying again and then somehow succeeding.

Whenever I found myself immersed in a piece that I’ve created, my love and curiosity for this entire process grew. When I chose to continue to write, it unconsciously turned from a talent I thought I had, to a skill that I actively practiced.

I’m continuing to learn that writing is something I’ve wanted to do for a long time and I don’t ever want to stop. Without a doubt, I unequivocally dread the pauses — such as this weird interlude that I’ve found myself in, but I appreciate the lessons I learn from them.

Cheesily enough, I hope to someday be able to proudly take on the title of being a writer instead of shying away from it. I want to be unafraid in sharing my love for writing and dream of being able to live a life in which I spend all my time imagining and creating stories.

Unspoken Words | Poem

I long for your presence.
My feet guide me to you with ease,
anxious and wanting.
Your eyes are closed
Breathing in and out, lips moving
Whispering praises of God.
I sit and watch
I wish that you’d beckon me to sit beside you.
My arms yearn to wrap themselves around your worn shoulders.

Finally your voice rings
My breath halting,
“Why are you here?”
I answer stupidly, “I don’t know.”

I miss you. I want to be a kid again. I want us to talk with ease. I wish we would love one another openly.

You respond by reaching for the wooden prayer beads at your feet,
Your body turning away from me.

Heaviness floods what is left in my chest,
I fold my hands together awkwardly
Attempting to fill the spaces of my fingers myself.

I miss you. I want to be a kid again. I want us to talk with ease. I wish we would love one another openly.

I know you feel the same way.

Warda | Short Story

Warda entered the dimly lit room and smiled, her teeth gleamed, and crinkles formed at the corners of her eyes. She wandered the perimeter of the small home. It wasn’t much, but it was all she’d ever known. She skipped towards the center and jumped, softly landing on the middle of the intricately detailed carpet that covered the cracked cement floor. Grabbing the scarf that wrapped around one shoulder, she tied a knot on her backside and hopped to the imaginary beat in her head. Opening her mouth, a soft delicate tune filled the dusty air.

Warda, the name meant ‘rose’ in Arabic. She was known to be more beautiful than the flower itself; at least the very one who had loved her dearly swore to that statement. The door swiftly opened, and the sound of it banging against the wall broke the enchanting spell Warda was momentarily in.

“Warda!” the harsh voice caused her to lose balance. She stumbled, but gracefully regained her composure, standing tall to face the owner of the voice.

Haa habaryar.” she answered without hesitation, her voice not sounding as brave as she desired, and instead came out as a squeak. Her aunt’s presence never failed to shake her.

“Stop playing around like a child and help me put away the food.”

Haye.” Warda mumbled, following her aunt. She walked toward the basket that contained only a few items her habaryar bought from the market. She picked it up and set it on a small table. As she put each item in its proper place, Warda glanced up and observed the woman in front of her. Her habaryar took off her garbasaar and tightened the masar on her head. A masar is usually worn by newly-wedded women, as a symbol of their marriage. It had been long since her aunt had been married, and she certainly wasn’t a new bride.

“Her husband ran off with another woman.” was the story that circulated around the neighborhood. Despite the irony of the masar, her aunt could pass as a new bride. She had beautiful dark, copper skin and lines that carved softly into her face – almost unnoticeable. She would have been absolutely gorgeous, if it wasn’t for her cold, dark eyes. Thick eyebrows framed them, almost menacingly, and her lips were set in a permanent line. At least when she would be facing Warda, she never once smiled.

Her mother’s sister was Warda’s guardian since she was six years old. She shared the small home with her cousins and was treated like a slave. Warda had never felt loved by her so-called family, and she only dreamed of it. All she had ever known was doing what she was told without question, and as quickly as she possibly could before a punishment came her way.

Kac! Who do you think you are, sitting down? I told you to put the food away and now you’re being lazy?” a shriek broke her thoughts. Warda didn’t notice that she was leaning against the table. She could make the argument that she wasn’t exactly sitting and correct her aunt, but she didn’t.

“I-I-I’m sorry! I was just-”

Naa naga aamus! Before I beat you until you cry blood!”

Warda pushed herself far from the table, her back facing her aunt. She swiftly completed the task at hand. She knew she couldn’t get beat again, her arms and legs still had deep cuts which hadn’t completely healed yet. As soon as she put the items in their place, she heard a series of footsteps outside, approaching the wooden door. She glanced in that direction and her ears were filled with sounds of laughter and shrills. She could make out young children yelling, “Hooyo! Hooyo!” at the top of their lungs.

Her cousins pushed the door open and ran into the house, dropping their book bags aimlessly onto the ground. The four of them jumped onto the chair their mother was seated in, and pulled at her dirac.

Hooyo! School was so much fun!” they took turns filling their mother in on the details of their first day of school and how they looked forward to the rest of the school year. Warda’s eyes followed her aunt’s arms as they encircled the young children one by one. A wide smile plastered her habaryar’s  face, and with a beaming face, she laughed at her precious children’s excitement. Warda gazed longingly at the scene, and her mouth opened slightly. It felt as though the thick atmosphere of happiness rushed into her body and she suddenly let out a small choke. The emotion was too foreign, it didn’t belong there. She coughed and tears formed at her eyes, daring to fall.

“What are you coughing for? Are you trying to make us sick?” her aunt turned her head towards Warda and snarled. Warda squeezed her eyes shut to prevent the tears from leaving their place. She wasn’t allowed to cry; wasn’t allowed to feel any emotion.

“Do I have to remind you of what you’re supposed to do? Do I pay you to stand there like a statue? Clean the children up and make them food!” she spit out disgustingly.

You don’t pay me. Warda thought, wishing she was brave enough to talk back to her aunt. But she wasn’t, so she did as she was told and as quickly as she could.


 Haa: yes
Habaryar: aunt (mother’s side)
Haye: okay/alright
Garbasaar: a big colorful shawl mainly worn by married women
Masar: a small scarf/headpiece made from a rectangle or triangle material mainly worn by married women
Kac: get up
Naa naga aamus: oh shut up
Hooyo: mother
Dirac: a long, light dress made of cotton or thin fabric