Why do writers write? and Who do they want to reach through their writings? Reflecting on a SIBF2016 Literature Forum discussion.
During this year’s Sharjah International Book Fair, I attended a panel discussion revolving around the question: “What do I want to reach from being a writer?” Mohammed Wald Salim moderated the session, and it included three authors: Dr. Saleh Abou Esbaa, Maryam Al-Ghafly, and Sister Souljah. I must say that personally, I didn’t feel it’s the best discussion session that I have attended, but this session was important to the writer in me. It made me reflect on the reasons why I love writing and where writing may take me.
“Why do writers write?”, “Who do they write for?, “Do they write to bring about change?” These were some of the questions asked during the session. Writing is a form of expression, it’s an art, and it can be a tool for change, and the list goes on.
Maryam Al-Ghafly, author of the Emirati novel “The Well of Bakhita” expressed that in her younger years, she used to write for herself only, but then her talent was discovered, and she started writing for the Emirati people, the UAE, and the future generations. Through her writings, she aims to preserve an essence of the past and the lives of the past generations for the future generations. She is also interested in the protection of the natural environment, and has incorporated her love for nature through the descriptions of nature in her novels. This shows that writing is a reflection of the author’s beliefs and values.
For Dr. Saleh Abou Esbaa, writing is a struggle, but a positive one. It is also a responsibility; the writer has a responsibility to express the reality of the society that he is living in, to write about dreams shared by the Arab nation, and to influence society to change for the better. As a Palestinian, Dr. Saleh feels very strongly about the Palestinian cause, and he incorporates the reality of Palestinian people through his literary work. For him, he writes because he has something to say, something to add to society. This suggests that writing is a tool, and that it has the power to influence change within the minds of people, which is eventually reflected within the society.
Sister Souljah, an American writer, mentioned that she writes from her soul and that writing from the soul is the most dominant form of writing. To her, a writer is like a chef, they need to select the right ingredients and use them to make a good meal, too much of one ingredient can ruin the whole meal, that is why she believes that writing has to appeal to readers by being multidimensional. This is through making the writing emotional, passionate, spiritual and so on. She believes that writers need to meet the readers where they are, so that the readers can feel a connection to what they read. The most important thing is for the reader to be able to find jewels within the pieces of writing they read, life lessons and realizations that would impact them in many ways.
Each writer seems to be writing for a different reason, and I believe that there is nothing wrong with writing for oneself. Writing helps one express the thoughts that cloud his/her mind and to express things that they may be unable to express using other forms of communication. Also, it gives the writer a platform to share ideas and their perspective on certain topics, which helps the reader in broadening their view of the world. It is a beautiful gift to be able to write, and the things we write may last beyond our lifetime and leave a positive impact on many people’s lives.
Mariam Khalifa (@thesleepwriter)
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