A WRITER'S LIFE BY DINA ZAMAN
It’s the usual intellectuals speaking and writing countless essays, but what happened to the young? These voices must be captured in print and documented.
I AM Muslim – Other Voices. Yours. About two years ago, that book was published. Truth is, the book was a collection of essays written for a column I helmed at a news portal. That was around 2004/2005.
Covering Muslim life for two years was one of the most fulfilling times of my life. The people I met and shared adventures with – and, yes - the love letters I received from the public were indeed interesting, to say the least.
The column was not just me writing weekly essays. I had friends and readers who wrote in and contributed what they thought, and how they viewed their faith and being Muslims.
Mahathir Yasin, Idlan Zakaria, Menj, Shufiyan Shukur, to name a few, wrote wonderful essays. I even had an anonymous contributor who sent me emails in point form on his ‘militant’ childhood, which became a rather short-lived series for the column, titled Memoirs of a Militant Schoolboy.
Jordan Macvay, a Canadian Muslim, wrote an entertaining piece on polygamy, and had quite a number of irate Malay men baying for his blood. In short, these voices made the column a very lively place.
I had promised the published writers and other writers who were interested in contributing to the column that one day, they would all appear in a book.
I shopped the idea around, and not many bought the idea of young Muslim voices with ideas, opinions, and humour writing about their experiences. Even my publisher, bless him, was quite reserved in his enthusiasm.
Who can blame them? Selling books, especially local books, is not a money generating machine.
It took two years to find a publisher. You just have to believe in the product. I only know this: all these voices are more important than mine.
I started a blog, but with all due respect to the writers who sent in their contributions, the blog went pear shaped and became this confessional “I sinned therefore I repented and now I am a wonderful Muslimah”.
In recent years we have noted a slow silencing of diverse Muslim voices. While there were many forums and public debates that piqued the public’s interest, there seemed to be a process of publicising one voice only. Theirs. Not yours. Ours.
We have the usual intellectuals speaking and writing countless essays, but what happened to the young? Their opinions don’t matter?
These voices must be captured in print and documented, because (well in my lofty moments I do think of these) they could be clues towards public policy and grassroots NGO activity. They could highlight issues and dilemmas we need to address.
So now we have a publisher. Young, out-of-the-box, and thinks “hey, this is important to my generation and the generations below. This is our voices that must be heard”.
Hence, this project. ZI Publications will be publishing I Am Muslim Too: Other Voices and is calling for contributions from the public.
The criteria to be published are as follows:
(1) Quality writing. I don’t care how pious you are, if your writing does not come to mark, it’s sayonara.
(2) 1,000 words in either English or Bahasa Malaysia. It can be a poem, too.
(3) It does not matter if you are conservative, moderate, liberal, confused. We want to hear about your lives. It can be funny, sad, angry, calm – we just want good writing. (Yes, funny is good.)
(4) You do not have to be a Muslim or Malaysian to be part of this project. Yes, you can be a space alien, but you must write about your friendships and experiences in Muslim Malaysia. Bad or good.
(5) Redemption stories will not be entertained unless they really are good stories. If this is one of those confessionals I mentioned earlier, please submit it to a tacky tabloid.
(6) We welcome art/cartoon strips.
(7) All submissions must be addressed to firstname.lastname@example.org together with your particulars. Deadline: Feb 28.
So come on. What are you waiting for? You’re ready to be heard.
The writer works for a non-profit organisation. Email her at email@example.com
Thursday, January 15, 2009
Dina's Book Finds a Home
I was so happy to read this just now on Facebook and hope you will please pass the message on :