A Letter to the Past: Farzana Doctor Guest Blogs

A Letter to the Past: Farzana Doctor Guest Blogs

Posted on June 4 by admin
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In honour of Farzana Doctor’s nomination for the LAMBDA Literary Award for Lesbian General Fiction (Farzana is at the awards ceremony tonight. Good luck!!), we thought it appropriate to share some of her thoughts about writing and publishing.

10 Things I wish I’d known 10 years ago: a letter to my 30-year-old writer self
by Farzana Doctor

In September of 2011, I was Open Book Toronto’s Writer in Residence. I was asked to blog about all things writing. I was asked to offer advice about promotion, networking, writing, and surviving as a writer. I thought about all the things I wish I’d known 10 years ago, when I was working on my first novel, Stealing Nasreen:

Dear 30 Year-Old Farzana,

1. You’ve got to get connected, girl! I know you feel intimidated at literary events because you think you don’t fit in. Put on a nice dress, a smile, and have a glass of Merlot. No, wait. I think you’re supposed to wear skinny jeans. Buy skinny jeans.

2. Talk to people at those stuffy events! They might be just as insecure as you. Volunteer. Step up to the open mic. Be a part of the community.

3. Rejection is a badge of honour. Really. Submit your work. Submit it again. Know that your work matters. You can cry into your Merlot later.

4. Critical feedback is a good thing, even if you take it too personally. Stop taking it personally. Show your work to your friends at least. No, your girlfriend and writing coach don’t count.

5. Get on social media. Facebook friend other writers. Repost their announcements. Figure out Twitter and do the same. (OK, some of this didn’t exist 10 years ago).

6. You need an online platform. Find out what the heck that means. The coolest writers have one and in 7 years publishers will expect it. A website at least. And a blog. Pace yourself.

7. Take a chance and ask new writer friends to refer you to their publisher or agent. If they say no, try not to de-friend them on Facebook.

8. Apply for writing grants. Hey, you never know!

9. It doesn’t matter that you have a full-time job that is sucking the life out of you. Write a little bit every day.

10. Quit that job and find another way. Yeah, it goes against all your child-of-immigrant teachings, but you’ll be fine.

40 Year-Old Farzana

Farzana Doctor’s first novel, Stealing Nasreen, received critical acclaim and was nominated for Masala!Mehndi!Masti! People’s Choice Award. She has also written on social work and diversity-related topics, and in her spare time she provides private practice consulting and psychotherapy services. She lives in Toronto.