I'm writing an author Q&A with Arsalan Iftikhar (The Muslim Guy) on the occasion of the release of his new book, Scapegoats: How Islamophobia Helps Our Enemies and Threatens Our Freedoms. He writes about becoming the Muslim Guy shortly after September 11, 2001.
For years I was a morning person. Back in the early 2000s I routinely – and deliberately – woke at 4:30 a.m. each day. That still time of day/night stimulated clarity of mind and gave me time to rev up my brain for the day ahead – as opposed to slogging through a first cup of coffee during my first tired, groggy, lazy hour of a day that was never as productive as it could have been. Over the past year or so I have reversed and become a night person. I wake up at 6:00 or 7:00 feeling confused and gross. It takes me a long time to get going, but when the evening comes my brain kicks into gear and I feel energetic through 1:00 am or so. I need to switch back to being a morning person. Early rising is actually an Islamic practice, as productivity guru Productive Muslim explains in a post about developing a morning routine. I love Productive Muslim but just can’t follow his advice. It’s laziness, isn’t it? I’ve tried to come up with reasons why some of us are night people and some morning people, but undoubtedly starting your day early – before dawn, even – is the natural way to go. I just have to figure out how to break through that morning fogginess, perhaps with a promise of an afternoon catnap, and get back to a day that starts with a […]
While I was working on my MFA I had to share feedback with fellow students and mentors. That is, of course, a huge part of the program. I generally feel ambivalent about it. When I feel people haven’t understood what I meant I struggle to slow myself down and listen carefully to their comments. It ranges from difficult to exhausting. […]
After three years and much self-doubt, procrastination and shaky focus, on August 2 I finally earned my MFA in creative nonfiction from Goucher College. My perspective on the program shifted throughout those years, which included two semesters leave when I started working at CAIR, but in the end I cranked out just enough pages to graduate (the requirement is 150; my thesis was 151) and now I have some pretty good material to polish and publish. I don’t know if it will ever become a book. My brain is resting today and tomorrow I go back to my new full-time job of freelancing. The great news is that last week I got my first gig. I’ll be writing a biweekly column on civil rights for MuslimMatters. More about that when it is official.
I can’t believe myself. It has been so difficult for me to get serious about finishing my thesis. Every time I get going I let something stop me. A couple nights ago I finally buckled down and stayed up till 1 am or so working on the section that I will submit TOMORROW for the anthology compiled of all graduating students’ work. The next day I was sick all day. I actually went home from the office. I think it was partly the apnea that has plagued me since I gained weight, but it also just felt like I can’t handle pressuring myself anymore. It’s like being out of shape (which I am). I didn’t feel well the next day either, and today I actually had a fever. Maybe they’re not all connected. I feel like I’m not up to the stress of “cramming” like I was when I was in college, which was actually in 2002. Yes, I got my bachelor’s degree at the age of 41. While I completed it I worked two jobs. I had energy for everything, although one significant difference was that I had classes with syllabi and homework and grades, whereas the MFA is all on my own. I have to get in shape – in every way, including writing. My next deadline is tomorrow, when I must email the excerpt for the anthology. I am trying to follow the advice I’ve read about […]
I am writing this with my back to my iMac using my wireless keyboard, my feet up on my bed and my mind unclouded by anything on the computer screen that might distract me – I hope. I love to write. I have (almost) two masters degrees in writing. Everything over the past decade has pointed me in the direction […]
Eventually I will return to being a writer. This time I won’t be a depressed and mopey cookie-eater. I have to make it my career, or if not a career – what’s one step down from a career? Like a vocation? Or is it not a career if you don’t make much money doing it? Whatever I do I have to do it with purpose and gusto and planning. One of these days it’s going to happen – and soon.