Month: December 2016

Brave Little Souls

No one can see her tears.

Anguish chokes every fibre in her body. Fear shoots through her vessels until it stops short in her throat. It mingles with the air she breathes. She crouches on the floor, cowering yet courageous. Afraid of what the next dreadful second may bring.

No one can see her tears.

She is a warrior with every heartache she endures. This young heart beats with hope and despair in each of its chambers. Every day braving a battle that exists only in front of her eyes. An existence that formed from the synergy of another’s greed and anger.

How many heartaches does it take to shatter a soul?

She drags her exhausted limbs to glance outside the window. Terror is ridden in her bones.

She waits.

Her dry throat tightens as she waits.

A child screams in the distance, its terrifying echo filling the seconds. There is misery knowing someone else is in pain, but also gratitude that it is not her.

There must be something beyond this cycle, this unbreakable bond of horror. She knows there is; there are people who live carefree, only worrying about the trivialities of a normal, rainy day. Of coming home to a heated house with plenty of toys and books and games. A home that does not rest within rubble.

Gunshots blare out.

The screaming stops.

She drops beneath the window and presses herself against the wall, scared through her teeth that the wall will break and she will snap. She wants to whisper a prayer but her mouth is frozen in shock. Her heart hammers a thousand times. Perhaps her heart will break the wall. Perhaps her courage and strength will defeat them all.

No one can see her tears.

Night envelops a grey sky, drowning the street in darkness. She lays on the ground, broken concrete scratching her cheek. She wraps her arms around her like the way her mother used to. The soldiers’ voices have filtered away into the noise and cacophony of the chaos outside. The chaos of her neighbours and friends, shouting for each other, trying to converge back into a broken community. She drags herself up against the wall, her eyes heavy with sleep and sorrow. A baby cries in the distance, but it is not her baby brother. His cries stopped many months ago.

Grey sunlight pours through the broken window across her face. Hunger gnaws its way through her guts, threatening her life with its hollow fangs. Her head lolls against the wall and she blinks to regain consciousness. Her clothes are ripped and filthy but that is the least of her worries.

A hand ruffles her brown curls. She looks up weakly, straining to keep her eyes open. A woman stands outside the broken window with a stained green scarf and wide eyes. Her skin is set with wrinkles and relief washes through her aged features. Two children stand beside her, both unsure and unaware, one sleepy and the other scared. The woman reaches her hands over, pulling the girl to her feet. The girl staggers a little before regaining her strength. She yearns desperately for her mother, knowing this woman is someone else’s.

No one can see her tears. She no longer cries herself to sleep, because she is already broken inside, and has no more tears left to give.


I cannot begin to express my grief and horror at what is going on in the world. It’s even worse to feel absolutely helpless, because many situations require political solutions that we cannot bring about alone.

The situation in Aleppo and Myanmar are frequent in my thoughts and prayers. The least we can do is talk about it, and not let their suffering drown in silence. If you are able to, please donate to help send aid to the Syrian civilians in Aleppo and/or the Rohingyan community in Myanmar.

Thank you.

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5 things I learnt from NaNoWriMo 2016

nanowrimo_2016_webbanner_winner

For those who don’t know, National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is an annual writing event where writers all across the world are invited to write 50,000 words within November.

Yes, I actually managed it. To write 50,000 words in 30 days. To brave the early mornings, with bleary eyes and cold limbs; the frantic late nights, with aching feet and exhausted bones. This month, where my mind had completely crippled its creative capability, only to have a few hours sleep to recharge for the next day.

In 2015 I only managed 35k, which, at the time, I thought was quite an achievement. Now I’ve reached the ‘official’ finish line it feels great, but I still haven’t finished writing the novel. It’ll probably be another 50k before I do!

Here are the 5 things I’ve learnt this year, and hope that it encourages a budding writer to take part in next year’s frenzy:

1. Don’t let your other commitments stop you.

In 2015, I was a final year university student with, let’s face it, plenty more time than I had now. Despite that, I didn’t manage to win, and that made me cautious about reaching 50k this year as I had started a full time job.

I actually got off to a good start and was slightly ahead of the game for the first few days. In the middle I hit a slump but still wrestled through. I wrote in the mornings after fajr and when that was too painful, I knew in the evening I’d have to eat a quick dinner and get back to it. I wrote on my phone in the car before I stepped into work and again on my lunch breaks.

What this showed me is that you do have time to write. Anywhere and any time. Remember, NaNo is just about the writing itself. Editing is a whole other monster to tame, but just to write is much more fluid. Just do it whenever the feeling comes to you.

2. Uninhibited writing is brilliant

My novel had been brewing in my mind for several months. I had already wrote out a few scenes but nothing seemed right. I just couldn’t tell the story the way it was playing out in my head. I knew NaNo was the opportunity to write without any pit stops, breaks, or even any thinking. Just write whatever comes to my mind.

That was brilliant.

It means anything weird and wonderful can be born on the page, without feeling the need to hit the backspace or furiously scribble the out the words. No one will look at this crappy first draft, unless you give them permission. I know for a fact that the first drafts of any novel I write are completely out of bounds for any mortal being to lay eye upon.

Don’t get me wrong, there were plenty of mornings and nights where stringing together words felt as painful as prodding my brain with a dagger (That’s where point 4 comes into play). But that’s okay, because it’s a first draft. When you let yourself write terribly you’ll find that the creativity of the story and the characters themselves start to shine better in your eyes, which is what I prefer to focus on in the first draft anyway.

3. Don’t look back. Not yet, at least.

Do not press backspace. If I genuinely cringed at something, but it was worth, say, 100 words, I’d just highlight it and click ‘strike-through’. That way it still counts towards my word goals, but when I get to editing I at least know it needs some work or needs to be deleted. Cheating? I call it NaNo-ing smartly 😉

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Daily word counts. See the infamous dip in the middle? A lot of self doubt going on there…

4. The community is wonderful

Join the forums (but don’t get too distracted), or dedicated Facebook groups, or even find people through Twitter. Don’t do this alone, because writing can be a lonely pursuit. Find cheerleaders to keep you going when you can’t bear to cheer yourself on any longer.

Word sprints are definitely what got me through: a casual challenge with other WriMos to see who can write the most words in a set amount of time. In reality no one is bothered who wins these sprints, because all that matters is that you wrote something.

That’s what’s lovely about the writing community: no one is trying to one-up you in anything. Everyone’s running towards the same goal, and if you trip or stumble, be sure that someone will catch you and pull you back up on your feet (or at least smack you to your senses).

5. If you want to do something, go do it. Go get your goals.

Yes, a slightly cheesy number 5, but a truth nonetheless. I’ve always, always wanted to be a writer, an author, or anything to do with words (let’s question my day job at a later time…). NaNo has shown me that I can write 50,000 words in one month, something I never thought I could do before. What’s to stop me from finishing this novel draft? From editing my novels? From actually getting published? The publishing journey can be a long and arduous road, but don’t be disheartened.

Remember what is at the core of your journey: your wonderful words.