Saturday, July 17, 2010

The Training of a Writer

Okay, I’m nervous. This is my first post for the Romance Magicians and I should introduce myself. I considered a bio, but decided to present my background to illustrate my take on language and writing. After all, writers are interested in words…and it’s easier to talk about myself, Rashda Khan, when I’m talking about something else. :)

During an overseas trip to London, I often got my communication wires crossed even though I spoke English. Imagine myself and dear hubby walking into a Boots –the equivalent of our Walgreens—in search of formula for the baby. Each one of us happened to be carrying a child when we tracked down a staffer and asked for the baby formula.

He quirked an eyebrow as he took in our family and deadpanned, “Seems that you’ve already discovered that formula.” The British refer to formula as milk. Lesson learned with much blushing.

Language changes day to day even without leaving home. It all depends on where, how and why we use words.

I started off as a newspaper journalist and covered politics, city and business news. Just the facts only, cut and dry, objective.

When I retired to raise my family, I gave in to my dream of writing fiction. I wanted to write the stories I loved – full of romance, mystery, and paranormals. The first few attempts were disasters. Critique partners would say: you need more setting, your characters need to dialogue rather than be quoted, and where are the emotions? Turning off my news brain proved to be a greater challenge than I expected.

I had to learn a whole new way of writing, slowing down and expanding, knitting together words. The process took several years and led to much frustration. Every time I became overwhelmed, I’d turn to my other passion: cooking. I’d put up my hair and pull out the skillet. I wrote a lot and cooked a lot. Some of my news training – hard-nosed editors and daily deadlines – actually helped me. The end results: I got a greater understanding of the craft. My stories went on to win a few contests, garner some requests.

Then life threw me a curve ball. My local paper gave me the opportunity to be a freelance food writer. My dream job combining both my passions. After much Snoopy dancing, I panicked. Could I write non-fiction again? What if it messed up my hard-earned fiction writing skills? I took a deep breath and wrote my first column and then the next, and next. Maybe my love for food and writing trumped my fears, maybe I’ve grown as a writer. Whatever the reason, the words are flowing.

So I am a mom, a writer and food enthusiast. I’m published in non-fiction. I’m still pre-published in fiction and I still don’t have an agent. I continue to learn, write and cook. Occasionally, I’ll share my journey with you. I hope you enjoy my words.

15 comments:

Christine said...

Welcome to Romance Magicians! Loved your post and look forward to reading more of your thoughts in the future.

"Formula" hehe.

:-)

Callie James said...

Ah, Rashda! That does sound like a dream job. All of it!

Thanks for sharing! And welcome!

RK said...

Thank you for the welcome and warm words! Glad to be here :)

JoAnn said...

Great post, Rashda! I look forward to reading more of your posts. Maybe you could share a recipe from time to time? (Nothing like a gentle hint, eh?) :-)

M.V.Freeman said...

You said all the right things: Food and writing! LOL

Welcome!

I'm with JoAnn, I hope you share some recipes.

RK said...

Hint taken! And yes, gladly. I can talk about food without any nervousness at all ;P

Jeanie said...

Howdy, Rashda, and welcome aboard. Congrats on your dream job and on the contest wins. I can relate to your struggle with switching gears from journalism to fiction writing. I went from writing appellate briefs to writing fiction, and the differences are definitely a challenge!

Petrina said...

Nice blog, Rashda. It was fun learning about you.

RK said...

Thanks for reading y'all! Made my first post jitters go away. :)

Debbie Kaufman said...

Hi Rashda! Funny story about the formula! I used to write for a twice weekly county paper and I taught non-fiction writing to high schoolers. Writing fiction is very, very different.

RK said...

Wow Debbie. What a great range of writing! Thanks for reading my post :)

Heather said...

Great post Rashda!

Gwen Hernandez said...

Great first post, Rashda. How great to be able to combine to of your loves and get paid for it! I can understand your problem switching to fiction as most of my previous writing was technical. My CP is always hounding me about emotion.

I was just in London and didn't have too many language issues, but I learned that the ATM is a "cash machine" after a few questioning looks. And Boots was the first store I shopped in after we landed in the UK.

Good luck and welcome to the blog!

Gwen Hernandez said...

Oops, make that "two" of your loves. Argh.

Elizabeth Pina said...

Hi Rashda - yes I'm late, as usual. What an interesting and informative post! I'm so proud of your new food column - is it online anywhere? Keep up the great work and I hope one day I'll get to taste your cooking (hint hint).