Back in 2009, I read an article in National Geographic Youth about the author of ‘Eragon’ Christopher Paolini. The article stated that Paolini starting writing his book when he was just a teenager. He was homeschooled which gave him plenty of time to write and edit his book. A lover of writing myself, this article very much inspired me to write. And not just write articles, but to write a novel.
Later, I got a great idea of a novel which was largely influenced by Meg Cabot’s (my favorite writer at the time) 1-800-Where-Are-You series as well as my urge to show and describe the non-local youth subculture of Abu Dhabi. I went to an international school whose most students came from all over the world. And it wasn’t just my school that was like that, most schools had students and teachers from all over the world. I mean, that is how it is in the Emirates. And with different dialects and languages as well as cultures and traditions, a new sub-culture emerged. A unique Arabic dialect was spoken as well as a unique language of a mixture of English and the new Arabic dialect. Most of the youth in the Emirates were involved in such a subculture were cultural differences were highly tolerated and new ideas were widely acceptable. (later I learned that even they have similar sub-cultures in other Gulf states such as KSA and Kuwait).
I wanted to bring that subculture to the light, to publicize it, to show it to the world, because in the end that was who we were. And that is what a part of me will always be.
May of that year, I did my IGCSE exams which took months of preparation and studying. I left everything related to the novel on the side.
Once I was done with my exams, I made extensive research about novel writing. Novel outlines, story boards, character development and character profiles. I wrote down everything I learnt, I drew graphs and timelines, I even sketched some of the characters.
I bought a brand new notebook for the novel. In the beginning I struggled with which language I should choose for writing. Was it Arabic to make it easier to be published locally? Or English since these kids at school would never really read a book in Arabic? In the end I chose Arabic.
I started writing a few chapters. When I was writing either in my notebook or typing on my computer, I felt like living a dream. I was walking between walls I built, I was speaking to people I made up, I was visiting places I designed. It was all in my head. And it was beautiful. It was definitely a beautiful dream.
After writing a couple of chapters, I discovered that there were a lot of information I needed to gather. Historical incidents, local traditions and statistics. Also, I found myself struggling with the complex Arabic grammar rules as well as sentence structure. I wrote the dialogues in colloquial to run away from the grammatical rules and used different dialects for different characters who came from different countries. However, l later decide that first, I needed to read as many Arabic novels as I could, then maybe my Arabic writing skills would improve.
Later that summer, I got busy with applying to universities and preparing for my A levels. Eventually, I postponed the project.
And I never went back.