ICNA Talk: Role of fiction in shaping the view of Islam and Muslims

I’m sitting at a table in the Baltimore Convention Center, where the ICNA convention is ongoing. I haven’t been to one of these conventions in years and didn’t realize how huge they’ve grown. There are thousands of Muslims here – 20,000 they say – along with hundreds of vendors, and multiple Islamic sessions going on in various rooms.

People stroll past me in crowds: women wearing balloons stuck to their hijabs – I have no idea why – young sisters walking arm in arm, boys with fade haircuts, a group of elderly African-Americans talking and laughing, a beautiful young woman in a pink dress, carrying a camera on a tripod…

PIeces of a Dream by Wael Abdelgawad

PIeces of a Dream by Wael Abdelgawad

I gave a talk about the purpose of literature and how to write fiction. Umm Zakiyyah was my co-speaker while Hena Zuberi, MuslimMatters.org editor-in-chief, moderated. One audience member, a young man in boots and a turban, was a reader of mine. He shook my hand tightly and exclaimed, “I can’t believe I have to wait until June to read the rest of Zaid Karim, Private Investigator!”

Of course I didn’t fail to put in a plug – or two, or three, for my latest novel, Pieces of a Dream. It is available for purchase on Amazon.com. If you haven’t bought it, please do so now and then write a review on Amazon. I think you’ll enjoy it, no matter your cultural background.

A number of audience members asked questions along the same lines:

“How do I develop the confidence to write?”

“How do I grow as a writer?”

“I have the outline of a plot, but how do I find the right words to fill it out?”

My answer: What would you do if you wanted to become skilled at kicking a soccer ball? You would go out to the field and practice, right? You’d practice every day, not expecting to kick the ball through the goal posts every time, not expecting to control the ball perfectly in one day, but trusting that you’d get there eventually.

It’s the same with writing. Read how-to books on writing, but more importantly write every day, even if only for half an hour. Practice, practice. Write, because writers write. Non-writers do not write.

Writers write.

And buy Pieces of a Dream, heh heh. By supporting me as a writer, you enable me to continue to devote time to writing, and to bring you more great novels Insha’Allah.

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