As my Writer Crush Series comes to a close this 30th of September 2018, I take a moment to pause and reflect on the priceless moments experienced during this journey.
I have been so overwhelmed by the love and support of the Instagram Writing Community and fellow WordPress bloggers; that creating a platform where writers can meet other writers through this series just felt natural.
Engaging with countless poets, writers, artists, authors, photographers, entrepreneurs and fellow creatives has been an integral part of my life for almost 4 years. My words have literally traveled across continents and kissed the earth of places my feet have yet to trod. It’s been an unexpected blessing and honor to work with some of the best talent in the world.
My final featured poet in this series is an absolutely breathtaking writer.
I genuinely believe that her gift of writing is divine. Her words have encapsulated some of the most precious and richest moments life has to offer. And in addition to her complete understanding of the complexities embedded in the heart of poets, she is full of love.
Her love is further empowered by her desire to see the manifestation of love’s healing properties in the lives of others.
Meet Sana A. Rashid…
My name is Sana Akhtar Rashid and I am a 26 year old female British Pakistani. I am a primary school teacher, teaching children (who are 10-11 years old) a range of subjects. My career as a teacher has allowed me to progress quickly and for a few years I have been an English Leader at my school too. This job is wonderful and includes; ensuring a range of reading books are available in classes, English lessons are engaging, and eventually children feel they have the skills to continue their interest in writing professionally when they move to secondary school, college, University etcetera.
In addition to my career as a teacher, I have a love for writing, which is demonstrated in my professional life- but also my personal life too. The art of writing for me progressed in July 2015 when I began my Instagram page ‘@sana.a.rashid’. The purpose behind the account was really simple- I simply wanted to express my thoughts on a range of things. My best friend at the time encouraged me to present my thoughts through this platform; as I was filling most conversations with my deep thoughts and (after a great deal of hesitation) I finally plucked up the courage and went for it. Over time, my writing style became more distinctive and my interest in poetry grew. Writing multiple times in the day, and reading encouraging comments after I posted my material, was crucial in continuing my writing journey. Therefore, after 3 years of writing on my Instagram account, I continue to post my poetry online to this present day.
My poetry content and style varies,and I believe it is constantly shifting because my emotions change. For me, poetry requires feeling and it is a perfect way of channeling the words of the heart. When I write, I don’t think too much about the length of the poem, or the rhyme, or the stanzas, I let the mind and heart sync so that the feeling, whether it be happiness, sadness, guilt, excitement, sorrow etc is relayed onto a blank page. It is feeling the poem should convey, so I avoid the technicalities of the poems’ structure and let the feelings take precedence.
I have noticed that my poems relate to love, empowerment, feminism, dreams, belonging and personal identity too. The latter is as a result of my ethnicity as a Pakistani. Growing up in England, I was not Pakistani enough when I visited Pakistan and I wasn’t English enough when going about my day- to- day life in England. There were occasions when racist incidents occurred over the years, aimed at my parents, which made me question ‘belonging’ and who I was. I realise there will always be some (what I hope are) in minority groups who will always demean others based on their colour, race, religion, but what is important is that positivity remains with the belief that hate towards others because of skin will cease to exist… One day in the near future. This moves me on to hope. Sometimes my poetry sounds dreamy, my writing refers to things that may not be, but it would be wonderful if it could be.
I have always wanted to be a teacher, and this dream has been achieved. Another dream of mine was to write a poetry book. This is another dream which is drawing near completion. I am in the final stages of re-drafting and editing my book. I want to release something that I am proud of and which represents me. However, I am my greatest critic, which is why the editing change is taking alot longer than I had anticipated. Soon, I will be contacting a few publishers and then the process of book publishing will begin.
The only active social media platform I use is Instagram. I am hoping my poetry book will be out in 2019.
You are absolutely fascinating Sana. How has being a teacher impacted your style of writing?
Since I was young, especially a bilingual teenager, I struggled with grammar. As a result of that, I wasn’t exactly presented with opportunities to build on my skills, and develop my understanding of grammar. It is only when I decided to become a teacher that I developed a love for writing. I had to read books, which would engage the children I taught, and eventually (through teaching), I was able to teach the art of the English language. Regularly, for the last 5 years of my career, I had to write passages, either in the form of short stories, diary entries, poems as example texts to support the learning of my students. Through regular writing in lessons, and reading, I have continued to consistently write in my own time, and trial different styles of writing too.
How have you found your voice in the midst of life’s most difficult challenges?
I think as individuals we tend to put aside things that sometimes hurt us. We tend to pretend it never happened, or that it doesn’t affect us, when in actual fact it affects us more than we realise. Running away from certain feelings and emotions, could be considered as a way of ‘dealing’ with the problem. However, I believe it is important to address it.
I have not always felt like I had a voice, or even a voice that mattered. I have felt an inferior, and therefore overcoming this mindset has taken years. Writing has allowed me to channel thoughts freely, because when a person reads words, they read for meaning. The reader never sees a colour, race, religion in front of them, but words. Poetry provided me with an outlet to address my feelings, my experiences, and my hopes for the future. Eventually, my poetry highlighted how I had a yearning for equality. Equality, regardless of colour. Equality, regardless of gender. Equality, across the width and breath between each fold of humanity.
What would you say to writers who struggle with being consistent in both writing and sharing their writing?
I would say reading is really helpful. Over time, you will realise the style of writing you like, and you will start experimenting with such a style yourself. When it comes to writing, there is no right or wrong thing–you write what you feel. You write a message you want to convey. There are stories, poems, lessons, bursting in every single one of us, and I completely believe that anyone can become a writer if they believed in themselves.
In regards to sharing writing, there are a few things I have recognised over time. It is good to share your writing on a social media platform daily, or every few days a week, as it allows new readers to reach your content. This also acts as a reminder to write too, because after all–with no written material, you can’t share writing exactly, right? Over time, your readers can share what they liked or interpreted from your writing, and eventually when it comes to publishing then you already have a ‘fan’ base.
Sharing content carries risks too. When material is shared online, there is a risk of plagiarism. Moreover, poems might be shared, but not credited to you. Sometimes readers may find inspiration from your writing, and write a poem very similar to your own, and change the odd word. These are a few drawbacks of sharing content that I have noted, as I have personally experienced them.
I think the most important thing to remember is that writing is an art. There are times you will want to share your work, other times when you will want to withhold your writing. Social media doesn’t always value art, and artists therefore followings, and likes shouldn’t detract from your love for writing. Always write for you. Write from your heart. More importantly, believe in your writing.
You mentioned how your best friend encouraged you to join Instagram and how encouraging comments played a role in inspiring you. How important would say community is and what are your thoughts on the Instagram Writing Community as a whole?
Encouragement is so crucial. If a person is reminded everyday of how they can succeed then this fills them with determination to achieve. The Instagram writing community has been very supportive for me, and I can’t stress how much I appreciate published writers, and poets who read my work regularly. Seeing their love, and their understanding of my content, as well as the message that underlies it, makes me smile.
When I learned you were writing a book I couldn’t stop smiling I was so happy! As writers, our words are our legacy. Sana, what do you want your legacy to be?
I want Pakistani women to feel that they can do whatever they want to. Cultural expectations sometimes limit women, and therefore careers can’t always be perused, which is a huge shame.
I would like my work to add to the rising growth of female BAME writers. There is an under representation of female writers from this community, and as a British Pakistani, I think it is because there haven’t been enough opportunities presented to these women. It is important that books are written from a range of perspectives, from a range of cultures and backgrounds – otherwise books become limited and restricted in a sense, and don’t offer a portal to so many other worlds, which are still going unheard today. These voices, these words, these stories are so important to be heard.
My heart is so full. It is brimming with joy and a deep well of gratitude to Sana and every single writer that has blessed this series. To every person who has read, shared and taken the time to support myself and those featured in this space, THANK YOU FOREVER.
Remember to visit Sana A. Rashid on Instagram by clicking here and thank me later!
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