Last week I told the world about my children’s story book; ‘Treasures of Jannah’ which would be released in the coming weeks. As friends, family members and strangers congratulated me and the messages flooded my phone and social media accounts, the most common question I am asked is; “how did you find the time to write a book as a working mother of three?” No doubt being a mother has impacted the pace at which I was used to achieving, but in no way was it a deterrent for me to set goals as high as the stars and achieve them. I was once told that if your dreams do not scare you, they are not big enough. The thought of writing a book scared the life out of me when I made it a goal two and half years ago.
In 2015 I had a thought, a fleeting idea of writing an engaging, fun children’s story book about the Islamic promise of Paradise- Jannah. As an achiever of any goal I set my mind to, my goals are sometimes outrageous and seem impossible to achieve. The more I thought about writing a book, my head spun with many potential story lines. Fear and negative thoughts crept in every so often; “Who did I think I was?” The reality was that I was a busy mother to three children, one who was barely six months old; how could I write a book? I had dared to entertain a seemingly ‘impossible’ idea but the possibility was exhilarating. Regardless of how unrealistic and impractical it seemed at the time with my hectic schedule, I was determined to write my book.
My third child was 6 months old and I already had 5 and 3 year old children who occupied a lot of my time and energy. Every night as I read my children a bedtime story, I visualised myself reading my finished book to my babies huddled around me. I didn’t know how or when I would find the time to actually do it, all I knew was; I was going fulfil that dream. I wasn’t even sure I was the creative or imaginative type. As an amateur with no experience in writing children’s books, all I had was a vision, passion and willpower. I prayed for my Lord to bless my time and enable me to achieve the dream that I so badly wanted to achieve- to instill the love of Jannah in the hearts and minds of Muslim children worldwide.
One night at 2am, while I was up nursing my baby, I began my journey to becoming an author. I searched for a writing course so I could learn the fundamentals of writing for children. Over the next few days I put pen to paper to write a story about Jannah and reached for the stars. My writing journey was one of resurfacing past passions, exhaustion and a rollercoaster of learning experiences which pushed me out of my comfort zone. The sweat, hard work and countless stumbles that face writers can only be appreciated once experienced firsthand. I set small goals and milestones, carried my mini, green notebook with me at all times so that I could scribble ideas as they came to me at random times and places. I wrote and rewrote at the crack of dawn, researched what it takes to write a captivating children’s book during regular escapes to the local coffee shop to get some quality time with my pen. I altered my priorities said ‘no’ to partying with the ladies and chose to work on my dream instead. Having a dream was the easy part, putting in the time and effort to write was the real work. I abandoned my book for weeks, even months when life got intense and overwhelming. At times it was extremely challenging to accomplish my goal while raising my children, running a home and working. I learnt many things the ‘hard way’ which all contributed to my growth as an author.
My best friend who happens to be my sister and my amazing and supportive husband encouraged me to continue every time I felt like giving up. From the outside looking in, many people do not know the frustration that came with using 3 different illustrators until I was satisfied. My most influential audience were my children who contributed their unique ideas and listened to all the different versions of my story. My babies know the ‘Treasures of Jannah’ word for word and that’s an amazing feeling for me. Watching my 3 year old read ‘mummy’s book’ to her dolls confirmed that every second I spent turning my dream into a reality was worth it. My biggest motivation for persisting was to leave a legacy that continues after I am no more. I hope my children, their children and their grandchildren someday will read my story and yearn for Jannah.
“Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world” (Harriet Tubman).
What’s your dream and when will you achieve it?