Musings from the World of PublishingShare
We caught up with award-winning Canadian blogger and writer, Sarah Farrukh. Ms. Farrukh’s unique journey in the world of writing and publishing took many twists and turns that reminded us that personal expression is not about the end goal as much as it is about the process.
Ms. Farrukh was recently awarded the Brass Crescent awards in the categories of best blog and best writer. She is also a newly appointed Associtate Editor at Altmuslimah and has eloquently reviewed several novels on her blog, including recent publications by North American Muslims. If you’ve ever wondered how to get started on putting your inner creative passion to use while balancing other responsibilities, read more about Sarah’s journey below!
What was your ‘aha’ moment that made you realize art was calling you?
Up to the point I started writing, I treated writing as an introverted activity, meant to be read by none besides myself, those closest to me, and God. Towards the end of 2010 and the beginning of 2011, however, a number of things happened to me:
- I attended my first RIS convention since immigrating to Canada in 2009. During the 2010 RIS, I heard from Dr. Umar Faruq Abd-Allah for the first time. He gave a magnificent talk in which he said something I will never forget: that Muslims can not only make art, they must make art. Furthermore, it must be the best art, which is art that reminds one of God.
- Around the time I heard and was thinking about these words, I was also reaching the tail end of my brief career in publishing. I was increasingly noticing that although Canadians have a rich multicultural heritage, those involved in the publishing process were came from a very narrow racial and socioeconomic background. To put it bluntly, publishing felt like a white people’s club. This factor shaped the acquisition, editing, and marketing strategies for books, and I was no longer sure I wanted to support endeavors that did not represent experiences like mine.
- I had also just read Michael Muhammad Knight’s The Taqwacores and was torn between both love and despair over its irreverence. I experienced that book very personally, because I felt like it promised me a space that ended up not being for me. Ironically, I was finding myself alienated from both my geographical Muslim community as well as the metaphorical community in the novel.
All of the above made me realize that I had a lot to say, and I wanted to say it on my own terms. It wasn’t an ‘aha’ moment as much as it was an intersection of various events in my outer and inner life that became the springboard for this endeavor.
What is your most favorite project and why?
Although this is not a post that has any comments or the most hits, I am very proud of the post On Rock Music: Spiritual Underpinnings. I feel that I didn’t just tell the reader that Islam and music can be compatible: I showed it.
I also love this project because I will never forget the exhilaration of thinking back to “A History of Rock ‘n’ Roll” and Metal: A Headbanger’s Journey, and realizing that what was said in those documentaries mirrors the Muslim ethos of being in the world. It was as if I had created my own Taqwacoresque space in my imagination. Now I could like rock music as a Muslim without wearing a riot grrrl burqa and making feminist rants! While I respect and even love the representation of that woman, I know that I am not that woman. It was incredibly empowering to define myself differently.
How were you introduced to your specific art field and were there any mentors or specific programs that gave you a push?
I met an amazing book reviewer, Amy Mckie, who became an avid reader and most frequent commentator on my blog. Amy is dedicated to social issues like representation in publishing and a lot of her reviews draw attention to issues related to gender, race, and sexual identities. Her keen interest in and encouragement of my blog gave me a lot of momentum. I would never trade Amy’s readership for anything else, not even for my site hits and comments to increase by tenfold.
If we were to average out all your pieces and projects, what central theme and message do you convey most often to your audience?
I think of myself as a writer of faith-oriented creative nonfiction. I write to draw attention to Muslim writers and books that convey the lived Muslim experience. I also convey my own lived Muslim experience by documenting some of the most significant ways I experience God’s attributes, such as His majesty, mercy, and love.