By Anniqua Rana
We’ve all been writing away the turmoil of 2020 — whether to escape the trauma of the past year, or to try and create a future to anticipate. Writing has been our companion. It has helped us create worlds populated with people we would like to meet in person.
Shut-up and Write Groups
On-line Meetup Groups have also been a solace for those looking for community. Like many of us, I’ve signed up with groups around the world and it has helped me retain a writing schedule. However, I could not have anticipated the direction my writing would take. Stuck at home, I’ve been able to make the proverbial lemonade with Shelter-in-place.
In the beginning of 2020, my writing schedule was fairly predictable: a few hours every week in between teaching and grading papers. Then, in March 2020, when the Bay Area was expected to Shelter-in-Place, I started teaching on-line but was too stressed to write.
Like many of you, I reached out to my family through on-line calls. We coordinated our times and worked out a 7:00 am PST phone conversation to include a sister in Pakistan, another in the UK, and a third in Spain. By June, the family realized we needed to do more than discuss COVID infection rates, international politics, and family gossip.
So the sister in Spain, Selma, an artist, and I decided to document some important and some not-so-important memories of our lives growing up in Pakistan. We shared them with the other two sisters. They became our content editors, our fact-checkers.
This wasn’t enough. By May, I retired a twenty-year teaching career at the San Mateo Community Colleges, so I had plenty of time to write more regularly. Selma had retired a few years back. We decided to take our writing plan to the next level.
We’re both avid readers, but over the summer, we decided to coordinate our books so we could discuss them. We read works by writers like Szabo, Pamuk, and the Progressive Indian Writers. These writers inspired us to add a new element to the vignettes we were sharing with our family, a reference to the literature we love. We added images and art. We created short videos, which we posted on Facebook. Family and friends applauded them with Likes and Heart emojis.
The Blog We Made
And then, with the beginning of 2021, we decided to take our writing a step further and connect with a larger audience. We created a blog Tillism طلسم: MAGICAL WORDS FROM AROUND THE WORLD. We were having so much fun with these vignettes of memories related to literature, we decided to share the opportunity with the writing community. Within the first week of starting the blog with nine posts we’re at 2000 views from over seven countries. We’ve also had requests from poets and writers in the Bay Area and beyond who are interested in posting their work.
Just as connecting with others online has been a lifeline for us to overcome the loneliness of shelter-in-place, you might consider connecting with others through your cherished memories. This new way of life has become our norm, and we imagine it will continue for some time yet.
Some of you might enjoy the gratification of sharing a short (500 word) post of memory related to literature in this on-line community of writers. As writers, you already know the importance of submitting your work regularly.
How We Can Help
And that’s why we would like to reach out to you if you are looking for (a) a thought partner to discuss creating a blog or (b) an opportunity to submit your work without having to wait too long for feedback.
As 2021 proceeds and you’re still wondering what goals to set for this year, you might consider setting one to submit your writing on a regular basis. If you have never submitted your work before, this might be an easy win for you.
Here are three ways we can help:
- A 30-minute on-line discussion on how to create a blog. We used WordPress, but have also used Google sites and Wix.
- A 30-minute on-line discussion on the basics of SEO for the blog.
- And lastly, because we love discussing literature, we’re open to an on-going discussion about a piece of literature that inspires you and how you would like to write a post to include on Tillism طلسم: MAGICAL WORDS FROM AROUND THE WORLD. We can set up a 30-minute google call followed by communications online.
Guidelines for Submissions
We are seeking short personal posts of no more than 500 words for Tillism طلسم: MAGICAL WORDS FROM AROUND THE WORLD.
- Posts should be inspired by literature and connected to a personal memory.
- Posts should include at least one word from a language other than English. You’re welcome to use more.
- Include keyword tags to include in the post.
- Include no more than two images only if you have the copyright.
- Submit the information to email@example.com embedded within the email (attachments will not be opened).
- We will get back to you within the week of submission.
Anniqua Rana, who lives in the Bay Area, is the author of Wild Boar in the Cane Field, shortlisted for Pakistan’s UBL Literary Award 2020 after being published by Folio Books abroad, and She Writes Press in the States. She holds a doctorate in International Education and has taught at San Mateo Community Colleges, University of San Francisco, Lahore University of Management Sciences, and Stanford University.
Her work has appeared in International Education, The Pakistan Daily Times, Bangalore Review, Fourteen Hills, The Noyo River Review, Delay Fiction, and others. She is a member of WNBA-San Francisco Chapter and CWC-SF Peninsula.
She tweets @RanaAnniqua