Ignore the Notifications – Go Immerse Yourself In a Book

I get attached to characters.

I’ve been reading the Harry Potter series again and as I came to the end of the Order of Phoenix with Sirius’ death, I can’t help but feel very upset, even if I’ve read that years ago and knew what was going to happen.

I’ve been on a novel-reading frenzy these days; it’s become increasingly difficult for me to sit and read a whole chunk of paragraph from a book without getting distracted by alerts from my smartphone. Without needing to take a picture of something “interesting” as I am in the middle of reading a thrilling scene. Without needing to check “something” I suddenly thought of, or a word I don’t really understand. I used to be able to do this very well – before smartphones came ugh – so I forced myself to be immersed in a book I once enjoyed.

Ahh.. How wonderful it has been to be immersed into a whole different world, the wizarding world through J. K. Rowling’s eyes.

I still and will always love Harry Potter seeing that I just finished book no. 5, which I started re-reading from, and now I’m supposed to be off to the Half-Blood Prince but I can’t find it in my house, so I’m going downwards to the Goblet of Fire.

The experience of reading a book you enjoy is something that can never be captured in photos. Okay, so you can capture someone reading a book and enjoying it and it may turn out to be an awesome photo (bless all amazing photographers out there).

But the feelings that come with it, like Harry’s excitement of being in the stadium watching the Quidditch World Cup, anticipating his on-off relationship with Cho, annoyed as you the reader enjoy a giggle or two as Ron and Hermione banter yet again over random nothings, laughing as Fred and George played yet another of their silly pranks and getting Mrs Weasley all worked up, enjoying the camaraderie of being surrounded by friends (and enemies) in Hogwarts, and getting heartbroken sharing Harry’s pain as his godfather was killed by Bellatrix Lestrange…

These feelings (oh so many of them!), while reading a book – can’t be Instagrammed even if you want to.

I started reading Harry Potter when I was in secondary school, which was 13 years ago. Being with the characters, with their stories and happenings, their lowdowns and happy moments, helped me a great deal then. Many times, it made me feel less alone.

To a certain extent, the characters live through you. Sometimes, I think of the happy and funny moments and smile to myself.

When I think of my favorite books, there’s always a character or two that I will always remember. Non-fiction characters are not real, but they are inspired by real people one way or another.

When you read about them, you read about their feelings and experiences. You feel what they feel.

And that’s something you just can’t snap.

Weekly Writing Challenge: Snapshots

Practice Does Make It Perfect

I did something brave recently.

I asked for feedback on my writing on the Weekly Writing Challenge this week.

Asking for feedback is something I don’t normally do. Half of it is due to me being confident enough of my writings, half of me is not prepared to hear any negativity about it.

I am always border lining on confidence and doubt when it comes to my writing. After having the reading aloud exercise during the writing workshop I attended, I started getting more brave to hear feedback – to be honest I have no problem with the good, it’s the not-so-good ones that I have a problem digesting. I’d like to believe I’m getting there, though.

All this while, my writing strength is actually stronger in Malay language compared to English language. With that I interned in a Malay newspaper where I had to write news articles everyday. Alhamdulillah, I have always been good in writing in my native language even if I don’t speak it as proper as it should be. But as a writer I’d like to always learn and develop my language skills and writing style.

I really admire Aman Ali and Bassam Tariq, whose careers as professional storytellers allowed them to touch the hearts and reach out to so many through their “30 Days 30 Mosques” project in Ramadhan few years ago (the website, 30mosques.com, is no longer available). The way they wrote the stories about the different Muslims all over the state made me feel touched, made me think, made me laugh. My favourite story was “Nor’s Letters”, an inspiring and touching real-life love story of David and Nor. I also love Yasmin Mogahed, her writings are amazing and truly connects to the heart. The first article I read was “Why Do People Have to Leave Each Other?” and it continues to be my one of my favourite articles ever. And then of course, J. K. Rowling; Harry Potter practically accompanied my secondary school life. When I grow up I want to be like them; write and share inspiring stories.

Back to the feedback, since it was my first time participating in the challenge it was an accomplishment to actually even finish it given the weekly deadline. Afterwards I asked my sister and close colleague to read it (I know, even though I only asked two people, that is something coming from me) and…be a critic. Some of the points they shared were:

  • Story is very narrative and descriptive
  • The flow and content is good
  • The part on the prayer could be more powerful if it was a dialogue
  • Needs to be less descriptive and more engaging, more touching
  • Lacks emotional aspect

Fuhh. That was really something huh? I must thank them for being honest with me. I guess if I were to have a talent, for now, it would be the ability to bounce off feedback immediately (instead of like going round in circles and come back in a week or so…)

Now I need to go acknowledge my bravery, take it all in and go write some more.

P.S: Any feedback gladly welcomed at mardmood@gmail.com 🙂

Inspired by Daily Prompt: Practice Makes Perfect?