Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people. - Eleanor Roosevelt

Monday, December 24, 2007

Christmas Q's answered

People often ask me one (or two) of two questions about Christmas: "Do you celebrate Christmas?" and/or "What do you do for Christmas?"

To answer both questions, being a Muslim, there is very little I do about Christmas. Though Islam recognizes the significance of Jesus Christ as the Messiah, and the one who will save us, we do not celebrate Christmas in any way, shape or form. We don't get into the shopping frenzy, we don't put up a tree, we don't invite people over... we just enjoy the holiday away from work, or school.

On a personal level, I have no problem participating in Secret Santa or any other gift exchange through work, because I think it's nice to participate in such programs that warm up the office, and let you build a tad bit warmer relationships with your co-worker(s). Also on a personal level, I've debated whether I should buy gifts for my friends who do celebrate the holiday. I've wrestled with the idea for years, and still don't know what my feeling is on the subject. I try my best to wish everyone happy holidays, and have even given cards in the past, but there is still the question of gifts. This year, I am spending Christmas day with a friend, and so, I actually want to give a gift.

In conclusion, it's safe to say that I basically just hang out at home, and enjoy the time away from work, or school... or as I'm doing this year, I spend it with friends.

Merry Christmas to all who celebrate it, and Happy Holidays to everyone else!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Eid Al Adha Wishes

Today, December 19, 2007, marks the first day of the Muslim holiday of Eid ul Adha. The celebration lasts four days. To learn more about what this holiday signifies and how it is celebrated, click here.

It's so hard to say goodbye!

As I mentioned in my last post, I am reading The Birth of Venus, a historical fiction novel, set in Florence, Italy, during the Rennaissance period. It tells the story of Alessandra Cecchi, a non-traditional girl of that period who loved art and wanted nothing more than to be able to practice it. With the arrival of a character we only know as "the painter", Alessandra's life begins to take shape, and her story begins to unravel like magic. It's hard to put it down and it's exciting from the first sentence, and I'm sure to the very last.

I am still not done with reading, but the only reason why I'm drawing it out this long, is because I don't want to say goodbye to the characters I've come across and taken a liking to. Cheesy, I know, but I can't help it! There are a lot of good books out there that I have loved quite a it, but there are few I have a hard time parting with like this.
There has only been one other book I've felt this way about, and that was The Bronze Horseman by Paullina Simons (NO, it is not the poem by Pushkin!). Though I'd classify it as a romance novel, it is beyond that, because it is historical, as well. It is set during World War II, during the German invasion and blockade of Russia, Leningrad to be exact. Much like The Birth of Venus, I was unable to put it down and read it in less than a week despite it's 600+pages and my busy work schedule. Even though I drew it out as long as I could, I still couldn't put it down and it ended way too soon for me.

I guess I highly recommend both books, though I will admit that The Bronze Horseman is a little more romance novellish than The Birth of Venus, but they are both rich stories with even richer characters and history that is practically impossible to get bored with.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Still writing and reading.

As I've told many people I've caught up with lately... not much is going on. Hence, my absence from the blogging world lately. But in order to breathe a bit of much needed life back into my blog, and to reassure everyone that this is not an abandoned vehicle, I'm going to write about what's going on with me.

I am reading and writing. Reading more than writing, but I dug up and started working on an untitled story I started writing a while ago, and it's coming along pretty well.

Since Candide, which I mentioned in my last entry, I also have read and finished another book, The Infidelity Pact by Carrie Karasyov. I had a good idea it wouldn't be a good book, but over the years, I've found that my motivation to write fiction goes way up if I read and observe the new stuff out there, so this book was part of a plan to boost my confidence, really. It boosted it quite a bit on so many levels, because not only was it written sloppily, it was also written incompetently. Harsh words, I know, but I found so many inconsistencies in the story that could only be explained with incompetence and sloppiness, it was ridiculous.

I am now reading The Birth of Venus by Sarah Dunant a historical fiction novel set during the rennaissance in the Italian city of Florence. The novel is narrated by the heroine, Alessandra, who recounts her story beginning from the time she was 14, and a learned, curious female in a time and place where women were meant to either marry and procreate, or become nuns. The book is a little over 400 pages, and I'm making quick headway. So far, it's been a rich, intriguing and exciting story that paints a Florence in the most intimate way possible. I can't put it down.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

What I've been up to

So, I'm trying my hand at short story writing. I've written several in the past, but unlike before, I feel a lot more confident. I'm not sure what upped my confidence with fiction writing, but I think a huge part of it is the fact that I've grown as a writer, mainly because I have read a lot more different books and styles that have given me a good taste of what's out there and how my writing style and ideas could be marketable.

When I was in St. Croix last, I witnessed a funeral procession, and used it as a springboard for a short story. I wrote quite a bit while still in St. Croix, but sort of put it on the back burner upon my return. That was back in March, and today, I feel I have a good and solid short story. I'm now looking for appropriate places to publish the story-- The Funeral Procession.

I am also working on other fiction, but this is actually done and ready to go. Other than that, I've been trying to make it an absolute routine to come down to my office space everyday and spend at least an hour writing anything. Doesn't matter what I write, as long as I'm writing and exercising those writing muscles which can get quite weak if not taken care of regularly. I've seen just how weak those muscles get, and it's not pretty. So, in the meantime, I'm still riding high on my being published in January on the online publication, The Shine Journal, and planning to get published in more established and well-known places. This writing thing is coming along very slowly, but it's exciting all the same.

I've been keeping busy with things other than writing. I've been reading quite a bit. I've just finished an interesting novel, The Rug Merchant, about an Iranian immigrant who is a rug merchant. I was hesitant to read this book, as I never feel like an American author could represent a Middle Eastern character fairly, or accurately. I'm not Iranian, but I am Muslim like Iranians, and I found Meg Mullins, the author, to be as fair and accurate as can be. I enjoyed the book quite a bit for a number of reasons, most important one being the colorful and intriguing characters represented.

I am now reading Voltaire's Candide and absolutely love it. It's quite the satire about the overly optimistic view that "everything happens for the best". Though I do buy that theory, there are times when something happening is just not the best thing... not everything has to be perfect in the world and Voltaire and says that in such a funny, adventure-filled and intelligent way.

Those have been my adventures since my last posting. As always, thanks for reading!