Daastan has had a diverse range of authors in these past 5 years of existence. Some of these authors leave an ever-lasting impact on their readers. Thir strong sense of identity sets them apart from the crowd. A very similar strong woman, who joined Daastan to pursue her life’s mission is Ms. Aisha Rahat.
About Aisha Rahat:
Aisha Rahat, a writer, social activist, and counselor, is the eldest of all her siblings. She graduated from the University of Punjab, Lahore, with a postgraduate degree in Space Technology and is currently a student at Al Huda International. Most of her work comes from abrupt thoughts, personal experiences, and inspiration from her surroundings. She now lives in the United States with her husband and two sons.
We talked to Aisha about herself and her book. Have a look at what she had to say.
What inspired you to write this book, especially considering how it discusses some of the more darker yet very relevant issues of today?
I got in touch with several children from broken families and heard cases of sexual harassment. There were people losing their zeal and determination to the usage of drugs, even contemplating suicide. I was truly jolted to my core. I decided to write this book after observing human psychology deeply to portray how one can survive all these and become a light for others.
It’s quite noble of you to want to inspire and lift people like this. Would you say that’s the purpose you wish to serve with your book?
With the world going downhill, depression and hopelessness mounting, and people losing the purpose of their creation, this book definitely aspires to change the thoughts of its readers. The storyline is strong enough to grab major issues such as child sexual abuse, drug abuse, and broken families. The issues we all are currently facing at our homes and workplaces. By seeking proper help and connecting themselves with the Book of Allah, Made For Each Other aims to help its audience regain lost hope.
So who would you say your target audience is, then? Who are the readers that could benefit the most from your book?
I would recommend this book to parents who are thinking about or have decided to break up so they can see what horrors a child faces as a result of a failed marriage. This work is also going to benefit teenagers since our hormones surge at that time, and we can easily get carried away with our emotions. This story is going to help them all, In Sha Allah, fasten their relationship first with Allah (SWT) and then with the rest of the world.
Is there any advice you’d like to give to writers like you?
Since the pen was created before the birth of the universe, Allah (SWT) has blessed it with great powers. I believe whoever seeks to write words is a very special person. They have the power to change the thought process of people. Also, if we talk about it on a larger scale, writers can definitely change the destinies of nations. So, I humbly request people who are blessed to write that they should create something that stays in the hearts of millions of people and benefits them even after they die.
That’s very profound. Now lastly, who was the first person who read your book, and what was their reaction?
It was actually a follower of mine who read it, and she was both in tears and quite hopeful as she could relate to a few of the events mentioned. After giving it a read, she decided to stand up for herself and her rights, and it always makes me feel so happy that this book has already helped many people in ways I could never have imagined when I started writing it!
As writers, it really is one of the best feelings in the world to watch your work change someone’s life even in the slightest. We’re glad that Aisha Rahat had the opportunity to witness that. If you are one such writer who wants to change the world with your words, Sign Up with Daastan and make change today!
In the summer of 2015, Ommer Amer, a then-budding writer from Wah was searching for a publisher for his first novel, The Forbidden Story. However, at that time, quality Pakistani publishers were almost non-existent. Disappointed by the lack of a proper platform to launch and market his book, Ommer decided to do something about the matter. With the help of 2 friends, Hafsa Idrees and Tahniat Saba, Ommer Amer founded Daastan—a self-publishing platform that would give access to all Pakistani writers to get their written word out into the world. And thus, we began our “daastan”.
Team Daastan has a dream—to help writers monetize their work, earn from their talent and grow Pakistan’s literary space. At a time where a large number of people, especially the youth, is tech oriented, the best way to thrive was through the internet. Ommer and his team turned to Plan9 and the startup was incubated in one of its 2015 batches. After a six-month incubation period, it took off and soared to greater heights. We went through a roller coaster of experiences—some good, some bad and some absolutely mind-blowing! (Like when we bagged the 2nd prize on an international platform)
Operating under Punjab Information Technology Board (PITB), Plan9 is Pakistan’s first tech startup incubator that started in September 2012. A business incubator works as a catalyst between dedicated and enthusiastic groups with unique ideas and help them to start their businesses. It provides funds from interested investors and services including office space and training.
Plan9 is one of its kind; providing its selected candidates (picked twice every year from a pool of 15 groups) with training from its experienced board, working space with computers, internet access, and even electricity so that Pakistan’s power shortage does not become a hurdle for budding startups. It has launched 130+ tech startups in Pakistan, with a vision of each business making a mark on international levels. The startups by Plan9 are gross valued at $70 million and they have raised a gross investment of $2.5 million
PITB’s tech incubator is led by founder, Dr. Umar Saif who
is also Chairman, PITB alongside Nabeel A. Qadeer, Director Entrepreneurship
and Enterprise Development, PITB.
Daastan upon its Graduation from Plan9
Since it’s incubation, Daastan has surpassed the expectations of many. Shortly after its graduation from Plan9, Daastan arranged a massive caused based letter writing campaign. Students from different schools and UET Taxila wrote letters to the Army. At the Brand Launch of Daastan in Arfa Technology ParkMughees Anwar and Rutaba Yaqub spoke as guest speakers. By the end of 2015, we had organized a number of important literary events such as the Daastan Literary Fest.
2016 was a roller coaster year for Daastan! Filled with endless work despite night and day, we organized out first ever big scale competition, The Stories Untold Season 1. Luckily, we received an overwhelming response. Soon, Daastan launched Qissa—Pakistan’s first self-publishing digital platform, enabling writers from all over the world to publish their books with a few clicks! Qissa garnered appreciation from writers and businesses alike and revolutionized self-publishing as we know it. But that’s not all! Team Daastan kept breaking through barriers by launching its very own Literary Fellowship which would bring together literary activists from all over Pakistan.
Today, Daastan is the biggest self-publishing house in Pakistan. We are working towards the betterment of the country by increasing readership and bringing the works of previously unpublished authors to light. We have helped writers monetize their work, turned passions into careers. Our team has held worldwide competitions, launched businesses, made a space in the media and much more. From one person’s dream, we have transformed into an army of readers and writerswith an unshakable will to rejuvenate literature in Pakistan.
#WeToo is Daastan’s Story Writing campaign based on Sexual and Reproductive health issues. The aim behind this campaign is to promote Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) in Pakistan. In many countries including Pakistan, discussing Sexual and Reproductive health issues is considered a taboo. Seeking medical help is out of question for many. A huge amount of people living in Rural areas lack even the basic knowledge regarding SRHR. Story writing is a powerful tool to help spread awareness. We are thankful to our writers who always participate enthusiastically in our campaigns and invite you all to be a part of our cause.
What is SRHR and #WeToo?
#WeToo is the name of our story writing campaign. It derives its meaning from the context of #metoo – sexual harrasment campaign. #WeToo focuses on how men and women are not allowed to share their sexual and reproductive health issues simply because it is considered shameful. SRHR stands for Sexual Reproductive Health Rights. Sexual health is the physical, mental and social security of men and women. Sexual rights are the rights associated with one’s sexuality,sexual privacy and pleasure. Each one of us has a right to make descisions for ourselves. Marriage does not give your partner the right to dictate your sexual life and this needs to be accepted and respected.
Reproductive health rights are the basic rights to decide for your reproductive capability. Deciding when and if to have children is your right. Couples should be allowed to mutually decide and carry out family planning. Seeking medical help and consultation and not being discriminated against for doing so is also part of your reproductive rights.
Details of #WeToo
We are looking for authentic stories that highlight the harsh realities we face in Pakistan. Domestic abuse, marital rape, having no consent in family planning, being harrased online by threats to leak your private information or pictures on the internet are all around us. We witness these stories on a day to day basis but in whispers and private chats. By bringing these stories to the forefront, we want to show support to the victims and make the perpetrators feel threatened. We hope to educate our public on what their rights are so that next time they are being shamed, they know how to defend themselves.
Word limit for the story writing competition is 1500-2000 words. You can have a look at the themes and submit your stories on this link. If you support our cause and want to be a part of something meaningful, sign up with us today and play your part. Every voice matters!
Pakistan’s growing literary space has created opportunities for writers to earn through Publishing. Daastan helps authors market their books and reach their readers. Think about the last book you bought. Were you sliding past the ‘South-asian books‘ section and randomly picked a book because it looked interesting? Or did you surf the internet for top 10 south-asian books, consulted your friends and short-listed books to finally cross your fingers and buy the best pick? We’d do the latter. And so did our Writer, Ms Sijdah Hussain make sure her book lands in your top picks!
‘Sijdah Hussain’ Chose Daastan To Market her First Book – ‘Red Sugar No More’
Daastan has been publishing hundreds of Books each year. But one thing most of you don’t know is that you may not necessarily publish with us to market your book through us. The literary enthusiasts that we are, we will always be ready to show off a good book. This recent book that we have endorsed is the best example of an unconventional Pakistani English book that you will read in 2020. Red Sugar No More takes you to a journey of healing and self-exploration through the tiny life lessons learnt by the author in the process of compiling this book. Let us learn more about the book, through the writer herself.
Sijdah Hussain and Her Sugar series!
A mental Health activist, Sijdah Hussain is a debut, modern-day, Messy writer who works as a Content Marketer in Lahore, Pakistan. While her writing is mostly based on her experiences and other real-life inspirations, it does have a flavour of hyperbole at some points. She first got the idea to turn her poems cum songs into a chapbook when she started to see a pattern in them. They were all intertwined intricately to form something more than just one song or two. This is a story of someone going through a rush of emotions from blaming others to herself, every now and then.
When did you discover your talent for writing?
I don’t quite remember how it happened, in all honesty, I just remember watching cartoons and reading books and wondering if I could do that too, some day – one day. I wanted to write something fun like Mary Kate and Ashley or the famous five, ha-ha. I actually wrote a lot of excerpts and freelanced as a ghostwriter before writing my own book & that too with rhymes and whatnot. You know I failed a poetry course in my Bachelor’s degree and had to repeat it. I promised that teacher I’d write a poem one day … a good one. I graduated from the Government College University with BA(hons) in English Literature and Language in 2017. I guess I’m just keeping that promise.
How was your experience writing your first book? How long did it take you to finish writing it?
I sort of started writing as a form of catharsis, I used to do social work and that too a lot, before switching to writing permanently because when I started working I didn’t really have that much time to just go to an orphanage whenever I wanted. The book took quite a lot of time because it wasn’t written in a day or 2 it was written in I guess 2 years and it has a lot of experiences & stories within each stanza; each lyric has a different story in it so I am just a bit scared, what if people don’t really understand where I’m coming from?
You work full time, how did you manage writing and working together?
Writing has never been difficult for me because I write out my feelings most of the time. As a content marketer when I am writing something for the sake of marketing – I focus on the feeling my words would give to a reader. Therefore, whenever I had the time and felt like I needed a break I would scribble down a few lines. Once I used to start, the words just used to pour out of me on their own. It used to feel like either someone else is writing through me or I’m in an entirely different world. It used to be a different experience every time. I used to stop talking, listening etc and just, you know, focus on my train of thoughts turning into black and white gloriously. Now when I edit or format the book over and over again, I come across some points when I have to ask myself if I really did write that and I don’t remember the intensity that made me write that.
How was your experience publishing your first book? What are the difficulties you faced?
Let’s face it the biggest problem in Pakistan is that although we are on our way to becoming a developed country – we are still very much under developed especially when it comes to publishing. We don’t have the sort of literary publishing houses who could help us format books. We need to figure it out on our own and it gets frustrating at times. I had been thinking of publishing the book for a year and now. In 2020, I thought maybe it’s time. The beta readers, whom I gave my copies, loved it. So my friends thought it’s better if I just push it out rather than hide it somewhere never to be found.
Amazon is a great self-publishing service for unsolicited writers but they don’t deliver to Pakistan as often nor do they give Pakistanis a chance to add their bank account to the KDP. You need to really get into it to figure it all out. Thankfully, Ayesha Muzaffar helped me with all my annoying questions, big time. However, once Amazon was taken care of the next big question was how I would be distributing my books in Pakistan. That’s when I approached Ommer from Daastan and told him I wanted to go for the POD option. Since then Ommer and Daastan have been nothing but helpful throughout the procedure. After getting it all sorted, I stumbled across Pakistan Book Readers Club (I’d been inactive on social media for quite some time) & their team as well as members are the most supportive human beings I’ve come across after my friends, haha.
Who inspired you to write Red Sugar, No More? Tell us a little about the book.
It’s a very common notion that healing only takes 7 steps to accept and let go of denial, guilt, regret and whatnot. However, when you actually do have to heal it’s a totally different story. It takes so much time and emotional investment to move on from one step only to come back to it after some time again. It’s a complete try, try again situation. You get tired. You get angry. You get frustrated at yourself and the world. You start to see negatives in every single thing around you. You start to romanticize pain & believe that you don’t deserve anything better. Self-doubt is your meal and depression, your lover. Healing is a very difficult process and it does not come that easily. My book Red Sugar, No More is all about that. It portrays the mental space of a person who is in the process of healing.
What advice would you give to young writers?
Contrary to popular beliefs, writing does not come to you by reading too much. Writing comes to you through your heart from your feelings & experiences – from what you know because you can’t write about anything that you don’t feel connected to. We actually had quite the debate on it as well in one of our classes that if a writer does not write something he feels strongly about, maybe the writing is not worth reading because it’s fake. Obviously, it’s just a debate and there are pros and cons to everything; there are different styles of writing as well. However, you don’t have to read too much just so you could write.
Readers and writers are two very different sorts of people. Understand that and don’t be hard on yourself. Writing would come to you when it is the right time for you! My only message for you is to never stop believing in yourself because if I can make it work … anyone can. And an even more important message for your friends and family is that if you know someone who is trying to launch themselves in whatever capacity, please support them by promoting their creativity, by buying their skill not by asking for it for free that’s just rude and harsh to someone who’s trying to make it out as a newbie.
This is Ms. Sijdah Hussain. Her book ‘Red Sugar, No More‘ is currently available for Pre-order here. We are proud to help Ms. Sijdah Hussain reach out readers and wish her the best of luck for her book!
Good writers are always known for their writing skills. Many writers have tremendous stories to tell but only a good story-teller with a polished writing style will find their way to the reader’s heart. The Pakistani publishing industry is growing at an incredible pace. However, as publishers, we come across beautiful stories that lack communication and skill. It is always the hardest task to reject a brilliant story that is not well-written. For this very reason, Daastan has worked out a perfect plan for you to improve your writing skills! Grab a pen and paper, and start the exercise today!
Your Go-to ‘Writing Skills‘ Work-out Plan!
1. Warm Up the brain!
Your mind needs experiences to store new information. Human beings learn from the social memory that they build through interactions with others. Your writing skills require the same warm up. Read! Before jumping off to experimentation, make sure you have the required equipment. Read as much as you can and learn different writing techniques. Reading more will help you differentiate between a good book and a boring one. Identify what keeps you glued to the book and then use that trick to catch your reader. Is your brain active enough now? Great, because its time for you to jog!
2. Onto The Jog..
This is your time to build up that stamina. Hold on to all you have gathered from reading and start applying. Begin with the grammar skills. Tiny mistakes can leave a lasting impression. Your warm-up stage will help you a lot here. Since your memory is fresh with the reading, you are exactly at the right jogging track! (Pun intended) Secondly, don’t forget to look out for your imagination. Your reader needs to explore the universe created within your story. For that, you need to explore it first. Map out your story, characters and situations. Measure each tiny detail intricately. You are the creator of your story. Make sure you leave no loopholes. If you begin with an idea in your story, do not leave it hanging. Reach a conclusion and inject it into your reader.
3. Squat Out Your Expression!
Learning to write well? Why not show it off? Once you have a grip over your grammar, its time to pull the reader deeper into your universe. Work on your descriptions. Talk about each and everything you can to paint the most realistic image. Use your creativity and characterize your surroundings. Make the reader immerse themselves in your story. If you talk about the wind, describe how cool or hot it is. Is it dancing or swinging softly? Use the auditory senses and talk about the whistling sound your wind is making. In short, let your reader feel and view what they are reading.
4. Stretch And Chill
The last stage of your exercise is the most crucial one. You can’t leave your warmed-up body just like that. You need to stretch and let it cool down. Similarly, your draft needs stretching. Proof read your text over and over again. Check for spelling errors, grammatical mistakes and discard any unnecessary details. The more you read your draft the better you can fix it. Imagine being the reader and explore your story. Make the most of this stage because once you publish or submit your manuscript, you immediately leave your impression.
Great Job, your writing skills are coming in shape! Try out this easy and simple workout plan to get fit in what you do best. Once your manuscript is ready, Daastan will help you design, publish and market it. So start working out today and reach out to us for technical assistance at any time. We are just a click away!
As the last episode of Mused by Daastan aired last week, we experienced a plethora of emotions. On one hand we are sad to pause this journey of learning – while on the other, hopeful for the future. The response we gathered is inspiring and motivating enough to push us further. Have a look at what our host Ms. Summaiya Naveed had to say about this.
We started Mused with the vision to help creatives—a vision we will take forward as the series advances. For now, I hope the first season has helped aspiring writers and given them a nudge towards achieving their dreams. I’ve had a great time creating such content for you and an even better time having conversations with the viewers. You’re an inspiring lot and you give our team the motivation we need to keep putting in our part in the development of the Pakistani Literary industry. What is needed most now is work. Work to distinguish ourselves as a people of superior intellect and an awe-inspiring amount of talent. The first season of Mused leaves me hopeful that we’re talking a step towards achieving that very goal.
Ms Summaiya Naveed expressing her feelings on the last episode of Mused
A Recap of Season 1 – Mused
This season, Summaiya discussed in great detail, the issues related to writing and publishing. We started off with learning the common writing mistakes, Do’s and Don’ts of writing and errors that most writers and publishers make. Then we moved on to the state of our Publishing industry,scope for writers and the condition as well as future of the writers’ community of Pakistan. We were joined by two guests who shared their own experiences and gave useful tips along the way. We had a special episode on writing poetry– on account of the proliferation of poetry writers in our community.
What We Discused In Episode 6
1. Issues With English Language
Firstly, Summaiya shared her opinion on the use of the global lingua franca – English Language. According to her, Languages have socio-political importance. In South Asia, specifically the areas affected by colonization, English language became a symbol of status. The higher classes who merged well with the British and learned the language, associated an attitude of pride with English. We have perhaps inherited the same behaviour. Summaiya condemned this attitude and explained how languages are primarily a means of communication only. Language should not be used to claim superiority or make someone else feel belittled.
According to Summaiya, the role of English in dividing social classes has created a hindrance for those who wish to improve their language. The fear of being ridiculed for pronouncing something incorrectly keeps people away from actually learning the language. Summaiya advised us to change this behaviour towards the language and encourage people to learn in a healthy way.
Secondly, Summaiya discussed the issue of plagiarism in great detail. First and foremost, she explained how plagiarism is a serious crime. In simple words, it refers to the act of copying someone else’s work and putting it as your own consequently, giving no due credit to the owner. This is plainly cheating on someone. It is morally incorrect and demotivating for creatives to work. Summaiya expressed her concern over the absence of laws to protect creatives from plagiarism. There needs to be a certain amount of accountability to avoid crimes like plagiarism. Publishing companies should regulate the content brought by authors to make sure it is not plagiarised.
Daastan is proud to have shared this journey with you all. It is our mission to promote literary activities and discussions through such platforms like Mused. We hope that writers benefited from these Lives sessions and we aim to keep bringing informative content for our followers. Sign Up at Daastan and keep yourself engaged in similar content!