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!